Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bike-friendliness survey

PeopleForBikes is a national bicycle advocacy group. They are conducting a community survey on bike riders' experience in their cities and towns. The survey, which asks both how bikeable our town is and how you think it's improving, forms part of their City Ratings report that will be published in spring 2018.

It is rather telling that Jersey City is on their drop-down menu for New Jersey but you have to enter Princeton by hand.

To have your opinion included, please complete the survey by December 8.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

a few recent articles about bike share

Are there swarms of e-bikes in our future ? 

Washington could soon bypass Portland, Ore., as the American city with the highest 
share of bicycle commuters, due in part to growing competition among bike-borrowing
programs, according to census data and cycling enthusiasts. 

Five companies are vying for real estate in the capital's bike-share market, offering GPS-
tracked bikes that lock themselves without a central kiosk. The newest bike-share offering 
— Jump, which arrived last Monday — uses an electric motor to bolster manual pedaling, 
so riders do not have to break a sweat.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Canal Pointe Boulevard has a bike lane

Congratulations to West Windsor for "completing" Canal Pointe Boulevard, which now has a bicycle lane in both directions.

There is now one lane for cars going each way. A left-turn lane at each intersection makes this road much safer: in the former four lane configuration, people making a left turn from the "fast" lane would get rear-ended with depressing regularity. A dedicated left-turn lane will end that.

The bike lane is clearly marked, with a no-parking sign added, to make sure the message gets across.

Together with the new bike lane on Alexander Road, Canal Pointe Boulevard now provides a much safer bike route from Princeton to the MarketFair mall (with the cinema and the Barnes and Noble), Windsor Green (with the Staples) and even West Windsor Plaza (with the Lowe's), if you bike on the sidewalk of the bridge crossing Route 1.

You do need to be super careful at the north end of Canal Pointe Boulevard where it meets Alexander Road: there are no bike lanes for the first 50 yards or so. Maybe one day the bike lanes will be connected and Canal Pointe Boulevard will become a completely Complete Street.

As is, this version of Canal Pointe Boulevard is a vast improvement over the previous version, which had two car lanes each way with no bike lanes and no provision for a safe left turn.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ride in George Washington's footsteps – 30 July

Join the East Coast Greenway for a rare opportunity to bike a traffic-free Canal Road in Franklin Township on Sunday, July 30!

This family-friendly bike ride will go from Route 518 in Rocky Hill to the Griggstown Causeway on Canal Road. We'll take a break there (food and drinks available, or bring your own) and then head back on the D&R Canal towpath (which is part of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway) for a 7-mile round-trip adventure. You can also choose to peel off and return on your own.

What was George Washington doing here and who was his spy? You'll have to join us to find out!

Free event, but you must register.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Introducing the 2017 NJ Complete Streets Design Guide

The Traffic Calming Ad Hoc Task Group of Princeton's Complete Streets Committee would like to draw your attention to the newly issued 2017 NJ Complete Streets Design Guide (PDF, 25MB). Princeton's municipal decision makers now have an authoritative guide to traffic calming measures that has the seal of approval of the NJ Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. 

What has changed from prior advisories from the state – and makes this document truly significant – is that the NJ DOT now prioritizes safety and place making rather than speed and throughput for car traffic

"Traffic calming is a system of road design and management approaches that balances vehicular traffic on streets with other uses. It reinforces the idea that streets should create and preserve a sense of place instead of solely facilitating vehicles passing through at the greatest allowable speed."

We propose that the municipality use this guide, moving forward, in the implementation of our Complete Streets policy. In fact, the guide codifies the ongoing efforts of town staff and committees to calm traffic in Princeton to improve the safety and accessibility of all streets, in all neighborhoods, for all users of the roadway.

Need for Traffic Calming in Princeton


Traffic calming is an important component of road safety, as many studies have shown that in a crash, higher motor vehicle speeds cause more serious injury and more fatalities, particularly when the crash also involves a person on bike or on foot. This chart from the design guide shows that doubling speeds from 20 to 40 mph increases the risk of pedestrian fatalities by a factor of 17.

This map highlights the high number of car crashes in general on our busiest streets as well as specific danger spots.

