MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137


TRENTON, N.J. - Cyclists in Mercer County could get a bit more “shoulder room” under a proposal by Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes to explore the addition of bike lanes when major roadway improvements are made to County routes.

Hughes has been an advocate of multi-modal means of transportation, and plans to make Mercer County more bicycle-friendly.  “In past generations,” Hughes said, “many County roads were built to be four-lane highways.  Because traffic volumes never justified using all four lanes, we can stripe shoulders to accommodate bicyclists in many locations.”

Where County highways are not wide enough to accommodate bicycle lanes, further analysis and more extensive projects may be required.  Possibilities include “road diets” that reduce the number of through-travel lanes, narrowing wide travel lanes, and selective roadway widening.

New policies for County transportation facilities that Hughes has proposed are found in the Mercer County Master Plan’s draft Mobility Element, which can be viewed at http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/departments/planning/master_plan.html. The plan is slated for adoption in early fall, with a public comment period that closes August 15.

Policies in this update of the County Master Plan include improving safety for all travelers and promoting choice of travel mode.  Implementation strategies include developing mode-specific plans -- and a bicycle mobility plan in particular -- for travel on County roads, trails and paths.  Hughes has directed his staff to consider context-sensitive solutions that enhance safety for all travel modes whenever the County implements an improvement.

Though not yet formalized, Hughes’s policy proposal is already bearing fruit.  In Princeton, when Washington Road (CR 571) between US Route 1 and Faculty Road is restriped, edge lines will be placed to accommodate future bicycle lanes from Faculty Road to the Princeton Junction Train Station.  And a feasibility study for the County’s first designated bicycle route on CR 546 (Washington Crossing – Pennington-Lawrenceville Road) has just been completed.

“Another project that is coming to fruition is a Mercer County Bicycle Facility Study that the New Jersey Department of Transportation is undertaking for us.  We would have focused just on County facilities, but NJDOT wanted to consider the whole transportation system, including state highways and municipal streets,” Hughes said.

The study identifies shortcomings in the bicycle compatibility of roads and proposes site-specific strategies to make them more bicycle-friendly.  The project builds on data gathered from the public by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in an online interactive map.  The study is being done by the RBA Group, which also developed NJDOT’s Statewide Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan for state highways, so integration with State initiatives should not be a problem.  When the study is complete, Mercer County staff can help its municipalities assess how to apply it to their roadways for a system-wide approach to “complete streets,” consistent with new state and federal policies.

Some of the most significant issues facing implementation of bicycle lanes on county roads include connecting routes to logical termini, on-street parking, negotiating complicated intersections and ongoing maintenance.  “It is very important to me that we work closely with our towns,” Hughes said.  “Almost all of these ideas came out of the Mercer County Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force, hosted by the Greater Mercer TMA.  I have directed my transportation staff to support the Task Force, where they can work closely with municipal staff and citizens who serve as liaisons to their municipalities.”