A variety of improvements intended to slow traffic and create safer spaces for people on foot and bike have been opposed on grounds that they would, among other things:
- Increase traffic hazards and reduce convenience for drivers
- Not actually be useful for bike and pedestrian safety
- Pose excessive obstacles to resident parking and brush disposal
- Reduce access to home services for residents
- Jeopardize the health and safety of senior citizens
At a community meeting last week with Prospect Avenue residents, neighbors’ concerns caused town engineer Bob Kiser and Princeton Council President Bernie Miller to conclude that they wouldn’t support any changes to the current roadway when recommending a package of street improvements to the Council in coming months.
Similar neighborhood objections have also recently arisen around repaving projects – and associated bike and pedestrian improvements – on Hamilton Avenue and Valley Road.
A strongly stated view at many meetings is that Princeton is already a bike-friendly town. Somewhat surprisingly, experienced cyclists are often among the most vocal to testify against changes that are either meant to improve pedestrian comfort by removing bicycle riders from sidewalks, or to encourage bicycling by offering safer spaces for them on streets.
These cyclists basically argue that our streets are already safe for bicycling; that the improvements being contemplated would either make our roads more hazardous for cars or would cause disproportionately large problems for residents on the affected streets; and that, fundamentally, they are unnecessary.
My hope today is to solicit thoughts from Princetonians about the strength of this argument by asking readers to comment about their own comfort bicycling in Princeton. My hope is to generate information that is useful for our town’s leaders as they think through these questions.
Specifically, I hope that readers can share their observations today on any or all of the following questions (and if readers want to suggest others, by all means please do!):
- Do you bicycle in Princeton? Do you bicycle or have have you bicycled elsewhere that was much better?
- What’s good about Princeton for bicycling, and/or what are examples from elsewhere that you wish were true here?
- Where do you bicycle in Princeton? On protected trails? On side streets? On larger streets?
- Why do you bike? For recreation? For convenience? For health? For economic efficiency or necessity?
- Do you bike for errands? To visit friends? To go to work?
- What kinds of bike trips might you like to make but don’t? And why don’t you make those trips? Weather? Road safety? Time? Comfort? Self-image?
- Does the idea of biking for anything besides recreation seem “normal” to you, or “goofy”?
- Do you feel safe bicycling on streets in Princeton?
- Do you want to be able to bike more than you do now?
- If you’d like to bike more, what kinds of things would make the biggest difference for you?
- How old are you, and how comfortable a bicyclist are you?
- If you have children, do you discourage them from biking by themselves? Why or why not?
- Do your children, if you have any, bike more or less than you did when you were growing up?
- Do you wish your children could be more independent? Do you think street safety is an obstacle to their being more independent?
- What do you think it would take for cars to drive more carefully around bicycles and pedestrians?
- Would you personally mind driving slower yourself if that meant everyone else were also driving slower?
- What kinds of drivers pose the greatest challenges to bicycling in our town? Service vehicles? Trucks? People cutting through the town? Ourselves? Younger drivers? Distracted drivers?
- Do you even think safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in our town is an important issue? Why or why not?
Note: the post’s title is a reference to “Animal Farm”