Posted by: kendra | February 27, 2009

Bike This Weekend Open Thread

The Morristown Critical mass is on for tonight; plan to start riding around town at 6:30, starting at the town hall parking lot @ 6:30.

Also, Morristown is getting it together for Bike to Work month and it sounds like Step Ahead Morristown is interesting is helping pull things together for fun bike events for that month. Any ideas? I’m still pushing the bike-in movie, and one person suggested a wine tasting sort of tour by bike. I’m sorta into the yard sale rides starting in May on Saturdays, but that’s something I’d just do anyhow.

Check out this bike salvage yard in Arizona. All Bikes. Thanks to Scott for the link.

And here’s some links to some bike stuff in Detroit. I grew up in Michigan and Ohio while everyone I knew worked for a auto company, I was curious about what was happening right now with bikes there. So here you go:

Beat The Train
Detroit Bike Blog

and Flint

Bike Tour of Flint with UM-Flint Prof Steve Landon (Youtube link)
Safe and Active Flint

Ok! See you tonight at the ride!



  1. Bicyclist hit by school bus in Sparta

  2. Yeah, Kendra. Say a prayer for the old guy at CM tonight. We should all be so lucky to be able to ride a bike when we are 78 and to then just have it so senselessly taken away.

  3. The ride last night had about 20 or so people, it stopped raining just before we rode, so it wasn’t too bad.

    Afterwards, some folks went to Tito’s, and Dave got a chance to talk up his imaginary plan for the traction line. He takes the Traction Line to work every day, so his imaginary plan is pretty well thought out. If you have any comments on his imaginary plan, we’d love to hear them. Here it is:

    His comments before the plan:

    OK, here’s a first cut at the Traction Line proposal. Be gentle, I’ve never done this before.

    What’s missing:
    – Economics. I haven’t the faintest idea what any of this would cost, and the proposal really needs serious detail on that front.
    – Apparently, the bit of Morris st. between Ford and Elm is a redevelopment zone. the details of that should be noted in the section about extending the path across 287 (section III.b). This is a big deal. The process of obtaining that path is simply glossed over in the proposal, and it’s an obvious and gaping hole.
    – Better verbiage in the “future development” section. Not a huge big deal, but it’d be nice to suggest that this proposal was planting the seeds for long-term growth and better integration between the Madison and Morristown CBDs. Or, hey, removing that angle entirely if that’s not important, but I (perhaps naively) think it’s an important feature of the traction line.
    – It’d be good to have a “stakeholders” section — probably between II. and III. — that describes who’d benefit. I’m not very good at that (I’d probably just put “well, it’d sure make my ride to work a lot easier!”), so I skipped it.
    – I’d like to annotate the thing with Google Maps pictures at various points — showing the Traction Line terminus, the position of the proposed overpass, the path to the Morristown train station, that sort of thing, but I haven’t got the images yet. If there are official Morristown/Morris County maps of these things, that’d be even better.
    – A bit more justification on the pedestrian overpass part. That’s obviously both the most important proposal and the hardest to implement. It needs really serious wordsmithing to make it compelling enough to justify the inevitably enormous expense.
    – Formalization. I don’t know what a proposal like this is supposed to look like. This needs to be molded into the form of a proper proposal, instead of its current “things Dave thinks are good ideas” structure. By the same token, it needs a champion with some degree of clout, as opposed to some guy who happens to ride on the traction line.

    Anyway, here’s a first pass. It’d be good if people revised/expanded/said it was silly and I should give up.

    And plan:

    Traction Line Extension Proposal

    1. Problem Statement

    The Traction Line is an important resource providing recreational and commuting pedestrians a direct, safe, clean, and traffic-free connection between Morristown and Madison. However, Interstate 287 separates the path from downtown Morristown. The path’s terminus at Morris St., while convenient to the Ford Mansion, is dangerous for users – particularly bicyclists – headed toward Morristown.

