We recently sent a letter to the editor to the various local papers thanking NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson for reopening the Route 1 jughandles in West Windsor, and encouraging our officials to implement Complete Streets to reduce local congestion and build livable, bicycle and pedestrian friendly communities, rather than encouraging further sprawl.
The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance thanks New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner James Simpson for re-opening the Route 1 jughandles last week. We applaud NJDOT’s leadership in recognizing the need to maintain a balance between local and long-distance congestion.
Transportation policy favoring long-distance traffic creates sprawl, which is not desirable for economic, environmental, public health and safety reasons. In contrast, Complete Streets policies encourage sustainable development by creating livable communities. NJDOT’s Complete Streets policy leads the nation, according to Smart Growth America, requiring roads to be designed and built for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Mercer County and West Windsor Township have also adopted Complete Streets for roads under their jurisdictions. Implementation will create viable alternatives to driving that mitigate local congestion.
Implementing Complete Streets in West Windsor, including crosswalks, connecting sidewalks and bike lanes around the train station, has already reduced congestion. We recently counted 355 people biking and walking near the station during evening peak hours, up 18% over last year.
We encourage everyone to reduce congestion and stay healthy by biking and walking for short trips – we even think it’s fun. Although congestion is here to stay, Commissioner Simpson improved livability by reopening the jughandles – let’s do our part by biking or walking to school and work whenever possible.
The Penn-Lyle Road improvement project near High School South is complete, and its neighbors love it. No longer do school buses block one lane of traffic every afternoon as they line up waiting for students to transport home. At every other time of day, clearly marked bicycle lanes are a pleasure for bicyclists. After the improvements made last year to another stretch of this heavily traveled road, we now have bike lanes down the entire length, improving the bikeability of our community.
In addition, the reconfigured right turn lane, suggested by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (which also has suggested dedicated left-turn lanes in all directions at Clarksville and North Post Roads) improves visibility of approaching traffic from Clarksville Road for cars wanting to turn onto Clarksville Road from Penn Lyle Road, which traffic engineers are sure will cut down on accidents there.
This project, supported by the WWBPA, is another example of Complete Streets that take all users into account, and the traffic improvements have really made a difference. Thanks, West Windsor Township.
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.
Mercer County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders, the legislative branch of Mercer County, adopted a resolution supporting a Complete Streets policy on Thursday, April 26, 2012. Mercer now joins Monmouth County as the only two counties in the state to adopt Complete Streets, which requires roadway projects to support all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians, by default rather than by exception. We thank the Freeholders for their support, and look forward to our county roads becoming more bicycle and pedestrian friendly!
Realistically, infrastructure projects are very long term in their planning and implementation, so with consistent and persistent application, we should see results after several years, while a complete transformation may take decades. We look forward to working with the county planners and engineers to make our county the best place in the state to live and work.
Essex County also ad0ppted a Complete Streets policy, but we’re glad to say that Mercer was only 2 days behind!
Mercer County Freeholders discussed adopting a Complete Streets policy April 10, supported by over 15 residents from across the county. Freeholder Andrew Koontz of Princeton drafted a resolution for consideration, and a lively discussion ensued. Please join us at the April 24 Freeholders meeting to support Complete Streets!
WWBPA trustees Jerry Foster, Alison Miller and Daryl McMillan spoke during public comments, as did Jeff Laurenti (pictured) of the Trenton Cycling Revolution, Patricia Van Hise of Hamilton and President of the Princeton Free Wheelers bike club, John Stevenson of Hopewell Township and Diane Ciccone, former West Windsor Township Council and current WWBPA member. We were supported by other WWBPA trustees, members and residents from Trenton, Lawrence, Princeton and West Windsor. Thanks to everyone who showed up!
Please join us Tuesday April 24 at 6:30pm at the McDade County Building in Trenton to witness Mercer County becoming the 2nd county in New Jersey to adopt Complete Streets. Essex County is also considering a Complete Streets policy, so with luck we can be first.
As part of the store’s expansion, bike racks were recently installed in front of Trader Joe’s grocery store. Now it’s even easier to bike to the grocery store! If you’re heading to Trader Joe’s from east of Route 1, there’s a nice short cut from New Meadow Road along the old roadway alignment that’s traffic-free until you get to the apartment complex. It even saves you a traffic light and the short hill.
Complete Streets policies are being adopted in municipalities throughout Mercer County. Since March 1, Trenton, Hopewell Borough, Princeton Borough and Princeton Township have all adopted Complete Streets, joining West Windsor and Lawrence townships. Will Mercer County be next?
As of this posting, only Monmouth County has adopted a Complete Streets policy, although Essex County was asked to consider the policy last night.
Complete Streets policies make clear that bicyclists, pedestrians and other roadway users are to be accommodated by default, rather than by exception, and will greatly increase safety for all users.
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!
WZBN reporter Rose Eiklor interviewed Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh and WWBPA President Jerry Foster and 2nd Vice President Alison Miller. The broadcast was on December 6, 2011.
Jerry made the case for a revised plan: “While the new plans will allow pedestrians to walk along Route 571 much more easily due to the new sidewalks, they won’t be able to cross as easily. And it’s not enough, in our view, to be able to just walk along a road; we’ve got to be able to cross it safely as well. Any median or refuge island that goes in the middle would be a huge improvement to being able to cross the road safely. The other main thing that we’re looking for is less speed through this section of our ‘Main Street.’”
There also are many, many commuters who will cross right here [the intersection of Route 571 with Wallace/Cranbury], because this is the way to the train station, and it’s expensive to buy a parking space, especially when you can walk. And commuters are always in a hurry, and we’re very concerned about commuter safety.”
Mayor Hsueh worries that any changes in the design at this point will require the Township and County “to go back to square one again…I have reservations about [their design], because they didn’t know that we’d already discussed with County about those concerns. But County…also has certain kinds of ground rules regarding a county roadway, and we have to compromise with them.”
The mayor continued: “The speed limit is decided by the state DOT, so my feeling is, once we have this design done and once we have people riding bicycles around, [there will be] opportunities we can request for reevaluation of the speed limits, and there are technical standards–it’s not even political negotiations, it’s all based on statistical analysis.”
Commenting on the YouTube site, WWBPA trustee Chris Scherer notes, “It is not financially or socially responsible to implement a ‘ solution’ that requires rework to be considered safe and effective.”
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.