West Windsor’s planning board has told the Avalon Watch apartment complex to add a bus shelter on Clarksville Road within nine months. This came about at a planning board meeting in which the main point of contention was liability (New Jersey Transit was willing to install it and Avalon Watch was willing to maintain it but didn’t want the cost of added liability).
The WWBPA advocated for the crosswalk and refuge island that connects Avalon Watch and the shopping center and bus stop across the street, and applauds Avalon Watch resident Peter Manda for speaking up at the meeting in favor of the shelter with common-sense arguments. As he noted, residents now we stand on the hilly mound by the stop, and the bench is no help when it’s cold and wet and besides it’s too crowded or clustered there.
An idea born of desperation, a bicycle snowplow in the Chicago area
The WWBPA gives a shout-out to the Forrestal Campus Bike Commuters, a newly formed advocacy group for cyclists who commute daily to Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro. The group, which boasts more than 30 members, was formed in response to a lack of snow removal from bike paths in Plainsboro — especially through the critical corridor along Scudders Mill Road. Despite a Plainsboro Township ordinance requiring the removal of snow and ice from bicycle paths and sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall, several sections of the two-mile path between Dey Road and Route 1 weren’t being plowed by their owners. And snow plowed from the roadway was blocking the road shoulder–so cyclists, runners and pedestrians were being forced to use car lanes, posing risks both to themselves and to motorists.
Andrew Wittenberg, the Plainsboro resident who formed the advocacy group, bike-commutes daily and year-round to the Forrestal Campus. “Unlike previous winters where new snow has melted away within days, this winter we’ve had persistent snow cover for over a month, making plowing of these bike paths essential,” he says.
He has written to the Plainsboro Police Department asking for strict enforcement of Township Code 79-10, which requires that owners clear the bike paths and sidewalks abutting their property within 24 hours, or face fines of up to $500 per offense. The law also empowers the Township to remove the snow without notice, at cost to the owner.
“Bristol Meyers Squibb has been wonderfully prompt about clearing their section of the path,” says Wittenberg. “But other owners — including Middlesex County — have repeatedly violated the Township Code. We’re hopeful that Police enforcement will encourage the owners of these paths to promptly clear them of snow in the future. If those owners remain unresponsive, we plan to organize a letter-writing campaign to Mayor Cantu and the local papers, to underscore the importance of our local snow-clearing laws.”
The WWBPA couldn’t agree more and reminds property owners in West Windsor that our ordinances also require sidewalks to be cleared. Those who rely on a cleared sidewalk to head out for a walk, to visit with a neighbor down the street or to get to the train station, school, library, store or other destination appreciate your courtesy. Motorists who don’t want to find pedestrians in the street do too.
The data is in! Implementing buffered bike lanes in New York City resulted in a 190% increase (nearly tripled!) in bicycling based on before and after counts. More significantly for pedestrians, the percentage of bicyclists on the sidewalk fell from 46% to 4%, and 32% of these cyclists riding in the bike lanes were children legally allowed to ride on the sidewalk!
Buffered bike lanes, which are placed between the sidewalk and the on-street parked cars, are a key feature of the Princeton Junction Redeveloment Plan, although they are replaced in the Transit Village area by the Shared Space concept, which mix bicycle and motor vehicle travel lanes.
According to a recent report, these dramatic results were for weekday counts between 7am-7pm. Weekend counts more than doubled (125% increase), and cyclists riding on the sidewalk fell from 20% to 4%, 43% of whom were children legally allowed to ride on the sidewalk.
Want to have fewer people biking on the sidewalk? Implement buffered bike lanes – they work for bicyclists of all ages and abilities.
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Three WWBPA trustees recently attended a small bike summit of primarily Essex County bicycle advocates. We spent two hours telling each other about what our organizations do and picking up ideas from each other. Here are some that intrigued us:
A bike scavenger hunt built around a theme and including some wacky bike-related activities:
45-minute bicycle-safety classes in gym class for middle schoolers and talks in school assemblies about how to ride safely in traffic (South Orange Maplewood Bicycle Coalition);
A class on how to ride safely in traffic, taught through an Adult School (South Orange Maplewood Bicycle Coalition);
Crossing Guard Appreciation Day (Bike Walk Montclair);
Regular short Sunday rides to local destinations (South Orange Maplewood Bicycle Coalition);
Bike registration with the police (South Orange Maplewood Bicycle Coalition);
More frequent walk to school events to turn it into a habit, rather than a special event, perhaps working with PTAs (Bike Walk Montclair).
Do you think the WWBPA should borrow any of these ideas? We’d like your input. (Of course, we always need volunteers for all our activities, so please consider giving a bit of your time toward building a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly community.)
