With the looming NJ Transit rail workers strike bringing service cuts that will strand 60% of NJTransit commuter rail riders starting on March 13, next Monday morning promises to be a traffic nightmare. NJTransit predicts an extra 10,000 cars on the road per hour during peak periods, causing even longer delays and making thousands of commuters late for work. But there are many NJ commuters who will be able to use their bike to get where they need to be on Monday and the days throughout the strike.
Those living within 5-10 miles of the PATH stations in Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken should consider pedaling to these transit hubs and accessing the PATH trains to get in to Manhattan. All of these stations can be reached on bike-friendly roads and provide ample bike parking, as they are already heavily used by bike riders.
Likewise, the NY Waterways Hudson Ferry Terminals at Port Imperial in Weehawken and at 14th street in Hoboken can be reached by bike and have bike racks.
Those living within similar distances of the George Washington Bridge can pedal across the bridge on the south path and head directly into the city, as on-road bike lanes connect with the paths coming off the bridge. If you are not comfortable using bike lanes, pedal down the hill at 181st street and access the West Side Greenway to reach mid-town and Wall Street. Explore your options using the on-line NYC Bike Map and sign up for daily alerts on the bridge path accessibility.
Others can pedal to bus stops to reach a ride into the city and avoid traffic congestion on the roads and lack of car parking at bus stops. NJTransit has provided a list of the various bus route capacity enhancements and additional regional park-ride service access points. While these regional park-ride lots are located on major thoroughfares, all of them can be reached by additional access roads that can be ridden on a bike. To find the access roads, use google maps and select the bike routing option.
But don’t wait for Monday morning to make this happen: start today getting yourself prepared to pedal. Here are some tips:
- If you are not already a regular rider, head to your garage and check out your bike for its ride-readiness. Take it to your local bike shop and have them inspect and tune it so that it is ready to go on Monday morning. Let them know you will be needing your bike to get to work so that they prioritize your tune-up.
- While at the shop, get the things you need for your ride- spare tube, frame pump, water bottle and cage for your bike, bike lock, front and rear reflector and/or lights, and any reflective clothing you decide to use for your ride.
- Explore your options and decide upon your route and access points. Review maps to find ridable roads that reach your destination.
- Use the weekend to scout the route on your bike, and do a dry run so that you know how much time it takes to prepare and pedal your way to your access point. Do not wait until Monday to try your route.
- When you reach your destination on your scouting trip, scout out bike parking options and try out your bike lock. You want this process to run smoothly on Monday morning.
- After your scouting trip, review bus, PATH and ferry schedules so that you can plan your departure time from home on Monday morning and leave enough time to pedal to transit, lock your bike and get to the bus, PATH or ferry on time.
- Those newly pedaling across the George Washington Bridge will want to sign up for daily alerts so that you are notified when the bridge path is not available. You can then take a local bus across the bridge from Fort Lee.
- Check the weather for next week’s forecast, and plan what you will wear for your commute. There are many options for rainwear for bike riders that keep you dry while pedaling. Ask your local bike shop for assistance.
- If you are new to commuting by bike, review the rules of the road for bike riders so that you ride safely and predictably. Use hand signals and otherwise follow the same rules as a motorist would.
By preparing yourself for your bike commute, you will be ready to contend with the possible rail workers strike and be able to reach your work without significant disruption.
Enjoy the ride!
Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director