Support the Princeton Junction Pocket Park

Wednesday, March 6 by JerryFoster

The Trustees of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance support the proposed Princeton Junction Pocket Park on Alexander Rd between CR 571 and Harris Rd. We believe the park will be a great place to bring West Windsor residents together, to meet and enjoy our continually improving downtown area.

To make the park as bicycle and pedestrian friendly as possible, we will be delighted to donate bike racks, and suggest adding a sidewalk connection to Harris Road, which will be useful for families and students who walk to the park.

We encourage contributions to:

Friends of West Windsor Open Space, P.O. Box 74, West Windsor, NJ 08550

to support the park, and look forward to making West Windsor a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly community.

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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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