Bike Commuter Journal: Spring is here, get your bike out!

20 Apr

It’s here! Spring is finally here! It’s time for fair weather commuters and year round commuters alike to get their bike ready for spring and for everyone to get excited about Bike Month and Bike to Work Week.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when getting your bike ready for spring:

  1. Check you chain
  2. Check your tires
  3. Check you brakes
  4. Check your wheels
  5. Check if your toolbox has everything you need

Here is how you can check all of these things yourself. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, we recommend taking your bike to a bike shop for a tune up.

For those of you who thought of bike commuting and don’t know where to start, here is a list of things you need:

  1. A bike that has the right fit – the right fit increases your comfort and maximizes the efficiency of your pedaling.  The saddle on your bike is worth some attention, the type of saddle you choose can make a big difference in comfort.
  2. Pick a route you are comfortable with.  Choose roads with bike lanes and slower moving traffic when possible.  Ask us if you need help finding a route based on your level of comfort.
  3. Choice of clothing – if you have a short commute (under 5 miles) you could ride in your work clothes.  Just go at a reasonable speed, adjust your gears depending on the terrain (you can push yourself on the way back from work if you want a little workout). If you can, leave some clothes at the office to make sure you always look your best.
  4. If you have a longer commute and do not have a shower at work you could get some Action Wipes, they will do the trick.
  5. Invest in a panier you can put you bag/backpack in so you do not have to carry it.  This is both practical and important for your safety since your hands won’t be busy holding things.
  6. Carry spare tubes and tools and know how to change a tire. You can learn here .
  7. Know how to lock your bike. If your office does not have a safe storage spot for your bike, here’s somebike locking advice .

Once you have everything you need and you are ready to hit the streets, here are a few safety tips consider when riding:

  1. Be predictable and signal your intentions to others:
  • When you turn left, extend your left arm to your side
  • When you turn right, hold your arm up an “L” shape or extend your right arm
  • If you want to stop or slow down, hold your arm down in a “L” shape
  1. Go with the flow of traffic not against it
  2. Be ready to stop at driveways
  3. Make yourself visible, wear something reflective, have a white light in the front of you bike and a red light on the back, mirrors, and bell
  4. Wear a helmet

Be safe and have fun!  And don’t forget to register for Bike to Work Week, log your miles, and share your pictures (selfies welcomed), and your experiences with us. We have great prizes again this year from our generous sponsors: REI Princeton, Kopp’s Cycle, Greater Mercer TMA, Wegmans Princeton, Whole Earth Center, St. Lawrence Rehab, and Zvelta.

Happy Cycling!

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Seniors Rediscovering the Joy of Cycling

30 Mar

Ron Davis, a 69 year old Vietnam War Veteran has one more big item on his bucket list. On March 31st Davis will set out from San Diego California and ride his Trek 920 touring bicycle across the country ending his journey in Ocean City New Jersey. Davis guesses that this 3,000 mile ride will take him roughly 10 – 12 weeks. He points out that after all he is retired and in no particular rush[i]. Davis is not the first senior to rediscover the joy of cycling in their later years. Pushing the pedals provides an aerobic workout, great for the heart, brain, and blood vessels; Aerobic exercise also triggers the release of endorphins – the feel good chemicals. Cycling may be the thing keeping this Vietnam Vet young at heart.

There are a lot of anecdotal remarks circulating the web with headlines such as “grow old gracefully” and “biking turns strangers into friends”. Let’s face it, everyone’s experience is different and not everyone is going to have the ability or interest in biking across the country.  Alongside the anecdotes scientific research is starting to delve deeper into the subject and is coming up with some intriguing findings. US national data shows that the time senior citizens spend in sedentary activity contributes significantly to disability in activities of daily living (ADL) regardless of time spend in moderate or vigorous activity.[ii] Meaning that sedentary activities contribute to disability regardless of how much other exercise was done. The great news here is that biking is relatively easy on the joints and can be used for both recreation and transportation, so the opportunity to spend more time being active is high. Every hour somebody is on a bike is an hour they’re doing themselves good! Cycling builds muscle and the benefits carry over to everyday activities like balance, walking, standing, stair climbing, and endurance.[iii]

