Hurry up, there is only one week left to participate in the “Step into Spring” contest!

26 May

There’s still time to win so don’t wait until is too late! Use the NJ Walking School Bus App to create or join walk and get entered to win prizes. You and your children get a healthy start to the day by walking them to school, and you get entered to win prizes for doing that. It’s a double win! The app is free and even keeps track of how many calories you burn.

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The contest is open to parents and their children in Mercer County and select towns in Ocean County. To qualify for the “Step into Spring. Ready, Set, Win!” contest parents have to  download the GMTMA Walking School Bus App, create an account, join an existing walking school bus group or create a new group, and schedule and participate in walks to and from school. The app is easy to use and parents can search by elementary school for existing walking groups, create walking groups and invite neighbors to join, plan walks to and from school, assign parent leaders to walk with students, group text within the app, and alert the other parents when students have arrived safely at school.

Every time parents and/or children walk to and from school, they get entered to win prizes. The more you walk the better your chances of winning! A random drawing will be conducted from all entries on June 6th.  Prizes include:

  • A set of four Trenton Thunder Tickets donated by Trenton Thunder
  • Reflective umbrellas
  • One walking school bus will be drawn at the end of the contest and receive for the group, a $100 gift card to share (think pizza/ice cream party!), reflective umbrellas for the parents and reflective drawstring backpacks for students. Additionally the school of the winning walking school bus will receive $250 to be used for safe walking and biking programs.

Enjoy your walk!

May 20 is Bike to Work Day!

19 May

The weather forecast looks great and we have amazing incentives for all of you who registered and log your Bike to Work Week miles. Hopefully we will see lots of you biking this Friday. To make sure we all get to work safely we wanted to share a few safety tips for both drivers and bicyclists.

Photo credit: US 1/ http://princetoninfo.com/

Photo credit: US 1/ http://princetoninfo.com/

Drivers

  • Don’t drive distracted. It is more likely that you see cyclists if you are paying attention to the road
  • Give cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance, slow down and pass them when it is safe to do so
  • Look behind for cyclists before you open your door after parallel parking
  • Look for cyclists when turning in an intersection or backing out of the driveway
  • Do not honk; cyclists can lose their balance if you honk your horn when you are close to them
  • Bicyclists have the right to use a full lane
  • And don’t forget to smile when you see a cyclist, it will make the commute better for both of you

Bicyclists

  • Follow all the rules of the road, including riding with traffic and stopping for signs and signals
  • Be predictable and signal your intentions to others – point right or left for turning, hand down for stopping
  • Be ready to stop at driveways
  • Make yourself visible, wear bright colors, something reflective, have a white light in the front of your bike and a red light on the back, mirrors, and bell
  • Wear a helmet

Be safe and have fun! And remember if you have questions or you need help choosing a route, you can always contact us .

And don’t forget to log your miles, share your pictures and your experiences with us.

Happy Cycling!

Bike to Work Week for Ladies

13 May

Bike to Work Week is almost here and although the number of female bike commuters has been increasing over the last few years (over 30% of our Bike to Work Week participants were women), women still represent just 25% of all bike commuters.   There are a number of reasons, but certainly a main factor–many women (and men too) just don’t feel comfortable on roads that lack safe and comfortable biking facilities.

Photo credit: Flickr.com/meligrosa

Photo credit: Flickr.com/meligrosa

Last year, women that participated in our Bike to Work Week survey cited issues such as lack of bike lanes, lack of showers at work, potholes, driver awareness, and not feeling safe.

Flickr.SteveBacker.10180265885

Photo credit: Flickr.com/Steve Backer

And if you do an internet search, many other women cite the same reasons.  Other reasons women do not bike to work are: “helmet hair”, concerns about sweating, commute too long, and worrying about getting a flat or other emergencies.

As someone who would like to bike to work but worry about all of the above  (including biking on Alexander Rd.), I am always in search of great tips to make biking to work possible more often and also more comfortable.

