Planet Princeton

Seeking Feedback: Bike Routes to Communiversity?

An annual feature of Princeton’s Communiversity event is the effort of getting there by car. Traffic backs up for blocks around the downtown, and parking close by is difficult to come by.comuniversity

In recent years, Communiversity’s sponsors have tried to ease travel downtown by providing shuttle bus service from satellite event parking at the Harrison Street Shopping Center. The shuttles are comfortable, but have only 18 seats, and get caught in the same backups that cars do.

For this year’s Communiversity on Sunday, April 17th, would it be possible to create one or more bike-only boulevards for bike travel to the event? It’s customary to close down local roads temporarily during running races — maybe the same could be done for bike access to downtown for an event like Communiversity. Bike-only routes could reduce auto congestion, free up parking spaces, and create a one-day-only safe and comfortable way to bike downtown.

A few opportunities spring to mind. The Riverside Elementary School at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Prospect Avenue offers convenient remote parking, and Prospect Avenue is an inviting street for a bike-only boulevard.

For visitors from the south, Princeton’s Lot 20 (Faculty Road near Alexander Street) could offer another remotebikeboulevardcalgary parking opportunity. Elm Drive could provide a bike-boulevard for a day route through campus. A slightly remoter option would be for Lot 21 (near Jadwin Gym) to offer parking, with Faculty Road to Elm Drive providing bike-only access to Communiversity.

It’s challenging to imagine remote parking and bike boulevard options on the west side of town, although Princeton Battlefield Park and Mercer Street could possibly work.

For bike parking in town, a recent innovation that is increasingly popular is valet bike parking service – think of it like a coat check for bicycles.bikevalet

As glibly as I may be suggesting the bike-to-Communiversity option, there are complexities to closing roads that require thought, people, and a budget. Circulation and public safety plans need to be in place in support of road closures. Also, police are needed to monitor any bike boulevards that might be established — and budget to pay for their time.

It’s likely that creating a bike boulevard for the day for this year’s Communiversity is a stretch — but do readers feel it would be a positive, and should the town and University consider this for 2017?

Nat Bottigheimer

Nat Bottigheimer is a professional transportation planner and consultant with a background in public policy and real estate economics. He is currently working on TOD, streetcar, and bus dedicated lane planning projects in the Washington, DC region. He was a member of the Alexander Street University Place Task Force, and is a current member of the Princeton Traffic and Transportation and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees. He's married to Eve Ostriker, an astrophysicist at Princeton University; and has two daughters, one at PHS. The most recent family addition is Basil, a one-year old labradoodle who gives the term "active transportation" new meaning.

  • I have not attended Communiversity for the last few years. Coming from Montgomery Township to the north, we have typically parked near Community Park North and then walked into town. If that road were closed we would have no way to attend. Biking down 206 wouldn’t be pleasant. Closing off Mercer Street/Princeton Pike to use Battlefield Park as a bike park might create problems for commuter trying to get across to/from the other side of the lake.

  • Girl928

    Personally, unless I have a grandchild performing, I don’t go to Communiversity anymore. And I am within walking distance to town! It has gotten so people- congested that you can’t move. You can’t get to the things you want… it’s become exhausting. To all who attend: enjoy!

  • Bob Schwartz

    I’d publicize places to park and bike, but not close down any of our few through streets. Biking to Communiversity is definitely faster, more fun, and safe (even in the street, since the cars are mostly stopped). Best tip: arrive early!

  • Blake Cash

    If only there was viable public transportation, perhaps a train…

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