The late rock star Freddie Mercury once sang about how he wanted to ride his bicycle and ride it where he liked. In Montclair, it’s now a lot easier to do that.
Montclair opened a new bicycle depot at the Bay Street railway station on October 16. The indoor facility, located at the immediate left of the entrance to the parking garage, has space for 24 bicycles and eighteen lockers for personal items. Commuters can now leave their bicycles and belongings in a secure storage area, protected from the weather, before boarding the train. The depot was made possible by grants from PSE&G, Partners For Health, and Sustainable Jersey, a certification program to help municipalities in New Jersey that seek to pursue environmentally friendly initiatives. Pinnacle, the Montclair real estate development company, has also lent support, in keeping with its focus on sustainable projects.
Mayor Robert Jackson spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which also drew three members of the Montclair Township Council, outgoing Township Manager Marc Dashield, and several other local officials and activists. The mayor spoke of how the bicycle depot was the latest in a series of tremendous innovations that were making Montclair a “cool town,” which he believed portended to building a stronger community in the time to come.
Speaking from her perspective as a physician, Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville said that the new depot, by encouraging more commuters to bike to work, would help cut down on obesity and promote a healthier living pattern. But she also noted how it was a sign of greater investment for the Fourth Ward, which includes the Bay Street train station, and that it would also allow people from other areas who arrive by train to have access to the township’s various attractions.
The principal benefit of the depot is the enclosed design, which Cyndi Steiner, executive director of the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition, says provides an advantage over the open-air bike racks at other NJ Transit stations, where bikes can be vandalized or even stolen, despite the best efforts of owners to secure them with locks. The new depot at the Bay Street station has a 24/7 security camera, and members gain entry to the depot with an access card.
“Because commuters can now store a bike securely in the Bike Depot,” Steiner says, “a safer, higher-quality bike can be ridden to the train station, providing alternative transportation options to commuters from a greater distance. The Bike Depot will serve as a model for other NJ Transit train stations.”
Randy Solomon of Sustainable Jersey said he was “stoked” about the new depot. Dressed in business attire and a bicycle helmet, he said he hoped that such a sight would become the norm, and that “the powers that be” could encourage people to believe that bicycle commuting would be accepted as a normal, everyday activity. Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill (D-5th District) said there was a “renaissance” happening in Montclair, as the township was embracing the sustainable development patterns of the future. Gill also announced that he’s just joined the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition board.
“Now all I have to do is get a bike,” he joked.
Pinnacle’s Brian Stolar, who is also a New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition board member, said that this facility was just a first step in creating a series of transportation alternatives in Montclair, which include car sharing, bicycle sharing, and shuttles. He also noted that the Bay Street garage has a five-year waiting list for commuters to park their cars, underscoring the need for more transit opportunities. He also credited the Michigan firm Duo-Gard for the depot’s design, as well as SwissTrax for the flooring and Saris for the two-tiered metal racks, demonstrating the complexity involved in building a seemingly simple facility.
Commuters who are interested in using the Bike Depot at the Bay Street station can learn more by going to https://www.njbwc.org/bikedepot/