State gives flat tire to Morristown bike plan

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The state Department of Transportation has nixed Morristown’s request for a $75,000 grant for lane markings and signs to make town streets more bicycle-friendly.

“I’m disappointed,” said Stefan Armington, a Morristown planning board member who began working on a town bike plan in 2007 as a member of the environmental commission.

He said the municipality may seek other grants. Some of the proposed improvements also might be incorporated into routine repaving–a slow process, he said, since each town road is scheduled for repaving only once every eight years.

alison deeb reviews bike plan
Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb and William Riviere of the state Department of Transportation review consultants' proposed bike plan for Morristown in May 2010. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

A dozen municipalities across the state, meanwhile, will receive nearly $3 million from the state Bikeways program. Morristown was among 95 applicants.

Stefan said the grant had been a longshot because the state program is geared for off-road projects. Town officials gave it a try because Morristown landed a state DOT grant last year that paid a consultant to update the town’s bike plan.

With less than three square miles, Morristown does not have many off-road options for people who want to get around on bicycles. The updated town plan calls for plastic lane markers and strategically placed signs reminding motorists to share the road with cyclists.

In all, some 18 miles of improvements (counting both directions of traffic) are recommended by the plan. Town officials want cyclists to feel safe on the streets so they will get off the sidewalks.

The updated plan also suggests longer-range studies of traffic patterns for possible lane width reductions, removal of parking and other traffic flow measures.

Stefan said he remains optimistic that the town will weave this bike plan into the town master plan, which will undergo revisions this year. Doing so would require planners to keep cyclists part of the equation when development projects are approved.

In the interim, Stefan said he will push to amend the town’s old bike plan to reflect the proposals made last year by Michael J. Baker Inc., the Hamilton consulting firm hired with a DOT grant.

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