The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is organizing its third annual Walk to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday May 5 to mark the opening of the market for the season.
This free family-friendly walk is open to people of all ages, and those in wheelchairs and strollers as well. We will meet in the Maurice Hawk School parking lot at the back of the school, and start strolling at 9 a.m.; please arrive by 8:50 a.m. so we can leave on time. Our mile-long route will take us to Berrien Avenue on the school path, and then down Berrien to Alexander Road. We will then cross Alexander Road by the Arts Center and turn left onto the new sidewalk constructed last summer with the help of a Safe Routes to Transit grant obtained by West Windsor Township. We will cross Wallace Road and continue up over the roundabout and along more of the sidewalk along Alexander Road, including a key portion installed last year, to Vaughn Drive, where we will turn right and proceed to the Farmers’ Market.
Children of all ages will be challenged by a game of “I Spy” along the way.
We’ll follow a different route back to the Hawk parking lot for those who are interested.
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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.”
The WWBPA partnered with the Princeton Joint Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee to promote nighttime visibility recently, at St. Paul’s church in Princeton. We were able to take advantage of their excellent audio/visual facilities in the basement meeting room, with about 15 people attending.
Thanks to our Princeton partners and to our volunteers, especially Lenora,
one of our members, who gave the safety presentation in Spanish, and was very good at engaging the audience. Thanks also to the Hunterdon Area Resources for Transportation (HART) Transportation Management Association, who developed the base of our bilingual presentation.
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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?
Representatives from the Mercer County Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will present plans for the Old Trenton Road (CR 535) Bridge replacement project and answer questions at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14 in Room D (downstairs) of the West Windsor Municipal Building.
Plans for the replacement of the bridge over the Assunpink Creek call for a turn lane and signal controlled intersection with Robbinsville-Edinburg Road (CR 526) southbound and a turn lane at Edinburg Road northbound. The turn lane will allow the smooth movement of traffic as well as a queuing lane for those cars turning between the two signals.
The design provides a single lane in each direction with a dedicated left turn lane which, due to long queues of left turning vehicles at both intersections, would extend across the new bridge. The design is documented in the West Windsor and Mercer County Master Plans available at the Municipal building.
The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance wants to ensure the plan also is friendly for bicyclists and pedestrians.
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What an incredible year for new sidewalks and bike lanes in West Windsor!
You’ve probably already seen the improvements around the train station, including better crossings, the sidewalk on the Schlumberger side and the striped shoulders that give cyclists some added comfort. There also are three key links in the sidewalk network that went in last month and finally allow people to walk to and from the Toll Brother developments, Windsor Haven and the farmers’ market over the railroad bridge on Alexander Road and to the library, Maurice Hawk and the Arts Center. Those parking at the Wallace Road lot for Arts Council events now have a much more direct walk as well.
Now work has started on Penn-Lyle Road that not only will repave the road surface but add sidewalks to the east side of the road between Village Road West and Stony Brook Way as well as bike lanes on both sides of the road. This will let more students walk or bike safely to High School South.
We also hear that work is progressing for the multi-use trail planned along South Post Road near the ballfields. If all goes smoothly, the project could soon go out to bid, with an aim of construction in September or October.
The WWBPA has long advocated for these improvements, and we thank township officials, including the mayor and council, for making them.
The WWBPA had something for everyone in May. Where did you see us?
On May 7, we led our second annual walk to mark the start of the farmers’ market season. About 20 people, from grandparents to grandchildren, joined for a walk from Maurice Hawk School to the Farmers’ Market at the Vaughn Drive Parking Lot. The first stop was at the Arts Center on Alexander Road where Greening of West Windsor (GroWW) was holding an Herb Sale to benefit the plantings at the Arts Center. We observed the new sidewalk along Alexander Road from Scott Avenue to Wallace Road under construction, and noted that on next year’s walk we would use it. Crossing Wallace at Alexander instead of at Scott is much safer because cars have a much greater sight line to the pedestrians. We proceeded to the station, under the tracks, and along the pathway to the Farmers’ Market, where the WWBPA handed out maps and held a drawing for a T-shirt, a reflective vest, a set of lights, a set of ankle bands and a couple of Share the Road decals.
