Feds Focus on New Jersey to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Thursday, February 16 by JerryFoster

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) chose New Jersey as one of 13 states which “experienced pedestrian fatalities above 150 per year and above the national rate of 2.5 per 100,000 population.” These states receive extra attention in the effort to reduce pedestrian fatalities on our roadways. According to the article “Spotlight on Pedestrian Safety” in the current issue of Public Roads, “FHWA’s aggressive approach to reducing the fatality rate in 13 States and 5 municipalities is showing promising results.

The multi-year focus on pedestrian safety produced a plan called “Pedestrian Safety Management In New Jersey: A Strategic Assessment,” which “examines the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches and recommends improvements that would provide for a more systematic approach.”

So what specific recommendations will best improve pedestrian safety? The New Jersey report covers over 100 recommendations, but 3 have been chosen as the top priorities for improving pedestrian safety, according to a recent memorandum, “Promoting the Implementation of Proven Safety Countermeasures“:

  1. Medians and Pedestrian Crossing Islands in Urban and Suburban Areas
  2. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK light, a pedestrian-activated traffic signal that stops traffic)
  3. “Road Diet” (Roadway Reconfiguration)

How can these proven safety features help West Windsor? The WWBPA recommends medians and/or pedestrian crossing islands for the new CR 571 design, along with a lower design speed and other measures, like a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK signal) at Sherbrooke Drive and 571.

A Rapid Flash Beacon, another type of pedestrian-activated signal, is planned for Sherbrooke and 571 – we hope it will greatly improve the safety of that crossing. Examples are at the trail crossing on South Mill and near the train station at Scott and Wallace. Studies of the Rapid Flash Beacon are promising, but of? the 22 roadways in one study, only 1 had a posted speed limit as high as CR571’s 40mph, and only 2 had about the same volume (17K-18K average daily traffic), and only 1 had more volume. So we’ll hope for the best.

A Road Diet is when the road is reconfigured from 4 lanes down to 3, one travel lane in? each direction and a center turn lane, plus bike lanes on each side. The WWBPA has long recommended road diets for Canal Pointe Boulevard and Alexander Road between Rt 1 and Vaughn Drive, and believes the treatment would be appropriate for Roszel Road and Carnegie Center Drive as well.

Why is the WWBPA for road diets in these areas but recommends medians and/or pedestrian crossing refuges for CR 571? The difference is in the? number and density of driveways – our Rt 571 downtown area has too many compared to office park settings like Canal Pointe and Carnegie Center.

 

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Plainsboro and Hopewell Boro Discuss Biking and Walking

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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Improved Crossings to the Train Station at Scott Avenue

Thursday, January 12 by JerryFoster

Thanks to the township for improving the crossings to the train station from Scott Avenue. New high visibility striping and pedestrian-activated rapid flashing beacons were? installed late last year, making it much easier to cross safely with the flashing lights. This is another in the long list of improvements made last year.

This intersection is particularly important, since it may be the most heavily used route by pedestrians and bicyclists going to and from the train station. On September 14, 2011 from 5-7pm, we counted 87 bicyclists and pedestrians passing nearby Scott and Alexander, all of whom must have crossed this intersection at Wallace first.

Thanks again for all the work that went into making these improvements!

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Trolley Line Trail Link Completed

Thursday, January 5 by JerryFoster

The missing link between the South Mill Road crossing of the Trolley Line Trail and the section bordering the Dataram property was finished just before Christmas – what a busy year for bicycle and pedestrian improvements! Thanks to the township and county for all their great work in 2011.

The subject of a previous post a few weeks ago, the crossing features a rapid flashing beacon (flashing strobe lights), high visibility crosswalk paint (the thickness of the stripes makes it easy to see) and a pedestrian-activated signal button for easy crossing.

One thing bicyclists in the bike lanes on South Mill Rd should keep in mind: If someone is crossing, the bicyclist must stop before the crosswalk, just as the cars must stop.? Enjoy the new trail;? now it’s easier than ever to get between Rabbit Hill Road and Penn Lyle Road on the Trolley Line Trail, including access to Community Park.

