” The problem in Garber Square is that it is really dangerous for bikers and pedestrians. Biikes used to use the sidewalk and often walked their bikes in that locatiom. No one is using the bike lane now except the cars. While bilking and walking are better for the people and the environment, not all areas are conducive to both cars and bikes. Garber Square is one of those areas.”
Reader Attempts to explain the flawed logic behind the Garber Square Traffic Mess:
“Understanding that this will not be popular on the venue, but here is the other side of the bike lane issue. The process started with the realization that the Garber Square roadway needed to be repaved. When last done the asphalt surface was scarified or roughened to give more traction so that the motor vehicles who were speeding around the curves didn’t crash as often. The modern approach to safety now is to engineer the roadway to slow cars down as opposed to trying to find ways to let them go faster, thus making roadways safer for all users. There are engineering standards for the width of traffic lanes which vary according to the speed limit, with the principle being the narrower the lane the slower a driver will go as there is less room for error.
The NACTO Guide (https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/lane-width/) suggests that maximum lane width be 10’ except on truck or bus lanes and that 11’ or wider lanes (which are the norm currently in Ridgewood) lead to more speeding and other negative consequences.
So if you design the roadway with narrower lanes to make it safer, what do you do with the now extra space? Typically this affords the opportunity to add things like bike lanes or additional median space and even bump outs for pedestrian crossings.
Now another argument is that the new design reduced the capacity of the road as there were sort of two lanes before and now there is one lane with a right turn lane added at each end. If you look , on the east side both Broad and Franklin are one lane roads, as are Ridgewood Avenue and Godwin Ave/Wilsey Square on the west side. Having Garber remain two lanes all the way doesn’t speed things up or increase capacity if the roads leading into it remain one lane. The only change is that fewer cars can be stacked in there waiting for red lights which is an issue only at the busiest times. When the plan was presented I remember people screaming that the line of cars would back up all the way to Midland Park. I would say the changes have been minor. Traffic backs up at 8am, 3PM and around evening rush hour just like it did in the past.
It seems like our Village Council spends more time on issues involving cars than any other issue, between whether or not we need a parking garage, complaints from neighborhoods about commuters parking on their streets all day and the complaints about traffic delays or speeding thru neighborhoods. Instead of trying to find more ways, at great expense, to cram more cars onto our streets we should be looking at ways to allow residents to get around without depending completely on cars. Thru the mid 20th century most children got to school either by walking or riding a bicycle. Now almost 90% are driven to school with the resulting traffic jam in town twice a day. The village and Board of Education have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars widening roads or adding new ones to create drop off areas and we force school administrators and teachers to become traffic cops two times a day. It would be cheaper for taxpayers and much healthier for kids if we stop spending money trying to make it easier to drive to school and instead find ways to make it easier and safer walking and cycling there. The distances are short and the obstacles few.
There are many studies showing that making central business districts more walkable and bikeable increase the economic vitality of the area. Simple google searches will get dozens but here is a general resource about the concept (https://smartgrowthamerica.org/resources/evaluating-complete-streets-projects-a-guide-for-practitioners/). In short, if folks are more comfortable walking around downtown, they will stay there longer and spend more.
Right now on nice days 50-60 bicycles are locked up at and around the train station. Improved parking facilities and making their trip to the station easier and safer would increase their numbers which in turn means fewer cars and less fighting about parking spots and garages.
Summing up, I think the problem is we have too few bike lanes in town. Adopting a Complete Streets Plan, and encouraging walking, bicycling and mass transit can do a lot of good for Ridgewood. It can improve quality of life, health of our residents and improve the economic vitality of our village . I am a realist and understand the automobile will remain the dominant mode of transport but if Ridgewood ignores the demographic trends occurring in millennials (lowest rate of car licensing/ownership since WW2) and current trends in planning and street design (https://smartgrowthamerica.org/our-vision/ ) it will become less attractive as a town folks want to live in. My credentials include riding a bicycle about 3000 miles each year and being Board Chair of the largest bicycle safety and education organization in the USA ( https://www.bike.nyc/ ). And by the way, the design of the bike lane meets all current engineering standards and is the safest way by far for a bicyclist to cross from the west to east side of town.