Thursday, August 11 by joegorun
Help make West Windsor more accessible and safe for walking, running and biking to Conover Fields, Mercer Lake, PNRA Rowing Center and Mercer Park by showing support for the Conover Rd multi-purpose paved trail project. It will connect the trail at S Post Rd, Conover Fields, and all of the neighborhoods until Galston Dr.
Submit your comments online by Friday, August 19 at:http://www.westwindsornj.org/conover-road.html and select ContactUs Form.
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Friday, October 2 by JerryFoster
Let’s re-visit the great war between the executive branch (NJDOT) and the legislative (NJ Title 39) and judiciary (NJ Supreme Court Polzo v Essex County ruling) branches with regard to bicycling on the shoulder. Everybody does it, but is it legal?
NJDOT’s excellent 2011 Bicycling Manual recommends “riding on the right side of the road or on the shoulder.” NJDOT’s circa-1996 Introduction to Bicycle Facilities notes, “Advanced bicyclists are best served by bicycle compatible streets and highways which have been designed to accommodate shared use by bicycles and motor vehicles.” Paved shoulders are considered one form of bicycle compatible roadway.
So NJDOT encourages it, but does that make it legal? NJ Title 39:4-14.1 states: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”
Wait a minute, isn’t a bicycle a vehicle? Not in NJ – human-powered devices are specifically excluded from the legal definition of vehicle in 39:1-1: “”Vehicle” means every device in, upon or by which a person or property is or may be transported upon a highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks or motorized bicycles.”
So what, it’s the same thing while riding in the shoulder, right? Not really, as the shoulder is specifically excluded from the “roadway” legal definition in 39:1-1: “”Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.” So a cyclist riding in the shoulder would not be granted all the rights and responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle.
Aren’t we nitpicking? Motorists can’t legally drive in the shoulder anyway – cyclists can’t very well have the same rights and responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle while riding in the shoulder, as it would also be illegal.
Exactly! If a cyclist has the same rights/responsibilities to follow the rules of the road, s/he should only ride in the travel lane, not in the shoulder.
NJDOT’s lawyers, presuming to encourage only legal cycling behavior, may well point to the sentence structure of 39:4-14.1. It implies that every person riding a bicycle *outside* the roadway (e.g. on the shoulder) would not have the same rights/responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle, but that doesn’t make it illegal, since it’s not explicitly prohibited, like it is for drivers of a vehicle in 39:4-82.
Under this interpretation, it’s a cyclist’s choice whether to ride in the roadway, and be legally bound to follow all the rules of the road, or live free on the shoulder. Just think, no rules, no responsibilities – bike against traffic, blow the wrong way through stop signs, it’s all legal if you’re a cyclist on the shoulder. Under this interpretation, cyclists have an implicitly legal option to ride on the shoulder that isn’t offered to drivers of vehicles.
So which is it? Illegal or legally available w no rights/responsibilities? According to the NJ Supreme Court in Polzo v Essex County, “Bicyclists do not have special privileges on a roadway’s shoulder. Indeed, a bicycle rider is directed to ride on the furthest right hand side of the roadway, not on the roadway’s shoulder. The Motor Vehicle Code does not designate the roadway’s shoulder as a bicycle lane.”
So, as far as the law with regard to cyclists is concerned, the NJ Supremes ruled that a cyclist “is directed” to the roadway, “not on the roadway’s shoulder.”
The Polzo ruling was in 2012 – why is NJDOT still encouraging cyclists to ride on the shoulder? Shouldn’t shoulders with sufficient space be designated as bike lanes? What ever happened to the Complete Streets policy?
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Friday, September 18 by JerryFoster
In our 5th annual survey, WWBPA volunteers counted 360 bicyclists and pedestrians at 5 locations around the train station on Wednesday September 16, 2015 between 5-8pm. Last year the count was 343, but the numbers are not directly comparable, since we counted at only 3 locations last year. Comparing the same locations at the same time slots, biking and walking decreased 5% over last year. At least we had beautiful fall weather again this year.
