For one brief week or two in May, bikelanes bloomed in Princeton on Hamilton Avenue. They called it a beta bike lane, a trial run that left a trail of comments/impressions on the town website, by bike enthusiasts and, no doubt, disgruntled neighbors who saw parking spaces displaced to make room for the bike lanes on the narrow street. We get to hear all about it tonight (Monday, July 23), in a report on the results of the experiment in bicycle empowerment.
From emails urging attendance at the 7pm meeting at council chambers on Witherspoon Street, it sounds like the public will have an opportunity to speak of what it's like for a bicyclist to actually have designated space on the street.
For me, using the bike lanes was a revelation. I still remember, years ago, when I switched, mentally, from car to bike, when I overcame the ingrained impulse to grab the car keys any time I needed to go out. Over time, I became more of an optimist, slow to be deterred by a threat of rain, and I found myself feeling an inexplicable happiness while riding. What's that about? Fresh air? A new-found sense of empowerment, of freedom from the need to feed dystopia just to get where I need to go?
But the happiness is mixed with an awareness that there's no pavement upon which I can feel I belong. The sharrows were meant to show that we have a place on the street, but it's hard to feel comfortable when my uphill labors are testing the patience of the car driver close behind. My strategy is to stay out of the way of cars and pedestrians as much as possible, to be unobtrusive, unobstructive.
The bike lane removes that ambivalence. It gives a bicyclist a home, even if only for a few blocks.
Potentially relevant to tonight's discussion will be the town's policy on parking in driveways, which seems to forbid using driveways for parking except behind the house. If parking is to be sacrificed to create bikelanes, parking options for homeowners may need to be reviewed.
Sec. 17A-387. Required parking spaces - Size; design; signs.
(b) Areas counted as parking spaces include any private garage, carport or other paved off-street area
available for parking, other than a driveway; except, that in the cases of one-family and two-family dwelling, and
secondary residence buildings, driveway space not in the front yard may be counted as parking spaces.
(c) Parking spaces shall not be provided within a required front yard. If in a rear or side yard, parking
spaces shall not be located within four feet of any lot line.