The popularity of Route 9W to cyclists has been on the rise of late. In fact according to a recent CBS News report, 9W draws nearly as many cyclists on weekends in season as it does cars. The allure of 9W to cyclists is easy to understand, as the area is quite scenic. Unfortunately as with many areas in our state, the combination of increased cycling activity and problematic road conditions have led to an increase in collisions, crashes and injuries to cyclists on Route 9W. Reports indicate that in the past year alone the roadway has seen eight accidents in Englewood Cliffs, two in Tenafly and at least three in Alpine. However Alpine Police Captain Michael LaViola was recently quoted by CBS as saying AGenerally, every weekend we=re good for one or two [bicycle related accidents]@, which would indicate that the actual number of accidents on the roadway may be significantly higher.
The problem with 9W for cyclists is a common one: The roadway is generally lacking bike lanes and frequently has narrow shoulders. NJ DOT is reportedly considering installing a bike lane in areas where the road is particularly narrow, but to date no bike lane has been installed. In an effort to reduce motor vehicle vs. cyclist collisions and related injuries, NJ DOT has promised to re-stripe sections of 9W so as to make the edge of the travel lane more visible to motorists and to install signs to remind motorists that they have an obligation to share the road with bicyclists. However the agency has yet to take action on this promise. By contrast, New York has already installed similar signs on the section of 9W which extends into Rockland County to enhance the safety of cyclists.
According to the latest estimates, NJ DOT may begin work on its proposed short term improvements in September, 2013. Unfortunately, this would place the completion date near the end of the 2013 riding season.