Once again we participated in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, an effort to accurately and consistently measure usage and demand for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
Our 2015 findings:
- Cranbury/Wallace/571 (Rite Aid) – 25 bike, 112 walk
- Scott/Alexander (Arts Center) – 26 bike, 90 walk
- Vaughn/Alexander (bus stop) – 19 bike, 39 walk
- Station/571 (Rep. Holt Headquarters) – 5 bike, 6 walk
- Wallace/Alexander (WW lot) – 11 bike, 27 walk
Total: 360 people, 86 who bike, 274 who walk
Thanks to our volunteers!
Traffic along 571 in downtown West Windsor flowed freely throughout the observation time, except for 3 minutes at 5:30pm – this is consistent with last year, which congested for 4 minutes at 6:00pm. Honks were also consistent at 11 this and last year, while the number of semi trucks rose by 2 to 7 this year. One of the honks was to encourage a right turn on red from Wallace to 571, which both the honker and honkee proceeded to do, illegally – an additional sign at the corner would aid in getting the message out. I was honked at from behind a few weeks ago while waiting on my bike at Wallace, but just pointed up at the No Turn On Red sign overhead.
- midblock crossings of 571 at Rite Aid driveway – 10
- male – 261, female – 99
- walkers – 274, cyclists – 86
- walkers – 187 male, 87 female
- cyclists – 74 male, 10 female
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Tuesday, May 12 by joegorun
Join the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance for its annual Learn to Bike Event on May 16, 2015. The event is for children who must be 5 years old or older and be able to ride a bike with training wheels. Meet at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.; the event ends promptly at 12:30 p.m. Pre-registration is suggested; you must bring a bike in good working order and a helmet. Cost is $40 per family and free to current members of WWBPA as of June 1, 2014. Email email@example.com and watch our Facebook page and website (wwbpa.org) for late changes.
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Friday, February 13 by JerryFoster
So, how much money do you save by bike commuting? Probably a lot, but let’s run the numbers.
First, the car expense – according to the AAA’s Your Driving Costs 2014 report, operating a small sedan costs $7930/year, while a SUV runs $12,446/year, including gas, maintenance, depreciation, insurance, loan interest, etc.
What about biking expenses? Elly Blue, author of Bikenomics, refers us to transportation economist Todd Littman’s 2011 research, which gives a range of $100-$300 per year for operating costs, which is comparable to AAA’s numbers, since it includes depreciated cost of the bike, etc.
Startup cost varies a lot, like the variation in the cost for driving a small sedan and a SUV. Here’s hypothetical cases for a high quality and an economical setup, based on online prices from the same national outdoor recreation equipment company:
High Quality – $2153
- New commuter bike, including fenders, rack, front/rear lights – $1400
- Commuter Helmet, including attachment for front/rear lights – $65
- Front/rear helmet lights – $100
- U-lock plus cable – $100
- Multitool ($50), spare tube ($10) , flat repair kit ($3), frame pump ($45), lube ($10) – $118
- Rainwear – jacket ($100), pants ($75), gloves ($45), helmet cover ($30) – $250
- Pannier, handlebar bag or backpack – $120
Economical – $543
- New hybrid bike – $400
- Rack ($25), front/rear lights (to be seen, not to light the road, $20) – $45
- Helmet – $25
- U-lock – $20
- Multitool ($10), flat repair kit ($3), frame pump ($10), lube ($5) – $28
- Rain poncho w hood – $5
- Backpack – $20
Typical bike maintenance is easy enough to learn that many people do it themselves – fixing a flat tire, lubing a chain, adjusting brakes – a web search shows numerous how-to videos that are very instructive. Blogger James Schwartz assumed $50 per year for maintaining a $1500 commuter bike.
Clearly, bike commuting saves a lot of money if you can actually reduce the number of cars you own, since you can buy multiple high quality new bikes and gear every year for much less than the operating costs of even a small sedan. But it is very difficult in the suburbs to go car free, so what if you only have one car? Then the savings will only be based on reduced miles driven, which saves on gas, maintenance, tires and depreciation.
According to the AAA report, the operating costs (gas, maintenance, tires) for a small sedan is 16.3 cents/mile, and 23.8 cents/mile for a SUV. If your commute is 2 miles each way, like mine, then 4 miles roundtrip x 240 working days/year equals 960 miles biked each year.
