To the Editor:
I must agree with those residents of Valley Road who oppose the transformation of one of their sidewalks into a bike path and I do so, not as a Valley Road resident, but as a long-time cyclist who has been riding almost every day, year ’round for 12 years. And I do ride a portion of Valley Road one day, also year ’round, on my weekend 30-mile rides out to and up along Sourland Mountain’s ridge line from east to west and then back down the “mountain” and back to Princeton.
Valley Road as it exists today is as safe for cyclists as any other moderately to high-trafficked through street I ride on my weekday 7-milers around town and rarely are bike paths in the area as safe. The problem with bike paths is that they are never maintained as well as streets and are rarely as well cleared of debris and other dangers to cyclists … for example low growing shrubbery and tree limbs … as are the town’s main roads. The little bike path that runs close and parallel to Valley Road from Moore across Jefferson Street and on over to Witherspoon is an excellent example of this. And the long bike path along The Great Road from Mountain Road to just short of Drake’s Corner is another. I would not ride on either because of broken glass and other debris, downed and low-hanging tree limbs, and bumps and pot holes on those paths. In all the years I’ve been riding, I’ve never once seen a cyclist on The Great Road’s bike path. Lots of joggers, but no bikes. We all ride parallel to it on the road.
There is little doubt in my mind that a Valley Road bike path, however well-intended, would suffer the same fate as the bike paths mentioned and that cyclists will choose to ride, as we do now, on Valley Road instead. Town money would be better spent improving the shoulders of Valley Road for cyclists as they are currently riddled with potholes and patches, especially toward the Witherspoon end. Chestnut and Jefferson streets pose dangers to cyclists too and my main concern there is not for myself but for the many school children who ride on those and any other street near our schools. Would not money be better spent making roads safer for children who ride bikes to school?
Bike LANES as opposed to PATHS, placed judiciously, can be a great help to cyclists. The bike lane markings along Wiggins, for example, have made my weekend run down Wiggins far less scary as drivers have come to understand and respect their purpose. Perhaps bike LANE markings along Valley Road would better serve cyclists and at much less cost to the town and to those residents of Valley Road who would lose their sidewalk to what is almost certainly to become an unused and thus useless bike path.
Ashley W. Wright