Learning to Love Your Traffic Engineer – What the Public Wants

Wednesday, November 13 by JerryFoster

It’s hard to learn to love our traffic engineers – they don’t see the same world we do, and don’t want to talk about it. Why not? Have you been to a public meeting?

The public has issues – many residents have not learned to disengage knee-jerk thinking, do their homework or propose constructive suggestions. Some are hostile to any government action, including road projects.

We choose to live in West Windsor because of the promise of safety, good schools, open space and convenient train commuting. We love our cars, but don’t want traffic in our neighborhoods.

Charles Marohn, an engineer and planner, identifies the different values of residents and engineers. In order, residents prioritize safety, low cost, traffic volume and speed, while engineers prioritize speed, volume, safety and cost.

Value divergence shows in the effort to improve walking and biking along Cranbury Road. Despite WWBPA recommendations, residents’ public comments and numerous yard signs asking motorists to Drive 25, traffic calming was rejected as a project goal.

We’re determined to learn to love our engineers, so in our next installment we’ll focus on the most divergent values – speed and volume.

 

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Update: Sidewalks on Cranbury Rd making progress due to community pressure

Wednesday, July 31 by ezeitler

Cranbury Rd Sidewalks 1

Residents of Cranbury Rd and others concerned about safe streets for children, pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers came to the West Windsor Township council meeting on July 22nd to show support for sidewalks on Cranbury Rd. Organizing the group has been Sarah Thomson and Samirah Akhlaq-Rezvi, two residents of Cranbury Rd. At the meeting, a number of residents shared stories of unsafe conditions on the road and their call for sidewalks to build a safer, healthier and more community oriented street. Members of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance were on hand to support the residents.

Cranbury Rd Sidewalks 3The concerns of the residents were heard by the Council. All five council members voiced support for sidewalks on Cranbury Rd and for funding an engineering study to see what options are available. The Township is also interested in applying for a competitive state grant to fund the sidewalks. Some council members agreed that due to the urgency of the issue, there is sufficient funding in the capital budget to build sidewalks even before a grant from the state is approved. Mark Shallcross was present to photograph all the folks speaking as well as the great signs they brought! The meeting and organizing have been covered by the West Windsor Plainsboro News in this past weekend’s paper.

Do you support sidewalks on Cranbury Rd? There are a number of ways you can help to make sidewalks happen.

Attend: There will be a public meeting with Mayor Hsueh to discuss Township and community plans for sidewalks at 10 AM on Saturday, Aug 10th at the Municipal Building at the corner of Clarksville and North Post Roads. All are encouraged to come to the meeting to show their support and maintain the momentum for action.

Write: Sarah and Samirah are seeking volunteers to write letters describing concerns about safety on Cranbury Rd and support for sidewalks to accompany the Township’s grant application to the state. These can be emailed to the WWBPA and we will pass them along to Sarah and Samirah for inclusion in the Township’s application. We can also pass along your info to Sarah and Samirah if you’d like to get more involved with the community group organizing for sidewalks on Cranbury Rd.

Photos by Mark Shallcross.

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Residents organize to support sidewalks on Cranbury Rd

Sunday, July 21 by ezeitler

More than 40 West Windsor residents of all ages walked up a narrow stretch of Cranbury Road during the afternoon of Friday, June 28, calling for sidewalks from Millstone Road to Princeton-Hightstown Road (County Road 571). Cranbury Road is a heavily traveled road that lacks a proper shoulder – often a shoulder of any sort. Yet the right of way for the roadway is at least 33 feet – leaving 11 feet or more for sidewalks without the taking of any private property. The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance supports community efforts to implement a complete, family friendly, commuter friendly street for this important travel corridor in our community.

Residents of Cranbury Rd were joined by Mayor Shing-fu Hsueh as well as Council members Linda Geevers and Kristina Samonte for the walk. While some stayed at the gathering point, unwilling to walk with small children along the as-now unsafe road, most of the community members and officials walked the road single file, slowing rush-hour traffic. Some motorists stopped to voice support. In addition to the signs that residents carried as they walked, many also planted them in their yards, with messages such as “Let us walk without fear.”

Residents have been asking for sidewalks for at least 20 years and told local officials they want to be able to walk safely to downtown Princeton Junction and to the train station as well as to let their kids visit neighbors.  They also called for better enforcement of the 25 mph speed limit, and several immediately volunteered their driveways when the mayor said the police would need a place to park.