The 960 mile reduction in driving would save $156.48 (operating costs) plus $33.60 (reduced depreciation), totaling $190.08 for a small sedan, and $228.48 (operating costs) plus $48.96 for (reduced depreciation), totaling $277.44 for an SUV. This is in the range for paying for the annual bike costs, but hardly a killer incentive by itself. It will help if your employer offers you the IRS Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit – you can be reimbursed up to $240 each year for bike commuting expenses.
Of course you might choose to use the commuter bike for other errands, such as small grocery runs, to the bank, post office, etc. Since only 15% of our trips are for commuting, that leaves a lot of other trips that could be done by bike – e.g. 40% of all trips are 2 miles or less, and if you take the bike/walk trips out of the denominator, 69% of car trips are 2 miles or less.
Of course, you’ll save more in indirect costs, for example if you substitute biking for a gym membership, that could save about $1000/year. And the potential for saving money on health care is huge, since you may be much healthier with regular activity.
Perhaps most important, it’s fun! Of course, you’ll also be saving the world by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, since car exhaust is the single largest contributor in our area to CO2 emissions.
Last, longtime WWBPA readers might notice a strong resemblance between the bike commuter pictured above and the bike lane fairy, who hasn’t made a public appearance recently. Could this be why? Please join us at the New Jersey Bike and Walk Summit next Saturday, February 21 – we’ll keep an eye out, you never know when you might see her next.
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Wednesday, November 12 by joegorun
I’ve been commuting to work in the Plainsboro and West Windsor area on and off for 8 years, and bikes were always a central focus of my life. Post-college, the bike was replaced with the car, shuttling from one commitment to the next. With increasing work responsibilities, I lost sight of what matters most. I started focusing on convenience over happiness and status over health. After a few years the longer car commutes, office lunches, and stress started taking a mental and physical toll. Gym memberships collected dust, and bigger pants couldn’t solve the problems any longer. Suddenly I didn’t recognize myself. A year ago I had an “awakening” and realized it was time for a number of changes, including a commitment to consistently commute by bike no matter what.
Today, it’s going well. As it turns out, this area is actually amazing for biking to work, to the store, or just for fun. Often it’s actually EASIER than driving. You have your choice of bike lanes, bike paths, or even roads, and it’s getting even better thanks to the hard work of many people. More importantly, there is a growing tolerance on the roads, and most drivers are also closet bicyclists just waiting to start bike commuting as well. You can even expand your biking with a simple bus or train excursion.
My commute brings me past the beautiful fields of Stult’s Farm, down the boulevard-esque bike lanes of Southfield Road, and even through Mercer County Park, where I routinely pass dozens of deer. I’ve also rode in rain, floods, and snow, and enjoyed every minute. I take in the beautiful scenery and admire the changing seasons, all from the seat of my bike.
Riding a bike is more than just exercise or cost savings; it’s fun too. It’s the high gear to happiness!
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Tuesday, September 17 by JerryFoster
WWBPA volunteers counted 334 bicyclists and pedestrians at 5 locations around the train station on Wednesday September 11, 2013 between 5-8pm. Last year the count was 355, but the numbers are not directly comparable, since we counted for an hour longer at 2 locations this year. Comparing the same locations at the same time slots, biking and walking decreased 15% over last year. In contrast to the past 2 years’ beautiful fall weather, this year the day was hot and humid, near 90 degrees, as well as falling on the anniversary of 9/11.
Once again we participated in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, an effort to accurately and consistently measure usage and demand for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
Our 2013 findings:
- Cranbury/Wallace/571 (Rite Aid) – 19 bike, 81 walk
- Scott/Alexander (Arts Center) – 30 bike, 72 walk, 2 others
- Vaughn/Alexander (bus stop) – 18 bike, 55 walk
- Station/571 (Rep. Holt Headquarters) – 10 bike, 9 walk
- Wallace/Alexander (WW lot) – 12 bike, 23 walk, 3 other
Total: 334 people, 89 who bike, 240 who walk, 5 on wheelchairs, skates or scooters
Thanks to our volunteers!
Traffic along 571 in downtown West Windsor flowed freely throughout the observation time. This is consistent with the comment made recently by the township’s consulting traffic engineer, that volume along CR571 has been flat for a decade. In addition, the retiming of the lights at US1 and CR571, together with the reopening of the jughandles, ensures that not many cars can make it through 571 at the circle, so motorists find other routes.
