In the News
Opinion by Jen Benepe, July 22, 2012
John Cichowski has written an excellent article highlighting the recent ticketing of cyclists by Fort Lee, NJ police as riders approach the George Washington Bridge on Hudson Terrace.
The article appears in NorthJersey.com and mentions Ellen Jaffe, president of the New York Cycle Club, and some of the club’s members, like Morene Bangol.
Ted Semegran, legislative action officer for the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey is also quoted, and he offers some of the best advice ever: change the road. We totally agree.
There is no easy way to get to the bridge, and the suggested alternative, which I have seen cyclists taking, is to go to the next traffic light and do a U-turn, is not only foolhardy, it’s also incredibly dangerous.
Whether cyclists were actually advised to turn this way, is hard to believe, since it’s even more questionable than doing a left hand turn under the bridge.
Our advice, without mentioning any names or sources–is to challenge the legal basis for the tickets when you go to court.
In the meantime, we call Fort Lee Mayor John Sokolich to task for missing this one. He’s been in office long enough to know that there are approximately 1500 cyclists a day (on the weekends) turning to the bridge entrance, and this has been going on for years.
Why hasn’t he taken the incentive to create safer road paintings, create lanes for bicycles, or better yet, add a small electronic road sign at that location for motorists and cyclists to advise them of the dangers and have them slow down?
In the meantime, the road needs to be reconfigured in a way that is safe for entering and exiting the bridge, and traffic–motorist traffic needs to be calmed with traffic calming measures, which are usually structural changes to the roadway. Even adding more lighting under the bridge would help.
Until those changes are made, it is irresponsible and indeed reckless for the Mayor of Fort Lee to ignore the issue and to continue to ticket cyclists who have done nothing wrong, other than try to get on and off the bridge in the safest and best way they can.
One thing we cannot agree about, commenters have hinted that the cops in Fort Lee must be closet gays who hate cyclists. Not true: several are cyclists, they’re not “closeted” gays, (not that there is anything wrong with being gay, you know, viva la difference,) who are jealous of other men in spandex, and in fact they are slim from their hours spent on the bicycle, and had nothing to do with the misdirected ticketing, which is now allegedly to have ended.