The visceral experience of riding your bike can be intense and freeing: the warm sun, the cool air, the sounds muted by breeze and the unique pace of life as trees, people, plants and homes slide by.

Of course, constantly fearing for your life does put a damper on things.

It seems everyone in Montclair agrees we have a problem with road safety. Indeed, the data painfully confirms this. As I bike past the site of Zyon Brooks’ death with my 3-year old every weekday on the way to preschool, I am struck by the reality of this town: flat and incredibly wide roads, median household income twice the national average, a population that cares about climate change and leading by example and a large share of residents with children. All this, and we have zero feet of bike lanes. All this, and the most optimistic plan from our most cycling-friendly council member, Peter Yacobellis, as described in one of his recent emails to constituents, is a "subtle, painted system of lanes ... without taking away parking."

There is truly no excuse for being so paralyzed in acting to build meaningful infrastructure to ensure cyclist safety and encourage loosening of the grips of car dependence. At stake is not simply the rare, although tragic, inevitable and avoidable loss of life we tacitly accept via inaction. It is also the daily joy and freedom thousands of us miss out on, in particular our kids, who would choose to bike if they didn’t have to worry about being hit by a distracted driver in a 3,000 pound SUV.

Many have written to their township councilor or spoken during a township meeting and gotten no reply. It is clear that our town leadership has no serious intention of implementing the safe streets plan they adopted in 2020. It is past time for Montclair to demand a cross-town separated bike lane that allows all of us to find the safety, peace and joy waiting in a bike lane.

Zoe Richards


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