BIKERS GET SAFETY MARKERS IN RED BANK

chestnut-sharrow-071211Borough workers painted the first of a series of “sharrows” on the new pavement on Chestnut Street Tuesday morning. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

A push to make Red Bank’s streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians moved from the conceptual to the actual as workers installed markings on Chestnut Street Tuesday morning.

Eight so-called “sharrows,” depicting a bicycle beneath two directional arrows, were painted onto the freshly paved street, where eight street signs were also to be installed.

The dual-approach signage “just reminds motorists that they’re sharing the road with bikes,” said Jenny Rossano, of Safe Routes Red Bank, an advocacy group that lobbied for the markings. “It’s not a separate bike lane.”The installation signals the start of what is expected to be a gradual implementation of recommendations for improving biking and walking safety in Red Bank contained in a study completed earlier this year by urban engineering consultants. Since then, the borough council has adopted the report, and the planning board has moved toward folding it into the town’s master plan.

“The idea isn’t to cover the town in these” but to mark major east-west and north-south corridors, and to function as both safety reminders and wayfaring indicators, Rossano said.

Christine Ballard of T&M Associates, the town’s engineering consultant, said the signage on Chestnut Street came about when officials realized that a recent repaving of the street under the the borough’s annual roads program was coming in under budget. The markings were added at a cost of about $5,000, she estimated, though she did not have figures handy Tuesday. The inclusion, she said, did not put the job over budget.

“The council members felt this was a good step to show appreciation for Red Bank Safe Routes, which had lobbied for the study, and also to show that the report should not just get stuck on a shelf,” Ballard said.

Ballard said a bike lane was considered for Chestnut, but ruled out, because it would have required residents and visitors to park on one side only.

But Bridge Avenue, which the study also zeroed in on, is wide enough for a dedicated bike lane without having any impact on parking, she said.

Bridge and Peters Place are under consideration as the next streets to be marked, though Ballard said the police department is concerned that Peters may not be suitable for bike traffic because it’s a part-time one-way for school traffic and is narrow. No decisions have been made about either, she said.

Further down the road, the replacement for Hubbards Bridge, connecting Red Bank and Middletown via West Front Street, has been designed by Monmouth County engineers – at the urging of town officials – to accommodate a bike lane, Ballard said. She noted, though, that lane markings may not be possible until a solution is found to the narrow width of the rail trestle that serves as the gateway at the Red Bank side.

Construction on the bridge is expected to begin next spring.

The planning board is expected to vote Monday on whether to recommend the report be folded into the town’s master plan. Here’s the full report in PDF format. It’s a sizable file, so be patient while it downloads.