Thursday, August 29, 2013

State To Paint 9W For Cyclists, Education Needed For Safety

Thousands of New Jersey and New York City cyclists traversing the George Washington Bride 
daily en route to 9W, arguably the most traveled cycling route in the northeast, will soon have improved visibility this fall after the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) begins repainting the road shoulder lines and adds new signage along Englewood Cliffs, Tenafly, and Alpine up to the state line.

“There’s a study we’re looking at to see what is feasible in terms of longer term improvements for the 9W corridor,” said Joe Dee, spokesperson for NJDOT, who is also an avid cyclist. "We’ve been interested in addressing this issue for some time now due to the volume of cyclists. It’s a very popular area.”

While the project is designed to make the road more visible and safer for cyclists, Dee says motorists need to understand the road is to be shared by a variety of users. Nevertheless, cyclists need to do their part as well.

“I think it’s awareness,” Dee said. “Cyclists can make themselves more visible by wearing bright jerseys. But I shake my head at the recklessness of cyclists when they go two abreast on a highway that doesn’t have a shoulder. And clearly, they’re on the highway for a short distance, they’re trying to get off it onto a country road, but they absent mindedly or arrogantly decide to take over a section of the road and it just doesn’t make sense.”

“I always look at little stretches of highway, and even county routes where there’s no shoulder, and I’m on those periodically like Route 579 in Hunterdon,” Dee added. “That’s the time for a pace line. If you have a bunch of riders, get in the pace line and grind it out.”

According to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. Cyclists must ride on the right side of the road, travel in the same direction as motorists, obey all signals, and ride no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file.

Narrower sections along 9W are posted with signs requiring cyclists to ride in a single file. Cyclists under 17 years of age are required to wear a bike helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, although bike shops, groups, and clubs advocate the use of helmets regardless of age.

Organizers of Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York (GFNY), a timed race that utilizes 9W for much of the 105-mile course, has developed a “sixth sense” for what’s improved and what requires more focus, including speeding cars, distracted drivers due to texting, and the 3-foot distance rule motorists should maintain when passing cyclists – all of which require additional education for both cyclists and motorists.

“While speeding and distraction will have to be enforced by ticketing drivers, passing cyclists appropriately requires education because many drivers are not aware of the danger that comes from passing cyclists closely,” says Lidia Fluhme, who has successfully co-organized the GFNY with her husband, Uli Fluhme for the last three years.

Group rides meeting at Strictly Bicycles every Sunday at 8am not only provide a supportive training environment for cyclists training for the next GFNY and other events, they also educate cyclists on road rules, etiquette, and how to properly share the road with motorists, other cyclists and pedestrians.

But Fluhme believes non-cycling motorists needs to experience the road from a cyclist’s perspective to better appreciate the potential for disaster.                 

"Ideally, before anyone is granted a driver's license, he/she would have to be on a bike and have cars, trucks and motorbikes speed by with 3-12 inches of distance while riding their bike from A to B,” Fluhme explained. “Experiencing that fright firsthand would show drivers how horrible it feels and deter them from doing it and, hence, avoid terrible accidents.”

For more information regarding cycling tips, bike safety, and to view digital maps, go to the Road Rules section under Community  

Want to learn proper cycling? Join one of our FREE Sunday group rides. We meet at Strictly Bicycles 8am (when store opens) to stock up on hydration, nutrition, and last minute tire checks. Rides depart SB parking lot approximately 8:30am. All levels welcome!

Join the Strictly Bicycles Strava club to follow Nelson Gutierrez, the Strictly Bicycles staff, and all your friends on Strava. See where and when they ride, who is King of the Mountain in your area, plus personal records and other fun stats. Join our Strictly Bicycles Strava Club today!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Tour De Fort Lee Returns For Eighth Annual Cycling/Walk Event With New Categories, More Prize Money To Benefit Fort Lee Students, Teachers

Cyclists race down Abbott Blvd during 2012 Tour de Fort Lee
Photo by John Ford

The Tour De Fort Lee will play host to some of the most exciting criterium (crit) cycling races in the northeast on September 8. The community friendly event, now in its ninth year, will also feature a 5-mile family ride and a 2-mile walk.  