 

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Penn Lyle Road Improvements Completed

Thursday, December 15 by JerryFoster

It’s a challenge to keep up with all the improvements that have been completed this year, including the long-planned Penn Lyle Road project, which includes repaving, bike lanes and sidewalk connections. Thanks to the township for getting this done, even including porous pavement for the sidewalks!

Penn Lyle Road is a key connector between WW-P High School South and the bike lanes on Woodmere Way and Village Road, as well as to the Trolley Line Trail, a multi-use path that connects to Community Park and on to the bike lanes on Rabbit Hill Road, Bennington Drive and Southfield Road.

Including the new multi-use path along South Post Road, you can now bike from Mercer County Park, at either the Mercer Oaks Golf Course or at the Caspersen Rowing Center, to Village Elementary School or Grover Middle School, and on to McCaffrey’s grocery store, all via bike lanes or multi-use paths.? There are few gaps left in the biking or sidewalk network in the eastern part of the township.

Naturally, experienced bicyclists don’t regard these improvements as necessary, since they (we, actually) are comfortable driving our bikes in traffic, following the laws like anyone else on the road. For casual bicyclists, however, the bike lanes and paths provide the extra perception of safety that enables them to bike places they would not feel comfortable reaching without those facilities.

Please keep in mind that there are some things to watch out for when biking in a bike lane or on a path. Whenever there’s an intersection or driveway, many drivers? pay attention to the middle of the road to look for a car approaching, but may not look to the edge where the bike lane is, and so may not notice a bicyclist entering the intersection or driveway. Also, if cars are backed up, someone turning through a gap in the cars may not see an approaching bicyclist (or a pedestrian on the sidewalk at a driveway), since the driver is paying attention to the gap in cars but not yet to the space beyond. Just keep an eye out for these common causes of crashes, and you’ll be able to avoid them.

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Alexander Road S-Curve Completed

Wednesday, December 7 by JerryFoster

Among the amazing number of recent achievements, the Alexander S-Curve ranks high.? Starting at the Delaware and Raritan Canal, the new roadway includes bike lanes on both sides and a sidewalk on the south side of the road. The road was the site of a fatality several years ago, and the construction was delayed to avoid concurrence with the Meadow Road project. Thanks to the township for their very busy year and all the great results!

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Safer Trolley Line Trail Crossing at South Mill Rd

Thursday, December 1 by JerryFoster

A new trail crossing was installed recently where the Trolley Line Trail crosses South Mill Road, including a crosswalk with high visibility markings and a pedestrian-activated rapid flashing beacon, which flashes yellow strobes when the button is pushed. Thanks to the township and county for making crossing South Mill Road safer!

A few details remain, however, and a WWBPA trustee met with township and county engineers to explain the issues, such as placing the buttons for easy accessibility and connecting the crossing to the trail on the east side of the road, which is about 65 feet further north.? We’re confident these will be addressed in the not-too-distant future.

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Safer Pedestrian Crossing at the Train Station

Friday, November 25 by JerryFoster

A new rapid flashing beacon was installed recently at the new crossing between Schlumberger and the Princeton Junction train station. The crossing, which is only accessible via a new sidewalk connecting to Route 571, flashes yellow strobes when a pedestrian presses the crossing button. Thanks to the township for including this crossing and sidewalk in the extensive set of new sidewalks installed over the past few months, with funding from a Safe Routes to Transit grant.

These pedestrian-activated beacons have been very successful in getting cars to stop for crossing pedestrians in studies, and have a significant cost advantage over other treatments, since they are solar-powered. A similar beacon was installed at the Trolley Line Trail crossing of South Mill Road.

Since it’s new, it remains to be seen if commuters will cross at this location once they discover it. Most have been crossing at or east of the Schlumberger driveway across from the Amtrak driveway and then walking through the station parking lot, which is more direct. When I walked it, one commuter was doing that while another pedestrian who was walking her dog used the crossing with the flashing beacon.

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Counting 205 WW Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Tuesday, September 20 by JerryFoster

On Wednesday, Sept. 14,?from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., WWBPA volunteers participated in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, an effort to accurately and consistently measure usage and demand for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

We covered four locations around the train station, only missing the intersection of Wallace and Alexander roads. We also stopped before the end of the evening rush hour for New York commuters.