NJDOT Car Crash data 2001-2014 by Code For Princeton 

Bubbles indicate number of car crashes; original interactive map here.


Princeton is home to a variety of streets including municipal and county roads, state and federal highways. Speeding occurs on all of them, as evidenced by data from speed cameras. In the graphs, the red line indicates the posted speed limit; the blue columns indicate the distribution of recorded speeds.

Speedcam data provided by the Princeton Police Department

When considering the data, please remember that studies have shown that "Your Speed Is" readouts are effective at reducing drivers' speed. One quantitative study shows that cars' speed is 3-8 mph lower when a "Your Speed Is" readout is present, compared to when it is not. The speedcam data therefore shows Princeton drivers at their best behavior, that is, more closely abiding by speed limits.

2017 NJ Complete Streets Design Guide 

The NJ Complete Streets Design Guide will enable Princeton to implement its Complete Streets policy with the assurance that strategies covered by the guide are evidence based and endorsed by NJDOT and FHWA.

The design guide provides:

  • guidance on adopting and implementing a Complete Streets policy, public policy changes that can help facilitate implementation, and strategies for integrating Complete Streets into the planning and design process; 
  • a range of tools and treatment options that can be used to enhance a street's safety, mobility, access, and vitality. This includes guidance on ADA accessibility.

The guide also corrects two widely held perceptions that are traditional barriers to making streets safe and accessible for all users. As the guide notes, contrary to these perceptions:

Posting a speed limit does not necessarily slow down cars. Among the guide's prescriptions to slow down car traffic are narrowing car travel lanes ("road diet" and "lane diet") and using visual cues that make drivers want to slow down. The guide describes many more effective strategies to slow traffic. 

Reduced vehicular capacity does not necessarily lead to congestion. The guide introduces the idea of traffic evaporation, which means that when road capacity is reduced, vehicle volumes can actually respond by decreasing in similar proportion. In other words, "If you don't build it, they won't come". 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Consultants' Findings from Princeton Parking Study

Consultants Nelson Nygaard presented findings from Princeton's ongoing Parking Study on June 14. A PDF file of the slides can be downloaded from Princeton's Parking Study page.

The presentation is packed with interesting information about the current parking situation in our town. Just to whet your appetite:

• There is a total of 7,025 parking spaces in the downtown core.
• Those parking spaces are at most 53% occupied (peak demand is at lunch time).
• The Spring Street municipal garage is used at a higher rate than the commercial garages due to lower pricing and validation options.
• Nearly 90% of customers and employees drive alone to downtown.

The presentation touches on a few ideas on parking management, but the main takeaway is this: Princeton needs to be pro-active about parking. We need to first determine what kind of parking availability we want, then design a parking system that will give us that kind of availability.

There is a suite of strategies to help us get there This could be an effective pricing structure. It could be a "payment in lieu" scheme where a new development is allowed to build less parking than specified by the town requirements, in lieu of an annual payment that could go towards funding - say - more public transit; It could be time sharing parking, e.g. where private parking restricted to office employees are opened to customers of restaurants after office hours. These are mentioned at the end of the presentation.

The updated numbers (total 7,025 parking spaces, of which 1,633 on-street) are significant for the Bicycle Master Plan. We have identified 176 on-street parking spaces on key corridors, removal of which would complete a low-stress bicycle network  (Witherspoon St and the Hamilton - Wiggins corridor). According to the updated numbers, those 176 spaces are 2.5% of the total number of parking spaces downtown.

Princeton's Engineering Department invites your comments and/or questions after reviewing the presentation. Please send them to The parking consultants will be formulating an approach over the summer; a public meeting to discuss draft strategies is slated for September.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

PBAC Research Relevant to Parking Study

With the opportunity of the Parking Study, the Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee undertook research on parking policies for Princeton to encourage a Bike & Walk lifestyle that is healthier for residents and visitors, alleviates traffic congestion in our downtown core, helps Princeton decarbonize our transportation, and contributes to vibrant business districts.

Based on the findings, PBAC:

  • Requests inclusion of bicycle parking in the study;
  • Offers parking strategies that allows other communities to provide access for all.