- midblock crossings of 571 at Rite Aid driveway – 12
- male – 222, female – 107 (“Other” gender data not collected)
- walkers – 240, cyclists – 89
One scary anecdote – traffic turning from Wallace onto CR571 was polite to the pedestrian crossing in the crosswalk, waiting until she had walked far enough so they could turn behind her into the right lane. Traffic turning left onto CR571 from Cranbury Rd was not so polite, seeing an opening to turn into the left lane but not seeing the pedestrian. Fortunately, the 2nd car making the left did see the pedestrian and stopped, as she had stopped in the middle to barely avoid being hit by the first left-turning car. It is exactly this sort of danger that leads many to cross at the driveways of PNC Bank and RiteAid, where the road narrows.
This sort of conflict should not be possible, and several alternate solutions are available – a left turn only phase at the light, a pedestrian only phase, or closing the right lane at 571, making one through lane, effectively narrowing the pedestrian crossing distance in addition to reducing the left-turning conflict. What do you think?
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Monday, July 8 by ezeitler
Do you bike in West Windsor? Want to prevent your bicycle from being stolen, especially at the train station and other public parking locations? Want to increase the chance of recovering your bike if it is stolen? Consider participating in the free bicycle registration program being offered by WWBPA and the West Windsor Police Department. WWBPA and WWPD are launching the free program this month as a service to everyone who bikes in West Windsor. It’s similar to the program offered at Princeton University for riders on campus and commuters at the Princeton Dinky Station.
How does it work? Simply download a form, fill it out with your bike’s description and serial number and return the form to the police department or the WWBPA to get your bike registration tag.
The self-adhesive aluminum tags attach easily to your bike frame (instructions), are very difficult to remove and make your bicycle less desirable to thieves. Each tag has a unique number and your registration provides the West Windsor Police with contact information that makes it easier to ID and return stolen bicycles to their rightful owners.
Bike ID registration forms are available on the WWBPA website, West Windsor Police Department, 271 Clarksville Rd, or at police website and at various events where WWBPA appears, e.g. WW Farmers Market and other announced events.
After you fill out the registration form, deliver it to the WW Police Dept. or WWBPA at the Farmers Market on alternate Saturdays to pick up your self-adhesive numbered ID tag(s) and have the tag numbers added to the registration form.
We’re hoping to get as many bikes as possible registered so share widely with your friends, coworkers and family members. We’ll be offering bike registration at the Farmer’s Market this Saturday, July 13th and at any event in which we host a table this summer, so feel free to drop by and check it out.
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Saturday, March 9 by JerryFoster
Many people regularly bicycle between West Windsor and Princeton, and the WWBPA is frequently asked at the Farmers Market for the safest route to Princeton, which involves crossing Route 1.
We generally recommend Washington Road (CR571) because the traffic circle slows down traffic and lets cyclists make themselves visible to motorists – unlike, for example, the high-speed ramps off Route 1 at Alexander, Meadow or Quaker Bridge roads.
West Windsor Township Council supports this, and adopted a resolution calling on Mercer County to designate a bicycle route along CR571 (West Windsor Twp Council Resolution 2010-R174).
Since West Windsor, Mercer County and NJDOT have all adopted Complete Streets policies, we were disappointed that no bicycle or pedestrian safety accommodations were evident in the jughandle concept design.
We recommend the following safety improvements to benefit both bicyclists and pedestrians who wish to use or cross Route 1:
1. Add a multi-use path at least on the east side of Route 1 from Alexander Road to Plainsboro, to connect the Dinky Line multi-use path behind the Alexander Road offices to the Penns Neck neighborhood and on to the hospital (and wellness center) in Plainsboro. Improved pedestrian and bicyclist accommodation for Penns Neck will prevent this stretch of Route 1 from becoming as deadly as further north in Middlesex County.
2. Create a safe bicycle route crossing Route 1 using Washington Rd/CR571, for example by reducing the design speed of the jughandle linking southbound Route 1 traffic to CR 571/Washington Road, or by creating a stop from the jughandle before turning right on CR571, to allow drivers an opportunity to look for bicyclists. The current highspeed jughandle merge design will create a dangerous condition for bicyclists traveling the bicycle route between Princeton and Princeton Junction train station.
