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Old 10-12-09, 08:07 PM   #1
RLSchell
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Biking safety in Trenton, NJ?

I've been commuting by bike for about 15 months now. My employer is suddenly transferring me from a suburban office out in Ewing to downtown Trenton. I'd like to keep biking in, if possible. The increased distance is only a few miles, but it might as well be a whole different planet for a suburbanite like myself. I hear horror stories about Trenton, but I know there are regular bike commuters who make it in and out alive every day (I will talk to the ones I know).

What I don't know is what are the "bad" parts of Trenton you just don't ride through versus what parts just look bad (it ALL looks ugly to me) but are OK to bike through? What are the odds that someone is really going to bother me or attempt to bikejack me or do whatever they might do to cyclists? I have a lot of people telling me there's just no way I should do it. But these are the same people who think it's insane to commute by bike at all, so their judgement is skewed.

The safe route I'm seeking, should anyone know the area, is from just south of Pennington to East State St.
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Old 10-13-09, 09:15 AM   #2
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What time of day?

I do know the area, and though I don't commute through Trenton, I have ridden through for various reasons, and to the train station several times. I've never had a problem, and I think once you've tried it you'll find its not intimidating at all.

To get to the station, I think I ride Princeton Pike to Texas Ave, then over to Rt 1, then down Whitehead to East State. You're only on Rt 1 for a couple hundred yards that way.

If you want to avoid Rt 1 entirely, you might consider riding down through Lawrenceville (Pennington Lawrenceville Road; then Franklin Corner Road) to the canal; take the D&R Canal towpath to Whithead Road; then Whitehead Road to East State St. The first part of that is on my commute (I leave the canal at Carnegie Ave). If riding the towpath, be aware you have to cross it every now and then; east side north of Carnegie Ave, west side south of there; I don't know the rest of the details.

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Edit:
Looking at the map, now, I'm not sure I took Whitehead to East State; more likely I took Mulberry to N Clinton. But you could do that; take the canal towpath to Mulberry, Mulberry to N Clinton, N Clinton to Olden, Olden to E State.

The part of the towpath that I ride has a crushed gravel surface that's smooth and fast and great to ride on for most of the year, except for a few weeks in the spring when melting snow turns it to mud. That's the only time I avoid it.

Last edited by rhm; 10-13-09 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 10-13-09, 12:54 PM   #3
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I've ridden my bike or skated thru Trenton, never ran into anything dangerous. Also biked + skated thru lots of other supposedly "dangerous" cities.

I'm no expert on urban crime, and know virtually nothing about how it works in Trenton, but

Keep in mind . . .
(a) urban crime statistics include lots of actions of residents against each other, expecially young males dueling over status or girls, or gangs battling over turf. So have to be careful to find statistics which get to the rate against non-residents.

(b) there's lots of obvious incentives for suburbanites to exaggerate the dangers of nearby cities.

(c) there are incentives for organized urban gangs to prevent and punish violence against visiting suburbanites -- because it gets in the way of more profitable non-violent crimes like selling drugs and sex to the suburbanites.

(d) there might be incentives for city police forces to be more "thorough" in preventing and investigating violence against some visiting suburbanites than crimes against other city residents.

Not to say that Trenton is "safe", but if it were me I'd devote more energy to worrying about not dying on the front bumper of the SUV of a suburban mom on her cell phone.

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Old 10-14-09, 05:10 PM   #4
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Hello,

I live in Ewing and also used to ride into Trenton for work. From where will you be leaving and into what part of Trenton will you be riding? I used to ride in from Dover Ct., off of Parkway Avenue near Ewing High School down to the courthouse on So Borad St. I did not have to go through any of the dicier areas of the city. I would imagine that your business is not in the really bad areas of the city. Most of Trenton is fairly safe for riding during the day. When I was riding into work I had more issues with the conditions of the roads than of the areas through which I was riding. Now....having said that, there are some areas of Trenton I would not ride through day or night. I do hope you have a beater bike for commuting. If you have any further questions please feel free to PM me and I will be glad to help you out...maybe even ride in with you some morning since I still sometimes ride out to the Train Station to head on over the river to PA.

Cheers,

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Old 10-17-09, 07:05 AM   #5
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Thank you all for the feedback. For those who asked, I would be leaving from Pennington-Lawrenceville Rd. and arriving at 401 E. State St. (NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection).

My bike is definitely not a beater. It's a 2008 Electrec electric bike which I have gradually fitted wiith all sorts of enhancements and equipment. I would need safe, indoor parking where I can plug in and charge. I think I found someone who would let me do that.

Fortunately, I may have a good interim solution. Since my bureau will still be maintaining some facilities at my current location in Ewing, I can bike over to there and then carpool into Trenton. That solution might be short term though and I still need a bike plan.
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Old 10-17-09, 08:16 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RLSchell View Post
Thank you all for the feedback. For those who asked, I would be leaving from Pennington-Lawrenceville Rd. and arriving at 401 E. State St. (NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection).
Good to see you walk the walk!

Just be safe on the roads.
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Old 10-18-09, 01:44 PM   #7
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Good to see you walk the walk!
Thank you for noticing. My professional expertise is in air pollution from motor vehicles, so naturally I drive as little as possible because I know better.

Unfortunately, out of a department of almost 3000 people employed to protect our environment, only a handful are dedicated bike commuters. We do have quite a few people using mass transit and carpooling, but the options are limited in NJ unless you live along the NE corridor.
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Old 10-19-09, 06:57 AM   #8
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Okay, I see your office is pretty near the train station, so here's what I would do:

Pennington-Lawrenceville Road to Route 206

Right on Route 206, continue to Princeton Pike

Right on Princeton Pike, continue to Mulberry

Left on Mulberry, continue on N Clinton to E State

Right on E State to your office.

I have done this ride a few times, early in the morning (before rush hour), returning late at night (after rush hour). The most difficult thing was the left turn on Mulberry; if traffic doesn't offer a convenient break, just keep going and make the turn on Olden.

I normally ride to Hamilton, and catch the NJTransit train from there. But as gas prices spiral upwards, ridership on the train increases as well. If it gets much harder to find a seat on the train, I'll be riding in to Trenton so I can get on the train earlier! And if that happens, I will be following the above route.
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Old 10-30-09, 12:11 PM   #9
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I would kill for your commute. The area north of Trenton has some great riding.

The towpath would add a couple of miles, and it will slow you down somewhat. That route sounds like a good afternnon route when you're not in a rush to get home. Lower Ferry road is also fine to ride on... on the weekends. Anyone ride there during rush hour?
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Old 11-02-09, 09:38 PM   #10
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i've ridden into and out of trenton twice, once northbound to connect with 206N and the other east to get to hamilton (gardens for sculpture) - my overall impression is that you're best served by not stopping to ask for directions, knowing exactly where you're going, avoiding sidewalks as much as possible (fewer than average curb cuts/ramps and slabs all in shambles) and absolutely ignoring any hoodrat shouting "yo that's my bike" especially if he's got cohorts with him.
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