Both the Princeton Packet and WW-P News reported on Friday about an accident shortly before 8 a.m. on Jan. 14 in which a pedestrian was struck by a motorist while walking on the shoulder of Village Road East near Grover Middle School. Sharain Wason sustained serious injuries and was listed in critical but stable condition, according to both newspapers.
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Here’s a study we like: dollar for dollar, building bike infrastructure creates more jobs than road works.
The findings, publicized by the League of American Bicyclists and quickly making its way around the blogosphere, examined the costs of engineering, construction, and materials for different projects in Baltimore and found that bike lanes create about twice as many jobs as road construction for the same amount of money. (Pedestrian infrastructure also tops roads.) Some of it has to do with the need for labor compared to materials. You can read the entire study here.
For those who say roads are paid for with gas taxes and tolls, well, no, they’re not. Not by a long shot, as this analysis points out.
The WWBPA lists many places to go for a walk (or ski) in the woods (look under Resources) and helps develop and maintain trails in West Windsor. For those looking for ideas farther afield, the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a list of several destinations in South Jersey.
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The West Windsor-Plainsboro Newsreports that the Alexander Road S-curve reconstruction, with safer pavement and bike lanes, will begin this spring:
According to Brian Aronson, the township’s assistant manager of engineering, utility relocation along the S-curve is currently taking place. “Construction activities have ceased until the early spring,” he said.
The work was triggered by an accident on the S-curve in September, 2005, that killed Rebecca Annitto, of Princeton Township, just before her 15th birthday.
The Township Council awarded a $769,000 bid for the reconstruction project in September. It also approved a $35,000 contract with Remington & Vernick Engineers for professional engineering services for the project.
West Windsor received three bids for the project, ranging from $769,096.50 to $879,269.17, when it opened the bids in July. Lucas Construction was deemed the lowest responsible bidder and was awarded the contract.
The project includes widening the road to 38 feet, with one lane of travel and a five-foot bike path in each direction. Features of the new road included elevation of the roadway to create a banking effect, use of high friction pavement, and improved striping and signage. The estimated cost of the project is about $500,000, with $190,000 in funding from a Department of Transportation grant.
The project is estimated to take 60 days to complete.
The WWBPA has long been advocating for modifications to the S-curve and held a fact-finding and informational “West Windsor Walk” in September 2006 to draw attention to conditions.
The U.S. Department of Transportation posted its 2010 Record of Accomplishment, and the WWBPA sees some good things in it. Highlights include anti-distracted driving regulations and encouragement for more transportation opportunities. In particular, it helped level the playing field for bicyclists and pedestrians. This is a big accomplishment, particularly as some think bicyclists and pedestrians could lose out in some of the new Congress’s budget battles (see this analysis from the League of American Bicyclists).
Here’s some of what DOT did, in its own words:
In March 2010, DOT formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities to integrate the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in federally-funded road projects. DOT discouraged transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians and encouraged investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Such recommendations include treating walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes, ensuring convenient access for people of all ages and abilities, and protecting sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected. Through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants program, DOT funded major projects across the country that allow Americans to safely and conveniently get where they need to go on a bike or on foot.
One of the TIGER grants “will repair, reconstruct and improve 16.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle facilities that will complete a 128-mile regional network in six counties around Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey,” including the Schuylkill Trail, with artist’s rendering above.
Volkswagen would like to encourage creative thinking to change people’s behavior. Its website TheFunTheory.com “is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.”
This year’s winner of the Fun Theory Award is Kevin Richardson for The Speed Camera Lottery, which turns a gadget aimed at catching speeders into one that rewards those who follow the rules. Here’s the premise:
Can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do? The idea here is capture on camera the people who keep to the speed limit. They would have their photos taken and registration numbers recorded and entered into a lottery. Winners would receive cash prizes and be notified by post. Better still, the winning pot would come from the people who were caught speeding.
On April 9, walkers will head from Trenton to New Brunswick following the East Coast Greenway, which uses the D&R Canal towpath for that stretch. Participants can walk all or part of the route, which is about 35 miles.
There also will be a repeat of the 50-mile walk from Metropark to New York Penn Station on May 21. This walk, called NJ2NY50, was a huge success in 2010 and is scheduled this time for May 21st.
Take part in both and you could essentially walk across New Jersey! More information will be on the East Coast Greenway’s website closer to the events. But it’s not too early to start training.
Hightstown’s Roger C. Cook Greenway is featured in the winter issue of the Rails to Trails Conservancy‘s magazine. The trail uses part of the old Camden & Amboy rail corridor and, the article notes, is at the heart of an effort to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the borough. It’s used by pedestrians, cyclists and inline skaters.
Three sections of the Greenway are now open, including the Heritage Trail that includes the old rail corridor and a refurbished whistle-stop. Future plans call for extending it to surrounding communities, such as East Windsor.