Monday, March 20, 2017

Now available: COMPLETE Bicycle Master Plan

If you've read the Parson Brinckerhoff "Final Report" on the Bicycle Master Plan and thought it was missing something, that's because it was!

The report contains the main points. But there are appendices that spell out the details. The complete report and its appendices are now available for download at the Bicycle Master Plan page of Princeton's website.

In particular, Appendix C describes the proposed network of bicycle routes with low levels of traffic stress, where even less experienced riders can feel comfortable.



All files are in glorious PDF, no more struggling though text-only versions and having to find the graphics in older versions.

Princeton's Bicycle Advisory Committee will discuss the Bicycle Master Plan at its monthly meeting, Thursday March 23, 2017, at 7.30 pm at the Municipal Building on 400 Witherspoon Street. The meeting is open to the public.

let's try that with smaller text

You may recall that during 2016, a team of transportation consultants, funded by
an NJDOT grant, drafted a 'bike master plan' whereby Princeton could improve its
network of roads and trails, moving towards a more bicycle-friendly future.

You can find a draft of their report, dating from June of last year, at the link on
the very bottom of this page.  It's a 128-page PDF, however the essential gist
of it is in Chapters 4-6 (pages 46-107 of the PDF, or numbered pages 38-99).

In crafting the plan, the methodology used was the pervailing state-of-the-art: a
Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) ranging from 1 to 4 gets assigned to each section of road.

Street maps are color-coded with green lines being 1, the lowest level of 'stress on
a bicyclist', and purple being 4, the highest level. Intermediate levels are beige
(2) and red (3). The 'stress' depends on factors like traffic volume, actual vehicle
speed, road width, etc. For example, Map 03 shows the LTS scores on the current
road network, while Map 09 has the revised scores, assuming bike-oriented changes
get implemented. A given section of road will either retain the same score/color
(no improvements envisioned), or else its LTS score will decrease, and its color
will change from "hotter" (red/purple) to "cooler" (green/beige) due to the road
enhancements.

Things have progressed to the point where the municipal planning board is now
starting to decide which of the recommendations can be incorporated into the
next version of the 'circulation element' chapter of the master plan. Actually,
what is under consideration by the planning board is not the 128-page report
verbatim, but some kind of distillation/rewording of it, by the planning director.

In the coming months, there will be public meetings at which residents can weigh
in on whatever changes get listed for eventual inclusion in the circulation element.

Given the lack of public meetings, except at the very start of the process, it seems
that interested parties should try to study the available material and form their own
opinions about the plan. Here, I've decided to focus Map 09 in the draft report, and
to zoom in on the downtown (former borough, campus environs) area, which is the
'hard problem' i.e. the most common destination of a typical bike commuter. 

The proposed evolution of streets tagged A through R on the map are explained in the
table below. I was interested in getting a snapshot of where improvements might happen
(left column, 10 entries), and where 'high stress' is likely to remain in place (right column,
8 entries), at least until the next go-around with the planning board.

While the proposed bike plan is not nearly as bold as the one developed 15 years ago,
it was done in a more community-oriented and pragmatic way. Here's hoping it reaches
daylight someday soon.

some may say "meh" Re: feedback on the bike master plan


You may recall that during 2016, a team of transportation consultants, funded by
an NJDOT grant, drafted a 'bike master plan' whereby Princeton could improve its
network of roads and trails, moving towards a more bicycle-friendly future.

You can find a draft of their report, dating from June of last year, at the link on
the very bottom of this page.  It's a 128-page PDF, however the essential gist
of it is in Chapters 4-6 (pages 46-107 of the PDF, or numbered pages 38-99).

In crafting the plan, the methodology used was the pervailing state-of-the-art: a
Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) ranging from 1 to 4 gets assigned to each section of road.

Street maps are color-coded with green lines being 1, the lowest level of 'stress on
a bicyclist', and purple being 4, the highest level. Intermediate levels are beige
(2) and red (3). The 'stress' depends on factors like traffic volume, actual vehicle
speed, road width, etc. For example, Map 03 shows the LTS scores on the current
road network, while Map 09 has the revised scores, assuming bike-oriented changes
get implemented. A given section of road will either retain the same score/color
(no improvements envisioned), or else its LTS score will decrease, and its color
will change from "hotter" (red/purple) to "cooler" (green/beige) due to the road
enhancements.

Things have progressed to the point where the municipal planning board is now
starting to decide which of the recommendations can be incorporated into the
next version of the 'circulation element' chapter of the master plan. Actually,
what is under consideration by the planning board is not the 128-page report
verbatim, but some kind of distillation/rewording of it, by the planning director.

In the coming months, there will be public meetings at which residents can weigh
in on whatever changes get listed for eventual inclusion in the circulation element.

