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  1. #1
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    New Jersey commuting questions

    hey, guys. i am new to this forum, although i have been lurking around for a few weeks.

    i am not new to general cycling, i have loved bicycles since I was old enough to balance myself on one. but i've never taken it seriously until the past year, when i decided to ride my bicycle downtown (this was in texas) instead of try to find parking. After I started doing that, I really got into going further and further, to the point that I was up to 30-40 miles (not a lot for you, but a good distance for me).

    then I moved to the new york city area, but couldn't take my bike with me (it was a kona, and i hated it.) since I don't have a car here, the importance of having a bike has taken on a new meaning vs. living in texas. so i bought a semi-beater raleigh road bike, with the stipulation that i would buy a $800 or so 'serious' bike if I really got into it.

    and it seems i am really getting into it, especially now that i bought tights and can comfortably ride 40+ miles in 40 degree weather. but i want to commute to work, and that poses a problem.

    Does anyone here live in NJ and commute with their bike? I live in Hoboken and work in Montclair Heights, and if you know the area you probably are aware that the Meadowlands make it difficult to get from one side of NJ to the other on a bike.

    Is there anyone who knows a safe road to get to the other side? The only roads that are not freeways that I can think of that go from one side to the other are Paterson Plank Road and a few roads that lead from Newark to Jersey City. There's also County Road in Secaucus, but I have not been on that road and do not know if it's safe.

    If anyone has any idea on a safe route for me, I would be greatly appreciated. If I had a car, I'd just go up and down all the roads and survey them myself, but I don't see any sense in renting a car just for that.

    thanks

  2. #2
    Dancing on the Pedals Corsaire's Avatar
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    I'm from not too far from there, Clifton. But the particular area where you live now (very close to NY city), unfortunately, is highly congested; and most of the roads you're surrounded by are not really bicycle friendly. Your only choice might be to take a grand detour towards the North Bergen area and thru towns like Moonachie, Nutley, etc, to then turn left towards Lyndhurst, Clifton and them Montclair. It's doable but not too practical.

    Corsaire

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    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    How would one cross the Hackensack river?

    The obvious driving solution would be down Rt 3 past the meadowlands, over the Hackensack River, etc. But I'm curious if you do find a good route, just for information sakes. I avoid most of Bergen county cause of the density and the plethora of traffic.

    I, myself work in Wayne but I live NW of Wayne and I'm able to bike on trails and water lines to work. I have a hard time thinking that there would be a good route to Montclair from Hoboken but wish you the best of luck. Perhaps there is some way you can do a PATH-bike link since Hoboken is pretty much PATH train central. I think "Boonton" line will get you close to Montclair and stuff but I think it might be a small line that runs to NYC in the morning and away from NYC in the evenings, not what you want unless you work nights.

    Jay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsaire
    I'm from not too far from there, Clifton. But the particular area where you live now (very close to NY city), unfortunately, is highly congested; and most of the roads you're surrounded by are not really bicycle friendly. Your only choice might be to take a grand detour towards the North Bergen area and thru towns like Moonachie, Nutley, etc, to then turn left towards Lyndhurst, Clifton and them Montclair. It's doable but not too practical.

    Corsaire
    I work on the Clifton border, so we're probably close.
    I have thought about going up to north bergen, but i think there are still no bridges that cross the hackensack. all of the crossings seem to be down towards jersey city.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay H
    How would one cross the Hackensack river?

    The obvious driving solution would be down Rt 3 past the meadowlands, over the Hackensack River, etc. But I'm curious if you do find a good route, just for information sakes. I avoid most of Bergen county cause of the density and the plethora of traffic.

    I, myself work in Wayne but I live NW of Wayne and I'm able to bike on trails and water lines to work. I have a hard time thinking that there would be a good route to Montclair from Hoboken but wish you the best of luck. Perhaps there is some way you can do a PATH-bike link since Hoboken is pretty much PATH train central. I think "Boonton" line will get you close to Montclair and stuff but I think it might be a small line that runs to NYC in the morning and away from NYC in the evenings, not what you want unless you work nights.

    Jay
    Have you ridden on Rte 3 before? it doesn't have access roads like they have in the south, so I am not sure if this means it's just 6 lanes of treacherous highway riding, or if there are city streets that parralel them.

    As for PATH, the PATH is a great bike friendly train. I take the NJ transit to work, and I'm allowed to bring my bike on, but that takes the fun out of the commute. I would cycle 6 blocks to the train station, load my bike on the train, get off and cycle another 6 blocks to work.

