Monday, March 20, 2017

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.

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