Princeton Councilman: More Public Input Needed on Bike Lanes


To the Editor:

The issue of bike lanes vs. on street parking is coming before Princeton’s municipal council again this month.

Princeton’s Pedestrian and Bike Advisory Committee has been working on plans for a bicycling network throughout town. Details are incomplete in what has been made public, but bike lanes or other changes to the following roads are under consideration in the proposed plans: Nassau Street, Route 206, Paul Robeson Place, Wiggins, Hamilton, Prospect Avenue, Rollingmead, Littlebrook, Rosedale, Alexander and/or Washington, Edgerstoune, River Road, and Roper and/or Poe.

The public hearing for the first in what is likely to be a series of related local ordinance changes is on the agenda for the council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24. That proposed ordinance removes on street parking on a three block stretch of Hamilton Avenue. I voted against it when it was introduced on Jan. 12, because I am not convinced of the merits of the proposed changes, and because the public has not had adequate input into this ordinance and the larger plans for a bicycling network throughout town.

Whether you live, work, drive, park, walk, or bicycle along any of the roads mentioned above, and potentially others throughout town, you will likely be impacted by the decision council makes on Feb. 24. Please consider attending that meeting to hear about what is being proposed, to share your own concerns, and to listen to the concerns of others within the community regarding this issue.

Thank you,

Councilman Patrick Simon


  1. As a member of the PBAC committee that Patrick mentions, I would like to clarify that we aim to evaluate *all* streets that are the subject of municipal engineering projects. The goal is to see if each street would be a suitable site for traffic calming, bike lanes, or other measures to make them safer for all street users, including people walking or riding bicycles (aka ‘Complete Streets’). The specific streets that Patrick mentions above form part of a vision to ensure that individual projects eventually form a joined-up network. We have presented this vision regularly at open public meetings including ‘Princeton Future’, where we have also sought public input. Anybody who would like to learn more can email at any time for more information, to add comments, or to request to join our list for email updates.

    Bike lanes on Hamilton Ave were considered appropriate from a Complete Streets perspective, because there are in excess of 5,000 daily vehicle movements here, including buses and trucks, and the travel lanes are narrower than State guidelines for safe passing of slower-moving cyclists without crossing the center line. Most cyclists need dedicated space to ride comfortably in these conditions, or else they will use the sidewalk, which is only really appropriate for kids. The proposal was discussed at several open public meetings of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory committee, several Traffic and Transportation committee meetings, two full Council meetings (so far), one neighorbhood meeting (with another one to follow tonight), and I have personally gone to Hamilton Avenue to speak to concerned neighbors. There is some concern about the inconvenience of losing on-street parking. On the other hand, typically only about two cars park on this section of Hamilton Ave at any given time, and there is plenty of nearby parking for guests and service callers on the cross-streets. Mobility-challenged drivers and emergency vehicles would still be able to stop temporarily in the bike lanes.

    PBAC only has advisory responsibility, and Council will make the final call on the 24th. I agree that many people from around the town have probably not yet been heard. It’s worth noting that if Council doesn’t support bike lanes here, where only a couple of parking spots are regularly used, then it is unlikely there will be bidirectional bike lanes anywhere else in town in the foreseeable future. It will be an important vote for guiding bike policy, and anybody interested would be well advised to have their say at this moment.

    1. I am sorry but this is incorrect. I’ve heard someone say at the January 12, 2015 meeting that they had gone to Hamilton 17 times and only counted a few cars on the street. I would like to see those data. Over the course of several years, we have had up to twenty cars parked on the street at one time. It very much depends on when you come, time of day, season, etc.

      Secondly, what the street really needs is 1) repaving, 2) adherence to the speed limit and perhaps some speed bumps. This stretch is used by people to avoid traffic on Nassau and there is quite a bit of traffic on the street mornings and evenings. Please consider this and the convenience of those of us who actually live on that stretch of Hamilton.

  2. Princeton council has been living off the good publicity of its Bike Friendly town award as a result of the adoption of Complete Streets policy for a couple of years. Patrick Simon is a part of that council. The bike lanes in question here were unanimously recommended by the Bicycle and Pedestrian committee and than unanimously approved after much diligence by the Transit and Transportation Committee. Roads routinely come up for improvement, and this was one where the bike lane option was considered appropriate to benefit all road users (cars, bikes, pedestrians). Other upcoming projects such as Mt. Lucas Road and Prospect Avenue do not have bike lanes coming, and Patrick Simon’s fantasy list of roads under current consideration for some sudden proliferation of bike lanes in town is just not true.

