Ten Reasons For Walkability!

Walkable Princeton is a positive vision for a Princeton that is even more livable, socially just, environmentally friendly and economically successful! This could be achieved by following these policies, which have been proven to work in other towns:

  1. By increasing housing supply in Princeton, we could offer new choices for the many middle-class and low-income people who have been excluded from the town as an unintended consequence of zoning.
  2. People living in and around downtown Princeton means more people who are able to walk or cycle to work. We could finally reduce some of the tens of thousands of daily trips from commuters going in and out of town.
  3. More people who are able to walk or cycle means less demand for parking. We could dedicate more space in our downtown for sidewalk cafés and bike lanes, instead of on-street parking that encourages people to do laps of our downtown looking for a place to park.
  4. When people are able to walk or cycle to work, they are not contributing to CO2 emissions and climate change. We would be ‘walking the walk’ on sustainability.
  5. More housing in towns like Princeton means less destruction of Jersey farmland to build car-dependent housing.
  6. People who live and work in town are far more likely to shop in town. We call this ‘Live Local-Work Local-Shop Local’. It supports local businesses and increases the variety of retail options in Princeton.
  7. Land use policies that favor people living locally and walking or cycling for more of their trips promote active transportation, leading to lower levels of cardiovascular illness and type II diabetes. At the same time, reduced air pollution from car exhaust removes unhealthy toxins that interfere with human health.
  8. When fewer people are dependent on cars, and more people are walking or cycling, we produce a virtuous cycle where we can improve bike-walk infrastructure and make it safer and easier for more people, including children, to walk or cycle.
  9. Moderate density, mixed-use development, which could provide housing in Princeton, has been shown to be the most tax-positive form of development (even after accounting for increased use of services). Favoring development in Princeton would help reduce the weight of local property taxes.
  10. A community that walks and cycles together is a friendly community on a human scale, typical of a small town. Social interaction, and respect for our neighbors’ problems are encouraged  when people get out of their cars and meet one another in the public commons.

These actions would reduce the impact of many of the problems that currently affect Princeton and the local area:

  1. Princeton planning and land use decisions have resulted in a significant under-supply of housing. As a result, tens of thousands of people who work in Princeton cannot afford to live here.
  2. Commuting by car accounts for over 40,000 car trips in and out of Princeton every day. A preference for low-density residential land use makes transit inefficient.
  3. Parking in Princeton is unnecessarily hard, because so many people are dependent on cars to access downtown Princeton. As a result, we dedicate prime downtown spaces that could be pedestrian plazas or bicycle lanes to car storage.
  4. We are unnecessarily contributing to global warming through a dependence on cars. High CO2 emissions undermine Princeton’s efforts to be a sustainable community.
  5. Farmland and forests are being destroyed throughout the region to build low-density housing for people to live, because planning and zoning places severe restrictions on adding residential housing in towns like Princeton.
  6. A workforce in cars is a workforce that drives out of town to big-box stores to shop, instead of keeping local dollars in local businesses in Princeton. Traditional  businesses in Princeton are struggling and being replaced with high-margin boutiques.
  7. Policies favoring car use undermine public health objectives, because car exhaust contributes to asthma and cancer, and driving is part of a non-active, sedentary lifestyle.
  8. Our streets are too dangerous for kids (and even adults) to safely walk and ride bicycles, because we prioritize moving cars in and out of town as fast as possible.
  9. Princeton is missing out on tax ratables because of restrictive land use policies. At the same time, low density land use makes neighboring green spaces more desirable for development, making our green space acquisitions more expensive. Lengthy land use disputes and legal battles wastes municipal time and adds to the town’s legal costs.
  10. Existing policies create an atomized society where the different talents that contribute to our community are scattered around the region, and pass by one another anonymously at high speeds in cars.
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