Bike advisory committee: Bike lanes benefit everyone

To the Editor,

Princeton’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) would like to respond to the part of Princeton Merchant Association’s letter to Planet Princeton about bike lanes.

Bike lanes do change the nature of the bike ride into and around town. They enable bike riders to feel safer, and behave more predictably, riding on the road instead of the sidewalks. This benefits pedestrians and motorists as much as cyclists. 

There are many students in John Witherspoon Middle School and Princeton High School who would like to bike to/from school if there would be a safer route. The numbers of bicyclists on Hamilton (close to JWMS and PHS) for about two weeks last May more than doubled when there were bike lanes in place. Safety for our young cyclists is one of PBAC’s top priorities.

We agree that a conflict between cyclists and business advocates is unnecessary. We enthusiastically support permitted employee parking in proximity to the central business district. It is consistent with a walkable and bikeable downtown. We also recommend improved bike parking for employees working downtown.

We support the economic vitality of Princeton.  We are also concerned for the safety, health, equity, and sustainability of our community. Bike lanes and merchant viability are not mutually exclusive. Let’s work together to make this a reality.

Signed,

Members of the Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee: Lisa Serieyssol, Laurie Harmon, Martin Kah. Tineke Thio. Amanda Arshan. Liliana Morenilla. Leslie Fabello. Perry Jones, David Cohen, Dan Rappaport

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4 comments
  • If I lived along Wiggins/Hamilton I’d feel pretty good that I could afford an $800,000+ house and be able to walk a lot of places and not have to drive.

  • The beta bike lane along Wiggins & Hamilton last year helped demonstrate its pros and cons, and highlighted the differences between replacing parking with bike lanes along the flat, more highly traveled blocks of Wiggins west of Moore St. versus the blocks on Hamilton east of Moore St.

    Adding bike lanes along Wiggins west of Moore would remove 12 free 2-hour parking spaces, but would offer PHS and JWMS students a safer route to the library and downtown. Pedestrians are often using the sidewalks along Wiggins west of Moore, and there is no good parallel bike route.

    But Hamilton east of Moore is a different situation. I suggest it would be a poor trade-off to remove parking on Hamilton east of Moore.

    * The low-stress bike route one block north along Hawthorne and through the Choir College is flatter, quieter and safer. The route one block south along Spruce is also a safer, low-stress route.
    * This stretch of Moore isn’t dangerous to begin with. The bicycle crash map shows only 1 accident on the 3 long blocks of Hamilton east of Moore, at the tricky intersection with Linden Lane. Many other streets in town have a much higher frequency of bicycle accidents.
    * The block east of Moore does not serve PHS & JWMS student traffic, and the next 2 blocks have better alternate routes.
    * Hamilton east of Moore is one of the few places with free, longer-term parking, which is needed by low-wage workers and some residents. Parking a block further away on Hawthorne is not a good alternative, since it is restricted by permit during school months.
    * Parking along these 3 blocks is a useful and highly used amenity year-round, while a bike lane here would be rarely used much of the year and in poor weather.

    Bike lanes and parking are both valuable to the town as whole and can coexist. I believe that along Wiggins/Hamilton there are different blocks where each is the best overall use, with Moore Street being a reasonable dividing line.

  • There are many cities that close a major road to cars on Sundays or other special events. A possible compromise, in the bike lanes vs. customer parking debate, would be to have a set of reserved days, in months with good weather, when there would be bike lanes, and other days, when there would be regular parking. The town could see over time what works without making a definite decision now.

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