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    Dancing on the Pedals Corsaire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsaire
    I'm from not too far from there, Clifton. But the particular area where you live now (very close to NY city), unfortunately, is highly congested; and most of the roads you're surrounded by are not really bicycle friendly. Your only choice might be to take a grand detour towards the North Bergen area and thru towns like Moonachie, Nutley, etc, to then turn left towards Lyndhurst, Clifton and them Montclair. It's doable but not too practical.

    Corsaire
    You might also consider moving closer to your work, to a more nearby town like Lyndhurst or Nutley, unless you really need to be close to the city.

    Corsaire

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsaire
    I'm from not too far from there, Clifton. But the particular area where you live now (very close to NY city), unfortunately, is highly congested; and most of the roads you're surrounded by are not really bicycle friendly. Your only choice might be to take a grand detour towards the North Bergen area and thru towns like Moonachie, Nutley, etc, to then turn left towards Lyndhurst, Clifton and them Montclair. It's doable but not too practical.

    Corsaire
    I live in Bayonne and have cycled from Montclair Heights many times. In fact, I've frequently visited the Paramus Park Plaza which is located in the middle of Urban Sprawl and virtually ALL the malls in Bergen county! I cheated by using NJ rail (Main Line) to get to the malls but I cycled back home each and every time. I frequently come back from the malls in Bergen County by heading to Newark New Jersey. It's all downhill to Newark and you can catch the Path to Hoboken. I find the area up there cycle friendly and frequently meet other cyclists in high end machines.

    My advice is to get a copy of Microsoft Streets and trips or go to Mapquest. There are several bridges over the Hackensack river once you get near Fort lee. I discovered this one wooden foot bridge that has been closed off to motor traffic and considered a landmark used by the revolutionary war soldiers. The software will enable you to locate small obscure bridges that maps do not illustrate clearly. I was able to locate these brideges easily with my GPS using Streets and Trips to get coordinates. In fact, this is the REASON why I purchased a GPS in the first place was to locate bridges across the Hackensack river!

    The problem with commuting to Montclair Heights is the massive HILL you must climb over. When coming back home on a weekend journey, I ususally hit 45-50 mph going down those hills. Incredible. Climbing over those hills into Fort Lee will be very difficult during the winter. You also have to climb over Palisade Avenue to get to Fort Lee!

    Here's a better solution.

    Buy a folding bike. An inexpensive folder like the Dahon Boardwalk 7 is allowed on NJ Transit trains during rush hour. Since you live in Hoboken, take the folder aboard the train and unfold it once you reach your destination. The beauty of this system is that you don't need to rely on the Montclair Line anymore and can now take the Main line which runs a lot faster and frequent! If you miss the Montclair train, just take the main line to Clifton and bike over to the next town.

    I was talking with a young person who started a job in Teatobourgh (sp) Airport. The bus would leave him about 2 miles from his place of work and now he uses a folder in conjunction public transit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arbeiter
    Have you ridden on Rte 3 before? it doesn't have access roads like they have in the south, so I am not sure if this means it's just 6 lanes of treacherous highway riding, or if there are city streets that parralel them.

    As for PATH, the PATH is a great bike friendly train. I take the NJ transit to work, and I'm allowed to bring my bike on, but that takes the fun out of the commute. I would cycle 6 blocks to the train station, load my bike on the train, get off and cycle another 6 blocks to work.
    Take the main Line to Clifton and bike over to the next town. In fact, you can start exploring other train stations further out and each day for work. Start exploring new train stations each week. That would be a blast! I wish I had your commute.

    Forget Rte 3 unless you intend on living a short life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsaire
    You might also consider moving closer to your work, to a more nearby town like Lyndhurst or Nutley, unless you really need to be close to the city.

    Corsaire
    Hoboken NJ is a wonderful place to live. My brother used to live in Nutley and there is nothing there to do on the weekends. It's a boring town compared to the Hoboken night life. In fact, Hoboken is like living in downtown New York City (the village). My brother and his wife now have two cars and live in the middle of sprawl. I live Bayonne and the only other town in Jersey I would consider is Hoboken. As you can imagine, it's very expensive to live in Hoboken but that small town has some of the best action for the single man! ;-)

    My solution of taking a folding bike and exploring the nearby towns is waaaay better. He can make up small bike journeys each morning and have a blast.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsaire
    You might also consider moving closer to your work, to a more nearby town like Lyndhurst or Nutley, unless you really need to be close to the city.

