New bike lanes will promote connectivity within East Brunswick

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EAST BRUNSWICK – Holding a detailed map, bicycle safety information and a microphone, Mayor Brad Cohen unveiled the township’s new bike lanes.

“It’s an initiative that we have been working on actually for the last two years, for which it’s probably going to take about four years to be completed. There is a map here … and you will see where we intend to put some bikeways, bike paths and bike lanes,” Cohen said during an unveiling event on Nov. 11 near the Warnsdorfer Elementary School’s parking lot.

The new bike lanes are located along Hardenburg Lane and Dunhams Corner Road.

“The goal at the end of the day is to try and make interconnections throughout the entire township,” Cohen said. “The goal would be to make bike lanes and bike paths that connect schools and public buildings and parks so that it creates mini loops around town.”

Cohen said next summer’s plan is to connect a bike path from Crystal Springs Family Waterpark to the East Brunswick Community Arts Center. He said due to areas of Dunhams Corners Road being too narrow, the state and federal government is funding the bike path, which will be off the road.

“Eventually we want to put [the bike path] around the community arts center so that becomes another loop,” Cohen said. “We are looking for wider roads in town to connect communities, parks, public buildings and houses of worship so that people can have destinations while their riding and have loops so residents don’t have to just stop their bikes, turn around and go the other way.”

As Middlesex County has started repaving many of the township roads, Cohen said the township is also working with the county to put bike paths on all county roads. The township’s county roads are Ryders Lane, Cranbury Road and Summerhill Road.

“[These roads] are big major arterial roads that connect communities to communities,” Cohen said. “If we can put that in place it also serves as a framework to connect a town to another town. … So the goal is to not only create bike lanes in our roads that can handle it in town but to add in the county roads and to connect to adjoining towns.”

Cohen said that the township has 11 bordering towns, which is the most of any township in the state. He said establishing bike lanes throughout the township is part of a greater picture in terms of redevelopment and reinitiating the township.

“The redevelopment process which is going to start primarily on Route 18 is a goal of the community to try and create a sort of a mixed-use type of area where you can have both commercial [and residential],” Cohen said, ” … so that in essence everybody is sort of interconnected and so what we do for one section of town really should be part of a much greater picture and that is a town a lot more vibrant, a lot more sustainable and allows us to use the opportunity to bike, exercise, walk and do the things that promote better health.”

Bill Neary, a former mayor of East Brunswick who is also the Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM) executive director, said bicycling also increases property values.

“I think that is something important to look at. The investment you make is also going to make your community a safer, better community to live in. Obviously, people want to move to a place where they can connect. Not everybody wants to get into a car every day to go to 7-Eleven, there are ways to get around without driving a car.”

Neary said for the 30 years KMM has been promoting alternative transportation modes.

“Bicycles and pedestrian safety are big issues that we work on at KMM. For years, we [have taught] kids how to walk to school safely, we host bicycle rodeos and we are also much involved in different bicycle type organizations. … Bicycling is not only safe, it’s not only good for the environment, it’s also good for your pocketbook,” Neary said.

Residents also got the opportunity to ride LimeBike’s electric bicycle and scooter during the event.

“I really just wanted people to get a sense of what’s out there in terms of bikes. If we do a deal we are not necessarily committed yet to Lime. We have sought out two other companies down at the League of Municipalities that are interested in coming here also,” Cohen said. “The goal would be to have something set up by the spring so that people who can’t afford a bike or don’t want a bike … that these are all things that we are looking at. We haven’t really settled down with which company we are going to use, but the idea is some sort of bike-share company coming in and providing that type of transportation.”

For more information, visit www.eastbrunswick.org/content/202/283/1195.aspx or call 732-390-6797.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.