Bicycle Parking

Even a cursory look at Princeton's streets show bicycles chained to parking meters, street furniture and trees. 

PBAC requests that bicycle parking be included in the parking study. Designated bicycle parking, such as on-street bike corrals, can free up sidewalk space for pedestrians. 

We refer to the chapter in the Bicycle Master Plan that covers parking, as well as to our earlier recommendations for bike parking (March, 2017).

We further suggest that large-scale bicycle parking be provided for special events with large attendance, such as Communiversity.

Accommodate bicycle lanes on corridors with high bicycle crash rates

In the PBAC recommendation (April 2017) on the Bicycle Master Plan we have proposed putting high priority on safe bicycle infrastructure on the corridors with high incidence of bicycle crashes: Witherspoon St, the Paul Robeson / Wiggins / Hamilton corridor (as well as North Harrison St). In the BMP, Parsons Brinckerhoff recommended that the car parking on these corridors be converted into bicycle lanes. 

Removing on-street parking on these key corridors would:

  • Encourage more bicycle traffic into the downtown area
  • Help restore the visual aspect of the historic core
  • Enhance the vibrancy of downtown businesses

Our research indicated that there are 176 car parking spaces along these corridors, or about 4% of the roughly 4200 spaces within the area of the current parking study.

On-Street Parking: priority for mobility-challenged

It is PBAC's position that destinations like the library, shops and restaurants must be accessible to everyone, regardless of their mobility.

We would therefore propose that priority for on-street parking be given to to the mobility challenged: the handicapped, the very elderly, and families with very young children. These designated parking spaces are to be sited on side streets as close as possible to the priority corridors (Witherspoon and Wiggins / Hamilton).

Time-share: parking / bike lanes

Princeton has an overnight parking ban on many of its streets, particularly in the downtown core. PBAC proposes that on corridors where this is appropriate, the overnight parking ban be replaced by a parking ban during daylight hours, when the parking lane is used as a bicycle lane.

On the other hand, in recognition that everyone has reasons for large celebrations several times during one's lifetime, we propose that designated bicycle lanes can be temporarily re-purposed as parking lanes, when properly marked as such, by permit from the town. This allows residents on streets with bike lanes to host large gatherings at their homes.

Intercept Parking outside historic center

Intercept parking keeps cars outside the downtown core, reducing traffic congestion and pollution. It is implemented in many cities and towns with an scenic or historic core. It helps reclaim the historic "feel" and contributes to both traffic calming and a vibrant retail sector. In Princeton's case, intercept parking spaces could be counted towards the number of spaces required for retail space.

Princeton University, as part of its campus expansion plan, is proposing to implement Intercept Parking: University staff and students commuting to Princeton from the Route 1 corridor are to be directed into a parking garage situated close to Route 1, from where they transfer onto either Tiger Transit or Zagster bikeshare to reach their destination on campus. 

In our municipality, a precedent for Intercept Parking has been set by the Harrison Street Shopping Center, which sponsored a free shuttle to and from Communiversity.

A bike share station as well as shuttle service is crucial for Intercept Parking sites that are farther removed than walking distance from Palmer Square. For shuttle service to be effective, its frequency should be four times per hour or more.

The map below indicates the existing downtown parking garages (red "P"s) and sites where Intercept Parking (blue "P"s) might be possible. These sites could be used to expand on the Intercept Parking site proposed by Princeton University.

Possible sites for intercept parking (blue "P" on map):

- Monument Drive lot [ Rt 206 intercept ] 

- YMCA lot [ Rt 206 intercept ] 

- Lot at Valley / Mt Lucas / Terhune [ Rt 206 intercept ] 

- Harrison St shopping center lot [ Rt 206 intercept ] 

- Whole Earth and/or Bank of America lots [ Rt 27 intercept ] 

- Princeton University site proposed near Washington Rd [ Rt 1 intercept ] 

Wayfinding signs are a crucial element of successful Intercept Parking design. If the parking sites are garages, an availability indicator can be built in with relative ease.

Where necessary, Intercept Parking can take the form of a multilevel parking garage, possibly suitable for mixed use (with e.g. retail at street level). Parking garages are extremely efficient in footprint, as is illustrated in the comparison between the Princeton core and Quaker Bridge Mall. 