    Corsaire
    Lyndhurst and Nutley are right next to my job, and while they're nice towns, they're not appropriate for me until I'm at least 35. I am only (just turned) 23. For New Jersey, Hoboken or Jersey City are really the only suitable options for someone my age.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    I live in Bayonne and have cycled from Montclair Heights many times. In fact, I've frequently visited the Paramus Park Plaza which is located in the middle of Urban Sprawl and virtually ALL the malls in Bergen county! I cheated by using NJ rail (Main Line) to get to the malls but I cycled back home each and every time. I frequently come back from the malls in Bergen County by heading to Newark New Jersey. It's all downhill to Newark and you can catch the Path to Hoboken. I find the area up there cycle friendly and frequently meet other cyclists in high end machines.

    My advice is to get a copy of Microsoft Streets and trips or go to Mapquest. There are several bridges over the Hackensack river once you get near Fort lee. I discovered this one wooden foot bridge that has been closed off to motor traffic and considered a landmark used by the revolutionary war soldiers. The software will enable you to locate small obscure bridges that maps do not illustrate clearly. I was able to locate these brideges easily with my GPS using Streets and Trips to get coordinates. In fact, this is the REASON why I purchased a GPS in the first place was to locate bridges across the Hackensack river!

    The problem with commuting to Montclair Heights is the massive HILL you must climb over. When coming back home on a weekend journey, I ususally hit 45-50 mph going down those hills. Incredible. Climbing over those hills into Fort Lee will be very difficult during the winter. You also have to climb over Palisade Avenue to get to Fort Lee!

    Here's a better solution.

    Buy a folding bike. An inexpensive folder like the Dahon Boardwalk 7 is allowed on NJ Transit trains during rush hour. Since you live in Hoboken, take the folder aboard the train and unfold it once you reach your destination. The beauty of this system is that you don't need to rely on the Montclair Line anymore and can now take the Main line which runs a lot faster and frequent! If you miss the Montclair train, just take the main line to Clifton and bike over to the next town.

    I was talking with a young person who started a job in Teatobourgh (sp) Airport. The bus would leave him about 2 miles from his place of work and now he uses a folder in conjunction public transit.

    I thought about a folding bike, but I decided against one. The rules concerning taking a bicycle do not apply to reverse commuters like me - for trains going outbound in the morning, inbound in the evening, you are permitted to bring a full sized bike (wheelchair accessibility permitting - the train I take is only 30% full at any given time so this is not a problem.) Also, folding bikes don't have the versatility for long-range riding, and are pretty horrible on steep hills. But if I were a pure urban commuter, I would consider one.

    The Montclair line actually runs as frequently as the Main line during weekdays. Montclair is in fact one of the busiest commuter towns to NYC, Clifton is also pretty big for that. The train is adequate for my needs, it only takes 22 minutes to get to work. And, yes, Hoboken is nice, although the moment I pay my dues at the company I work for, I want a job in Manhattan. Hoboken is a good place, but it is 99.999% yuppified, very homogenous, not really suited to me. I dream of living in Brooklyn - now there's a city with so much to explore on bike. The pathway down Ocean Blvd. is a lot of fun.

  12. #12
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    has anyone ridden on Highway 7? This is called Newark Ave. in jersey city, it begins off of Observer Highway in Hoboken, goes north of Journal Square, past the Tonnele circle area, and then has its own bridge and road that leads right into Harrison. And then there's Raymond Blvd, which leads into the Ironbound in newark.

    Are these safe roads for bike travel?

  13. #13
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Just thought I'd add that I think you missed my point about Rt 3. Do not attempt to bike on Rt 3! I stated

    The obvious driving solution would be down Rt 3 past the meadowlands,...


    I like the idea about the folding bike and the train station linkage!

    Jay

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    don't worry, i wasn't planning on riding on route 3, but the roads that lead to newark might work out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arbeiter
    has anyone ridden on Highway 7? This is called Newark Ave. in jersey city, it begins off of Observer Highway in Hoboken, goes north of Journal Square, past the Tonnele circle area, and then has its own bridge and road that leads right into Harrison. And then there's Raymond Blvd, which leads into the Ironbound in newark.

    Are these safe roads for bike travel?
    A big smile was on my face when I read this last question. I've been looking at that route for a long time and you can see where it leads by looking out of the window on the Path train as it heads to Newark. In my opinion, there is NO WAY you can use this route as the cars go too fast and there's no shoulder! There is a path that you can ride on the side of the road and the bridge does have a walk way. Unfortunately, the path way is rather narrow and in terrible condition. I doubt you'll be able to travel faster than 10 mph on that path. It does not look like the pathway is complete and at times is cutoff by the highway. I repeat, there is no way you can ride on that highway.