As part of National Bike to Work Week, we joined Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association for a chilly “bikers breakfast” at the station on May 17, offering food, drink and encouragement to cyclists and others. We hope some are ready to get back on a bike, even if not to get to work.
On May 28, we were at BikeFest, talking to participants about what we do and offering ideas on where to ride.
Our “Ride of Silence,” to honor cyclists killed or injured on the roads, was delayed by rain until June 1. We rode through West Windsor, led by a police car and funeral hearse. If you missed us, check out the photos.
Check out the innovative pedestrian crossing in New Brunswick: Not only does it blink when a pedestrian is crossing, it shows the speed of approaching traffic. It’s even solar-powered. A possible solution for Sherbrooke and Route 571?
The guide, created through a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to give Safe Routes to School practitioners, teachers, school administrators and others the necessary background information to fully understand the positive benefits of teaching bicycle and pedestrian education in the classroom, and to provide these audiences with easy access to currently available curricula. The guide and its accompanying inventory are organized into descriptive categories that will help in choosing the right curriculum for specific classroom needs.
WWBPA member Leo Donner is grateful for a street light that was replaced and a pedestrian signal that was repaired at the intersection of Vaughn Drive, Alexander Road and Bear Brook Road last year. “During dark nights this winter, the lighting has really helped, he writes. “I’ve noticed, both as a pedestrian and driver, the enormous benefits of visibility.”
But, he adds: “The lighting did not prevent a recent close call for me, though. I was crossing the intersection, starting with a walk signal, and was nearly hit by two cars, one turning left from Vaughn and the other turning right from Bear Brook. Given the current sequencing of signal lights at that intersection, they both had green lights.”
He says the real solution is a change in the signal sequencing to provide a phase in which turns into the crosswalks are forbidden by signal while a walk light is active (e.g., by keeping the Vaughn/Bear Brook Light red and having a variable “No Turn on Red” sign illuminate simultaneously). But in the meantime he’d like to see two things:
(1) Signs at the intersection currently state “Yield to Pedestrians,” instead of “Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk.” State law was recently changed the “yield” to “stop,” and I’ve noticed signs have been changed elsewhere in West Windsor. Could this also be done at this intersection, where it is especially necessary?
(2) Improved police enforcement. I rarely see police at this intersection during rush hours.
The WWBPA supports his suggestions and will be following up. We’ve previously made recommendations for the intersection and would like to see pedestrians get a small head start across the road.
The U.S. Department of Transportation posted its 2010 Record of Accomplishment, and the WWBPA sees some good things in it. Highlights include anti-distracted driving regulations and encouragement for more transportation opportunities. In particular, it helped level the playing field for bicyclists and pedestrians. This is a big accomplishment, particularly as some think bicyclists and pedestrians could lose out in some of the new Congress’s budget battles (see this analysis from the League of American Bicyclists).
Here’s some of what DOT did, in its own words:
In March 2010, DOT formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities to integrate the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in federally-funded road projects. DOT discouraged transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians and encouraged investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Such recommendations include treating walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes, ensuring convenient access for people of all ages and abilities, and protecting sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected. Through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants program, DOT funded major projects across the country that allow Americans to safely and conveniently get where they need to go on a bike or on foot.
One of the TIGER grants “will repair, reconstruct and improve 16.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle facilities that will complete a 128-mile regional network in six counties around Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey,” including the Schuylkill Trail, with artist’s rendering above.
John Boyle of the WalkBikeJersey Blog analyzed the U.S. Census data from the American Community Survey for 2005-2009 (not data from Census 2010) to see how New Jerseyans get to work. Included on the blog is a spreadsheet listing all 522 New Jersey communities with the numbers and rankings for biking, walking, and taking transit.
The numbers don’t reflect those who use multiple ways to get to work, but only the mode used for the longest part of the trip or most frequently used. So if you ride your bike to the Princeton Junction station, take the train to New York City, then walk to your office, your commute would only be counted as “transit.”
