Construction along the business section of Route One in Lawrenceville, New Jersey is starting to take shape. The vision of the modern roundabout that Lawrence township is trying to achieve is somewhat a happy medium between the neo traditionalist’s idea of incorporating walkability and traditionalist’s idea of taking into account the importance of cars as the primary mode of transportation that John Levy mentions in Contemporary Urban Planning.
One of the main goals for the ongoing construction project is allowing for more pedestrian walkability. As a result, engineers have incorporated multiple breaks in the center median to allow pedestrians to cross the busy section of the road. These multiple breaks serve as important access points for people to reach small business and commercial areas that are mostly located opposite of these houses. However, even with these crossing islands throughout the Route One business section, it’s still very hard to easily cross from one side of the street to the other. The speed limit currently in the business section is 35mph. Usually cars travel at that speed, and rarely stop for pedestrians who are trying to cross. While trying to cross Route One, I had to wait for ten minutes until a perfect window of opportunity, where a stream of cars on the road were not present to successfully cross. I do support the idea of having a much more pedestrian friendly space, but the area needs to be safe for pedestrian to cross and to be hassle free of having to wait for a long time. Providing these aspects are important to the township’s goal of convincing more people to walk, instead of using their cars to travel to fairly close distances.
Another goal for the ongoing project is to provide on street parking in the business section for customers that mostly travel using cars. Engineers decided to extend the sidewalk at the end of the streets to create spaces where cars can parallel park. In my perspective, I think that incorporating this to the design solves the problem of people feeling safe and traffic needing to slow down to encourage more people to walk in the business area. The design not only creates important parking spaces, but it also brings pedestrians a sense of safety as these cars will serve as dividers from ongoing traffic while they travel on the sidewalks. In addition, once cars can park in these spaces, it will surely cause additional traffic disruptions in the area. As people continually look for parking spaces and wait for spaces to be vacant it will certainly cause traffic disruptions. These traffic disruptions are actually not negative aspect, as it helps slow down the traffic flow. This will allow pedestrians to easily cross the street as traffic slows down.
The township’s vision for the modern roundabout certainly takes into account new urbanism, while still recognizing the importance of automobiles. Even though the project is not yet completed, it shows promise that a happy medium between a pedestrian friendly and car dependent atmosphere can exist.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 11th ed., New York, NY, Routledge, 2017.