The event benefits the Fort Lee Education Foundation (FLEF), which raises monies to fund innovative programs for students and grants for teachers in the Fort Lee school district due to budgetary constraints. 

“Nelson [Gutierrez] from Strictly Bicycles really wants to get the spectators out,” said Harvey Sohmer, President of the FLEF, and councilman of the Borough of Fort Lee. “And the [Fort Lee] mayor and council, and the [Fort Lee] police department are very supportive of the event.”

Harvey Sohmer (left), Tony Clores (center), Peter Rossi (right)
Photo by John Ford
The student population has increased tenfold since graduated from Fort Lee High School’s (FLHS) class of 1959 with his wife, Roberta Sohmer, who graduated class of 1962. He attributes the popularity of the four-corner crit events to the fast, spectator-friendly course. 

This official USA Cycling event draws some of the most experienced riders in the tri-sate area, and organizers have added several new categories (cat) including a combination junior and women cat 4 race, and women cat 1, 2, and 3 races.

In an effort to draw a younger demographic into competitive cycling, organizers broke out the juniors into different age groups for prizes including junior men 10-14, junior men 15–16, junior men 17-18, junior women 10-14, and junior women 15-18. Separate medals and merchandise prizes will be awarded for each age group.

The men categories that made last year’s criterium races a success, including men cat 1 and 2, cat 3,4,5, and masters 35+ and masters 45+ will return. 

Photo by John Ford
The races start and end at the intersection of Abbott Boulevard and Tremont Avenue in Fort Lee. Cyclists will race north on Abbott Boulevard and make their first turn heading east onto Riverdale Drive. At the next intersection they turn south onto Oleri Terrace, then head west to attack the steep hill up Forrest Avenue before turning north onto Abbott Boulevard again. 

The top prize money has increased significantly over last year, coming in at $1,999 to be split between the first 20 places in the men 1& 2 categories. The other categories also feature prizes for top riders.  

Tony Clores, Vice President, another graduate of FLHS (class of 1958) and past president of FLEF, said the event doubles as a class reunion for alumni who return every year from near and far to catch up with friends, take in all the outdoor excitement, and support a great cause.

“I wanted to give back to the community,” said Clores, who continues the work of the foundation with his wife Julia Clores (class of 1960) after Bunny and Michael Feiler started the foundation in 2004 with a $30,000 donation from a local church.

But while sponsors such as Benzel Busch and Strictly Bicycles have been very supportive of the Tour de Fort Lee, he hopes sales of the 50/50 raffle ticket sales, on sale for $20, increase significantly before the event. 

“I hope we at least achieve what we achieved last year,” Clores added. “That’s all going to depend on the raffle.”

If 1,000 raffle tickets are sold, the winner walks away with $10,000. The winner will be announced at the end of the event.  

Agusto Sanchez-Winner of 2012
Tour de Fort Lee
Photo by John Ford 

To purchase 50/50 raffle tickets, visit Strictly Bicycles, 2347 Hudson Drive, Fort Lee, New Jersey. Go to for store hours. For more information regarding the Tour De Fort Lee, contact the Fort Lee Education Foundation or call 201-638-5294. 

The Tour de Fort Lee will be held rain or shine. There will be an additional $10 late fee for race day entry. To pre-register for criterium races, go to the BikeReg event page.

Pre-registration closes Sept 7 at noon. To view categories and prizes, click the Race Flyer near the bottom of the BikeReg event page.

Photo by John Ford
Those interested in signing up for the family ride or 
walk events can register the day of the event at the intersection of Abbott Boulevard and Tremont Avenue in Fort Lee, New Jersey starting at 7:30a.m. The events start 9a.m. 

The Tour de Fort Lee is sponsored by Benzel Busch, Strictly Bicycles, Zipp Speed Weaponry, Cannondale, and is presented by Bergen Velodrome and Cycling Center

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Borough Convinces County To Make More Room For Cyclists

For years, Englewood Cliffs officials have attempted to convince the Bergen County Department of Public Works (DPW) to install bike lanes on Hudson Terrace, a county road used by thousands of New York City and New Jersey cyclists on a daily basis.

