A Penny for your…skirt?!

25 Jul

You always hear how good it is for you to get moving, how much better it is for your health to ditch the car, so today you decide to start taking a walk or bike to work, and you work on getting into your routine.  And if you are like me you are going to want to know what the impact of your new routine is.  I’ve been using and reading about a few fitness tracking apps and gadgets and here is what I’ve discovered so far.

Personally I love the Withings Pulse (yes, husband recommended).  It’s small and clips to your pocket, and it comes with a great app to track your sleep, activity, and pulse. However, (again) if you’re like me a downside might be that this small device can get lost in one of your many big bags and can’t track it down (I’ve already lost mine once).
Another option is a wrist fitness tracker – they come in many shapes and colors, some bulkier, some more or less obvious.  A negative is that most of them do not have a display and you have to keep track of your steps/activity by checking your phone app.  You can find a list of them with reviews on the Consumer Reports website (http://bit.ly/1nEIFL2).

A general downside of all these – most don’t track swimming or biking (my Withings does not).   But if  you are the “bleeding edge” type and  you want a gadget that keeps track of all activities including, cycling, swimming, jogging and other cardio activities you can reserve the new ankle band, FlyFit (full review here http://bit.ly/1rPmu3Z ).

Whatever you choose to keep track of your activity during the day you will be much more conscious about your activity and will be checking frequently to see if you reached that 10,000 steps/activity a day goal (I may not always succeed but I always try!).

And now, about the title…the last gadget I want to discuss, although unrelated to fitness tracking, is a very original one and can be called a real lifesaver when the need arises!  It solves the problem of wearing a skirt while biking (to work) – something you don’t think about sometimes until it’s too late, and something that the males among us have never had to experience.

If you have a penny or any coin, and a rubber band, then you can secure your skirt while you are biking (see the link below).  Fashion and commuting at its best! This is all over the internet but I couldn’t help but repost it because sometimes the simplest things are the best!  Thank you Johanna Holtan for sharing!

Please feel free to share some of your tips and tricks that helped you keep track of your activity.

What’s app with your commute?

18 Jul

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Did you ever hear the phrase “There’s an app for that “?  Well, it turns out the trademarked Apple phrase seems to be true in many cases.  Or at least that is what my husband says.  There’s an app and there’s a gadget too and he has tried almost all of them! When it comes to commuting, he often uses NJ Rails, Transit App, and Citymapper for his NY trip planning.  Whether you are traveling by transit, bike or car there is probably just the right app out there for you.   Here is a list of just a few of the apps available:

NJ Rails, a free app that helps you plan your trip, find the train schedule on your phone, and does not require an internet connection.  It is compatible with both Android and iOS

Transit App is a real time bus tracking app compatible with both Android and iOS.

Citymapper is a great trip planning app for NY commuters and tourists alike.  It has train, metro, or bike stations info, and also has traffic alerts. It is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

Waze “social GPS” is a community-edited application that alerts you of traffic jams, accidents, and road hazards in real time. It can also be very helpful when you are trying to find the cheapest gas en route.  It requires an internet connection and it is compatible with both Android and iOS.

Carma is a carpooling app that matches people nearby and it is compatible with both Android and iPhone devices. The app lets you browse through rider’s profiles and pictures and see what the cost of the ride is. It has an in-app payment system and it requires you to tap “start trip” when you get in the car and “end trip” when you get off.  Carma is just getting started in our area and is used primarily for “dynamic or real time ridesharing.”  If that does not sound like something you would like to do, GMTMA also has a carpool, vanpool matching service. You can register on our website www.gmtma.org  and we will match you with commuters that live near you and have similar schedules.

Bike Maps is a free iOS compatible app with city maps, trails, mountain bike trails, urban and rural areas. It can also give you road conditions, traffic, and your location. Great for leisure time bike adventures too. Itdoes not require internet connection if you download the available maps, which could be really useful in the woods, mountains, and other areas where an internet connection might be problematic.

Spotcycle is mobile app that helps you find bike sharing locations all over the world.   Locate the nearest bike sharing station, create a bike route, share your route or find a route shared by other users. Free, and it is compatible with both Android and iOS.

Bicycle parking app is compatible with both Android and iOS and helps you find bike parking, mark where you parked your bike and share new bike parking locations with other people.  In our area GMTMA is also a great resource for locating and renting a bike locker in the following areas:  Princeton Junction, Hamilton, and Point Pleasant Rail Stations.  One of our staff members, Jerry Foster, is working on a Mercer County bike rack and lockers map.  You can see his work (in progress) by clicking here.

Google maps is also a great way to find your way around. I use it to find my around when I travel, to find tourist attractions, good places to eat (reviews are very helpful), and for other directions (like finding my way back to the hotel).

This is by no means a comprehensive list of apps.  It is just a taste of what can you find out there to make your commute and travels easier and less stressful.

Let us know what your favorite commute app is!

Bike Commuter Journal – The Art of Improvising

10 Jul

Fireflies Chris Ecgnoto

Fireflies photo by Chris Egnoto (used with permission)

Our guest blogger this week is Don Pillsbury sharing some of his cycling incidents and a great picture courtesy of his friend.

There are many benefits from cycling. Personally, what I have learned most from regularly riding my bike is the art of improvising. No matter how well you plan, it is inevitable, at some point; you will encounter a situation that requires you to “make do.” Such is the time my headlight inexplicably gave out. (Fortunately it was the peak of firefly season and the iridescent insects guided my way along the D&R Canal Towpath – it is one of my most cherished memories.)
Or riding along and having the crank/pedal fall off. (I had read about a one-legged cyclist and decided to see what it is like.) Or like getting to the office and discovering the set of clothes you distinctly remember leaving there before hand were not to be found. (That situation took some creativity.)
You can only pack a set amount of tools, spare parts, gear, and equipment.
After that, it’s a matter of keep calm and ride on – with creativity and humor.

