Representatives from the Princeton Sidewalk and Bikeway Advisory Committee (SBAC) have offered their recommendations for changes to the Princeton Community Master Plan that would place more emphasis on the sidewalk and bikeway infrastructure.
Recommendations in a presentation before the Master Plan Subcommittee of the Princeton Regional Planning Board last Tuesday suggested amending the master plan to establish bicycle goals for the entire community that would encourage more bicycling while reducing short driving trips; enhance walking mobility for children; make popular destinations more bicycle-friendly; and contribute to the overall promotion of good health.
Marvin Reed, a member of the planning board, said bicycling and walking should be considered as important as driving.
"Walking and biking are fundamental transportation and fundamental recreation in town. Sidewalks and bikeways are just as important as roadways and ought to get the same amount of attention."
Mr. Reed also suggested a change in the general rhetoric about combining goals for bicycling and walking. "We get mixed up because we think of walking and biking as the same thing, but they're really separate activities.
"One of our problems is that too often the people who are walking get in the way of the people who are biking and vice versa because they're both trying to use the same path at the same time."
Mr. Reed did suggest, however, that the regional infrastructure has hit a critical mass that precludes reverting back to a biking/walking culture. "I'm not doing this out of some kind of nostalgic dream, but we seem to have developed a practice in this town where part of the Princeton culture is that if you don't drive your kid to school, you're not a good parent." As a result, Mr. Reed said, school drop-offs and pick-ups around 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. produce gridlocked conditions at the schools.
According to the report submitted by SBAC, a proposal was made to then-Borough-Mayor Reed 10 years ago suggesting a study of the "local bicycling environment, impediments to bicycling, and recommendations for change." At that time, Mr. Reed thought the community should develop a classification for sidewalk standards for in-town, suburban, and rural areas, and a standard for pathways through open space and open land. Issues of cost-sharing between municipalities, materials used for pathway/bikeway construction, and width standard were also addressed.
William Enslin, a member of both Township Committee and the Princeton Regional Planning Board, said he hoped to establish "well-defined" walkways and pathways with potential destinations. Doing that, he added, would lead to more efficient resolutions of situations like the one currently underway on Snowden Lane.
Township Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing March 7 concerning a proposal to build a pathway along a 1,300-foot stretch along the western side of Snowden Lane between Hamilton and Franklin Avenues. Among the many reasons why residents along that portion of the road are opposed to the plan is because the proposed sidewalk does not appear to be fully supported in the master plan, as are other sites earmarked for sidewalk installation.