[i] http://www.fox4news.com/69yearoldveterancyclingacrossthecountryforwoundedwarriors

[ii] Dunlop, D. D. PHD. Sedentary time in US older adults associated with disability in activities of daily living independent of physical activity national center for biotechnical information

[iii] http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/top-5-benefits-of-cycling

Boost Your Immune System with Vitamin C(ycling)

16 Mar

We all know we need to eat healthy and exercise regularly if we want to be in good health. It’s also known that the key to exercising regularly is choosing a form of exercise that you really enjoy.  So, if you are a bicycling aficionado there is great news for you. If not, check out why you might want to consider becoming one.

If you want to have the immune system of a twenty year old – a recent study showed that cycling into old age can boost the immune system and keep body fat low. Some of the participants in the study were in their eighties and had the immune system of people in their twenties.

If you want to reduce the risk of heart failure – researchers have also found that aerobic exercise, four to five days a week can reverse or reduce the risk of heart failure. Late-middle age participants who led a sedentary lifestyle who started a regular exercise program, 4 -5 times a week, 30 min/ day, for 2 years have seen the “reversal of decades of sedentary lifestyle.” The exercise routine included at least one session of aerobic activity a week such as running, brisk walking, and cycling and one high-intensity aerobic session.

And finally, another research study published in the British Medical Journal, found that commuting by bike was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. Also, mixed mode commuting with a cycling component also lowered the risk of all-cause mortality.  The authors specify that active commuting has health benefits because it contributes to the overall daily physical activity, and bike commuting in particular has greater benefits because it is greater intensity than walking for example.

Whether you cycle for fun or transportation, keep on rolling into good health! For those of you who would like to give it a try and don’t know how to start, let us know, we can help.

Stay healthy and enjoy the ride!

Sources:
Bicycling.com, Bbc.com,
Cyclingweekly.com
Npr.org
BMJ.com
Circulation 

5 Tips to Help You Spring Forward Safely

2 Mar

This year daylight saving time begins on March 11 at 2:00 am. While the extra sunlight is welcomed and allows us to get more done and fit more exercise into our days, it also comes with a little inconvenience; we lose an hour of sleep. That might not sound that serious, but experts warn that disrupting sleep patterns comes with a few risks. For example the number of heart attacks increases and the number of traffic accidents is higher the day after the time change.  Don’t worry though; there are some things you can do to avoid getting hurt so that you can simply delight in the fact that more sunlight is on its way!

  1. Try to go bed 15 minutes earlier for  few days leading to the time change – this will give your body a chance to get used to the  change gradually
  2. Be alert on the road – sleep deprivation is common after the time change and it can lead to traffic accidents
  3. Put the phone down – don’t drive, bike, or walk distracted
  4. If you have the option, work from home after the time change – this way you avoid distracted drivers and avoid being a drowsy driver
  5. Exercise with care – if you have chronic heart disease and have been inactive for a while, take it easy, start with a slow 30 minute walk

Daylight saving time is also a great reminder to tune up your bike for spring – check your tires, gears, nuts and bolts, or take it to a shop for a tune up. And a great reminder to check your smoke alarms, CO2 detectors, and get rid of unwanted medicines.

Stay safe and stay tuned!

 

Sources:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/simple-tips-to-help-you-spring-forward-smoothly-daylight-saving-time/
https://www.insurancehotline.com/spring-forward-driver-safety-tips/
https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/10/14883576/daylight-saving-time-2017-start-spring-forward
http://www.nsc.org/learn/Pages/safety-events-spring-forward-with-safety.aspx

 

Calling All Artists Grades 3 – 5!

16 Feb

The fifth Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design contest is now underway.  Calling Mercer County and Ocean County students in third through fifth grade to show their love of walking by creating an original haiku poem and then illustrate it. The theme of the contest is “Write and draw about USING YOUR SENSES WHILE WALKING AND BIKING. What kind of things do you hear, touch, smell, or see?”