    2. Goals

    1. Increase utilization of the Traction Line by Morristown residents

    2. Reduce user risk
    3. Reduce interference with traffic flow from 287 to Morris St.
    4. Increase foot and bicycle traffic into Morristown central business district.

    3. Proposals

    1. Extend the Traction Line over 287 via a pedestrian overpass

    At present, the Traction Line curves to the North approximately 150 feet East of 287, to terminate at Morris Avenue adjacent to 287 exit 36A.

    Proposal: Extend the Traction Line along a straight line from the beginning of this curve directly across 287 via a pedestrian overpass, terminating either on the East or (preferably) West side of Ford Rd. The overpass should be approximately the same width as the existing path, and its approach should be accessible to bicycle, pedestrian, and wheelchair traffic.

    Justification: The fundamental difficulties in delivering Traction Line users into the Morristown central business district are the presence of 287 and the nature of the Morris St. terminus. The latter, in particular, seems intractable. Morris is a one-way street at the end of the path, which is immediately adjacent to an exit from 287. While the exit has a stop sign, it is quite difficult, due to the curves in the road and exit, to see pedestrians approaching the crosswalk along Morris; drivers attempting to merge onto Morris further frequently intrude upon the crosswalk. Bicyclists, in particular, face a dilemma: it is illegal to ride on sidewalks or against traffic in Morristown. Riders are forced to dismount and walk their bikes across the bridge, to remount at Ford Rd.

    A stoplight could be added controlling the exit and a crosswalk across Morris, but this would risk causing congestion on the exit at busy times. Instead, simply extending the path over the Interstate (retaining the existing terminus for users headed toward the Washington’s Headquarters neighborhood) eliminates the problem with no changes to existing traffic structures. Moreover, the reduced need for pedestrians to cross the highway exit would permit traffic to flow more freely from the exit onto Morris.

    2. Across 287, extend the Traction Line along the existing rail bed to the Morristown train station

    At present, the Traction Line terminates in the Headquarters neighborhood. The path could be improved by extending its reach to the Morristown central business district.

    Proposal: Extend the traction line to parallel the existing NJT rail line to the Morristown train station.

    Justification: Aerial imagery suggests the vestiges of the narrow-gauge rail bed on which the Traction Line is constructed continues to parallel the New Jersey Transit line from the West side of Ford Rd. (curiously, Google Maps labels the initial segment of this vestigial rail bed as “Delaware Street”, but the street does not appear to actually exist). This imagery further suggests this unused strip extends, varying in width, to the intersection of Morris and Elm streets at the Morristown NJT station. Extending the Traction Line to parallel the railway would allow direct access to and from the central business district for Traction Line users. The path could be further extended behind the rail station along Lackawanna Pl. and under the rail overpass to provide access to the Transit Village. This extension would reduce bike and pedestrian traffic along major thoroughfares while improving access into and out of Morristown for path users and retaining the benefits of pedestrian traffic near dense retail and residential areas.

    3. Alter existing Traction line exit to terminate at Washington/Morris intersection

    The existing Traction Line terminus provides convenient access to the Headquarters neighborhood, but could be made more safe and accessible.

    Proposal: Alter the end of the Traction Line to curve East-Northeast paralleling (and perhaps merging with) the existing sidewalk along Morris St. Terminate the path at the intersection of Morris St. and Washington Ave.

    Justification: Notwithstanding the foregoing proposals, the location of the existing Traction Line terminus is valuable in providing access to the Washington’s Headquarters neighborhood and the Ford Mansion. However, the path exit is simply neither safe nor reasonably accessible. The path terminates in a chained-off access to Morris St. (that users have carved dirt paths around this chain is a testament to the difficulty of this location), which lacks even a crosswalk at the exit. As mentioned previously, the terminus is adjacent to a busy and visually obstructed exit from a major Interstate. While improvements can be imagined which involve adjustments to Morris St. or the highway exit, a less drastic solution is to simply move the path’s terminus. If the path were altered to terminate at Washington Ave. approximately where it intersects with Morris St., path users would be funneled away from the busy exit intersection to the relatively calmer Washington Ave. area. This would improve user safety and reduce interference between path users and motor vehicle traffic.

