Saturday, December 14, 2013

musings from Mr. Kruse re: Alexander Street

The Alexander Street University Place (ASUP) Traffic & Transit Task Force
"evaluates and makes recommendations concerning long term traffic needs 
of the Princeton community that may be affected by the proposed Princeton 
University Arts and Transit Project, including benefits of implementing transit 
from the NE Corridor rail line to Nassau Street."

The "progress and preliminary findings" of ASUP's Transit Study are in this
56-page presentation from last month. One of the goals (page 6) is "maintain
bicycle-friendly atmosphere". Kind of a smug declaration that the atmosphere
is (or has been) bike friendly,  or even adequately equipped with bike racks.

Having never been able to attend ASUP's weekday/lunchtime meetings, some
thoughts on this topic are collected here. Starting with the question "what does
the community of local (and future) bicyclists really want?" I can offer these two:

1. they want protected (physically separated / segregated / buffered) bike lanes.

        That's to say, some amount of space between cyclists and cars, whether
        implemented using "jersey barriers", bollards, or even just painted stripes,
        as can now been seen in New York City, Montreal, Europe, etc. In terms of
        "best practice", this type of facility is what a busy town should aim for [*].
        But in terms of "some amount of space" you then need to answer the
        question "who is willing to sacrifice their space, to get adequate width
        for bike lanes and car traffic to coexist ?". Four possible answers, of
        which the first three are almost certainly non-starters, are "get rid of
        all the parking meters", "cut down a bunch of trees", "redo your town
        as a grid of one-way streets", and finally "find a suitable street which
        can accommodate 2 lanes in each direction, with no parking meters"

        The Complete Streets Design Handbook from Philadelphia describes
        the considerations behind six kinds of bicycle lane (conventional,
        left-side, buffered, contra-flow, climbing, cycle tracks) and shared-
        use paths. It's a big document (182 pages - the bicycle component
        is at page 96 or 98) but well worth reading. Of particular relevance here
        are "buffered" lanes, and "shared-use" paths. The type of bike facility
        chosen depends on the speed/volume of traffic. Equally interesting is
        this 15-page presentation State of Bicycling Safety authored by Charles
        Carmalt, the pedestrian/bicycle coordinator in Philly, where he shows
        some before/after data for the different types of "safety improvement".
        Recall that Charles put together a bike plan for Princeton in 2002

        If you survey our town asking "where could there reasonably be
        a proper bike lane someday?", you hone in on Alexander - as long
        as you ignore that terrifying old truss bridge, due to be replaced 
        within a year or two. Alexander is wide, it's (mostly) straight, it 
        slopes down to the canal but (unlike Washington) isn't too steep, it
        parallels the Dinky line and serves commuters and students, etc.

        However bike facilities on Alexander will - I assume - be much as
        described in this 2-pager from almost 3 years ago. To summarize:

        - there will liberal deployment of sharrows (dashed blue lines),
          which become necessary since the Arts & Transit Village includes
          retail stores, restaurants, and (I assume) curbside parking meters.
          Depending on your opinion of sharrows, you the bicyclist may
          feel better or worse when riding on the revamped roadway.

        - the shared-use path (aka "sidepath", green line) will remain,
          on the south (Springdale golf course) side of the street only.

        - there will be a connection from Alexander, past the new Dinky
          Station (which will likely someday be the hub of bike sharing)
          to a "major cross-campus path" all the way to Fitzrandolph 
          via Streiker Bridge (purple line). This will be welcomed by
          cyclists in the Riverside part of town who commute by train.

2. a second item on the bicyclists' wish list is "how can I ride with
    my kids to/from the towpath without having cars honk at me on
    Harrison or Alexander ?".

         I have a few ideas related to serving this demand, which for
         today I need to defer.

         As more information becomes available about whether how
         bicyclist traffic will be supported and encouraged on the
         revamped Alexander Street corridor, I'll try to post it here.

[*] footnote about bike lanes, and about how certain improvements
   have greatly boosted retail activity in various parts of New York City -
   this is a stimulating 15-minute TED Talk by Janette Sadik-Khan.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

new bike shop coming to the area next summer

"By a unanimous vote, the Hopewell Borough Planning and Zoning Board approved plans
to build Sourland Cycles on East Broad Street.  The store, to be located next to the Lotus
sports car dealer and in the same block as the new Brick Farm Market, will be approximately
3,400 square feet when completed next summer. 

"It's a fantastic location in the middle of the borough and the crossroads for countless cyclists
in the area," said Michael Gray, one of the partners in the project. "The borough, the Historic
Preservation Commission, the planning board and the area's cyclists have been incredibly
supportive of this proposal. We are really excited to get started."

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Vancouverite Charles Montgomery "has discovered a striking relationship between 
the design of our minds and the design of our cities, a concept he lays out in his 
new book Happy City. Montgomery has used insights in happiness science to 
drive experiments that help citizens transform their relationships with each other 
and their cities."

