Motorists and bicyclists will share the road – through sharrows – on Woodbridge Avenue in Metuchen

KATHY CHANG/STAFF

METUCHEN – After a spirited discussion of whether or not sharrows would make Woodbridge Avenue, a county roadway, safer for bicyclists, members of the Metuchen Borough Council were left with reservations.

Sharrows are line markings in the middle of motor vehicle lanes that indicate the road needs to be shared by vehicles and bicyclists.

While not safer than bike lanes, borough officials agreed the sharrows are a progression – although on a small scale – in the right direction in making Metuchen safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Mayor Jonathan Busch explained that the impetus of the discussion was the suggestion to the county to implement bike lanes on the roadway, which begins at the intersection of Main Street near the Metuchen Train Station and leads into neighboring Edison Township’s Roosevelt Park. After looking at the roadway, the county agreed on sharrows because of the narrow width of the roadway.

“We really tried to convince [the county] that [bike lanes] would be a great pilot for bike-friendly Metuchen,” Busch said.

The Borough Council voted 3 to 1 in favor of a resolution authorizing an agreement of the installation of the shared lane markings along Woodbridge Avenue at a meeting on Sept. 9. Borough officials said the agreement allows the county to install sharrows on Woodbridge Avenue.

Council President Linda Koskoski, Councilman Todd Pagel and Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen supported the resolution with “yes” votes. Councilman Jason Delia was the lone “no” vote.

Delia, who revealed that he is a cycling enthusiast, said he believed the roadway was too narrow for sharrows, making it potentially dangerous. He said he supported the sharrows implemented on Amboy Avenue and Route 27.

Through research, Delia said sharrows are used for wayfinding guiding purposes, not as a replacement or substitute for bike lanes.

In March 2018, the New Jersey Department of Transportation [DOT] placed sharrows as part of the Route 27 repaving project.

Pagel said he lost sleep grappling with what is best for the bike and pedestrian future of Metuchen.

“Although there is a place for sharrows, I don’t think Woodbridge Avenue is a place for [them],” he said.

With the discussion, Pagel said it shows biking is evolving and is becoming a lot more popular.

Koskoski said her experience with sharrows on Amboy Avenue has been positive. She said since the sharrows have been installed, she has been able to bike in the middle of the road. Prior to the installment, she said she had motorists beep at her and try to get around her.

Isaac Kremer, executive director of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance, spoke on his personal experience as a resident. He noted he rides his bicycle with his eight-year-old son on Woodbridge Avenue toward Campbell Elementary School and parts where the roadway narrows is a scary experience.

He said he believed the implementation of the sharrows was a natural progression and said any bit of encouragement for more biking in the borough makes it better for everyone.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.