Our findings:
1. Cranbury/Wallace/571 (Rite Aid) – 20 bike, 38 walk
2. Scott/Alexander (Arts Center) – 31 bike, 56 walk
3. Vaughn/Alexander (bus stop) – ?9 bike, 31 walk
4. Station/571 (Rep. Holt Headquarters) – 14 bike, 6 walk

Total: 205 people,?74 who bike and 131 who walk

Thanks to our volunteers!

I also noted at our Main Street Cranbury/Wallace/571 location:

  • 8 car horn beepings, including 1 of a cab at a walker and a biker along Route 571 by Sovereign Bank, where there is no sidewalk. Another volunteer reported most of the beeps he witnessed were by cabs; this might need looking into.
  • 3 tractor trailers – there were also some delivery trucks but nearly all cars.
  • 2 runs of a shuttle bus – Stoudt’s East Windsor to Princeton Junction train station.
  • Eastbound congestion on Route 571 existed from a little after 5 p.m.?until 5:20 p.m., to the extent that cars waited on the bridge and had no room to cross the intersection at Cranbury and Wallace roads. During this time, people turned left from westbound Route 571 onto Wallace Road in front of the waiting cars, and most of the beeps were because of this, since it took two lanes to agree to stop to let left-turning traffic go in front. It would be calmer if the eastbound Route 571 right lane was right turn only onto Wallace Road, and only the center lane was straight through.
  • 1 pedestrian was verbally harassed by a motorist waiting to turn (I couldn’t make out the exact words) as the pedestrian crossed Route 571 from Wallace Road to Cranbury Road. He responded with a loud expletive.
  • 17 people crossed Route 571 mid-block, most at the driveway intersection of PNC Bank and Rite Aid. Some were going to Rite Aid, but most were going to the neighborhood behind Rite Aid, where there is a connecting sidewalk.

How does this compare to past data? The township bicycle plan also studied some of these or nearby intersections at somewhat similar times:

  • Cranbury/Wallace/571 – Wed. July 21, 2004, 5-8pm – 9 bike, 43 walk
  • Scott/Alexander – Fri. Apr. 16, 2004, 3:15 – 4:30pm – 2 bike, 13 walk
  • Scott/Wallace – Fri. Apr. 16, 2004, 4:30 – 7pm – 5 bike, 63 walk
  • Wallace/Alexander – Wed. June 23, 2004, 5-8pm – 5 bike, 16 walk

We hope to do the count again on one of the nationally designated days. Maybe we’ll see you walking and biking to the station!

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I Bike. I Walk. I Vote.

Thursday, September 15 by silvia

From the League of American Bicyclists: This year, around $700 million of Federal transportation funds, which in reality is less than 2% of total transportation dollars, will be spent on bicycling and walking. ?In 2012 that figure might be a big fat zero.

We expect that in?the next few days, Senator Coburn (R-OK)?will ask Congress to eliminate the federal Transportation Enhancements program ? the primary funding source for the past 20 years for bike lanes, trails, bike racks on buses, bike education etc. ?This isn?t safe or smart; it?s not good for the economy or the environment; this is bad health policy and bad transportation policy. But they are going to try because they don?t think bicycling matters.

Even though bicycling projects create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects and cutting enhancements won?t impact the deficit ? the money just won?t be spent on bicycling ? some Members of Congress want to ?force us backwards to a 1950s highway-only mindset: as if oil embargoes, congestion, smog, the obesity epidemic and climate change never happened.

Now is the time to Save Cycling, so we are asking you to contact your Senators and urge them to support continued funding for biking and walking. Don?t let them take away this vital investment program for smart, sustainable, safe transportation choices.

And as America Walks notes, the Transportation Enhancements program has also been the primary funding source for sidewalks, crosswalks, trails and more. If Sen. Coburn succeeds, it would mean an immediate end to funding for Transportation Enhancements.? It would also mean that our chances of sustaining any funding for bicycling and walking (including for Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails) in the long-term reauthorization bill would be more difficult.