Due to the lack of space, bike lanes were out of the question, but two weeks ago the county proposed an alternative to meet cyclists halfway without shortchanging motorists - widening the shoulder.

On August 8th, the county began milling, repaving, and repainting the shoulder lines and widening them from 3ft. up to 5ft. in sections.

“We’re trying to do something to accommodate cyclists and accommodate our residents,” said Melanie Simon, councilwoman for Englewood Cliffs and liaison to the Borough’s DPW, who was particularly concerned of rude motorists and cyclists who sometimes ride three or more abreast on the narrow roadway. “Everybody is trying to get somewhere and the idea is for everyone to get there safely.”

The wider lanes are expected to make it easier and safer for cyclists to navigate around debris, sewage drains and deep potholes without having to weave into vehicular traffic. New lines were added near catch basins to give cyclists advanced warning of the obstacles, and motorists maintain 12 ft. or more of road, the minimum allowed.   

One of the most difficult aspects of getting the project started was getting officials from various agencies in the same room simultaneously including Bergen County DPW, Palisades Interstate Parkway (PIP), the Englewood Cliffs Police Department, Englewood Cliffs DPW and Borough officials.  

The other challenge was county budgetary constraints.

“We have to work within our budgets,” said Tom Connolly, County Road Supervisor at Bergen County DPW. “We have very limited resources to maintain our roadways. The first three years a road is laid down, it’s smooth and beautiful. Afterwards, it starts to deteriorate. Water and asphalt don’t mix at all, and we have a lot of poor drainage areas.”

According to Connelly, Englewood Cliffs Superintendent Mark Neville agreed to coordinate a cleanup of the buffer zone with the PIP twice a month if the county widened the shoulder.

Simon credits all agencies and Borough officials who came together to get the shoulder extended including Englewood Cliffs Borough Administrator Lisette Duffy, Police Chief Michael Cioffi, Deputy Police Chief Michael McMorrow, Superintendent of DPW Mark Neville, and Englewood Cliffs Mayor Joseph Parisi.  

Build It And They Will Come
White line extends beyond original width of shoulder

Many cyclists crossing over the George Washington Bridge (GWB) from New York City stop at Strictly Bicycles, the only bike shop on Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee, to stock up on hydration, nutrition, and other bike products and services before continuing north towards 9W.

For Nelson Gutierrez, proprietor of Strictly Bicycles with his wife Joanna Gutierrez, a safer road equates to a more enjoyable experience, regardless if the rider is a beginner cyclist joining one of the Sunday group rides out of the Strictly Bicycles parking lot or a veteran cyclist.              

"Creating greater separation between riders and cyclists means a safer experience for everyone on the road,” said Gutierrez. “Cycling promotes a healthier lifestyle. The safer we make it for everyone, the safer and healthier we’ll be.”

Event organizers also rely on safe roads to deliver the best possible experiences for cyclists, especially when they host anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 participants during events such as the Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York (GFNY). The GFNY is a timed 105-mile pro-am race that draws professional, intermediate, and beginner cyclists from 70 countries around the globe.

“Enhancing road safety encourages people to get on bikes to ride,” says Lidia Fluhme, who co-organizes the GFNY with her husband, Uli Fluhme for the last three years. “Many people cite speeding cars and unsafe road conditions as the top reasons why they are too scared to ride a bike. [When] initiatives like this help foster healthy lifestyles in the community, more people start riding bikes and take on a challenge like Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York.”

Fluhme believes widening the shoulder on Hudson Terrace is a good step towards safer cycling.

“Granting more road to cyclists creates a better awareness and awards cyclists with more equal rights to be on the road as cars,” Fluhme added. “Cars that travel along Hudson Terrace are used to cyclists and generally give space, respect the cyclists and are good at sharing the road. But any additional infrastructure, like a wider shoulder, also helps.”

State officials plan to address the cycling issue on 9W next month. Go to to follow this series and more cycling news.