Advocates Amplify Safety Concerns in Mercer County, NJ

This article was originally published by The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. It has been posted here in an edited format.

On Friday, January 29th, the Circuit Coalition’s Action Team and bicyclists and trail users from the Mercer County region took action to enhance the safety of an important trail crossing along the D&R Canal Trail.

If you’ve ever ridden the D&R Canal Trail near Trenton, then you’re likely familiar with the crossing at Whitehead Road: four lanes of relentless traffic with vehicles moving at high speeds that are difficult to see.

This crossing is considered a dangerous barrier for those visiting the state park, despite the popularity of the trail and its status as both part of the Circuit Trails Network and the East Coast Greenway.

In 2019, the D&R Canal State Park was identified as one of the top three most visited parks in New Jersey with 1.24 million visitors. With popularity like this, this connection requires major safety improvements for those crossing Whitehead Road. This four lane road has a lot of potential for traffic calming for those who love to walk it, run it and bike the D&R Canal Trail.

Below is a rendering of the suggested site improvements drawn up by the Bicycle Coalition’s Research Director, John Boyle.

In order to improve overall safety for crossing Whitehead Road, the Circuit Coalition’s Action Team put together a list of improvements for the crossing.

Here’s what we suggested:

  1. A pedestrian refuge island to make the crossing safer.
    There are visibility issues on Whitehead road and cars may not appear in view until after a pedestrian begins their crossing. This pedestrian refuge island should include in-street pedestrian crossing sign, high-visibility crosswalk markings, warning sign, and overhead lighting as per FHWA guidance.
  2. Flashing beacons should be automatically activated when people begin their street crossing and should be placed both on the US 1SB on-ramp as well as on Whitehead Road.
  3. The connection to-and-from the D&R Canal Trail should include a 10-foot side path to allow a seamless transition to the road crossings.
  4. The crossing on Whitehead Road should be shortened by bringing the curb line outward from the on-ramp lane split.

The opportunity was a huge success as there were over 60 people and organizations who took action across Mercer County and submitted their improved design suggestions for this important trail crossing. The Circuit Coalition’s Action Team received positive feedback and acknowledgment from the suggestions that were submitted to those in charge of the preliminary designs for this crossing. – including the addition of a pedestrian refuge!

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to express their concerns and suggested improvements for this crossing that carries thousands of people walking and biking across this intersection every year. As the design process continues we will continue to share any updates on the progress of this trail connector and ensure the safety of all is considered!

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