West Windsor has gained numerous sidewalk extensions and bike lanes in recent years, and these projects haven’t been exclusively funded with local tax dollars. Let’s make America more bikeable and walkable. Let’s have complete streets — streets that work for all users.

Need an instant e- letter to send to our senators? Here’s one from People for Bikes.

Watch the League’s video.

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Proposed Route 571 Main Street Design Unsafe

Tuesday, September 13 by JerryFoster

571/Wallace-Cranbury morning commute 2The WWBPA responded to the county’s proposed CR 571 Main Street design recently, maintaining that it is unsafe for everyone: motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. In the past 10 years, two pedestrians were killed on this stretch of roadway (2004 and 2005), while no motorists were killed.? A 17-year-old motorist was killed in 2006, however, just west of downtown Princeton Junction, when she lost control of her car on the curve coming off the bridge over the train tracks.

The proposed wider-straighter-faster design does nothing to address these safety issues. Instead, it preserves the current 45mph design speed and 40mph posted speed limit. Drivers don’t respect crosswalks when they have to slow from high speed, and the proposed design does nothing to provide pedestrian refuges in the center of the roadway to promote safe crossing.

Rt 571 Concept Illustration

The design also features a new two-way center left turn lane (TWLTL) that studies have shown to be unsafe; AARP calls them “suicide lanes.” One study even showed that artificially lowering the posted speed limit, but not the design speed, caused an increase in crashes.

Picture 7

Here’s a picture of Hamilton’s SR 33 that most resembles what is planned. The 45mph design speed is simply not appropriate for the pedestrian friendly Main Street that our Redevelopment Plan envisions. A survey of other Mercer County towns shows that Princeton, Lawrenceville, Hightstown, Hopewell and Pennington all have 25 – 30mph speed limits on their Main Streets. Why not in West Windsor?

The WWBPA is not just opining, and we’re not just complaining – our response, and our recommendations based on the December 2009 Public Review, are founded on research and guidelines from the New Jersey Department of Transportation. We are recommending constructive, Complete Streets alternatives to remedy the safety issues and make a Main Street that we can all be proud of.

The current design shows why Mercer County should adopt a Complete Streets policy to complement the state and West Windsor township policies – our transportation network needs jurisdictions with consistent policies to benefit our taxpayers.

Thanks to everyone who has gotten involved to support our position! We appreciate all of you who have signed our petition at the Farmers’ Market, or who have contacted the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, which recently conducted public outreach on this and other federally-funded projects.

More help is needed. Please contact our public officials to support our position. With a lower design speed and pedestrian refuges, our senior residents can cross Route 571 safely to the new Rite Aid, and our children can cross Route 571 safely to the new ex-Acme shopping center, as well as to the high school. And our teenage drivers should be able to keep control of their vehicles when going more slowly. Everyone benefits.

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A Much-Improved Intersection

Monday, September 5 by silvia

We’ve organized an educational walk, we’ve advocated and campaigned, we’ve waited and waited, and now with the completion of the new Rite Aid we finally have pedestrian crosswalks across all four roads at the Cranbury/Wallace/Route 571 intersection in Princeton Junction.

This intersection had the dubious honor of being top-ranked (or maybe bottom-ranked) in the 2008 WWBPA intersection inventory. As with many of the recent sidewalk and intersection improvements, this huge addition to walkability and safety was done with relatively little Township money; in this case the funds were largely state, county and private.

Is the intersection now perfect? It’s certainly a lot better, but lack of pedestrian refuges on the Route 571 crossings, poor visibility for vehicles coming off the bridge and turning right onto Wallace, and countdown lights that are still unreachable for wheelchair users forces us to give the intersection less than a triple-A rating.

In the “you can’t get there from here” department, lack of sidewalks on either side of Route 571 mean that it’s not possible to walk safely from the new Rite Aid to the soon-to-be-remodeled Acme shopping center. Well that’s technically not quite true: the safe route is now along Wallace, up Scott and along Alexander.

Sometimes things move slower than we’d like, but this intersection, along with many other intersection and sidewalk improvements over the last six months, is making West Windsor a better place to walk, or in the case of our wheelchair-bound trustee Michael, roll.

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Tour East Aurora’s Main Street

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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What Makes a Main Street Work for Everyone?