    4. Add safety lighting and telephones to the Traction Line

    For the Traction Line to realize its full value as a recreational and commuter resource, it must be safe as well as accessible. Adding lighting and emergency telephone service would serve this need.

    Proposal: Add lighting sufficient to provide consistent illumination over the length of the path; add safety telephone boxes at intervals of no more than ½ mile.

    Justification: At present, the Traction Line is officially closed at dusk. In practice, however, its use extends well into the evening hours. This use should be encouraged, as long as the safety of users can be ensured. Currently, outside of incidental lighting near Convent Station and a single safety telephone at the entrance to Fairleigh Dickinson, the path lacks any significant public safety features. In fact, for significant stretches (particularly between Convent Station and Madison), the path is isolated and provides no easy exit. Regardless of park regulations, then, it is incumbent on the management of the path to ensure the safety of its users. The best way to balance the obvious desire of users to access the path after dark and the need to protect those users is to equip the path with modern safety features.

    4. Future development

    The Traction Line is a valuable platform for encouraging both recreational and practical non-motor transit. It intersects two college campuses and a commuter rail station, connects Madison and Morristown, and is maintained year-‘round. The path, then, should be a focal point for future development. Among the potential avenues:

    • Extension to Madison central business district: At present, the Madison end of the path terminates at Danforth Rd. Extending the path to parallel the NJT rail line to Madison Station would connect the Morristown and Madison central business districts.

    • Connecting with Patriot’s Path: Once the path has been extended to Morristown station, it is natural to continue the extension along the East side of Pochahontas Lake to meet Patriot’s Path at Speedwell Lake.

    • Greater Accessibility: Additional connectivity – for example, between Morristown Memorial Hospital and Atlantic Health’s sports medicine facilities at the New York Jets facility in Florham Park – would expand the usefulness of the path.

  4. Wow! That’s a great proposal. Cost would be a factor for that bridge but since NJDOT pretty much refuses to fund on street bike projects, I think this is a worthy cause. Your lucky to live in a county that has an excellent track record of building not just trails but a really good trail network.

    Run with it!

  5. I like the concept. While living in Madison, I made use of the traction line quite a bit. The scariest part was the end in Morristown!

    That’s the problem with the interstate system. In Hartford, I-91 split the riverfront from the rest of the city. The riverfront was left to deteriorate for years. Fortunately, there’s a bit of a revival going on in downtown Hartford, and the revitalization of the Riverfront parks has a lot to do with that

    There’s even a nice pedestrian bridge that connects the center of town to the park!

  6. I’ve been on a few ped bridges and they always say no cycling.

    The Traction line is idyllic cycling the whole way until Morristown. Then its bam, uhhh, how do I safely ride my bike now?

    The Morris County Traction Company ran right by the house I grew up in in Landing!

  7. I love the way they sidewalk along the end of the traction line was always covered in snow and ice this winter. Today I almost wiped out. Twice actually.

  8. You should email the city through their website. I have had some success with some complaints and totally ignored on other ones.

    I just filled out their report it form and asked who is reponsible for tha tshort 20 foot section of snowy sidewalk between the 287 exit ramp and the start of the Traction Line. Might help or might not if other people asked too.

    Dave’s pet peeve is still that chain at the end. I was told it was going to be removed last fall, but it’s still there and I have asked a couple times about it to the Morris County Parks without response.

    Anyhow, here’s the report it link:

  9. Dean,

    You’re right. I’ll double-check the guys at the BeatBikeBlog, now that I think about it, this would be a pedestrian only bridge.

    Which brings up another question. I found a trail in Morris Plains called “Borough Walking Trail” which has a sign prohibiting vehicles. Would this include bicycles?

  10. Ok,

    According to the guys up in Hartford, while there’s a sign that says to walk the bikes, this is a largely ignored sign and no one cares if people ride their bikes across the pedestrian bridge.

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