It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and you’re waiting at the Rutgers Student Ceneter bus stop on College Avenue, waiting for a EE or an F to get you to your 5:00 class in the science buildings on Cook. You hop on a freshly empty F bus and away you go.
You reach route 18 but alas, the traffic goes for as long as the eye can see. “Why didn’t I just take the EE?” I ask myself. “Why didn’t I go down George Street to get past all of this mess?” The reality of the situation is that both ways of getting to Cook/Douglass at this time of the day is nearly impossible, if you don’t have an extra twenty minutes to add to your commute. Barring these traffic problems that stem from construction and rush hour Turnpike traffic, could the density ever be remedied within the constraints of the infrastrcture in place?
The original scenario, of choosing the lesser of two evils, has another option, one that is the least favored among a majority of the population.
New Brunswick has been increasingly respondant to greener means of transportation and providing alternative routes to getting to destinations. One such example is of the bike path that runs on Suydam Street from Douglass through New Brunswick to Hamilton Street. During peak rush hour, this street has been the optimal road way to avoid the bumper to bumper traffic that plagues down town New Brunswick. The specialized bike lane, something that isn’t offered on George Street or 18, is a strong incentive for individuals who prefer the medium of bicycles as their primary transportation. Comparing George Street to Suydam is an interesting example of trying to extrapolate why Rutgers students would still prefer to ride their bikes or take the busses that go through these ever increasingly slow areas. On George Street, you have a plethora of stop lights, little room between the curb and cars, and a hill to finish the ride off on. Suydam on the other hand, has bike lanes, less traffic, and is generally a more pleasent experience. But what I believe it is lacking is in the familiarity it offers to Rutgers students. Most students who have traversed between College avenue and Cook/Douglass have gone back and forth through the bus systems that take you through, you guessed it, route 18 and George Street. Any other part of the city is practically its own entity since a majority of Rutgers students will choose to remain within the universities sphere of influence.
Without measuring the exact distances, it should be rather evident that the bike lanes offered on Suydam and Louis is the optimal route. But why are there still more bikers taking George Street? The level of comfortability is just a strong enough factor to deter students from using these paths. This is not to say the rest of the community doesn’t utilize them to their full potential, but the fact remains the same that it is a rather direct link between the two campuses.
One possible change to the directionality of the roadways that has been brought up within the New Brunswick Urban Supplement Report is in altering Neilson and George Street into one way roads that went between the two campuses. At face value, this may appear to be too large of a project with minimal impact but rather, it has the potential to be a very significant move made by the city. Putting things into perspective, a bus line that ran down Neilson could ellicit bus stops at the aprtment complexes for Rutgers students who live there. The one way roads would allow single flows of traffic to go in each direction, minimizing the blockage from busses constantly stopping. While this idea would be difficult to implement, the idea is a very strong way of altering a system through a means that could have a very significant outcome for the future.