3. Add marked crosswalks to all legs of the intersections.
4. Add bicycle lanes or sharrows to the improved intersections to guide bicyclists and alert motorists to the safest lane positioning while using the intersections.
5. Add a westbound bicycle crossing at Harrison even though there is no motorized vehicle crossing in that direction.
6. Add an off-road multi-use trail crossing Route 1 to connecting trails adjacent to the Dinky tracks, as described in the West Windsor Twp Circulation Element of the Master Plan.
Please contact our officials to support these recommendations.
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Tuesday, January 29 by JerryFoster
Congratulations to WWBPA member Les Leathem for earning his League Certified Instructor Coach designation from the League of American Bicyclists! Les recently returned from the final seminar in Houston, and is now qualified to teach new biking instructors.
Of course Les also teaches biking as well. Several classes aimed at helping people learn how to ride safely on the road are planned for this spring:
At All Saints Church, Princeton (Fri: 6:30-9pm, Sat: 9am-2:30pm)
April 19/20, May 17/18, June 14/15
At Bernie’s Bicycle Center, Hamilton ( Wed: 630-9pm, Sat: 9am-12 noon)
Course cost is $50 for the general public, $40 for members of WWBPA. For more information contact Les Leathem at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-578-0625
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Wednesday, May 23 by silvia
Come to Community Park on Saturday, when West Windsor will be honored during the BikeFest festivities for being New Jersey’s first bicycle-friendly community.
Jen Laurita will present the award on behalf of the League of American Bicyclists, a national non-profit organization that honored West Windsor with a bronze medal in September. BikeFest is one of the many reasons that the community was selected. Other criteria include educational events (such as BikeFest’s Bike Rodeo to teach good biking skills), infrastructure (the many bike lanes that have been added over the years) and government policies.
The award will be given around noon, after riders are back from their rides (anywhere from 1 ½ miles to 40 miles) and grabbing lunch and just as the DJ gets going and the kids take over the moon bounce and giant slide.
Stick around to applaud West Windsor! You also have a chance to win one of 10 $25 gift certificates from Halter’s Cycles on Router 1 in South Brunswick.
Not signed up for BikeFest? You can register here or on Saturday at Community Park. (Rain date is Sunday.) Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.
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Friday, May 18 by sandy
But that was a good thing. WWBPA Advisor and Past President Ken Carlson organized a bike advocacy event in his new hometown of Somerville, Massachusetts. The challenge was for a cyclist, a T-rider (subway), and an auto to race from Davis Square in Somerville to Kendall Square in Cambridge. Ken drove the car.
The cyclist finished first, in 20 minutes. The T-rider came in second, in 29 minutes. Ken drove the course in 32 minutes. (And yes, Ken usually bikes to work.)
New York City did the same contest this week (after all, it is National Bike to Work Week) and once again the bike won. The cyclist traveled from Williamsburg to SoHo in morning rush hour in 15 minutes. The subway took 26 minutes and driving, 41 minutes.
As for West Windsor? Think how long it takes you to drive all the way around the station to the Vaughn Drive lot (unless you’ve been commuting so long that you have a Wallace Road permit) and to walk to the platform in the morning, and then to get out of the Vaughn Drive lot and over the roundabout on the way home. Your bike would be right by the tracks and probably would get you home in a similar amount of time, no sweating involved. And let’s not even think about the time you spend (or intend to spend) at the gym doing cardio. Then the bike will surely win!
Read more about Ken’s race at Metro.US and Boston.com, and tell us about your bike commute.
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Tuesday, February 7 by JerryFoster
The WWBPA’s mission is “To promote bicycling and walking in West Windsor Township and neighboring communities,” and this past week we’ve worked with residents of Plainsboro and Hopewell Boro to encourage them to become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
On February 1, WWBPA trustees met with Plainsboro residents, a township official and interested WWBPA members at the Plainsboro Library to discuss the issues. Topics included biking on the road vs. paths, the upcoming closings of the Rt 1 circle at Washington and the jughandle at Harrison, bike commuters to the Forrestal campus, biking and walking connections to West Windsor on the PSE&G right of way and Cranbury Road, biking and walking to school and many others. Various ideas were presented on how best to encourage biking and walking, including a having a bike rodeo at the annual Founders Day event and organizing a community bike ride.
