Thursday, January 09, 2014

Bike Lanes vs Beautification - A False Choice In Haddonfield

The following comes to us from our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and is posted here with their permission.  However, WalkBikeJersey fully supports the opinions expressed in this article..

A grassroots effort to install bike lanes on a critical connection between downtown Haddonfield and a major trail on the Circuit has been rejected by Haddonfield Borough officials and the Camden County Department of Public Works in favor of parking lanes and a center median.

Grove St - A good proposal for bike lanes

The street in question is Grove from Pardee Lane to Edge Park Drive. This section connects the Cooper River Trail into Haddonfield Borough. This section of Grove does not currently have bike facilities, but its generous width and the typically-empty 10-foot shoulders make it a popular bicycling route. Grove street has been designated as a bike route connecting the Hopkins Pond trail to the Cooper River.

"Where should the poor girl park for all tomorrow's parties?" Apparently on Grove Street.

Grove Street's wide profile tends to induce speeding to and from Route 70, so Haddonfield has proposed a makeover to calm traffic and reduce turning conflicts. Bike lanes were recommended by the Environmental Commission, other organization members and local cyclists, and the proposal was submitted to the Borough and County Engineer for review.

However, last month the County Engineering Department wrote a letter to Haddonfield Mayor Kasko stating that bike lanes were not compatible with parking and a center median, and Camden County's policy "preferred traffic calming and beautification over bike lanes." This letter seems to have formed the basis for Haddonfield Borough to drop the idea of bike lanes and instead plan for a center median with mountable curb sections so residents can turn left out of their driveways.
Grove Street - Haddonfield Borough's Preferred Alternative
This question of traffic calming over bike lanes is a false choice. Bike lanes are a known instrument in traffic calming. Furthermore, a similar arterial in nearby Cherry Hill, Kings Highway (NJ State Route 41), has an identical width and successfully-installed bike lanes. The proposal also forgoes sidewalk improvements and does not include new crosswalks or intersection "bump-outs" as the Environmental Commission requested in their proposal.

Haddonfield does not have a Complete Streets Policy to appeal to, but Camden County just passed one in December. The Borough is debating the possibility of a Complete Streets policy, but a policy development committee has not yet been formed. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has completed a Camden County Bicycle Trails Master Plan, but its adoption might not happen until this summer. State-wide, New Jersey communities are adopting the concept of Complete Streets, which implements best practices for making our streets safe and pleasant for all users.

If the proposed design is implemented, bicyclists will be left with a narrower shoulder periodically interrupted by parked cars. And as we have reported before, the NJ State Supreme Court has ruled that bicyclists do not have legal protections in the shoulder. So this street design is effectively not accommodating bicycles. Meanwhile, pedestrians are saved from trudging through mud in a couple places, but are not protected by best-practice infrastructure.

This project represents a lost opportunity for Haddonfield Borough to unify one of its suburban neighborhoods with the historic walkable core by creating a truly complete street. Haddonfield shouldn't have to settle for mediocrity.

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