    It's real sad because Newark NJ is almost impossible to reach by walking and cycling. My hope is that one day the walkway to the Outterbridge crossing will be repaired giving the cyclist access to the Jersey Shore!!

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    hmmm, well this is a real disappointment. guess i can't commute to work after all.

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    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Well, you kind of need to work somewhat west of Montclair. I can bike to Montclair from where I work in Wayne with a pretty good route that goes over Rt 80 and Rt 46. And I already commute to work by bike north and west of Wayne and if you don't have to cross Rt80 or Rt46, then that's even better.

    Jay

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    Quote Originally Posted by arbeiter
    hmmm, well this is a real disappointment. guess i can't commute to work after all.
    welcome to my world. i've been trying to find something feasible from Manhattan to Newark (where i work) but it's nearly impossible without utilizing the train.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay H
    Well, you kind of need to work somewhat west of Montclair. I can bike to Montclair from where I work in Wayne with a pretty good route that goes over Rt 80 and Rt 46. And I already commute to work by bike north and west of Wayne and if you don't have to cross Rt80 or Rt46, then that's even better.

    Jay
    The problem are the hills going from Hoboken to Montclair. I like the bike/train option because it really opens up lots of opportunities. Since he can bring a full size bicycle on the train during rush hour, why not get off at Newark Broad street and make you're way all the way up that way! In fact, Bloomfield avenue takes you all the way up to Montclair.

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    I don't mind hills, I just mind having to ride on a turnpike or something. Although Montclair can be hilly, it is part of the first mountain of the watchungs or whatnot. I already take my bike a few times out of the week, the rest I just walk, so I am at least not driving.

    timmhaan, I feel your pain. Maybe we'll find a secret passageway someday.

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    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Yeah... got a shovel, you could build a tunnel.. If you read Weird NJ, there are rumored to be tunnels under the Hackensack River I think... Perhaps you can build a tunnel right to where you work... Now that would be cool.

    Bloomfield avenue is one that I had in mind that goes through Montclair, Verona, etc.

    I also goofed when i said worked west of Montclair... I kind of mean live west of Montclair or the vincinity cause then I'd be able to help you more.

    Jay

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    Quote Originally Posted by arbeiter
    I don't mind hills, I just mind having to ride on a turnpike or something. Although Montclair can be hilly, it is part of the first mountain of the watchungs or whatnot. I already take my bike a few times out of the week, the rest I just walk, so I am at least not driving.

    timmhaan, I feel your pain. Maybe we'll find a secret passageway someday.
    I really don't understand what you want?? You want to cycle from Hoboken to Montclair but not from Newark to Montclair? All you're doing is taking the train 1 stop to Newark Broad street from Hoboken. This will leave you in Newark New Jersey and you'll be able to safely cycle all the way to work.

    In fact, taking a folding bike up there is not too hard because I've done it! Once you get beyond those mountains and past the sprawl, it's pretty much level ground.

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    What I want is a way to travel between here and there that's 100% just riding my bike. I already am able ot take my bike on the train, and I don't see the purpose in getting off early just to ride a few extra miles. Broad Street and Montclair are only 3 miles apart or so, so it wouldn't represent anything but a little exercise and some time.

    There are theoretically two ways I could get to Montclair: via Meadowlands/Seacaucus/Rutherford or North Bergen, or via Newark up to Bloomfield. That's why I was asking about Newark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arbeiter
    What I want is a way to travel between here and there that's 100% just riding my bike. I already am able ot take my bike on the train, and I don't see the purpose in getting off early just to ride a few extra miles. Broad Street and Montclair are only 3 miles apart or so, so it wouldn't represent anything but a little exercise and some time.

    There are theoretically two ways I could get to Montclair: via Meadowlands/Seacaucus/Rutherford or North Bergen, or via Newark up to Bloomfield. That's why I was asking about Newark.
    It maybe 3 miles but it's not flat ground. In fact, you'll probaby arrive at work dripping in sweat so I hope you have a shower at the office. The road from Newark to Monclair is all about climbing. I would think it's more aggressive than 70% of the forum readers who commute by bicycle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    It maybe 3 miles but it's not flat ground. In fact, you'll probaby arrive at work dripping in sweat so I hope you have a shower at the office. The road from Newark to Monclair is all about climbing. I would think it's more aggressive than 70% of the forum readers who commute by bicycle.
    We do have a shower at the office, but nobody here bikes to work and I've never seen it used. I've gone up Bloomfield Ave. before, and while it is steep, I don't recall being wet with sweat when done. Maybe I'll do some exploring over that way this weekend.

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