Here’s how West Windsor ranks, out of 12,198 people counted:
No. 144 of the 522 state municipalities for the percentage of people who bicycle (0.39%);
No. 342 in the state for the percentage of those who walk to work (1.31%);
No. 39 for those who take transit (17.97%).
Not surprisingly, that puts West Windsor commuters way ahead of those in the entire country who take transit (4.95%), but somewhat below those who walk (2.9%) or bike (0.5%).
West Windsor is seeking one-year extensions on state funding for a number of bicycle, pedestrian and roadway improvements, including on Village Road West from Penn Lyle Road to Edinburg Road in Dutch Neck. The project is described on the township’s website as improved visual enhancements such as high-visibility crosswalks and in-street pedestrian signage for Village Road West at the intersections with Reed Drive, Oakwood Way, and South Mill Roads.
Other extensions are being sought for projects on Village Road West from about St. David’s Church to North Post Road; Wallace Road from Alexander Road to Route 571 (by the train station); the South Post Road bikeway from Village Road to the rowing center; and the next phase of the Penn Lyle Road improvements, which involves widening the road between Clarksville Road and Canoe Brook Drive.
Bob Hary, the township’s business administrator, said the intent is to put all the projects out for bid in the spring. He said at Monday’s council meeting that the extension is needed because the funding didn’t coincide with the township’s capital improvement plans.
The September 11th National Memorial Trail is being established as a National Historic Trail on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001 and will be a tribute to all those that perished in America’s single worse terrorist attack.
The route is to be a triangle that connects the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA, where Flight 93 went down. Much of it is on existing routes, including the D&R Canal/East Coast Greenway through West Windsor. Other parts still have to be determined, particularly the route from Shanksville to New York.
Organizers aim to have the trail segments planned by September 11, 2011, and many completed segments dedicated.
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Hamilton is in the middle of a review of its master plan, a long-term vision for planning and development. One goal is to add more bicycle and pedestrian paths.
The workshops on the master plan are continuing; this is the time for residents to make their views known. You can read more about what’s happened so far here.
It’s encouraging to see more New Jersey communities (Newark, Hoboken, Freehold …) are looking at infrastructure improvements for bicyclists. Here’s the latest on what we’ve read about Hoboken (and Jersey City).
Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently. Other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines. New vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity with each other.
“The National Federation of the Blind commends the United States Senate for the wise and decisive action taken today to preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities, and we must be able to hear vehicles in order to do so. This bill, which is the result of collaboration among blind Americans, automobile manufacturers, and legislators, will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent. We now call upon the House of Representatives to pass this legislation as quickly as possible so that it can be sent to the President’s desk for his signature before the close of the year.”
“I’m a major advocate of hybrids—I own one, I drive one, and I’ve seen firsthand their environmental and economic benefits,” said Senator John Kerry, the sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. “This legislation will allow us to continue to promote our energy independence and technological innovation while safeguarding those who use senses other than sight to navigate the roads.”
“The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is proud of this legislation, which is the result of our cooperative relationship with advocates for blind pedestrians,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “We believe that this legislation represents a common-sense approach to ensure that the blind and other pedestrians remain safe as new vehicle technologies emerge.”
Township Council recently adopted the shared space concept as fundamental to the lawsuit settlement with InterCap over the new Princeton Junction Transit Village. Under this concept, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians share the roadway as peers. But is it safe?
Overall, “reported accidents have decreased substantially.” In one location, however, minor injury collisions persisted, and “bicyclists were overrepresented”. Significantly, “police report only a (minor) part of the accidents. Particularly bicycle and pedestrian accidents are often not reported to the police. This means that reliable and valid conclusions regarding the safety of cyclists and pedestrians cannot be made.”
What makes shared space work? “At low speeds people have more time for communication and the interpretation of verbal and non-verbal utterances.”
What keeps it from working? “Children and people with a visual or mental handicap cannot be expected to comply. Also, the elderly are not always able to anticipate and react in time, especially not when it is crowded and many things happen in a short period. This group (in total 25% percent of the population!) runs a substantially raised risk.”
