At last night’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, several items came up related to pedestrian conditions in Princeton:
- A resident on Valley Road voiced his concern that drivers in Princeton are not observing the law regarding stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. Points made in the ensuing discussion included:
- The police are generally not there to observe the infraction
- Pedestrians can report drivers who violate the law to Princeton police – police will visit the alleged violators at their homes
- Pedestrians who report failures to yield need to agree to appear in court, a step that many pedestrians find onerous
- Engineering solutions are difficult to fund and get community agreement on
- Driver psychology, local roads “culture,” and awareness of the law are the real issue, but it’s difficult to affect these quickly and reliably without enforcement
- Sergeant Murray reported that in June, July, and August of this year, traffic summonses were up compared to the same months last year. These included increases in summonses for violations such as speeding, drunk driving, driving uninsured, etc. Controlling these behaviors is important for improving pedestrian comfort and safety (see page 15 of the June report linked above for details on June).However, summonses issued for failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and for driving while using a cell phone were flat compared to last year’s levels, or saw small declines.
- In response to a question about how many recipients of traffic summonses were from Princeton, and how many from elsewhere, Sergeant Murray answered that there aren’t any statistics available, but that in his experience about three quarters of violations are issued to people who live or work within about one square mile around the place where the summonses was issued (the italics are mine, for emphasis).
In other discussion:
A concern for bicyclists and pedestrians alike in town has been excessive speeds on roads signed for 25 mph (including roads like Valley Road, about which municipal staff are delivering a presentation this evening).
Related to this, Hamilton was repaved over the summer and re-striped with 10 foot-wide car travel lanes, a 7 foot-wide parking lane, and a 3 foot-wide shoulder. These travel lanes are narrower than in many other places in town, and more clearly delineated. The intent of the narrower lanes is to help drivers be more aware of their speed and position in the road, and to make driving safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.
The “share the road” markings for bicyclists on Hamilton – “sharrows” – are well within the travel lanes, indicating that bicyclists are supposed and allowed to be in the travel lanes.
A Couple of questions:
Do readers have any thoughts about how the new striping on Hamilton has affected driving behavior, either their own or of drivers they observe?
Regarding the psychology of speeding on our roads: our instinctive reaction is that people who speed on residential roads are “outsiders,” but the observation provided by Princeton Police last night is that the speeders are actually us.
How do readers react to the idea that the local speeders are mostly us?
If we know we speed, what are we telling ourselves is ok about it?
If we’re not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, what do we say to ourselves when we fail to yield? (full disclosure: I’ve sinned in this regard. I said to myself: “the gasoline I’ll burn starting up again isn’t worth the insignificant loss of time to them.”)
And finally, how do we reconcile the widely-repeated goal of reducing auto speeds and making roads safer for all users with the discomfort of residents on streets like Hamilton, Valley Road, and Prospect Avenue when such redesigns are put forward as options?