July 22, 2015

Princeton Gets Assistance From New Jersey DOT For Bicycle Master Plan

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Princeton is creating a new Bicycle Master Plan, and the town wants members of the public to participate in the process.

The study will begin in September with a public presentation, likely at a meeting of the Planning Board. This will be followed by a community outreach campaign. In the meantime, residents can get a preliminary look at information about the project at Community Night Out on Tuesday August 4, at the Community Pool.

“We’re in the pre-scoping period right now with the Department of Transportation and our consultant, but we’ll be at Community Night Out next month and hope people will come by,” said Deanna Stockton, the town’s Assistant Municipal Engineer. The engineering department will have a table at the annual event, with some details of the planned study.

The town is working on the plan in partnership with the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff of Lawrenceville, through The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Local Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning Assistance program. The program provides technical help to counties and municipalities to undertake planning studies for non-motorized modes of travel.

Ms. Stockton sought a grant from the competitive program with a goal of creating “a comprehensive and holistic network map of connected bicycle facilities throughout Princeton,” according to a press release from the municipality. The new study is a follow-up to one done in 2007, where the DOT and Parsons Brinckerhoff completed a Borough Crosswalks Improvement Plan for the town.

“There is a section about biking in the Sidewalk Master Plan, but it’s not a very strong portion of the document,” Ms. Stockton said. “So this will strengthen it.”

“The process of creating a bicycle master plan will help us tremendously in putting together future road projects,” Mayor Liz Lempert said in the press release. “By redesigning our streets, we can slow down cars and make walking and biking safer and more attractive. This bike plan will hopefully put us on a path toward achieving these goals.”

The topic of bike lanes and bike safety has come up repeatedly in municipal meetings. Last February, Princeton Council voted to table a proposal that would eliminate parking on both sides of Hamilton Avenue in order to make room for bike lanes until the town comes up with a master plan for biking. Cyclists were in favor of the idea as a step toward making Princeton a more bike-friendly town. But some residents of Hamilton Avenue resisted the removal of on-street parking.

Princeton was designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by The League of American Bicyclists. “Because of the way our town is planned along with our demographics, we have great opportunities to be able to use modes of transportation other than our cars,” Ms. Stockton said. “We are a cosmopolitan community of people who travel and are used to seeing bicycle-friendly places elsewhere. And they want to see that here.”

Members of the public can obtain documents to participate in the planning process on the town’s website, www.princetonnj.gov. As more information on the study becomes available, it will be posted and disseminated through social media. After the project kickoff this fall, a wikimapping application will be made available for mapping routes and destinations, and providing comments. The public can also email comments about the plan to engineering@princetonnj.gov.