Read an excerpt here or a review here.  Here he explains to New Yorkers 

1 ) Use your building elevator as an opportunity to start conversation.  
2 ) Move closer to work.  
3 ) Plant a tree.  
4 ) Buy the cheapest house on an expensive street.  
5 ) Try to live within a five-minute walk of frequent public transit.
6 ) If you drive, don't waste your time searching for the closest parking spot.
7 ) Even if you hate New York's bike lanes, try riding a bike to work.
8 ) Meet your Facebook friends in the flesh.
9 ) Build stillness into your life.
10 ) Practice being nice to strangers.

And what if we added this seasonal one, backed by happiness research findings:
11) Live where you can treat yourself to a therapeutic dose of window shopping. 

Now on display in the window at Kopp's is a vintage Cinelli racing (time-trial) bike, 
much like this one as well as an older tandem track racing bike: looks like this.  

Imagine how much lighter your wallet would be if you owned the collector's item 
which is Colnago's Ferrari 60th Anniversary Limited Edition.  You could pretend to
be clad in a retro cycling jersey from the "Brooklyn Chewing Gum" racing team of 
the 1970's, whose connection to Mentos is mentioned in a Bill Strickland essay.

PS International Buy Nothing Day also came from Vancouver, and I'm happy to have 
not known about it until a few minutes ago.

Friday, December 6, 2013

article: "Beyond Portland, U.S. Biking Infrastructure Needs to Aim Higher"

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is a leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use 
neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. In this article,
CNU Program Manager Alex McKeag  discusses bike infrastructure in Portland with Scott MizĂ©e
Senior Designer at Alta Planning + Design. Alta's mission is to "create active communities where 
bicycling and walking are safe, healthy, fun and normal daily activities." Click on the link below:

Thanks to Marvin Reed for pointing me at this.  Other articles by the same author are online at
this link:   The interviewee is co-founder of npGreenway, a 
Portland-based nonprofit trail planning and advocacy group.

where the emerald necklace meets the yellow brick road

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is is our region's
federally designated metropolitan planning organization (MPO). On Sept. 26 the
DVRPC announced the approval of 13 projects for funding from the final phase of the
Regional Trails Program, which was created and funded by a $10 million grant from
the William Penn Foundation.

One of the 13 approved projects was "Lawrence Hopewell Trail, Carter Road East
and West" – read more about it
here, and about last month's $400K bond ordinance
passed by Hopewell, to pay for LHT costs beyond those funded by grants, here.

As you should already know, the LHT is a great nearby resource we can all enjoy.
But you should also be aware of the sprawling network of regional multi-use trails in
the DVRPC, which has being branded "The Circuit". A good article about it is here.
To understand the motivation for The Circuit, paraphrasing from this article:

               "it became apparent that all these individual trail projects were 
                actually beginning to add up to something more. The William Penn
                Foundation was getting a sense that all of the trails would have more 
                potential if they were viewed as one, connected network rather than 
                separate entities. They wanted to promote the idea of a single regional 
                trail system where the trails, as they got filled, would come together and 
                connect into one network, so essentially we're all building one trail."

Reading the the LHT's grant application, it mentions on Page 1 being connected to
"Princeton Township's Bikeways Network". What this currently means, referring
to our boundary as shown on the LHT map, is that you can connect to the LHT
where it crosses Rosedale Rd, or via the towpath (aka East Coast Greenway), or
maybe by way of Princeton Pike. 

But our committee has proposed several improvement projects which, once 
implemented, will make it easier to ride over to the Lawrence Hopewell Trail
via a scenic "cross-town" route encompassing Mountain Ave, Johnson Park
and Community Park schools, PHS and JW middle school, the shopping
center, Terhune Rd, etc. Click here to get a stylized view of a possible route.

This would be a recreational bike route allowing direct access to the lovely "new"
bridge across Stony Brook, which re-opened a year ago. It would have wayfinding
signage and possibly even a catchy name. The P-ride ?  The P-ortage ?
How about The FietsRandolph ? (learn about the Dutch word for bicycle).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How Child Road Deaths (and a gasoline shortage) Changed the Netherlands

Radio interview (duration: 11 minutes):   How Child Road Deaths Changed the Netherlands

In 1973, the campaign group Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the Child Murder) 
launched in the Netherlands. It would change the face of the nation's infrastructure. 
Witness (program on BBC World Service) speaks to the group's chair, Maartje van Putten

Related story:  the 40th anniversary of "car-free Sundays" in the Netherlands - it turns
out there was a not-so-happy confluence of oil non-availability with a public safety crisis.

Related to the OPEC oil embargo, rationing was implemented by the government, with
a complete ban of private motorized traffic most Sundays between Nov 4, 1973 and 
Jan 7, 1974.  

Sarah Goodyear wrote an excellent article on this topic back in April 2012. Click here.

"In 1972, a total of 3,264 people were killed on Dutch roads, and in 1973, 450 road deaths 
were of children."