December 16, 2020

Princeton’s Cycling Status Rises, Most Bike-Friendly Town in the State

BIKE-FRIENDLY TOWN: Princeton has been named a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, making it the only town in the state with an award at that level. (Photo courtesy of the Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee)

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton has been awarded a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). Princeton is one of only six BFCs in New Jersey and the only one in the state to attain the silver level.

Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) Chair Lisa Serieyssol and Princeton Council President David Cohen pointed out several of the accomplishments that are helping to make Princeton, the most bike-friendly town in the state, a safer and better place for people to bike.

“We are grateful that our recent bike-friendly initiatives such as installation of 10 miles of bike boulevards in town; passage of a bicycle parking ordinance for private development; installation of upgraded ‘Safe Routes to School’ traffic signals; promoting and enhancing bicycle safety education in our schools; and purchasing and installing much-needed seasonal public bike parking corrals in the center of town have been recognized by the League of American Cyclists,” said Serieyssol.

In announcing the award, Bill Nesper, executive director of the LAB, noted that the award is the culmination of many years of work by Princeton residents and a particularly valuable accomplishment at this time. “During one of the toughest years in recent memory, we have seen so many Americans turn to biking during the pandemic for fun and for necessary transportation options,” he said in a press release. ”It’s so important that communities like Princeton have laid the groundwork over several years to make biking a safe accessible option for people when we all need as much health and happiness as possible.”

He continued, “This award round Princeton joins 51 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities in the movement toward healthier, more sustainable and connected places. As we turn the page on 2020 and look ahead to 2021, we’re proud that Princeton and communities like it are embracing bicycling as a solution to our collective recovery.”

Before moving up to the silver level with the December 16 announcement, since 2016 Princeton was ranked at the bronze level, along with Hoboken, Lambertville, New Brunswick, Ocean City, and West Windsor, New Jersey’s only designated bike-friendly communities.

There are 485 LAB-recognized BFCs in the country, with New Jersey ranked as the 12th most bike-friendly state. LAB has also cited Princeton University as the one bike-friendly college or university in the state. The Whole Earth Center on Nassau Street is one of four businesses in the state designated as bike friendly.

Citing the Bike Mobility Plan and its adoption into the Princeton Master Plan three years ago as a major boost for biking, Cohen noted, “Being bike friendly is all about getting people on their bicycles.” In a survey several years ago, 60 percent of Princeton respondents said they wanted to do more biking but did not always feel safe on the roads, Cohen said, pointing out that the Bike Mobility Plan is targeted towards changing that situation.

“The more people on their bicycles and the more dedicated facilities for bikes, the better it is for motorists,” he added. “Every bike on the road is a car that’s not on the road.”

Serieyssol, who will be speaking at the Princeton Public Schools PTO meeting on December 17, emphasized the broad reception from the schools over the past four years, with education in bike and pedestrian safety extended to parents and many requests for information on how to move safely from home to schools and to downtown Princeton.

“More and more people are realizing that it is possible to move safely within Princeton, and they just have to know how to do it,” she added.

In looking ahead to the future for bicycles in Princeton, Cohen and Serieyssol mentioned the goal to increase outreach in educating the community, both cyclists and drivers, about how to share the road safely, as well as the need for increased bike parking and other facilities.

Cohen noted that a study is nearing completion on the Robeson Place-Wiggins-Hamilton corridor, where significant bicycling improvements are anticipated.  A future study of Harrison Street is on the horizon. The wide roadway, particularly in the area around the Princeton Shopping Center, provides lots of opportunities to improve conditions for both pedestrians and bicyclists, he said. 

“Much remains to be done, and we hope the future will allow us to reach ever higher levels of bicyclist comfort and confidence in moving around Princeton,” said Serieyssol.