    Furthermore, Patrick Simon’s sudden interest in the passionate blocking of bike lanes and sending out as much obfuscation such as this letter only came about by virtue of the fact that, as he likes to tell everyone at Council meetings, Hamilton Avenue is very close to his home. Surely this is a conflict of interest?

    Of course when change comes there are issues to be addressed and overcome, yes the loss of the rarely used on street parking on Hamilton might be a small inconvenience, but surely weighing this against the ability for all our residents, commuters and visitors to cycle safely into our town, it is the smallest price to pay.

    1. It is only a small price to pay when you aren’t the one paying the cost.

      It’s all very nice for the non-elected members of the Bicyle and Pedestrian committee, and the Transit and Transportation Committee to approve the bike lanes. But it’s the elected members of the Council who have the responsibility to weigh the concerns of all tax-paying residents in the town. I hope they listen.

      I love to bike too, but it makes me sad how the pro-bike lanes folks keep distorting the truth here. We hear the that on-street parking is rarely used, but it’s not mentioned that almost noone is biking during the winter months or at night on those roads.

      Surely, there is a compromise that allows some parking and some bikes.

      What I also wonder is whether this is a class issue. Surely, it can’t have escaped people’s attention that the people biking from the Snowden area are coming from larger, more expensive homes, and that their target is those homeowners who need on-street parking because their lots don’t have enough space for all their parking needs.

      1. Oh come on. People don’t bike on these roads in the evening or during the winter because they are not safe without bike lanes to protect riders from the traffic. Princeton desperately needs bike lanes heading into town. These lanes won’t solve all of our biking issues but we have to start somewhere.

        And let’s cut the class warfare BS. People whose homes “don’t have enough space for all of their parking needs” are hardly some oppressed group. Especially compared to the many residents who can’t afford a car and rely on bikes as their primary form of transportation.

        1. Hi Mitt,

          People who can’t afford cars are not living out in the land of million+ homes past Snowden.

          It wouldn’t be the snow or ice causing people not to bike in winter, would it?

          1. Mitt? That’s funny. Actually, I live in a small apartment in town and don’t have a car. In Princeton I rely on my bike to get around. (And yes, on occasion I do bike this stretch past Snowden.) Plenty of people ride their bikes to work, even in this weather. No doubt more would ride their bikes if it were safer to do so.

            Maria – it’s true that this one stretch won’t get me into town, but it’s a start. And my understanding is that there will be more lanes in the future (hopefully all the way into town and on Harrison, Valley and Witherspoon as well).

        2. Yes, but let’s first have an actual plan of the lanes throughout Princeton and vote on them! Do not try to set up a precedent and do this piecemeal. A bike lane to the university, to the shopping center, etc. – but figure out how to do this right and in a coherent manner. Getting from Snowden to Harrison on a dedicated bike lane will not take you to the town.

        3. According to our Mayor several years ago, ‘parking in Princeton (on marked spaces) is not for residents, but for visitors’.

    2. Let me point out that parking is used and it had been used very heavily when Jeanne Calo was alive and had her wonderful French speaking community evenings where at least 30 people would come every Monday nights. You would have been hard pressed to find a spot on the street.

      My feeling is that of the five projects presented at the neighborhood meeting by Robert Altman (the engineer), only two were actually viable options – either make extensive and expensive changes to the street (which no one would be enthusiastic about), or simply remove parking. The other three options were not options at all, as the “did not comply with the code.”

      1. Clearly residents can park on the side streets when this occasional need for parking arises. It’s not going to happen very often, so surely would not be such an inconvenience.

        We would all like to see a complete bike network, but this hasn’t happened, and in this case is being used as an excuse to stop this proposal. These roads come up for renewal once every 30 years, and the feeling in the bike community is if we don’t start somewhere, we will never start, and in actual fact there are actually very few roads where bike lanes should be introduced, however there is no better place than the Wiggins-Hamilton corridor.

        1. Why wouldn’t you present a complete plan to the mayor and go off of that? Indicate areas where parking needs to be removed, etc.

          I understand the need to set the precedent as portions of other streets will be due for repavement at some point and you can hope to point to this ordinance and say – this is what has been done.

          And yes, one could say that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” – but we are going to be the ones affected as well as the neighbors on the adjacent lanes who will see more cars around their houses – so not that few really. It is an inconvenience. We have a one car garage and if I have another person who needs to use the driveway we’d have to do a complicated dance – which we already have done so I am speaking from experience.

Comments are closed.