Let’s face it no one wants to get to the office looking and feeling like this

africa-african-animal-cat-41315

so here are a few tips that will hopefully help you get on your bike:

Helmet hair

  • A silk scarf beneath your helmet can reduce friction and eliminate frizz.
  • Wearing your hair in a ponytail is a practical way to avoid helmet hair, and if a few hairs are out of place when you take your helmet off, you can fix it really fast when you get to work ( this is one is my favorite and best to tame curly helmet hair)
  • You can find more styling tips here

Sweating

Photo credit: Flickr.com/radarxlove

Photo credit: Flickr.com/radarxlove

  • If you do not have a shower at work, see if you can find a gym near your workplace and make some an arrangement to use their showers ( you can use the $20 commuter benefit towards paying for this)
  • Keep a change of clothes at work
  • If none of these options are available to you, baby wipes are a great way to refresh
  • If you are only biking a short distance, you can wear your office clothes and bike on a route that does not take much effort so you do not sweat. This works for me since I only have to bike 2 miles to work.
  • Keep a make-up, dry shampoo, hair styling, deodorant, and baby wipes kit at work, just in case.

Commute too long

  • Try to do only part of it by bike. Our colleague Carol does this every year, and she commutes from Hopewell to West Windsor. She drives one day and bikes back home and the next day she bikes to work and then drives bike home.

Getting a flat

Photo credit: Flickr.com/Heather Harvey

Photo credit: Flickr.com/Heather Harvey

  • You will need to do some planning for this one. Here is a great article on what to carry with you and how to change an inner tube.

Being Safe

As far as feeling safe and comfortable, remember to start small, pick the safest route, always wear a helmet, have lights on your bike, plan your route ahead of time and try to bike it during the weekend when you are not under pressure, and you can take your time. If you are not sure what the best route is, we can create a personalized map from your house to your workplace.

This is not a comprehensive list, so if you have any advice, please feel free to share; we would love to hear your tips.

And I hope you signed up or will sign up for Bike to Work Week. Remember to log your miles during May 16 -20 and win great prizes.   Enjoy the ride!

 

Air Quality Awareness Week

6 May

We’re near the end of the Air Quality Awareness Week (May 2 -6), but that doesn’t not mean we can stop thinking about air quality. We all contribute to air pollution and pollution is impacting all of us. In our region pollution is the largest environmental health risk.

AirQuality-TIPS[v3]-No1

Image source: dvrpc.org

According to the airqualitypartnership.org, the EPA has designated the Greater Philadelphia region as an air quality “nonattainment area” for ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Particle pollution can occur at any time of the year but it is more common during the summer months and can cause asthma, coughing, cardiac problems, decreased lung function. This pollution also impacts the environment in a significant way leading to acidification of lakes and streams. And since the summer months are close, here are some tips to protect air quality:

  • Take transit or rideshare. Ride the bus, train, subway or carpool to work or school.
  • Refuel at the end of the day. Ozone levels are usually highest in mid to late afternoon.
  • Don’t “top off” your tank when refueling. Spillage adds two tons of air pollution daily.
  • Get the junk out of your trunk. An extra 100 pounds reduces gas mileage by up to 2%.
  • Change your oil. Using a manufacturer recommended grade motor oil improved fuel economy by 1-2%.
  • Get regular tune-ups and car maintenance checks. A properly running vehicle emits less pollution and saves gas.
  • Turn it off. Idling your vehicle wastes gas and pollutes the air.
  • Keep the right amount of air in the tires. Proper tire pressure saves gas and the air.
  • Slow down and save. Each 5 MPH that you drive over 60MPH reduce fuel economy by up to 5%
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking can reduce gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds.
  • Tighten you gas cap. This is one of the easiest ways to keep gas in your tank.
  • Visit http://www.i95coalition.org  for more DRIVE GREEN, SAVE GREEN tips.

Sources: www.airqualitypartnership.org,  www.dvrpc.org,

Bike Commuter Journal – Commuting Strategies

29 Apr

Zagster bikes at Forrestal Campus Princeton UHow many different ways are there to bike commute? Let’s review the experiences shared by our guest bike commuters.

Ted bike commutes most days that aren’t icy or snowy.  

Robert learned to bike commute in rain, floods and snow.  Then he moved to Idaho – nice!

Brian bike commutes from home to train, and changes from bike clothes to work clothes at the station. He makes good use of a bike locker at Princeton Junction. Melinda is another year-round bike to the train station commuter with a bike locker, and her 1.5 mile commute is on an el-cheapo bike.

Carol drives to work with her bike and work clothes for the next day, then bikes back home in the evening and back to work next morning.

Jenny takes the bus with the bike on the front rack to work, then bikes back home after work.

Kiyomi rides seven hilly miles on good days, in bike clothes with her work clothes carried on the bike.