The group walked from 109 Cranbury past Stobbe Lane, over Bear Brook and toward Sunnydale, stopping at the home of a mother and son who are in wheelchairs. There, the mayor made comments and took questions from residents. Mayor Hsueh said a grant application from the township last year to study a possible project was rejected by the state and that the county doesn’t have money either. He promised that if the state can’t provide funds, he would look at what the township could budget and approach the county for help. He also promised residents that he would arrange a group meeting with the township engineer to explain the township’s idea for the roadway, speak to the police chief about enforcement and to give residents regular updates. Councilwoman Geevers urged residents to remain organized.

Do you walk, bike or drive along Cranbury Road? Do you want safe streets for families, commuters, the elderly, and all other road users in West Windsor? Do you want your lawmakers to know that you support sidewalks on Cranbury Rd? Consider attending the West Windsor Township council meeting with other community members this Monday, July 22nd so representatives as well as members of the community can hear about these concerns. Public comment is available for those who wish to speak.

What: West Windsor Township Council Meeting with discussion of Cranbury Rd sidewalks

When: Monday, July 22nd, 2013, 7 PM

Where: West Windsor Municipal Building, 271 Clarksville Road, West Windsor, NJ

Hope to see many community members continuing to advocate for a safer Cranbury Rd for all users.

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A Safer Cranbury Rd

Tuesday, June 25 by ezeitler

WWBPA advocates for safer streets for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike. A critical need in our community is to improve safety and accessibility on Cranbury Road, a major connection between the train station and points west. Current infrastructure does not protect the most vulnerable users – pedestrians – who have no designated place on the road. A sidewalk, multi-use trail or pedestrian friendly shoulder would improve safety for those who must walk or choose to walk even given current unsafe conditions. Safer conditions would also encourage and allow more people to commute and travel without a car to our major transportation hub, especially those with special needs such as older adults and families.

WWBPA  supports the Cranbury Road neighborhood in their efforts to create a safer Cranbury Road  for everyone. Please join in on June 28th (see info below) and show your support to have a sidewalk/multi-use trail or pedestrian-friendly shoulder lanes installed on the Cranbury Road from Route 571 to Millstone Road making Cranbury Rd accessible for all residents.

“As a group of West Windsor residents living on or near Cranbury Road, we invite you to join us for a walk along our street, north of Princeton-Hightstown Road, on Friday, June 28. Or try to. We live in a beautiful area but, unfortunately, there are no sidewalks, nor even a shoulder.  We–and our children–face the danger of speeding cars as we walk to see our neighbors next door or to nearby stores. A stroll to the Princeton Junction train station or our local restaurants can become a perilous adventure.

Slowing traffic is important, but we are also asking our local and county officials to install a sidewalk/multi-use trail or pedestrian-friendly shoulder lanes on the road from Route 571 to Millstone Road. Cranbury Road has an unused right-of-way along this stretch, so this could be done without compromising any private property.

We invite all to join us at 109 Cranbury Road at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 28 as we walk along Cranbury Road to demonstrate the need for a safe route for us, our kids and the motorists and bicyclists who travel it daily.  Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh will join us.

We hope to see you then.”

-Sarah & John Thomson, 113 Cranbury Road

-Samirah & Yasser Rezvi, 109 Cranbury Road

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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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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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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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Stop For Pedestrians

Tuesday, September 28 by silvia

These are photos from our pop-up campaign to call attention to the new law that requires motorists to stop and stay stopped as long as a pedestrian is in the crosswalk.

Did you catch us  for the 30 minutes we were at Route 571 and Sherbrooke Drive on Thursday, September 23 or the 30 minutes at Wallace Road and Scott Avenue on Saturday, September 25 as the new Arts Center was being inaugurated? We got some smiles and thumbs-up, but also some scowls and some drivers who ignored the law — and pedestrians seeking to cross Route 571.

There are three more opportunities to give us a wave as you drive by or — better yet — take part:

  • 7:15 a .m. Wednesday, October 6 at 7:15 a.m. at Clarksville Road and Route 571, by High School South;
  • 5:30 p.m. Thursday, October 21 at Canal Pointe Boulevard by MarketFair; and
  • 6:45 a.m. Monday, November 8 at Cranbury/Wallace Roads and Route 571.

Help us show West Windsor cares about pedestrian safety!

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Progress on Route 571/Cranbury Road

Saturday, August 28 by silvia

571-Cranbury-Wallace Countdown SignalHave you noticed the pedestrian countdown signals at all corners of Route 571/Princeton-Hightstown Road, Cranbury Road and Wallace Road? Crosswalks and ADA-compliant ramps have yet to go in, but this is a big safety improvement for one of West Windsor’s busiest intersections. Getting it made safer for pedestrians, many of whom are headed to and from the Princeton Junction train station, has long been a top priority for the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance, and we applaud West Windsor Township, Mercer County and the New Jersey Department of Transportation for making it happen.

