On April 7th, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order to close trails in all State and County Parks. This order gives municipalities the option to remain open at their discretion and many (but not all) of them are doing the same.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia understands the intentions of the Governor’s order to reduce social contact to mitigate the rampant spread of the Covid-19 Virus. However, we feel that this blanket closure is excessive and threatens to penalize bicycle commuters who are relying on their bicycles to get to their jobs, as well as those seeking a social distanced-refuge from the indoors.
With the danger of virus transmission on public transportation, bicycles are a cost-effective way to travel from home to work. Given New Jersey’s lack of on-road bicycle accommodations and the proven increase of speeding drivers that has contributed to a spike in traffic deaths, we feel that these car-free connections are more important than ever.
The Circuit Trails were mainly financed with Federal transportation dollars and are a key transportation element in the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Long Range Plan. These paths fall under this order because all trails are consider recreational. Monmouth County Parks and Recreation, however, recognizes this differential and they have classified the Henry Hudson Trail as a transitway and therefore will remain open for commuters. More linear trails need to have this designation.
The Bicycle Coalition proposes that the Murphy Administration:
- Amend Executive Order 118 to note that paved and crushed stone linear trails that are greater than 3 miles long are designated and available for bicycle commuters 24 hours a day.
- Publicly encourage municipalities to create temporary slow zones limiting auto access to residential neighborhood streets to local traffic to allow local residents to safely exercise.
- Emphasize enforcement of traffic laws, to crack down on reckless driving
This is an ongoing situation and this post will be updated as the situation changes.