Approx 2200 parking spaces within area shown of downtown Princeton (left map),

Approx 10,000 parking spaces at Quaker Bridge Mall (right map; both maps to same scale).

Managing Parking Demand through Pricing

PBAC acknowledges that the elimination of on-street parking in the corridors with high risk to bicycles will mean a decrease in parking revenue from those parking meters. 

We offer several proposals for redesigning the parking rate structure, both to recover revenue from removed on-street meters, and to incentivise biking and walking rather than taking the car into town:

  • On street parking to be shortest term and most expensive
  • Enforcement for on street parking to be tightened
  • Rates in the municipal garage (Spring St) to be the same as in commercial garages
  • Municipal garage to offer lower rates to those who need a car: the handicapped, the very elderly, families with very young children. The precedent for this is that the commercial garages offer reduced rates to church groups, nearby residents, etc.)
  • Rates can be raised for events like Communiversity and Commencement
  • Rates for Intercept Parking to be significantly lower than for downtown parking.

Currently, on-street parking on Nassau St is cheaper than in the municipal garage on Spring St, which in turn is cheaper than parking in the commercial garages. The chart assumes that you "feed" the on-street meter. It happens. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reminder: Ciclovia / Chasing George Bike Ride –– May 21

Get ready for the Ciclovia and "Chasing George" Bike Ride this Sunday!
A detailed schedule is now available, see below; consult the attached flyer (PDF) for a Ciclovia map and details for registering for the Chasing George Ride.

Hope to see you there!

11:46 AM: NJ Transit train #7833 scheduled to arrive in Trenton. Members of East Coast Greenway will escort participants to starting point, the Douglass House at Mill Hill Park
11:50 AM: Check-in & waiver signing
12:00 PM: Updike Farmstead opens. 
12:15 PM: Jeff Laurenti will give an introductory Ten Crucial Days history to start the ride
12:30 PM: Ride departs, with George leading the way
1:00 PM: Ciclovia starts
1:30 PM (APPROX): George and the "troops" arrive at the Quaker Road marker. Roger Williams will give a 5-10 minute concluding talk about the Battle of Princeton.
2:00 PM: Conclusion of Chasing George
4:00 PM: Ciclovia ends. East Coast Greenway members will escort participants to the Dinky, if needed

Further reminders:
Wheels Rodeo on Saturday May 20
Bike To Work Day Friday May 19

On Tue, May 9, 2017 at 12:30 PM, Princeton PBAC wrote:
George Washington features prominently at Princeton Ciclovia 2017, on May 21.

Preceding the Ciclovia, Chasing George is a 10-mile bike ride hosted by the Historical Society of Princeton. The ride goes along the D&R Canal State Park path, in the spirit of the route Washington took the morning of January 3, 1777 to fight in what became the Battle of Princeton. It starts at 12:30 at the Douglass House at Mill Hill Park in Trenton. For details and free registration go to the Chasing George Eventbrite page. Come ride and learn!

The Chasing George ride joins the Ciclovia at 1.30 at Quaker Road

The Ciclovia itself is at 1-4pm on Quaker Road, between the Quaker Meeting and Mercer Mall. The road will be closed to cars. Feet and wheels of all kinds (except car wheels) are welcome. Parking is available at the Quaker Meeting or at Mercer Mall. The Ciclovia is a free event.

Special activities at the Historical Society's Updike Farmstead include sitting in a Durham boat from Washington Crossing Historic Park, meeting Revolutionary War re-enactors, and viewing historical talks and displays by area history organizations. 

These events are made possible by:

Princeton Future meeting May 20

Princeton Future is hosting a meeting addressing the question "Where will Princeton be in 20 years?". Topics on the table include transportation, housing and public spaces. The meeting takes place on Saturday, May 20, 9am - 2pm in the Community Room of the Princeton public library.

Backgrounder (including timeline) in Town Topics article.
Details of the meeting here.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bike To Work Week 15-19 May 2017

Bike To Work Week 2017 is 15-19 May,
and Friday 19 May is Bike To Work Day.

