Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Princeton Council is about to vote on bike lanes. Will you lend your support?

Photo- Hamilton Avenue. Princeton Council will vote to decide if bike lanes will be added here.

Do you want bike lanes in Princeton in 2015? If so, we need your help. Last year, members of the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee worked with municipal engineers to develop plans for improved bicycle facilities on several Princeton streets, which are currently due to be repaved. One of the projects- on Hamilton Avenue between N Harrison Street and Snowden Lane- would add 5-foot bike lanes, to provide safe space for cyclists to travel separately from cars. This measure is also good, because it would help to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists on sidewalks.

This section of Hamilton is a particularly good fit for bike lanes. Traffic volumes are quite high, but on-street parking is not used very much, and alternative parking is readily available on adjoining side-streets. PBAC's recommendation for bike lanes was based on careful consideration of different alternatives, and was subsequently endorsed by the Traffic & Transportation Committee.

The proposal now moves to Princeton Council, who must vote to allow the proposal to go ahead. Specifically, parking must be restricted in the project zone to allow for addition of the bike lanes. Not everybody on Council agrees that it's a good idea to prioritize safe bike lanes ahead of occasional on-street car parking. That's why it's up to members of the public to show their support for the proposal. Whether the bike lanes are added depends on you- will you come to Council to show your support?

The proposal will need to be approved by Council twice. First, the Council members have to vote to 'introduce' the ordinance. This will happen next week, at the Council Meeting on Monday January 12, at 7 p.m. at the municipal building at 400 Witherspoon Street. If Council does not introduce the ordinance, then there will not be bidirectional bike lanes. That would be a pity, not just because Hamilton Avenue needs better bicycle facilities, but because a vote against bike lanes here would make it very hard to add bike lanes in other places in town. 

If you want to make bike lanes happen, please sign up to join me at Council and tell our elected officials that Princeton cyclists deserve safe facilities. Please reply to this message or email pjpbac@gmail.com to let us know you will be coming, and to help coordinate support for the bike lanes. If you can't attend in person on Monday, then consider writing to our Council members- you can find their email addresses at the bottom. And please tell your friends!!

If the ordinance is successfully introduced next Monday, there will be a public hearing about the proposed bike lanes at a second Council meeting, probably on January 26 or February 9. This is standard procedure, and if we get to that stage, we will again inform potential supporters. It may seem like a laborious process, but in less than a month's time, we could make bike lanes in central Princeton a reality for the first time! This would be a victory for sustainable transportation, and make Princeton a leader in Complete Streets in the state of New Jersey.

I'm pleased that we are able to offer Princeton residents and elected officials the opportunity to put in place real, safe bicycle facilities in our town. We can't build trails through central Princeton for cyclists, so we have to have the conversation about whether we are prepared to upgrade our facilities to make it easy and safe for cyclists to get from one place to another. Now is the time for that conversation.

Princeton Council and Mayor email addresses:

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