Council Hears Detailed Report On Community Mobility Study
By Anne Levin
A report on a recent Community Mobility Study was presented to Princeton Council at its meeting Monday night. Based on surveys conducted with two separate groups — Princeton High School (PHS) students and all residents and visitors — the study was launched to understand the town’s transportation needs and plan for its future.
“As Princeton’s population is set to grow significantly in the next few years, the town must accommodate the transportation needs of more residents while also curbing traffic congestion and keeping pedestrian and bicycle riders safe,” reads the introduction to the study. “At the same time, Princeton’s Climate Action Plan calls for an overall reduction of carbon emissions, including those related to transportation.”
Jessica Wilson and Tineke Thio, among those who have worked on the survey for over a year, made the presentation. Their goal, said Wilson, was to discover what is working well, what is difficult and dangerous, and how public transit can be improved.
The PHS survey was responded to by 75 percent of the student body. The general survey received 470 responses. Over a third of the students said they use a bike to get to school once a week or more.
Use of the town’s free municipal bus and Princeton University’s free Tiger Transit network are not widely patronized. Asked what would encourage more usage, respondents said more stops and a more regular schedule would provide incentive. “The key is that the downtown shuttle buses need an extensive network and be regular,” wrote one respondent cited in the report. “I’d really love to ditch my car if I could.”
Asked about safety concerns, respondents mentioned speeding drivers, and their failure to stop at intersections or crosswalks. Distracted road users — not just drivers, but also pedestrians and bicycle riders — were also faulted.
Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros asked Thio what her three top takeaways were from the study. “I won’t answer that because the intent of this report is simply to convey what Princeton residents think about transportation, and what we need to do is a whole different question,” Thio said.
The survey, which includes several maps and charts, is accessible on princetonnj.gov.
Council also heard a report on Princeton’s Vision Zero Task Force, part of a global movement that aims to end traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by taking a systemic approach to road safety. Councilman David Cohen introduced Ranjit Walia, a consultant from Civic Eye Collaborative, which worked with Hoboken on
communicating the importance of their Vision Zero initiative. “We’d love to work with him,” said Cohen. “We really need an effort to educate the public about what this is, why it’s important, and why they should get engaged.”
Council voted in favor of asking the firm to put together a proposal. Councilwoman Mia Sacks said she’d like to see some coordination with municipal staff first. “There needs to be a conversation with the engineering and planning departments, and possibly police, to sort out what has already been done, and what they feel we need,” she said.
The governing body passed an ordinance concerning noise, and another prohibiting parking on Cherry Valley Road from Cherry Hill Road to Duffy Place, where bike lanes were recently added. Montgomery Township passed a companion ordinance.
An ordinance to rezone two parcels on the Hun School campus from R-2 (residential) to E-4 (education), originally brought to Council last November and voted down, provoked questions from Mayor Mark Freda and some Councilmembers. There was some confusion about why it had been brought back for introduction without any changes having been made. “I’m a little concerned that an ordinance on a topic that drew a lot of public interest is reformed, not that
different from what it was before, without the public having a chance to comment,” Freda said.
Council voted 3-2 for introduction. Cohen said he supported the introduction “because it’s a conversation that needs to happen. We should be looking to the Planning Board for some guidance. In order for that to happen, we have to introduce it tonight.” A public hearing on the ordinance will be held at the June 13 Council meeting.