PRINCETON: Linked network of bike paths to be created in town

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The municipality will create “a linked network” of bike paths and other infrastructure

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Princeton wants to make it safer and easier for the public to travel by bike, in a policy goal expected to come at the cost of some on-street parking.
The municipality will create “a linked network” of bike paths and other infrastructure, Mayor Liz Lempert said last week. Some of that already exists; parts of town, for instance, have bike paths and on-street markings known as “sharrows” to encourage motorists to share the road with bicyclists. But town officials, sensing they have the winds of public support at their back, are looking, eventually, to have the network span around 70 miles.
“I think everyone likes the idea of having a bike network,” Council President Jenny Crumiller said last week.
She said there is strong support “for improving the infrastructure so more people feel comfortable riding their bikes for environmental reasons and just to make the town a more friendly, accommodating town for people who don’t drive.”
A municipal bike master plan, now in draft stage, will serve as the network’s blueprint and be finalized later this year.
Yet in seeking to improve conditions for bicyclists, the town will need to have motorists make room, in more ways than one. The report references eliminating on-street parking, “in some locations,” according to town engineer Deanna Stockton last week.
Crumiller said that “when you get to the nitty-gritty of actually implementing it, it’s going to be tough, because some of it might involve taking away parking.”
“The only ones that involve taking away, I think, are going to be problematic,” Crumiller said.
Creating the full network would move along two paths. On one hand, the town would look do much of it at the same time when the municipal engineering department does road projects, Mayor Lempert said. In other sections, the town could make the improvements as stand-alone projects, she said.
“Every year, engineering has a list of roads that they’re resurfacing and a list of road that they’re reconstructing. And at a minimum, we’d been looking at each of those streets and putting bike improvements on them,” Mayor Lempert said. “I would hope that a bulk of it would be completed within the decade.”
Mayor Lempert did not know how much right of way the town would have to acquire from property owners or how much the purchases would cost the municipality.
“It would be something where it would be done street by street as part of the road project,” she said. “The width needed for bike infrastructure is fairly narrow, so we’re not talking about huge amounts of property that’s needed.”
She noted the public right away, on most streets, extends to residents’ front lawns.