May 23, 2018

Experimental Beta Bike Lanes Represent a Volunteer Effort

By Anne Levin

Following a community effort that was just slightly hampered by bad weather, Princeton’s Beta Bike Lanes have been installed along Wiggins Street and Hamilton Avenue between the Princeton Public Library and Walnut Lane. The experiment will remain in place at least through May 29, and possibly a day later to make up for a day lost to rain.

Mayor Liz Lempert was among those working to install the lanes on Sunday, May 20. Response to the 10-day experiment has been “almost 100 percent positive,” she said. But at least one resident was unhappy with the effort.

“While I support encouraging bicycle use in town, it is very concerning that this action has been taken with no provision made for the employees who relied on the parking spots it removed,” wrote Stephen Walter, who works at Labyrinth Books, in a letter to the editor of Town Topics. “Many downtown businesses have no parking access, and most of the workers who play a crucial role in the local economy live too far from Princeton to bike into their jobs and cannot afford the prohibitive rates at the municipal garage. The town should have taken a two-pronged approach by offering full-time employees a significant discount or a designated lot. Environmental sustainability need not come at the cost of attentiveness to labor issues and supporting local business.”

Lempert said the goal of the experiment is to make sidewalks safer. “It is a very heavily used sidewalk, and pedestrian safety is one of our goals, in addition to bicycle safety,” she said. “We’ve heard from a lot of cyclists that they don’t feel safe riding in that stretch of road, so we wanted to see how these lanes would work.”

Volunteers were busy Sunday taping the lanes, painting the stenciled symbols, and putting up special signs. “While we were working several families and cyclists came through, and they were very happy to see what we were doing,” Lempert said. “It was a great project and we had a huge volunteer turnout. “Even though it wasn’t still raining on Sunday, the roads were wet when we got there. People were trying everything they could think of to dry the road — even running home and getting towels — so the tape for the striping would stop peeling off. But luckily, in the end, it dried really quickly once the sun came out.”

Other recent additions to Princeton’s bike culture include a bicycle parking corral on Witherspoon Street opposite Princeton Public Library, and covered parking for bicycles inside the Spring Street Garage. The garage parking will be in place throughout the year, while the bike corral is a seasonal installation that ends in October.

The town is collecting feedback from a survey that can be found on the municipal website, under “featured announcements.”