Thank you Don! If you would like to write about your experience in a guest post, please email jfoster@gmtma.org.

 

Finding Our Greener Paths

3 Jul

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Today’s blogger is Julia Ibara, GMTMA’s newest staff member. This is the first, but certainly not the last time you will hear from Julia!

More and more people are trying to find their ways to greener paths. I am one of them and I would like to share my experience with ‘finding greener paths” as a still fairly recent immigrant (having been here now for 5 years) to the U.S. Growing up in Europe, the idea of commuting to work or school by walking, biking or taking public transit is not so much a choice as a way of life; most people don’t think twice about it because like most European countries, everyone does it. Walking to the supermarket to get groceries and the walk back is not that unusual, although sometimes I was wishing I had left buying the water for another time. And I remember taking a trolley to the farthest stop and then walking another 20 minutes each day to get to and from my job (I know that could be a challenge when you’re dressed for an office job and it’s raining or snowing).

When I arrived here I found public transport a bit more confusing than what I was used to, and there was a time when my used to the European ways put me far away from my intended destination! But overall I was struck by how many places were practically inaccessible unless you owned a car. I was also struck by the ease with which you could get anywhere if you did own a car, and how that really changed how much time you could save getting to work, how much more you could buy when shopping, and how convenient things were when you could park right next to them.

Over time I was surprised at how my perception of convenience and necessity changed, so that a 20 minute walk to the Dinky and another 15 minutes to walk to my job in Princeton became a half hour that I could “save” by driving so that I could get other things done. Everyone does it! We rush all over the place trying to cram as many things in our day as possible and try to shave minutes off every activity. But soon I came to realize that what we gain in efficiency we eventually begin to lose in terms of our health and well-being, our contributions to greener living, and our attitude towards our lives.

The challenge for us here is that we must choose a greener lifestyle as part of our daily lives and commuting, and this means a commitment that you have to think about. But as more of us do this it can become the way of life, where it’s less a conscious choice and simply the way to get around. Many communities are becoming walking and biking friendly and we should be taking advantage of that. We can all benefit from finding our greener paths.

Bike Commuter Journal – It’s Not About Exercise

17 Jun

Super Hero Cyclist

Please welcome back guest contributor Don Pillsbury.

Don’t I need to be a “Jock” to ride my bike to work?

When co-workers see me riding my bike to work, they often assume I’ve always been some sort of athletic super hero. And while riding does occasionally simulate the sensation of “flying,” I’m no Superman. I’ve never participated in any organized sport (well, except for the office volleyball league) and I don’t follow any professional teams. People familiar with my younger years are always surprised to hear about my cycling adventures.

As I meet other bike commuters, that pattern seems oddly common. A co-worker, who commutes 12 miles throughout the year, in all sorts of weather, said she hated gym class in school – she was always the last one selected for any activity. This same person became indignant when asked about her commute being exercise. To her, it was about saving money. A friend, who also commutes 12 miles year round, doesn’t mention his cycling during a routine annual exam with his physician and is then shocked when the doctor suggests the need for exercise – despite his trim physique.

For the bike commuters I meet, cycling isn’t exercise it’s just a means of getting to their destination.

One other trait I’ve noticed: the complete lack of remorse about eating whatever they want.

What is your background? If you commute with your bike, some or a lot, please let me know whether you consider yourself athletic or not. I can be reached at: drPillsbury@comcast.net.

Thanks Don! If you’d like to write a guest post, pls email jfoster@gmtma.org.

Challenge: Change Your Commute to Help the Air Tomorrow!

16 Jun

The weather is gorgeous; sunny, warm – a great day to be outside and enjoy! One of the last things we think about on days like this is air pollution- but it is a predicted Air Quality Action Day tomorrow. It has been a while, so what exactly does this mean for us?

Due to weather patterns tomorrow, Ozone is expected to be at levels that are Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or Code Orange. This means that people with lung disease, such as asthma, children and older adults and people who are active outdoors should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.

Air Quality Action Day TomorrowSo here is your CHALLENGE: Help everyone breath better on an Air Quality Action Day by Changing Your Commute!

  • If you usually drive alone- try to find a carpool partner, look into Transit (GMTMA can help with this), or even ask if you can telecommute.
  • If you usually take transit- great job! You are already helping the air, but what else can you do? Do you drive to the train station? How can you get there without driving tomorrow? Look into other options.
  • Even if you usually walk or bike to work, there are ways to decrease your air pollution. Do you often drive with someone for lunch? Plan a brown bag lunch day in the cafeteria or conference room. Or to be festive- create an Air Quality Action Day potluck so no one in the office needs to drive to lunch!

Let us know if you accept our challenge!

There are many ways to decrease the air pollution you create- so take a few minutes today to think about how you can change your commute to decrease air pollution tomorrow. And you never know, if enough people change thier commute to lower air pollution, levels may not even reach Code Orange!

If you would like more ideas to decrease air pollution or need a little help changing your commute, contact Aly Dyson at adyson@gmtma.org.

Vision of Bicycling Winner!

13 Jun

Lunch Break ErrandsWe are happy to announce that the winner of the Vision of Bicycling photo contest for Bike to Work Week is Nicola K. from Princeton. Her photo is titled Lunch Break Errands, and was taken at the Alexander Street footbridge in Princeton. Congratulations Nicola and thank you for sharing your errands with us!

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