Monday, July 18 by JerryFoster

Bicycle and pedestrian friendliness doesn’t have to be a win-lose battle between competing interests, but can be a win-win for everyone.? The right design balances safety, capacity and livability for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in a way that makes all groups comfortable sharing the space.

Notably, the roadway design should make motorists comfortable traveling at the posted speed limit, which should be 35mph or less so drivers will stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.

One nearby example of pedestrian friendliness sometimes discussed is Mercer County Rt 526 in Robbinsville, where recent development included all the design items to make a pedestrian friendly area.

Does it work? Check these pictures – they apparently need a lighted sign board to remind drivers re: the speed limit, and to watch for pedestrians. Why might the roadway design not support the speed limit?

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Public Comment Needed on Route 571 Main Street Project

Wednesday, June 22 by JerryFoster

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is putting out the New Jersey? federal transportation improvement projects for comment, including the Route 571 project between Clarksville and Cranbury roads. You can find details here:

The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance’s recommendations for the project are here:

The current design calls for adding a center left turn lane, sidewalks and a bicycle-compatible shoulder, maintaining the existing design speed (45mph).

The problem is that the combination of same design speed, the additional center turn lane and roadway widening, but no pedestrian refuges halfway across the road will make it harder, not easier, to cross the street.

Essentially, there will be 30% more cars to dodge when crossing, which will be going faster than today, since they wouldn’t have to slow down for left-turning vehicles (which will be in the new center turn lane).

In our view, Route 571 is already too hard to cross, and this design will make it worse. Please join us in adding your comments to the DVRPC by following the instructions on their web page.

The stated goals are for a bicycle and pedestrian friendly main street, but the design details do not support the goals, according to the NJDOT Smart Transportation Guidebook. On the plus side, the recommended changes will save money and most importantly give us a Main Street we can be proud of, while still increasing? capacity.

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AASHTO Takes Aim at Bike/Ped Regulations

Tuesday, April 19 by JerryFoster

The Association of American State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recently published a letter to the US Department of Transportation recommending weakening the federal requirement for adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities to roadway projects. This recommendation is understandable, given the fierce fight for resources in today’s tight budget climate, but extremely short-sighted.

Some background: the Highway Trust Fund, established in the 1950s to finance the interstate highway system, has suffered from starvation due to flat fuel taxes (since 1997), reduced buying power of those taxes through inflation, and fewer miles driven since 2007? (i.e. reduced demand for gas) due to the economy, more fuel-efficient cars and higher gas prices. Intended as a way for motorists to pay for highways, it has been bailed out by general taxes to the tune of $8 billion in 2008, $7 billion in 2009, $19.5 billion in 2010, and is projected to be insolvent again by the end of fiscal year 2012.

However, the percentage of federal roadway money spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities is minuscule (about 2% in FY 2010), and a sustained commitment is necessary to build our transportation network to offer a true choice of modes – walking, biking, transit and/or driving. It’s a win-win in any case: better walking and biking facilities are usually incidental to the cost of building roads or bridges, they’re healthier for the participants, plus they reduce congestion and pollution for everyone.

Consider this picture, which I took while walking the 1.5 miles from the commuter train station near Frederick, MD to pick up my car at the dealer (don’t ask). This bridge, MD 85 under I-270, appeared to be recently constructed and had a number of nice features, such as the stone work shown, and should have been built with room to walk, but wasn’t.

Please use this link to express your opinion of whether bicycle and pedestrian facilities should be required, or just considered.

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A Bicycle and Pedestrian-Friendly Bridge

Monday, April 4 by silvia

Coming soon: a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Schalks Crossing bridge

Coming soon: a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Schalks Crossing bridge

Gov. Christie’s proposed NJDOT transportation capital program for the fiscal year that begins in July includes $8.7 million to replace the bridge deck over the railroad tracks on Schalks Crossing Road, heading north in Plainsboro toward South Brunswick.

A shared bicycle/pedestrian sidewalk lane will be provided through cantilever additions along both the east and west sides. (As the WWBPA noted in a letter to the Princeton Packet in 2009, the bridge on Clarksville Road could use this too.)

