There’s a bicycling boom going on, Princeton is at the center of the action, and there are good reasons for both of these facts.
The cycling industry was already thriving before COVID-19. Then lockdowns and anxiety over public transportation brought about a sharp increase in bike sales and repairs, as people of all ages, whether they’d ridden a bike in the last 20 years or not, were eager to get outdoors and exercise safely. They found old bikes in the garage to refurbish or headed to the bike stores.
The waiting time to buy a new bike can be as much as a full year now, as bike stores struggle to keep up with demand. People may also buy standard bikes and 29er mountain bikes online to avail of quick service and get extra benefits. These bikes can be beneficial for both, competitive cyclists as well as amateur riders and newcomers.
This time in the history of our planet, when concerns for the environment and a focus on personal health and wellness impact every aspect of our daily lives, seems to be particularly propitious for a sustained surge of interest in bicycling. Whether for pure fun and fresh air, for sociability, for exercise, for transport, or for commuting and working, bicycling appears to be an activity that will continue to grow.
Princeton – formerly best known as a town of scholars and educators or a bastion of American history or perhaps as an enclave of genteel elegance or a mecca for sophisticated suburban shoppers – was recently designated the most “bike-friendly” town in the state and is well poised to ride the crest of this wave of popularity. Presented with a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) in December 2020, Princeton is one of only six BFCs in New Jersey and the only one in the state to attain the silver level. Since 2016 Princeton had been ranked at the bronze level along with Hoboken, Lambertville, New Brunswick, Ocean City, and West Windsor.
Blessed by its geographical location and some resourceful, foresighted leaders, Princeton has been developing its Bicycle Mobility Plan for many years. Its recently upgraded Bike Boulevards provide a network of routes that connect the schools, the public library, and the downtown area to other parts of the town; with a variety of different routes ranging from a 16-mile fitness loop around the perimeter of town to the 4.5-mile town and gown loop near the center of town. The recently published Princeton Bicycle Map is available at Kopp’s and Jay’s bike shops and online on the municipal website at princetonnj.gov.
For more ambitious riders the Bike Boulevards connect with the 22-mile Lawrence Hopewell Trail, which meanders from just west of Princeton through the environs of Lawrenceville, Pennington, and Hopewell. The 77-mile Delaware & Raritan Canal Trail goes about 15 miles north from Princeton to New Brunswick, about 13 miles south to Trenton, then from Trenton about 32 miles north along the Delaware River to Frenchtown. more