On February 6 at the Hopewell Borough Council meeting, a resident advocate invited bicyclists from the area to support bike lanes on CR 518. A dozen bicyclists, including a WWBPA trustee and 2 members, showed up to support the bike lanes as well as a Complete Streets resolution for the borough and for Mercer County. Representatives from New Jersey Bike Walk Coalition, Princeton Free Wheelers, Lawrence Hopewell Trail, New Jersey Bike Exchange and the Battle Against Hunger Ride also spoke in support. We hope to see Hopewell Borough adopt the next Complete Streets resolution in Mercer County!
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Monday, October 17 by JerryFoster
43 people enjoyed a nice ride on a beautiful fall day, a little over 5 miles round trip from Community Park to McCaffrey’s and back. Thanks to everyone who participated, including our WWBPA trustees, student advisers and volunteers who planned, led and directed the bicyclists, and even handed out a few bandaids, and special thanks to McCaffrey’s for donating the refreshments!
The fall colors were out in full force (see our facebook page for more pictures) and we enjoyed the Trolley Line Trail as well as the bike lanes on Rabbit Hill Road and Bennington Street. Also appreciated were new high visibility crosswalks at Davenport and Southfield Road by the shopping center. We also saw a policeman patrolling the Trolley Line Trail on motorcycle.
The group included all ages, from those enjoying a ride in a trailer to us older kids (at heart), and split into 3 smaller groups pretty quickly – the fast group led by the speedy student advisers, a middle pack of family members, while the last group comprised those with the smallest bicyclists.
We got a number of positive comments, including a request to do this more often. With the new bike lanes on Village and Penn Lyle, we have more routes to choose from, thanks to the township and county.
Click for slide show by Mark Shallcross
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Wednesday, September 14 by JerryFoster
The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is very pleased to announce that the League of American Bicyclists proclaimed West Windsor Township a Bicycle Friendly Community, at the Bronze level.
This is the first time a New Jersey municipality received such an honor, the result of more than 10 years of effort on the part of many residents and with the support of the mayor, township council and county and state officials.
It could not have happened without the support of our members, who have demonstrated that they value a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community, both with their membership contributions and their time spent helping others to ride. As an all-volunteer organization, we appreciate our members’ willingness to help, whether it’s to write letters of support or to teach children to ride a bike for the first time.
This honor isn’t only for our officials and the WWBPA, but for all our community partners who help make bicycling happen. We especially thank BikeFest and our area bike clubs, who organize so many successful biking events, the SMART/JORBA volunteers, who maintain the off-road trails in Mercer County Park, and all the many individuals, organizations and businesses who have helped make West Windsor a better place for daily cycling, whether to work, school or the Farmers’ Market.
Finally, a special thanks to our intern, Kim Meersma, who worked with many people to gather the information necessary to put together a very detailed application.
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Saturday, August 20 by JerryFoster
East Aurora, NY is a pleasant town outside Buffalo with a Main Street that might offer West Windsor a few pointers. See the photos and color commentary, and let us know if you think these design elements might work for our Route 571 Main Street!
Main Street, also US 20A, is a busy road on a Friday just past 5pm, but the roundabout seems to keep the cars moving. From this western end, Main Street extends east a little over a mile, similar to West Windsor’s Rt 571 from the tracks to about South Mill Rd. The roundabout has stores and driveways, including fast food outlets.
Looking east from the roundabout, notice the center two-way left turn lane, a key feature of the Route 571 design. Also notice that the bike lanes are maroon-colored pavement, to make them stand out, and that there is on-street parking on both sides. A new Rite Aid is on the left (familiar?) and just off camera on the right is the Sunoco station (might feel like home already!), below.
Note the nice street sign for the Sunoco station. East Aurora is known for a number of things, including being the home town of Millard Fillmore (he was a U.S. President, if you were wondering), the birthplace of Fisher-Price toys and a center of the 19th-century Arts and Crafts design movement. They take their signage pretty seriously as a result, though they apparently couldn’t get Sunoco to redesign their sign to fit the Arts and Crafts style font that graces many other signs around town, as well as their town’s web site.
Moving east, notice this building, currently a bistro (it’s been a number of other things in the 7 years we’ve been visiting regularly – our daughter’s camp is nearby). They have taken away parking spaces in front of their building to put in an outside dining area. Nice! There are also a number of bikes parked in front of the dining area. I noticed a lot of bicyclists around town, including a spandex-clad road warrior in the bike lane and more casual bicyclists riding on the sidewalks.