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Slowing Down In Our Town

Thursday, January 7 by silvia


West Windsor and Mercer County are working on reducing the 50 mph speed limit on Cranbury Road from the Plainsboro border to just before Van Nest Park, where the limit drops down to 25 mph. The speed limit will be cut to 40 mph from the border with Plainsboro and then cut again to 30 mph ahead of the curve around Perry Drive. This curve has been the scene of many accidents and near-accidents, where cars have karoomed onto residents’ yards.

In addition, the Township is studying the possibility of reducing speed limits on parts of Southfield Road.

The WWBPA applauds these as  important safety measures and is encouraged that the Township will reduce speed limits.

Update: On April 6, 2010 West Windsor Township Council adopted Resolution 2010-R080, which was sent to the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders asking that
speed limits be reduced as follows:

  • 40 MPH from the county line of Middlesex County and Mercer County along Cranbury Road to Perry Court.
  • 30 MPH from Perry Court along Cranbury Road to the point approximately 350 feet east of Steele Drive where the current speed limit is posted for 25 MPH.
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A Safer Bit of Route 571

Monday, December 28 by silvia

Finally, this intersection along Route 571 is being made safer.

The intersection of Route 571/Princeton-Hightstown Road, Wallace Road and Cranbury Road, one of the busiest intersections in West Windsor and the site where a pedestrian wearing a reflective vest was struck by a car last month, will become safer for those trying to cross the street. This is great news and comes two years after the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance highlighted the safety problems there and made a number of recommendations.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation is in the final design phase of improvements that will include marked crosswalks and pedestrian countdown signals at every corner. Lighting at the intersection will be brought up to code, if it isn’t already meeting the requirements.

A sidewalk also will be added from the northwest corner (by the school bus depot) along the bridge to Washington Road, where a pedestrian crossing across Washington Road will be added. NJDOT also intends to add a left turn lane off the railroad bridge, which will eliminate what some pedestrians use as a refuge island.

NJDOT intends to do the work in the spring or early summer of 2010 and says that funding is secure. (This is being paid for through federal pedestrian-safety funds.) It has decided not to wait for improvements promised by Rite-Aid, which is going back to the zoning board for permission to make some changes to its plans.

The WWBPA was often told that this was a particularly difficult intersection because it involved Township, Mercer County and state jurisdictions. That the three entities have worked out a plan shows how the WWBPA can bring people together to find solutions.

While we are pleased with the planned 2010 improvements by the NJDOT, in our view they do not address all needed improvements to this gateway to West Windsor. Other improvements to the main street Princeton Junction area (along Route 571 from Cranbury/Wallace Roads to Clarksville Road) are now under review as part of a long-term project that includes the intersection at Cranbury/Wallace Road. To that end, we are in the process of drafting recommendations that consider the usage context of the roadway (i.e., with Route 571 as West Windsor’s main street). Context is critical because it drives the choice of design features that work together to impact safety. Based on these considerations, WWBPA recommendations for this road segment include:

  • Lowering the desired operating speed, supported by roadway design elements, not just a lower posted speed.
  • Adding bike lanes per the Township Master Plan.
  • Strengthening the design cues to drivers when entering the main street gateways (e.g., by reducing the posted speed limit in the transition areas leading to the gateways to 35mph, reducing to one through-travel lane before the gateways).
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Upcoming Events

Apr        Membership Drive. Become a member/Renew your membership today and support our local community.

Apr 29  WWBPA to participate in Community Day at Duck Pond Park (11am-4pm)

May 1     Scholarship applications due for Graduating High School Seniors

May 6     Opening day for WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market & Walk from Hawk Elementary School

May 11     Monthly Meeting 7 pm – WW Municpal Bldg (Rm D – Lower Level)

May 20   WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market & Kids Learn to Bike

June 3    WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market  & Adult Learn to Bike (9am-12pm)

Jun 8       Monthly Meeting 7 pm – WW Municpal Bldg (Rm D – Lower Level)

June 17   WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market & Bike Repair Clinic

July 8     WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market

July 13     Monthly Meeting 7 pm – WW Municpal Bldg (Rm D – Lower Level)

July 22    WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market

Aug  5     WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market

Aug 10    Monthly Meeting 7 pm – WW Municpal Bldg (Rm D – Lower Level)

Aug 19    WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market

Sept 9     WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market

Sept 14   Monthly Meeting 7 pm – WW Municpal Bldg (Rm D – Lower Level)

Sept 23   WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market – Bike Drive (Donations)

Oct 7       WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market

Oct 12     Monthly Meeting 7 pm – WW Municpal Bldg (Rm D – Lower Level)

Oct 28     WWBPA at the WW Farmers Market – Halloween

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