SOMERS POINT - Cape May County visitors and residents alike laud the many recreational and tourist attractions offered, and biking, whether through shore towns or on country lanes, ranks high among these.

A "Super Bikeway" rally and meeting was held Jan. 10 at Somers Point City Hall to urge the final "connect the dots" phase of creating a seamless system of bike paths throughout Cape May County from Somers Point heading south.

During the two-hour gathering, dozens of interested bikers and residents circulated at the hall to view preliminary plans and talk to state officials about next steps.

Andrew Maetsky, project manager, state Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and Kimberley Nance, regional manager, Office of Community and Constituent Relations, NJDOT, were on hand to answer questions and present the various options being considered.

James Carr, senior associate at Johnson, Mirmiran and Thompson, Trenton, is the project’s engineering consultant and also provided more information about what could happen: “The final development plan will be completed in about three to six months. After it is reviewed, if it’s a go, we would then move on to further design work and seek funding to link more of Somers Point heading south to the Parkway. The whole process would take anywhere from three to five years.”

Before the informational meeting, Drew Fasy, co-chair, along with Thomas Heist of the bicycle advocacy group Bike OCNJ was quoted as explaining the motivation of the meeting: “We have that ball at the two-yard line,” said Fasy, who is an Ocean City resident. “We need to punch it into the end zone.”

As one example, the causeway linking Ocean City with Somers Point is bike-friendly for its entire length, but as soon as riders cross into Somers Point there is a dead end for the bike trail. A similar situation exists as bikers make their way into Upper Township's Beesley's Point and beyond to points further south in the county.

In the summer months especially, the situation is dangerous, according to bikers. They and county and state officials have noted previously that dedicated bike lanes would improve safety, provide a viable alternative to vehicular transportation, and could become a major eco-tourism draw for local and visiting bike riders of all levels.

Ocean City has received accolades as one of the most bikeable cities in the U.S., with a dedicated bike lane along the resort’s major thoroughfare, West Avenue. Other shore towns have also dedicated bike lanes, but, once riders leave these bike-only trails, there are significant challenges to connect with other safe biking options.

To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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