Roadway improvements would include milling and resurfacing the existing roadway approaches for tie-ins to the bridge.

The state’s capital program also includes funds for a New Brunswick Bikeway (which would link the various Rutgers campuses), various intersection treatments, and grade-separation crossings at?locations in Middlesex and Union counties that intersect with the state highway system and will allow for a safe crossing along the East Coast Greenway route.

We’re also intrigued by a Lawrence Township project that is receiving $30,000 as part of an effort to turn a stretch of Business U.S. 1 into a pedestrian-friendly roadway that slows speeds and promotes business development. It’s described this way: “The roadway cross section (traveled way) will be reduced to provide 11-foot travel lanes, on-street parking along the northbound side of Route 1B, pedestrian ?bulb-outs,? crosswalk enhancements and a 16-foot-wide center median, which can be planted with suitable low ground cover, flowers, etc.” The state’s five-year transportation capital plan calls for $4.3 million in the fiscal year that begins in July 2012 to cover construction costs. Sounds like a Complete Street!

Other projects include $3.5 million for right-of-way acquisitions as part of proposed safety improvements along Route 1 between Nassau Park and I-95.? The five-year plan calls for spending nearly $9 million two years later for the actual construction. You can read more about these projects here.

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Portland’s Biking Infrastructure Cost Same as 1 Mile of Freeway

Friday, March 25 by JerryFoster

Moving Beyond the Automobile: Biking from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

In a recent episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile, a Streetfilms.org series, Portland, OR Mayor Sam Adams claims the total cost of their city’s award-winning bicycling infrastructure is the same as 1 mile of 4-lane freeway. What does Politifact.com have to say about that?

Portland is a national leader in building a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community, one of only three Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Communities, according to Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.

According to Politifact, when Portland estimated the total cost of their biking infrastructure since 1993, “they came up with an estimated value of $52 million and adjusted it up to $60 million to be safe.” That wasn’t the actual cost, though – according to Roger Geller, Portland’s bike coordinator, “The $60 million figure is essentially the replacement value of our network as it existed in 2008 in 2008 dollars.”

To compare against the cost of a freeway, Politifact used several sources – costs were reported to vary widely depending on the surrounding environment, from $20 million to $80 million per mile for a 4 lane urban freeway. So Politifact gave the mayor’s statement a Mostly True!

Of course we’re all concerned about cost, but what about value? What return does Portland get for its investment? We’ll take that up in a future post.

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New Trail Crossing Signs in Plainsboro

Monday, March 21 by JerryFoster

Rt1 NB ramp to Scudders Mill WB signBig thanks go out to NJ DOT, who recently installed new warning signs for the multi-use trail along Scudders Mill Road, where it crosses the ramps onto and off of Rt 1 northbound.

The signs are extremely important for the ramp from Rt 1 northbound onto Scudders Mill Rd westbound, since that crossing is a high speed cloverleaf merge with very short sight lines. Additional warning signs are in place around the midpoint of the cloverleaf.

Rt1 NB ramp to Scudders Mill WB sToday this ramp doesn’t see that much traffic, mainly serving U-turns to southbound Rt 1. In the future, however, there is potential for a lot of traffic, if the proposal to restrict westbound turns from northbound Rt 1 at Washington Rd and Harrison Street is adopted.

Thanks, NJDOT!

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Merchants Say Bike Lanes Good for Business

Sunday, February 20 by JerryFoster

According to a study of the economic impact of traffic calming measures in San Francisco, “Sixty-six percent of the merchants believe that the bike lanes have had a generally positive impact on their business.”

The 2003 study, by Emily Drennan of San Francisco State University, notes:

“Small business owners can be the most vocal opponents of traffic calming projects because they fear losing revenue due to changes to the streetscape.

Some research suggests that traffic calming projects can actually improve business conditions and raise revenues for small businesses (Lockwood, 1998).

The Valencia Street Bike Lane Merchant Survey uses business interviews to gather qualitative information about the effects of the Valencia Street bicycle lanes on small businesses in the area.”

Over 65% of the merchants surveyed supported more traffic calming measures.

How about in West Windsor? Will merchants support traffic calming on our Main Street, Rt 571?

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