Moving east, the road narrows to 2 lanes, but still includes colorized bike lanes and on-street parking. This shot is in front of the post office, so you’ll notice the drive-up mailbox, but also the attractive sidewalk and lamppost planters. Hidden behind the sidewalk planter is an artsy bike rack and a bench is just visible behind. Perhaps the road sign gives us an indication of what it takes to get a main street like this?
Still moving east, this picture shows the railroad underpass. Notice the bicyclist on the sidewalk, and the people in the car waving to him; people are very friendly in East Aurora. The bicyclist and I had a nice chat, since he was very interested in why I was taking so many pictures. He alluded to some of the controversies that the town went through to get their main street, including a big debate about the number of on-street parking spaces (the snide comment about the street signs wasn’t just my editorializing). He couldn’t entirely grasp why I liked it so much. Please leave a comment below with your opinion!
Just under the railroad tracks and past an intersection, a two-block traditional downtown area has stamped pavement colored to look like bricks. This space includes the center left-turn lane even though there are no driveways to turn into, and maintains the bike lane (nary a bike symbol, sigh). But what is really interesting is the ADA compliant on-street parking on the right and across the street, where the sidewalk is ramped up at the two ends to meet the curbed sidewalk area. There were several of these facilities along the roadway. Of course West Windsor’s main street is not planned to have on-street parking, so this type of ADA parking would not be applicable. What is significant is how they solved the issue of making an extremely wide roadway pedestrian-friendly by using the stamped pavement. It’s not exactly the same, but a little similar to using these sorts of treatments in the shared spaces of West Windsor’s transit village: The message of pedestrian-priority space is conveyed.
Just past the bricked area, the roadway changes back to two lanes plus on-street parking again, and the CVS pharmacy anchors the eastern end of Main Street. Note the speed limit sign: 30mph, much more pedestrian-friendly than the proposed 40mph in West Windsor’s design.
What might be improved in this design? There is a lack of tree canopy, but that’s likely because the trees are all newly planted. It would be interesting to know the history of why the two-block bricked section is so wide. Google Street View shows it with asphalt still during construction, but perhaps there used to be angle parking, or way back perhaps even a trolley line from Buffalo.
Another issue is the bike lanes. No casual bicyclists seemed to be using them: The group of teenagers, the dad pulling a kid-trailer, the various others were all bicycling on the sidewalk. This is likely because the bike lanes aren’t very wide, and place bicyclists between the heavy traffic and the parked cars, right in the way of opening doors (the “door zone”), which is dangerous.
Hope you enjoyed the tour. Let us know what you think!
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Saturday, July 23 by silvia
West Windsor’s government, with the help of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance, has submitted its application to become a bicycle-friendly community. The WWBPA is delighted and is excited to find out how we rate. We’re expecting to hear this fall.
What is a bicycle-friendly community? This is a program from the League of American Bicyclists that judges how a community fares across what it calls the Five Es: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. We believe West Windsor has made great strides in recent years by adding miles of bike lanes and creating the Trolley Line Trail. BikeFest is another important contributor to our bicycle-friendliness. The West Windsor Police, among other things, was a visible supporter of the Ride of Silence held in May. And of course, the WWBPA not only consistently advocates for bicycle-friendly roads but has installed bike racks and lockers and is constantly encouraging and educating cyclists (and motorists). The latest example of our education efforts, of course, was our wildly successful “learn to bike” class in May that got about 50 kids off training wheels and enjoying the freedom of two wheels.
The League notes: “Bicyclists are an indicator of a healthy, vibrant community. Bicycle-friendly towns, like those with good schools and enjoyable downtowns, are communities that offer improved quality of life for families, which can lead to higher property values, business growth and increased tourism. Many communities today struggle with traffic congestion, environmental degradation, declining public health and skyrocketing transportation costs. Bicycling is part of the solution to these problems.”
The highest award is platinum, followed by gold, silver and bronze. There also is an “honorable mention” category, which isn’t quite bicycle-friendly. So far, no New Jersey community has done better than an honorable mention. We hope West Windsor will.
Even getting this far would not be possible without the support of all our members. We thank you.
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