Mercer First to Complete Streets (Policies)

Saturday, January 10 by JerryFoster

Complete Streets logoFive years after Montclair and NJDOT adopted New Jersey’s leading Complete Streets policies, this week Mercer County became the first to have all roads covered – state, county and every municipality. Congratulations to Mercer County for reaching this very important milestone toward making our communities more bicycle and pedestrian friendly!

Complete Streets policies require road improvements to support biking, walking and transit for users of all ages and abilities as the rule rather than the exception, and provide for incremental improvements without mandating retrofits.

Complete Streets benefit everyone, e.g. better safety (not just for cyclists and pedestrians, but mainly for motorists), higher property values (see walkscore.com) and improved security (more eyes on the street). Those who walk or bike feel better, are healthier and live longer – students who bike or walk to school score better on standardized tests.

Realizing these benefits will take time, as responsibility for our roads is divided between the state (for federal and state roads), counties and municipalities. Even a short trip can include roads and/or bridges under the care of many jurisdictions – for example, biking around Princeton’s Carnegie Lake involves traversing 3 counties and 5 municipalities, plus a state and maybe even a federal road.

What does a Complete Street look like? It depends – Complete Streets are not cookie-cutter. All of these pictures might be considered examples in some sense, while each may have additional possibilities to make them even more complete.

See if you can pick out which picture shows which Mercer County municipality – Trenton, Hamilton, Ewing, Hopewell Township, Pennington, Hopewell Boro, Princeton, Lawrence, West Windsor, East Windsor, Hightstown and Robbinsville.

biking on the sidewalk w adult Hightstown Stockton Dutch Neck nb Robbinsville Pond Rd MS 56 cycles ped xwalk Hamilton Estates G Dye Roundabout Cyclist East Windsor Dutch Neck Dorchester 4 xwalks Nassau Sharrows
Lawrence Johnson Trolley Trail Xing Hopewell Denow Roundabout 1 Pennington Cyclist Texting Hopewell Boro Broad St Xing
Ewing Presbyterian Church Xing
Trenton Bike Lane Paver and Asphault

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Answers to the Mercer County Main Street Quiz

Monday, July 25 by JerryFoster

Picture 1

Here are the answers to the Mercer County Main Street quiz! This picture tour of other towns’ main streets is intended to better illustrate what West Windsor’s own Main Street will look like after the project is completed.

Picture 1 is West Windsor’s Main Street today:

  • View: South / East on CR 571 from the driveway of the Sovereign Bank
  • Speed limit / volume: 40mph / 18K (2009)
  • Lanes: 2, turn lanes at intersections
  • Shoulder: very wide, narrowing sharply
  • Sidewalks: many gaps
  • On-street Parking: no
  • Streetscape: strip mall and individual commercial properties with parking lots typically in front

Picture 2

Picture 2 is Princeton:

  • View: North on SR 27 (Nassau St) from the intersection of Washington Rd
  • Speed limit / volume: 25mph / 17K (2009)
  • Lanes: 2, turn lanes at intersections
  • Shoulder: none
  • Sidewalks: yes
  • On-street Parking: yes
  • Streetscape: stores built to the sidewalk, houses converted to stores with small front yards, trees create partial canopy

Picture 3

Picture 3 is Hopewell:

  • View: East on CR 518 (E. Broad St) from the Boro Bean coffee shop driveway near Blackwell Ave. crosswalk
  • Speed limit / volume: 30mph / 9K (2007)
  • Lanes: 2, turn lanes at intersections
  • Shoulder: none
  • Sidewalks: yes
  • On-street Parking: yes
  • Streetscape: stores built to the sidewalk, houses converted to stores with small front yards, trees create partial canopy, flags, banner over roadway, federally-funded decorative paving stones being installed with roadway repaving, high visibility crosswalks with in-street movable reminder signs

Picture 4

Pictures 4 and 5 are both Pennington – Picture 4 shows their classic Main Street and Picture 5 shows the arterial road (SR 31) that bypasses Main Street but more closely resembles West Windsor’s CR 571. Picture 4:

  • View: North on CR 640 (S. Main St.) from the church cemetery near Delaware Ave intersection.
  • Speed limit / volume: 25mph / 6K (2008)
  • Lanes: 2
  • Shoulder: none
  • Sidewalks: yes
  • On-street Parking: yes
  • Streetscape: stores built to the sidewalk, houses converted to stores with small front yards, trees create canopy, flags, federally-funded sidewalks, medians and bulb-out crossings being installed

