February 3, 2021

Council Moves Towards Creating Bike Lanes On Robeson-Wiggins-Hamilton Corridor

By Donald Gilpin

At its January 26 meeting, Princeton Council reviewed an extensive corridor study from the WSP engineering and professional services firm and went on to focus on a plan, similar to the 2018 “beta bike lane” experiment, to create bicycle lanes on the Robeson-Wiggins-Hamilton corridor.

Strong public support for on-the-street bike lanes on the roadway from Bayard Lane to Harrison Street was apparent, with several members of the public speaking up at the virtual meeting and additional comments emailed in that were supportive of the on-road bike lanes.

The WSP study presented a range of recommended traffic safety improvements for all who travel along the corridor, and, following detailed discussion of various options, Council indicated its preference for the on-road bike lane alternative. That option was considered safer for pedestrians and cyclists because bicyclists would have their own travel lanes. Also, the bike lanes would be significantly more cost-effective and environmentally responsible than other alternatives.

In expressing its preference for the plan, Council requested that “the Permit Parking Task force work expeditiously to find a solution for relocating parking on the corridor between Witherspoon and Harrison, and that staff work expeditiously to work out details on how to implement” the bike lanes option.

The preferred option, as described in the WSP corridor study, would involve the installation of standard bike lanes on both sides of the street without a buffer.  The study also recommends traffic calming measures such as traffic circles, raised pedestrian crossings, and installation of traffic signals at various locations on the corridor to reduce speed and volume of traffic and improve traffic safety for all roadway users. 

In response to concerns about the loss of parking to accommodate the bike lanes, Councilman David Cohen, Council liaison to the Pedestrian Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC), noted that “there are nearby locations to which the parking spaces can be relocated.” He emphasized that the parking spaces on the Robeson-Wiggins-Hamilton corridor, many of which are used by businesses and employees in town and at Princeton University, would not  be “removed” but “relocated, without undue financial hardship” for users.

In reflecting on the bike lanes plan, Cohen emphasized that “we rarely get an opportunity to reimagine our infrastructure in this way. We must realize that a revolution in micro-mobility, with electric bikes and scooters is just around the corner, and it would be shortsighted to design just for the roadway users of today.”

Noting that Robeson-Wiggins-Hamilton is a critical east-west corridor and a link in Princeton’s configuration of bike boulevards, PBAC Chair Lisa Serieyssol supported the on-road bike lanes plan. “It expands the network and the importance of biking and micro-mobility as a means of getting around town,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the bike lanes installed in the near future. We want to make pedestrians comfortable and safe on the sidewalks and have the bike lanes available for cyclists.”