At the end of the contest, we will choose four winners, two from Mercer County and two from Ocean County. The winning bookmark design will be printed and distributed to area schools and local libraries.  The winners will also receive a $50 gift card each.

For more information about the contest, entry form, and the Safe Routes to School Program go to gmtma.org.

National Wear Red Day

2 Feb

Today, February 2, is Go Red for Women Day, wear red to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and help save lives. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. But heart disease is preventable, and by increasing awareness, we can make a difference.

In addition to knowing your numbers (total cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and BMI), being physically active helps prevent heart disease. There are many ways to stay active while going about your day. Here are a few ideas:

Staying active while commuting

Studies have shown that active commuting is positively associated with fitness in both men and women, and walking is seen as the most accessible way to increase physical activity.  Also, research shows that active commuting increases adherence to activity recommendations.  When walking or biking the entire commute isn’t possible try incorporating these activities by walking or biking to transit to help achieve your physical activity goals.

Commuting alone is stressful so try joining a carpool or vanpool to reduce the stress of your commute and meet new people.

Staying active around the house

Cleaning your house, doing dishes, gardening, washing the car, carrying groceries and organizing them in your pantry and other chores can help you keep active.

Kids and families activities to keep active 

Kids need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day to stay healthy.  It is best if they can go outdoors and play, bike, hike, and other activities. Allowing your children to walk to school is an easy way for both you and your kids to be active every day. But there are many fun ways to stay active indoors as well – use a Wii Fit to play tennis, baseball, etc., hula hoop, freeze dance, scavenger hunt, balloon volleyball, and more.

Seniors staying active

Walking is a great way for seniors to keep active, but other activities such as swimming and water aerobics can be beneficial for people who can’t walk.

We hope you can incorporate some of these ideas into your daily routine. If you need help finding new ways to incorporate more activity into your daily commute, let us know, we would be happy to help.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2736383/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16905031/

https://www.todaysparent.com/family/activities/15-ways-to-keep-kids-active-indoors-even-if-you-dont-have-much-space/

https://www.goredforwomen.org/fight-heart-disease-women-go-red-women-official-site/get-involved/national-wear-red-day/

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ActivitiesforKids/Activities-for-Kids_UCM_304155_SubHomePage.jsp

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/GettingActive/Family-Fitness_UCM_462373_Article.jsp

Hello 2018!

19 Jan

And good bye 2017! Like most years, 2017 was filled with many good things along with some of the not so good things. Under the good things category, we have seen the expansion of the Princeton bike share, increased awareness for driver education to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety, complete streets adoption in many towns, and the launch of a comprehensive resource for commuters, the njrideshare.com website, among others. But the increase in traffic deaths in NJ, the need for more bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and the poor state of our infrastructure, are some things we would like to see improve.

GMTMA staff hopes for 2018

So, filled with hope and positive outlook, we proceeded to ask the people in our office what would they like to see happen in 2018 and they had a few things to say. Here are some of the things we would hope to see happen in 2018:

  • Fewer cars idling, particularly in cars warming up, people on lunch break  (try not to use your car during your lunch break)
  • more employers promoting vanpooling as a way for their employees to commute to work
  • More women sign up for our Bike to Work Week challenge ( May 19 – May 23, 2018)
  • More children walking and biking to school
  • A NJT bus route from Little Egg Harbor Township, Via Manahawkin, Toms River to Princeton/West Windsor (OK, this one seems like a personal request)
  • A Vision Zero policy for any county or municipality or NJDOT
  • More complete streets projects implemented
  • The last unbuilt section of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail to be completed (won’t be 2018, but maybe by 2020)
  • A Mercer County trails plan
  • Princeton’s (Zagster) Bike Share system expanded into West Windsor and Plainsboro
  • Bike Share in Trenton
  • A Complete Streets policy for Ocean County
  • Fewer aggressive drivers!

We could go on, but we’d like to hear from you!  Let us know what your hopes are for 2018, send us an email or leave a comment on social media.

Happy and Safe New Year!