February 15, 2017

Princeton Bike Plan Prepares Final Draft With Goals of Safety and Quality of Life

QUALITY OF LIFE: Bike Planners look forward to finalizing their Princeton Bike Plan, winning Planning Board approval, and seeing their proposals put in place to enhance biking opportunities and the quality of life for the whole town. (Photo courtesy of Bicycle Master Plan)

There are the intrepid cyclists who are happy to ride in almost all conditions. There are the community members who wouldn’t ride under any circumstances, and then there are the 60 percent of people in Princeton who would like to bike, but find conditions a bit scary, with narrow roads, traffic, or other problems. 

Those 60 percent, according to Princeton Bike Advisory Committee Chair Janet Heroux, are the people her committee has been focusing on. “That population might ride if they felt safe,” Ms. Heroux said. “For me a key indicator is a plan that will meet the needs of Princeton so that middle school kids could ride safely to the library.”

A health professional specializing in chronic disease prevention, Ms. Heroux emphasized the importance of biking for the health of individuals and the community. “Physical activity is the sine qua non to prevent chronic disease,” she said. She went on to mention that “biking also addresses a lot of Princeton’s problems,” including parking, traffic congestion, and pollution.”

Engineers, local officials, and other members of the planning group are currently working to prepare a document for the Master Planning Committee of the Princeton Planning Board to present to the full Board for adoption later this year.

Hundreds of local residents have responded to an online survey and other invitations to provide input over the past two years, and, Ms. Heroux explained, it comes down to options and trade-offs. “If we want biking to be convenient, what will we have to do?” Hamilton Avenue, she noted as a case in point, with difficulties there for riders, with the narrow roadway, constraints on parking, and no easy way to provide more space for cyclists.

Among the concerns weighed by the bike planners are needs for more education about bike-related laws, stricter enforcement of laws, safer connections on routes into and out of Princeton, better connections to regional trails, challenges for school children and bike-to-workers, road maintenance (removing brush, leaves, sunken drains, potholes, and other dangerous conditions), combating aggressive drivers, providing more cycling racks (preferably covered), creating more “sharrows” (shared lane arrows), and encouraging more riding on sidewalks.

The League of American Bicyclists has designated Princeton, along with West Windsor, New Brunswick, Lambertville, Ocean City, Montclair, and Hoboken as bike friendly towns in New Jersey. There are 404 bike-friendly communities in the entire country.

In creating its new bicycle master plan, Princeton has been working with engineering consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff of Lawrenceville through a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation.