Saturday, February 28, 2015

Re: [pjpbac-public forum listserv] Agenda For Regular PBAC Meeting, Feb 26


I'd reply with 2 related thoughts.

The first is related to Steve H's point #1, "Houses along busy streets appraise lower". Really ? 
This seems fairly debatable. A more accurate assertion might be "Houses along busy
streets appraise lower, or possibly higher, depending on (a) the town where you live 
(b) the attitude/affiliation of the appraiser (c) your definition of "busy". Search through
some of the links below, and you'll no doubt find data/arguments both for and against #1.
In any case, Steve's argument about house valuations and property taxes might only be valid
from the point of view of a potential buyer (not actual owner) of particular house. Or might not.

 
My second point is that Town Council meetings are not debates: one may or may not have
a chance to rebut or demolish a specious, unsupported, or half-baked assertion. One will
not have recourse to frantic real-time Google fact checking. There are rules of engagement.
One needs to be civil and polite, not raucous like this Parliamentary session. The public stands
up, gets their statement heard and recorded for posterity on TV30. Then Council gets the last word.
Then everybody can hop on their bikes (or not) and go home, blinking red beacons in the darkness.
 
regardless of the scrambling among the statement makers to be either first, or last. Or both.


On Saturday, February 28, 2015 11:13 AM, David Cohen <david@decarchitect.com> wrote:


Thanks for your thoughts, Steve. At the NJ bike-ped summit last weekend, it was mentioned that easy access to bike friendly facilities actually raises house values appreciably. I think that should be a more compelling argument than your #1 point.

Re #2, Keep in mind that a right if way is not an easement. I think it important to try to frame the issue that the land within the right of way is not "their land" in any sense, and that obstructions (read "parking") within the right of way should only be permitted if it does not impede other valid priorities.

Point #3 is a good which no one has yet made to my knowledge.

Point #4 also good, but this one was shared at the council meeting.

Point #5 is also a good one, and toward that end we are planning to work toward developing some consensus on a network that Steve Kruse has already identified.

Thanks again for your thoughts and support.

David C.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID


Stephen Hiltner <stevehiltner@gmail.com> wrote:

I had some additional thoughts about the Hamilton Ave. bike lane issue that I'm not sure have been considered, and wanted to try them out on this group. 
  • Houses along busy streets appraise lower, so that there is some built-in compensation for those living along busy streets in the form of somewhat lower property taxes. Home appraisers would be able to tell us how much busy street location is factored in. This is an argument that could potentially be used to rationalize asking those along busy streets to sacrifice their on-street parking privileges. 
  • The public right of way along Hamilton Ave is sixty feet wide, only half of which is being used for the road. Sidewalks would need to be added to that, but it could be said that the public is actually utilizing far less of the homeowners' land than it could if it wanted, i.e. the public is actually being generous in not utilizing land it has a right to use for public purposes.
  • If bike lanes are likely to be put along Hamilton Ave at some point in the future, are Hamilton residents actually doing themselves a disservice by resisting them now? Road resurfacing is when the residents presumably have the option to request extra curb cuts to allow a small space for off-street parking. The woman living at the corner of Harriet and Hamilton, who spoke at the council meeting, could solve the need for parking in front of her house by having a curb cut and putting in a driveway stub long enough to fit a car in front. (I have a photo and post about a similar stub in front of my house on Harrison St.)
  • Complaints by residents about the dangers of crossing the street, given the speed of traffic, raise several questions. Since only two or three cars are parked along that stretch at any one time, they do little to calm traffic. Hamilton Ave, in its current broad, unmarked condition, promotes speeding. Might the visual constriction of bike lanes calm traffic, making the street safer? And might there be a case also for crosswalks that would provide additional visual cues to slow down, even if side streets lack sidewalks? The arguments residents used against bike lanes may actually work in favor of putting bike lanes in sooner rather than later.
  • Might the long wait to get a master plan put together be avoided by at least planning several main arteries that everyone agrees are important? If plans for making Hamilton/Wiggins/Robeson bike-friendly along its full length were settled, then homeowners along any one stretch would not feel they were being forced to sacrifice more than others. 
Lastly, I want to say that I wish I could give more time to this issue. Because I'm focused more on open space, shade tree, and yardwaste issues, I appreciate all the more the work all of you are doing.

Steve
PrincetonPrimer.org


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Agenda For Regular PBAC Meeting, Feb 26

Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee is having its regular meeting this evening, Thursday, Feburary 26. Please see below or click here for details. Our meetings are open to the public. Feel free to join us, or get in touch at any time with suggestions or comments at pjpbac@gmail.com


Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycling Advisory Committee
Meeting of February 26, 2015

7.30 p.m. Meeting Room A, 400 Witherspoon Street

Agenda

1. Implications of Council rejection of Hamilton Avenue bike lane proposal
2. Consideration of 'Complete Streets' Design for Mt Lucas Road engineering project.
3. Other planned Municipal Engineering works, including discussion arising from list circulated at PBAC meeting of 1/22/2015, and plans for Community Park North.
4. Transportation Alternatives Grant program 
5. Potential CMAQ grant application
6. Potential LTAP grant application
7. Date for ciclovia
8. Debrief from NJBWC summit
9. Efforts to distribute paper bike map, including electronic versions
10. Review of goals for 2015
11. Structure of the PBAC committee
12. Structure of the municipal Open Space Task Force
13. All other business



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Princeton Bike Lane Ordinance Falls In Unanimous Council Vote

Princeton Council voted unanimously tonight to table the recommendation from Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee to repurpose parking on Hamilton Avenue for bidirectional bike lanes. That means it will not be possible to add bike lanes in both directions at this time. It will still be possible to add one bike lane, running west-bound toward town. The east-bound lane will either be left unmarked or get 'sharrows' as at other locations on Wiggins Street and Hamilton. (let us know by emailing pjpbac@gmail.com if you have a strong opinion on this). 

It was great to see so many cycling and sustainability advocates at the meeting tonight. Your support is very important in letting Council know the strength of feeling about making safe bike facilities in Princeton. Although the majority of people at the public hearing spoke in favor of the ordinance, the support just wasn't there on Council. Members of the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee will continue to work with municipal engineers to try to encourage pedestrian- and bike-friendly accommodations on upcoming engineering projects. Tonight's vote is helpful in some ways because it defines the kind of options that are politically feasible at this time. We are continuing to work on an updated community bicycle circulation plan and if a new circulation plan is ever formally adopted by Council or the Planning Board, there may be a chance to revisit the idea of repurposing street space for high-quality bike facilities.

Finally I'd like to thank a few people who have leant strong support to the bike lanes plan, and who have some excellent ongoing projects related to sustainability that you may find interesting. Diane Landis at Sustainable Princeton - check out their 'Great Ideas Breakfasts' series. Tineke Theo, who is hosting a new meetup group on the subject of climate change at the library. And Bainy Suri, who is sponsoring an ordinance for a bag fee to try to limit waste- read more about it here.

Advancing safe bike facilities is just one thing that Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee works on, and with this vote out of the way, we look forward to sharing news about some other great projects we've been working on. Stay tuned!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Details For Bike Lane Vote At Princeton Council On Tuesday Night


​Bike lane supporters are encouraged to attend Council on Tuesday night

Unless there's another blizzard, Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee expects Council to vote on a proposal to add bike lanes on part of Hamilton Avenue this Tuesday evening, February 24. The proposal was recommended in line with municipal 'Complete Streets' policy, and is intended to be the first stage in creating a joined-up network of high-quality bike facilities around town. Council members are undecided about whether to recommend bike lanes or continue with previous policy of painting 'sharrows'. If you agree with PBAC that dedicated lanes are better for safe and enjoyable cycling, then Council needs to hear your opinion at this time!

Supporters are advised to arrive at the Council Chamber at 400 Witherspoon Street at 8 p.m. for the public hearing. As there are many items on the Council agenda for Tuesday night and the start time of the public hearing is somewhat uncertain, PBAC has reserved the 'Community Room', a smaller meeting room next to the parking lot, where our committee members will be avilable to talk to members of the public. We plan to go next door to the Council Chamber when the public hearing begins. If you are attending Council to speak in favor of bike lanes, you can either go straight to the Council Chamber or hang out with us in the Community Room. We will be discussing the new pocket-sized paper bike map of Princeton, and distributing bike safety info.

If you can't attend Council on Tuesday, we would encourage you to email our Council members to let them know your opinions on this issue. Council's decision on Tuesday night is likely to set a marker for future bike policy. If you are interested in the concept of cyclists having dedicated space on key local roads, it would be a good idea to tell Council to start adding bike lanes at Hamilton and at other connecting routes. As always, if you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to get in touch at pjpbac@gmail.com.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

OUCL GUUYY IXG ESUB OLY LXFYJKYD


From the secret files unearthed in the long-ago episode 
"Beating a Vexing Enigma on a Beater Bike" -

With the Oscars tonight, the NY Times has published an
interesting paid ad from the Weinstein Company, the
Hollywood studio which produced "The Imitation Game".


What's interesting is the animation simulation of how the Enigma
machine, with its rotors, plug board, and reflector, operated. As a fun
example, copy/paste PBAC's scrambled/encrypted secret message:
   
       OUCL GUUYY IXG ESUB OLY LXFYJKYD

Unpaid ad by me:  a 1979 Polish film "Sekret Enigmy" tells the generally
unknown story of the 3 Polish mathematicians/cryptographers who worked
to crack the Enigma machine during the 1930's and smuggled their results to
the British and French secret services when war started. Click here to view
the entire film on YouTube. WW2 has many villains, but few solitary heroes.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sunflowers to Schwinns: What If The Keystone XL Pipeline Was A Bike Path ?

 
Oct. 2013 The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline has gotten pretty heated
and Kinder Baumgardner has an idea to cool the emotions: a really long bike path.

The creative director for the SWA Group, an Houston-based architectural firm that
designed Google Inc.'s corporate campus, says building the lane along Keystone's
path through the country's mid-section could turn what is now a source of rancor
into a tourist attraction.The firm sent a letter Oct. 17 pitching the plan to the State
Department and TransCanada Corp., the pipeline's sponsor. Its illustrations show
scenes of smiling bicyclists riding over buried pipe and by a farmer's market,
Native American teepees, cows, sunflower fields -- and a protester in a tree.

Learn more by following these links or clicking on the one below.






Monday, February 16, 2015

Princeton Bike Lane Vote Set For Tuesday, February 24.


​Princeton's Council Members are waiting to hear from the community about bike lanes.

Princeton Council is planning to make a decision about potential new bike lanes on Hamilton Avenue next Tuesday, February 24 (you can read more about the proposal here). The vote was delayed from last month because of snow. Since then, there has been substantial discussion about the proposal. Today, the 'Princeton Packet' reported that most Council members are still undecided about whether to support bike lanes. If you support a Princeton where it is safe and easy for people to use bicycles to get around, please consider either attending the meeting, or writing to our elected officials! Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Comittee is in favor of bike lanes on busy streets like this, where it can otherwise be difficult for cars to easily pass cyclists. Bike lanes on this section of Hamilton Avenue will hopefully be the start of a wider network if local people and Council lend their continued support.

As the Council vote is in the balance, your opinion has the potential to carry a great deal of weight. Although municipal policy is theoretically to favor cycling and walking, Council is looking to the community to find out whether there is support. Council Member Lance Liverman, for example, has said he 'is waiting to hear both sides' before making a decision. Council President Bernie Miller has said he will make his mind up this week. Email addresses of Council members can be found below. We look forward to joining with many supporters at the meeting next Tuesday! When the ordinance was introduced in January, we had a great turnout from friends of Princeton cycling, but attending is potentially even more important now for the final vote.

You can contact your Council members about the plan at:

(Note: you may have heard that Council will also hold a special meeting on Wednesday, February 18 to get further input from Hamilton Avenue residents. We are asking advocates to save their comments for the meeting on Feburary 24th, when the full vote will be taken, so as to give local residents a further opportunity to discuss the plan with municipal officials.)



Saturday, February 14, 2015

event: New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit is a week from today


Albio Sires, U.S. Congressman representing New Jersey's 8th District, leads a lineup 
of influential speakers at this year's New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit, which will be 
held on Saturday, February 21, 2015 in New Brunswick. Other featured speakers will 
include Barbara McCann, Director of the Office of Safety, Energy, and Environment 
at the US Department of Transportation, Jon Orcutt, former Policy Director of the 
NYC DOT, and Susi Wunsch, a contributor to Bicycling and Momentum magazines
and founder of the group VeloJoy.

Find the entire article here and the event website here.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Re: [pjpbac-public forum listserv] Bike Parking At The Proposed new '7-11' On Nassau Street


This "7-Eleven" site seems like it could be interesting from a Safe Routes
to School perspective. If there happened to be an alleyway between the new
(or existing building) and the Gulf station property, it could align directly
with Maple. There's a connection to university property (the engineering
quad parking lot, Von Neumann Hall), a gravel road leading to Murray Place,
Patton, and Prospect. I'm not sure how many students use this car-free
cut-through on a typical school day, but we could use more such links.

PS the builders of the legendary "7-Eleven" bike racing team would certainly
appreciate Lake Carnegie in its current frozen state.



Bike Parking At The Proposed new '7-11' On Nassau Street

Former West Coast Video Site, which may become a 7-11 convenience store.

Last night, Princeton's Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) discussed a proposal to convert a disused video store at 259 Nassau Street into a 7-11 convenience store. The Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee has discussed seeking representation on SPRAB, to try to ensure that site plans include suitable accommodations for walkers and cyclists. Unlike other communities, Princeton currently lacks specific ordinances for developments to make accommodations for simple things like bike parking. In the medium-term, that is something that we hope to address. In the meantime, you can see below a letter sent to to encourage SPRAB board members to consider cyclists' needs.

Members of SPRAB,

My name is Sam Bunting and I am a citizen member of the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and also the Traffic and Transportation Committee. I understand that you will be discussing an application for a site plan at 259 Nassau Street at your meeting on Feb 11. I will not be able to attend your meeting because of a work commitment, however, I wanted to request that you carefully consider the question of bicycle parking at the proposed 7-11 convenience store. 

Princeton zoning does not include bike parking minimums, and many businesses have insufficient and sub-optimal bicycle parking. The result is that bicycle use is disincentivized, and that bikes end up locked to trees, benches and parking meters in a disorderly and often insecure manner. Princeton has a commitment as articulated in the Circulation Element of the Community Masterplan to 'entice people out of their cars'. Making suitable accommodations for bike parking is a simple way to help achieve this.

I request that SPRAB recommends that there are no fewer than ten, and preferably 20 bike parking spaces provided to support the requested use at 259 Nassau Street. Racks should be of the so-called 'staple' variety, and should be placed as close to the main entrance as possible. SPRAB members may prefer to consult bicycle parking ordinances from the City of Cambridge, MA, which are detailed and based on significant planning logic, with specific set minimums depending on different land uses. A link can be found here:

I thank the committee members for their consideration.

Sam Bunting

Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

PBAC's Final Walking And Cycling Goals For 2015


Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee Goals for 2015

It seems late in the year to be discussing our "New Year's Resolutions" but with all the excitement in town about bike-related planning, we never properly announced the goals of the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee for 2015! They are listed above, and you can also read them as part of our December 2014 minutes here.

Our goals for 2015 were discussed in our PBAC meetings in October, November and December. We started with a committee visioning exercise, then solicited input from the public in November. What we came up with was based on our aim to advance several different ideas that will help encourage safe biking and walking in Princeton, without setting an impossible task of work for a committee that is made up of volunteers.

Have a look and let us know what you think. Feel free to get in touch with your suggestions at pjpbac@gmail.com. And look for the end of the year when we will check back to see how many of our goals for 2015 were accomplished!

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Note About The Crosswalk At Nassau St. & Vandeventer


Above: Intersection of Vandeventer Ave and Nassau Street in Princeton.

Two letters in last week's "Town Topics" discussed matters related to cycling and walking. I wanted to comment on the letter from a local resident on Maxwell Lane, who suggested that it would be a good idea to change the traffic signals at the crosswalk at Nassau Street and Vandeventer so that pedestrians would have priority over turning vehicles in all directions. The author noted that in New York City, 50 intersections are being modified to an "all-ways stop" signal pattern like this.

In Princeton, we already have one "all-ways stop" traffic signal at Route 206 and Nassau Street. Through our municipal engineering team, we are trying to add at least one more such signal at the intersection of Washington / Vandeventer and Nassau Street. There is a strong consensus on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee and Traffic and Transportation Committee that this is a good idea, because it is such a busy crossing for pedestrians. Nassau Street is, however, a State Highway (Route 27), which means that the New Jersey Department of Transportation has ultimate authority over improvements to this intersection. Our engineers are working hard to make the case for an all-ways stop signal pattern, and have updated the relevant committees regularly (see for example, minutes of the December 2014 T&T meeting here).

Hopefully we will see an improved signal pattern there soon! In the meantime, if you have any questions about issues relating to pedestrian safety, feel free to get in touch at pjpbac@gmail.com.