You can pledge to bike to work / on errands with GMTMA (the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association), which also has a Bike To Work team challenge for employers. For the photographers among us, there is a "Visions of Bicycling" photo contest.

For those who are new to commuting by bike, GMTMA has lots of great tips. If you register as a bike commuter, they offer an Emergency Ride Home program in case you encounter a major problem on your bike commute.

If you can't get to work by bike, GMTMA has a wealth of information on greener ways to commute, including a carpool program that helps you find drivers or passengers. The Emergency Ride Home program covers cases where you need to arrive at work earlier or leave later than your commuting partners. And they have a Green Commuter Rewards Program. What's not to love?

Bike To School Day for Johnson Park School is on Tuesday, May 16.
Bike To School Day for Riverside School is Tuesday, May 23, NOT on May 18 as indicated earlier.
(Days for Community Park School and Princeton High School still TBD).

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ciclovia / Chasing George Bike Ride –– May 21

George Washington features prominently at Princeton Ciclovia 2017, on May 21.

Preceding the Ciclovia, Chasing George is a 10-mile bike ride hosted by the Historical Society of Princeton. The ride goes along the D&R Canal State Park path, in the spirit of the route Washington took the morning of January 3, 1777 to fight in what became the Battle of Princeton. It starts at 12:30 at the Douglass House at Mill Hill Park in Trenton. For details and free registration go to the Chasing George Eventbrite page. Come ride and learn!

The Chasing George ride joins the Ciclovia at 1.30 at Quaker Road

The Ciclovia itself is at 1-4pm on Quaker Road, between the Quaker Meeting and Mercer Mall. The road will be closed to cars. Feet and wheels of all kinds (except car wheels) are welcome. Parking is available at the Quaker Meeting or at Mercer Mall. The Ciclovia is a free event.

Special activities at the Historical Society's Updike Farmstead include sitting in a Durham boat from Washington Crossing Historic Park, meeting Revolutionary War re-enactors, and viewing historical talks and displays by area history organizations. 

These events are made possible by:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bike To School Day

Princeton's public schools are celebrating Bike To School Day 2017 according to the following schedule:

Community Park School - TBD

Johnson Park School - May 16th

Littlebrook School - May 10th

Riverside School - May 18th

John Witherspoon Middle School - May 10th

Princeton High School - TBD

Yes, that's THIS Wednesday, May 10th for Littlebrook School and the John Witherspoon School! We will post updates for CP and PHS as the details become available.

Parents, please remember that under New Jersey law: Young people under the age of 17 are required to wear an approved helmet when cycling, roller skating, in-line skating, or skateboarding.

The Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee encourages families to join in these events, and asks drivers to be mindful of all cyclists – and especially our children riding to and from school.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mercer County Master Plan - Bicycle Element

Mercer County NJ is considering including a bicycle element in its Master Plan. A report on the level of traffic stress analysis on the proposed bicycle corridors is now available; the PDF file (20MB) is annotated by Dan Rappoport, a PBAC member.

Friday, May 5, 2017

May is Bike Month

Perfectly timed for beautiful weather and flowers bursting into bloom, May is National Bike Month. In a proclamation of 24 April 2017, Mayor Liz Lempert has declared May 10 to be Bike To School Day and May 19 to be Bike To Work Day in Princeton.

More details of the events will be coming soon (some Princeton schools will celebrate Bike To School day later than May 10). For now, please mark your calendars:

May 10 – Bike/Walk to School Day
May 15-19 – Bike to Work Week
May 19 – Bike to Work Day
May 20 – Bike Rodeo, 400 Witherspoon Street
May 21 – Chasing George / Ciclovia, Quaker Road

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

You are a Bike Ambassador, every time you ride your bike

This past weekend, the Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee had a table at the Princeton climate march, as well as at Communiversity 2017. We showed maps of the Bicycle Master Plan, and of the ongoing Parking Study, and talked with lots of people. Most are enthusiastic about the Bicycle Master Plan.

But a few dissenters openly stated that they were against more bicycles on the roads: "They're dangerous! they swerve, they ride on the wrong side of the road, they think they can do anything!"

Okay – those of us who ride Princeton's streets know that only an unrepresentative handful of us (the foolish ones) ride that way: it *is* dangerous!