Given the lack of public meetings, except at the very start of the process, it seems
that interested parties should try to study the available material and form their own
opinions about the plan. Here, I've decided to focus Map 09 in the draft report, and
to zoom in on the downtown (former borough, campus environs) area, which is the
'hard problem' i.e. the most common destination of a typical bike commuter. 

The proposed evolution of streets tagged A through R on the map are explained in the
table below. I was interested in getting a snapshot of where improvements might happen
(left column, 10 entries), and where 'high stress' is likely to remain in place (right column,
8 entries), at least until the next go-around with the planning board.

While the proposed bike plan is not nearly as bold as the one developed 15 years ago,
it was done in a more community-oriented and pragmatic way. Here's hoping it reaches
daylight someday soon.

Inline image


Inline image





Friday, March 10, 2017

Princeton Bicycle Master Plan: your feedback please

Princeton is one step closer toward adopting a Bicycle Master Plan (BMP), as a revised version has been prepared by the consultants, Parsons Brinckerhoff.. Since the Bicycle Master Plan will become part of the Princeton Community Master Plan, it will be discussed by the Planning Board, in an upcoming meeting on Thursday, March 16 at 5.30pm at 400 Witherspoon St.

The meeting is open to the public.

We encourage you to look through the proposed Bicycle Master Plan (links below) and bring your comments and suggestions to the Planning Board meeting. Keep in mind the following:

– A large fraction (60%) of the population wants to bike but is concerned about road safety. The implementation of a good BMP will take away that fear, and encourage residents to use their bike or their feet rather than their car.
– A strong and functional BMP is one that clearly lays out the plan for improved bike infrastructure over the next decade or so.
– Ideally, the BMP obviates the need for a street-by-street fight where, for instance, neighbors who like to see bike lanes built are pitted against neighbors who like to keep on-street parking.




The draft Circulation amendment & draft bikeway map along with the reports from Parsons are included in this Dropbox link  https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xapct8qqldhbfnp/AAC9Ri6zWXvFh29RwbtE6IpFa?dl=0

 
The Circulation Element is the part of the Municipal Master Plan that deals with traffic.

The draft Final BMP is in text only. If you want to see the graphics, maps and tables that go with it, you can download the previous version (PDF), also linked at the bottom of the BMP page.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Is biking on the sidewalk allowed?

When my daughters were very young, I asked them to bike on the sidewalk on our way to town, while I would bike on the road. Pedestrians would smile at them and stand aside to let them pass. Because young children, on their small-wheeled bikes, wearing their huge helmets, are cute.

When the children grow up and get to be bigger than their mom, pedestrians don't think them so cute any more.

"This is the sideWALK!" people hurl the words like a verbal projectile.

The proper place for biking is, of course, on a dedicated bike lane or bike path. However, when a bike lane is absent, the New Jersey law does not outlaw riding on the sidewalk.

But those nervous pedestrians have a point: The truth is that when you bike on the sidewalk, you are a menace. You and your bike are much bigger and heavier than the average pedestrian, and with any speed you have way more momentum.



So, while biking on the sidewalk is tolerated, it's not encouraged. If biking on the road makes you too nervous and you seek safety on the sidewalk, it's a good idea to act like a guest and show respect. When passing a pedestrian on a narrow sidewalk, have the courtesy to get off your bike and walk the few paces, or at least stop until they've walked past you. When there are children walking or playing on the sidewalk, please be extra careful.

Note: local laws on bike use of sidewalks may be different from New Jersey laws.

Princeton, for instance, does have a few sidewalks that are reserved for pedestrians, mostly clustered around the downtown area where the shops are. These sidewalks are marked with no-cycling signs. You can also find out which streets have pedestrian-only sidewalks by consulting the Princeton bike map, where they are marked by green dashed lines. A new batch will be printed soon; if you can't wait, you can check out a digital version of the bike map on the town's website.



For more information, the New Jersey Department of Transportation has a page on bicycling, with a link to the New Jersey Bicycling Manual.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

upcoming event (Wed March 8, 7PM)


"Person Place Thing" is a live interview show based on this idea: people are particularly engaging when they speak not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Guests talk about one person, one place, and one thing that are important to them.   On Wednesday March 8 at 7PM, host Randy Cohen will interview Anthony Appiah, "one of America's best-known philosophers" at the Public Library.  Will Randy discuss his adventures as a bicycle advocate in NYC ? Will Anthony, who gave "the trolley problem" its name, talk about the ethics of driverless cars ? Attend the live public radio show and find out ! Or listen to the podcast at your convenience.












Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bike Share Plans Worldwide

Since VĂ©Lib was started in Paris ten years ago, bike shares have taken the world by storm. They come in many forms and sizes; some where wildly successful, some had to be scaled back.



Most bike share programs means a battery of bikes parked at docking racks strategic placed throughout a city. But one has started a park-anywhere scheme. Another is integrated into the public transport network. A recent article in the Guardian has a nice overview.