How do people feel about shared space? “Most respondents do not think the situations are safe. Both car drivers and bicyclists and pedestrians are critical about it. In Haren remarkably many people (90%) demand a clear choice regarding the position of the bicycle: either on a bicycle lane or on the carriageway. The experts prefer the bicyclist on the carriageway; the public prefers a separate recognizable lane.”
The WWBPA supports the shared space concept, but recognizes that to work, all roadway users must be provided with subtle guidance as to the preferred positioning within the space. Bicyclists must be encouraged to stay out of the way of opening car doors (the “door zone”), such as through the use of a special color or pattern of pavement to guide where they ride.
The current (pre-settlement) language in the redevelopment ordinance calls for buffered bike lanes to achieve this goal. This goal can be achieved in the shared space concept, but the language regarding bike lanes is proposed to be removed. Please contact our public officials with your questions or concerns regarding the safety of our proposed new shared space.
The revitalization of the Acme shopping center (really called Windsor Plaza) is crucial to the health of Downtown Princeton Junction. And all plans that call for a town center or village center there and have been endorsed by over the past couple of decades have included a path through the woods to serve as a safe, off-road route to the train station for pedestrians and bicyclists. The current plan for the path, contained in the Redevelopment Plan, is from the back of the shopping center to Borosko Place.
The new owner of site, Irv Cyzner, and the current Planning Board, don’t seem to want that path (read the Princeton Packet article, “Planners stay ruling on Czyner). But many residents support a trail.
Mr. Cyzner’s plans remain before the planning board, and a fourth public hearing on his proposals, this time to discuss a variance on the size of the shopping-center sign, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 12 at the Municipal Center.
This is our last chance before the planning board vote to voice our support for this vital bicycle and pedestrian link. Please come show your support.
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Freehold is about to release a study by the New Jersey Department of Transportation about how to make the borough friendlier for bicyclists. But turning the study into reality is hardly a slam-dunk. Its supporters need our vocal support to help businesses overcome fears about cyclists on the sidewalk and bikes that aren’t locked to bike racks, among other things. (We say cyclists can bring in extra business, particularly if downtown is on a safe route to the Shore.) The key meeting is Monday, Dec. 20.
Read this email that the WWBPA received from John F. Newman, a Freehold councilman for the Springsteen connection and more:
About one year ago, I was elected as a councilman in Freehold Borough. One issue that immediately reared its head was an ordinance that was passed (before I was sworn in) which required bikes to be parked at bike racks in town, despite a dearth of bike racks.
I railed against this issue, and soon thereafter secured a NJ DOT grant to have a bike-ped study of the town. That study is about to be unveiled to the public for their review and comment, but I am learning of some opposition to the study, namely how it could affect the downtown.
I am reaching out to bicycle advocates so that they can assist me in garnering support to ATTEND the meeting and bring their views of the benefits of a bike-friendly community. Being in Freehold Borough, some items in the DOT study were to link the Henry Hudson Trail to the downtown, link the rest of the 1.9 square mile borough to the downtown, and linking the borough to points outside its boundaries, such as the Monmouth Battlefield and other nearby parks. Also, within town is proposed a bike path/trail. This will map out places of historic interest and a tour of Springsteen’s Freehold. Of course, the study also takes into account safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
As noted, there is some resistance. I would appreciate it if you and your friends could help me by attending the December 20, 2010 meeting. The public portion starts at Freehold Borough Hall at 4:00 until 6:30; then the council meeting starts at 7:00 where a presentation will be made directly to the mayor and council.
Your support and input will be greatly appreciated as well as your comments on the beneficial aspects bike-friendly communities – the concept still has to be sold.
You can read more about what Freehold has been doing on WalkBikeJersey. The state also has mapped a route that goes through Monmouth Battlefield.
And did you know this about Freehold’s role in bicycling history? Cycling champion Arthur Augustus Zimmerman resided in the town during his racing career in the 1880s and 1890s, and from 1896-1899 operated the Zimmerman Bicycle Co.; the company’s bicycles were known as the “Zimmy.” Today, Freehold Borough is home to the Metz Bicycle Museum, where the only extant “Zimmy” can be seen.