Picture 5

Picture 5 is Pennington’s arterial bypass around Main Street:

  • View: South on SR 31 from the driveway of the strip mall containing Harts Cyclery near Broemel Place
  • Speed limit / volume: 35mph / 21K (2005)
  • Lanes: 2, turn lanes at intersections
  • Shoulder: wide
  • Sidewalks: complete on east side
  • On-street Parking: no
  • Streetscape: strip malls and individual commercial properties with parking lots typically in front

Picture 6

Picture 6 is Lawrenceville:

  • View: North on US 206 from the driveway of the Lawrenceville School near the intersection of Craven St.
  • Speed limit / volume: 30mph, 25mph in school zone, 17K (2007)
  • Lanes: 2, turn lanes at intersections
  • Shoulder: none
  • Sidewalks: yes
  • On-street Parking: no
  • Streetscape: school bordering east side, stores built to sidewalk and houses converted to stores with small yards, parking behind stores, trees create partial canopy, bus stop shelter, crosswalks with in-street movable reminder signs

Picture 7

Picture 7 is Hamilton:

  • View: West / North on SR 33 from east of STS Tire store near George Dye Rd.
  • Speed limit / volume: 45mph / 19K (2008)
  • Lanes: 2, two-way center left turn lane
  • Shoulder: wide
  • Sidewalks: many gaps
  • On-street Parking: no
  • Streetscape: strip malls and individual commercial properties with parking lots typically in front

Picture 8

Picture 8 is Robbinsville:

  • View: West on SR 33 from the turn lane into North Commerce Square
  • Speed limit / volume: 45mph / 19K (2008)
  • Lanes: 2, beginning of two way center left turn lane heading west, turn lanes at intersections
  • Shoulder: yes
  • Sidewalks: north side only, gaps
  • On-street Parking: not west, but east out of picture view north side of the street only
  • Streetscape: individual commercial properties with parking lots typically in front, new Downtown Robbinsville development north side of street, banners, decorative lighting, stores built to sidewalk

Rt 571 Concept Illustration

Last, and most important is the proposed CR 571 design for West Windsor’s Main Street:
  • View: cross section of street
  • Speed limit / volume: 40mph / existing count is 18K (2009)
  • Lanes: 2, two way center left turn lane, turn lanes at intersections
  • Shoulder: yes
  • Sidewalks: yes
  • On-street Parking: no
  • Streetscape: strip mall and individual commercial properties with parking lots typically in front, illustration shows banners, decorative lighting, new stores presumably built to the sidewalk as Chase Bank has done and Rite Aid is doing.

So which other Mercer County town’s Main Street will most resemble West Windsor’s proposed design?

Only Hamilton and Robbinsville have a two way center left turn lane in  their main streets, and Hamilton’s streetscape more closely resembles West Windsor, rather than the new Downtown Robbinsville development. So Hamilton’s Main Street (Picture 7) is what we in West Windsor have to look forward to.

Why would we want this design for our Main Street? Lawrenceville’s US 206 handles nearly the same volume at much lower speeds, and even Pennington’s arterial SR 31 handles more volume at lower speeds, and without a 3 lane design. Today’s roadway is more like the Main Streets of other Mercer County towns than is the proposed design.

Please see the WWBPA’s recommendations for CR 571, and contact our public officials to express your support for these design changes – this project is the best chance we’ll have in many years to create a Main Street that we can be proud of!

Picture 1 is West Windsor’s Main Street today:
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Take the Mercer County Main Street Quiz

Thursday, July 21 by JerryFoster

Picture 1

The pictures are of various town’s main streets in Mercer County. Just match the town with the picture! Then look at the illustration for West Windsor’s proposed Rt 571 Main Street design, and identify which town West Windsor’s main street will most resemble when it’s implemented. Note that 1 town has 2 pictures, since their main street is parallel to another road that carries more traffic.

The towns are:

  • Hamilton
  • Hopewell
  • Lawrenceville
  • Pennington
  • Princeton
  • Robbinsville
  • West  Windsor

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Picture 7

Picture 8

Last, here’s the illustration from the Rt 571 design – which town will West Windsor’s Main Street most resemble? Sign in to comment, or send us an email at wwbikeped@gmail.com. Answers will be posted in a few days!

Rt 571 Concept Illustration

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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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