Jim rides to work directly on CR518, but takes the long way home, as the mood suits him.

Mike commutes year-round, 25 miles round trip between Allentown (NJ) and Trenton.

Steve bike commuted from Princeton to Plainsboro for years.

Twice a week, Don bikes 35 miles to work in Mt. Laurel, but coming home rides 8 miles, hops on the River Line to Trenton, then bikes another 8 miles home.

Whit bikes 4 or 5 times per week year-round, from Hopewell to Plainsboro on CR518 and next to the D&R Canal, and enjoys the bike locker provided by his employer.

Other strategies – another Jim carpools with his wife to her work, then bikes to his work and back home afterwards – 2 miles biking there, 8 miles back to home. I’ve seen bike commuters who’ve gotten off the train in Princeton Jct and biked to their office in Carnegie Center, one had a folding bike with him on the train, another kept a bike locked to the racks near the Dinky.  Folding bikes are allowed at all times on NJ Transit, unlike full size bikes, which are subject to rush hour restrictions.

Bike commuting with children adds other possible strategies – Curt bikes with his son to Hopewell elementary, then continues on to work in Skillman. Denis’s child is too small to bike, so rides on the bikeseat to daycare before he continues on to work. Georgette somehow lives car-free with her 4 children under the age of four – maybe someday she’ll post her strategies.

Have we covered all the possibilities? Not at all – we’d love to hear from someone who uses Princeton University’s Tiger Transit and bikes, and/or the new Zagster bike share for commuting!

Please contact jfoster@gmtma.org if you’d like to share your bike commuting experiences.

 

 

 

Safe Routes to School Bookmark Contest Winners

22 Apr

In celebration of NJ Bike and Walk to School Week, Greater Mercer TMA (GMTMA) announced the winners of its Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design Contest. The contest, open to all third through fifth graders in Mercer and Ocean County, was themed “Walking is fun for all…winter, spring, summer or fall.”

The winners are:

Sara Willis, a 5th grade student at Ocean Road Elementary School, Point Pleasant, NJ

Sara

Hakon Ericson, a 4th grade student at Clara B. Worth Elementary in Bayville, NJ

Hakon

Olivia Kaczynska,  a 3rd grade student at Slackwood Elementary School, Lawrence Township, NJ

Picture2

 

Tanvi Damerla, a 5th grade student at Millstone River School, Plainsboro, NJ

Picture1

“Walking is an all seasons activity,” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, Executive Director of GMTMA, “and the students’ artwork really reflected this. They did an amazing job of capturing the fun and beauty of walking throughout the year. “

The winning bookmarks are being distributed at many Ocean and Mercer County schools and libraries.  Pick one up at your local library!

Congratulations to the winners!

The 2017 Safe Routes to School Bookmark Contest will start March 2017.

GMTMA serves as the NJ Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School coordinator for Ocean County and works with schools, communities and PTO’s to encourage more students to walk and bike to school safely and to improve the areas where it is not safe. If you would like more information about the Safe Routes to School Program, please visit gmtma.org.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

15 Apr

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

Image: Distracted.gov

Image: Distracted.gov

According to distraction.gov, distracted driving statistics paint a grim picture: In 2014, an estimated 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Although law enforcement has stepped up enforcement, distracted driving continues to be a dangerous driving behavior.

But texting isn’t the only culprit in driving distractions.  Common behaviors include, grooming, eating, drinking, using your smart phone for directions or other types of browsing, all of which will be monitored and ticketed.  The NJ campaign focuses on texting and driving because it is considered especially dangerous since it requires three types of attention: visual, manual, and cognitive. It’s becoming very clear now that taking your eyes and attention away from the road, and your hands off the wheel is dangerous in several ways!

Here are a few tips to help keep you and others on the road safe. Just pull over to a safe location when:

  • Taking a phone call or texting
  • Grooming (putting on make-up, fixing your hair, shaving, etc.)
  • Eating
  • When you’re looking for directions on your smart phone
  • Trying to get your favorite radio station
  • Checking your Facebook status (it can’t be that urgent)

Remember, it can all wait until you can safely pull over.  It’s just not worth risking your life, or the life of an innocent person.

To learn more about the dangers of distracted driving, please see the following sources:

Nsc.org , distracteddrivingaccidents.com, distraction.gov, trafficsafetymarketing.gov.

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