But it's like Hasan Minhaj said at the Correspondents' Dinner, addressing the free press that's under sustained attack from the president:

"You gotta be on your A game. You gotta be twice as good. You can't make any mistakes. Because when one of you messes up, he blames your entire group. – And now you know what it feels like to be a minority."

And guess what: as bike riders, we are the minority on the road - right now, anyway. So we all need to be bicycle ambassadors, we all need to be on our best behavior. Because if one of us messes up, it's all too easy to blame all of us, and for the car-centric to say things like "We'll talk about bike lanes once the bike people have learned to behave themselves on the road."

So please do the right thing. Which is the safe thing!
Wear your helmet. Be predictable. Ride on the right (this is New Jersey not England). Do not ride on the sidewalk in the central core of Princeton where the stores are. Do not use Princeton's streets for training for your 300 mile road race: in town, high-speed cyclists are scary for drivers, other bikers and pedestrians. And in general: follow the rules.

While you have a right to be on the road, you don't have a right to invent your own rules! As a reminder: the rules in New Jersey, today, may be different from the ones you grew up with. Take some time and read the very legible New Jersey Bicycling Manual. Read it with your kids.

And be aware that not all drivers have studied the NJ drivers' manual section on how to share the road with bicycle riders. Who don't understand what sharrows mean, and get angry that you are riding in the middle of "their" lane.

A lot of this kind of friction will be resolved once we get safe bike infrastructure with clear signage. Until then, ride according to the New Jersey rules. Besides the car-centric, our children are watching.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Parking Study, Bike Plan, committee meeting

This communication has three parts:

1. Parking Study Update
In case you missed the public open house on 19 April, you can find a summary of the interim findings on the Princeton Parking Study page. The summary contains a timeline for the study. The parking inventory map shows the many and varied regulations on the study area's 4200 parking spaces.

As a reminder, please complete the online survey. You may complete the survey even if you don't drive or park a car. You may complete it more than once if you have more than one stake in parking downtown, e.g. you could be a commuter on weekdays and a patron of the shops and restaurants on weekends. You can also send longer remarks by Email (link from the parking study page).

2. Bicycle Master Plan update
Princeton's Complete Streets Committee has considered the bike committee's recommendations on the Bicycle Master Plan and liked it so much that they did more than endorse it: In the next step, the recommendation is sent jointly from the Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Complete Streets Committee, to the Planning Board.

The next bike committee meeting is Thursday, May 4, 7.30-9pm at the Municipal complex on 400 Witherspoon St. The meeting is open to the public.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Princeton parking study

Since there is only so much space on our streets, often the need for safe bicycle infrastructure is seen to collide with the need for on-street car parking.

If you have any new, innovative, out of the box ideas for resolving this dichotomy (or at least reducing the competitive pressure), now is your chance to share your ideas!

Princeton is conducting a study to improve parking regulations, policies, and management. The public (you!) are invited to provide your input and feedback.

1. Online Survey
Bicycle users will want to complete the online survey, which has questions on both parking and bicycling in Princeton. Please pass the survey on to your bicycling friends.

2. Public Open House and Workshop
DATE: April 19th, 2017
TIME: 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM
LOCATION: Monument Hall
1 Monument Drive
Princeton, NJ 08542

Monday, April 17, 2017

Complete Streets Committee meets today on Bicycle Master Plan

Princeton's Complete Streets Committee is meeting today, Monday April 17, at 5.15 pm in the Municipal Building on 400 Witherspoon Street.

Among other things, they will discuss the Bicycle Master Plan and the bike committee's recommendations , in which we urge to put high priority on the dangerous corridors along Wiggins / Hamilton, Witherspoon, and Harrison Streets.

They will also discuss a design plan for Walnut Lane, the street between Princeton High School, and the John Witherspoon Middle School and Westminster Choir College. Work on this corridor will start in the coming months.

The meeting is open to the public.

At the previous Planning Board meeting, where the Bicycle Master Plan was discussed, members of the public expressed support for a safe and complete bicycle network in Princeton. A young member of the public brought a sign, an eloquent reminder of why we are doing this. (Thanks to Mayor Lempert for the photo).