“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”

26 Aug

The National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) launched the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” national campaign on August 19, and the campaign will continue until September 5, 2016. The campaign and enforcement mobilization come as a response to the high number of traffic fatalities due to drunk driving. According to the NHTSA, drunk driving is one of the “deadliest and most often committed – yet preventable- of crimes” and a “serious safety epidemic in our country.”

Photo: NHTSA

Photo: NHTSA

New Jersey joined NHTSA in the prevention effort, and it is organizing sobriety checkpoints. The message is simple: if you drive impaired, you risk being arrested and spending up to $10,000 in associated costs.

We know we’ve been saying this on other occasions, but don’t be a statistic, do not drink and drive. Although the legal limit is .08 grams per deciliter, alcohol consumption affects people’s ability to drive in different ways. Alcohol is a depressant drug, and it reduces the speed of reaction, reduces concentration, impairs vision, and some people may feel over confident which may lead to making rash decisions and taking the risk of driving impaired.

That is why if you plan to have alcohol, you should plan ahead, designate a driver ahead of time, call a cab, or take public transportation; it is not worth taking the risk. NHTSA launched an app to help people plan ahead; it is called SAFERRIDE, and it is available on both Android and iPhone.

Other things you can do to help:

As always, be safe!

Back to School Safety Tips

19 Aug

It is hard to believe August is almost over and there are only a few days left until school starts. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.

Back to school Safety tips

Let’s start with the drivers:

  • Don’t drive distracted and watch for children walking and biking to school
  • Slow down, obey speed limit in school zones and near school bus stops
  • Look out for children around your vehicle, when you back out of your driveway
  • Be prepared to stop for school buses if the yellow overhead light is flashing and come to a full stop when the red lights are flashing. Cars behind the bus and cars coming from the opposite direction have to stop when the school bus red lights are flashing.

Children and Parents

Taking the school bus:

  • Wait for the bus to stop before boarding and always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access
  • Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too)
  • Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required
  • Do not move around on the bus
  • If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus

If you are driving them to School:

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age)
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it
  • Require teen drivers to wear a seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction

 Biking to school:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. Use multi-use paths or bike lanes when available.
  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

Walking to School:

  • Choose a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
  • Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.

If you want to know more about bike and pedestrian safety learn how to organize a walking school bus and how to use the NJ Walking School Bus app, go to gmtma.org.







Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

12 Aug

A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey shows that 8 out of 10 drivers see aggressive driving as a serious safety risk.  And they are right; unfortunately many of these same people don’t see that they are the aggressive drivers.  Just because a person’s behavior doesn’t resemble the horrific road rage incidents that are shown on the news and captured on You Tube videos, doesn’t mean that they aren’t aggressive and making our roads more dangerous.

Speeding is one of the most prevalent aggressive driving behaviors and a factor in one-third of fatal crashes.  Racing, tailgating, gesturing, getting into a fight with other drivers, also qualify as aggressive driving behaviors.

Do you know if you’re an aggressive driver? Find out by taking this AAA quiz https://www.aaafoundation.org/are-you-aggressive-driver

Most of us have witnessed or been involved in an aggressive driving situation or will at some point.  Extreme cases of aggressive behavior lead to road rage, and it is a criminal charge.  According to the NHTSA, about two-thirds of motor vehicle deaths involved some form of aggressive driving.  It is critical to know what triggers it and how to react (or not react) to avoid serious consequences so here are a few tips to keep in mind.

 What causes aggressive driving and what triggers road rage? 

According to AAA Foundation these are some of the behaviors that can anger drivers the most:

o    Cutting off another driver

o    Driving slowly in the left lane

o    Tailgating

o    Gestures (obscene gestures)

How to avoid aggressive driving and road rage?

o    Staying focused and alert helps you react quickly in case someone slams the breaks, tries to get in front of you, change lanes without signaling

o    Watch out for other drivers, do not assume they are prepared to react

o    Follow the 3-second rule to maintain a safe following distance

o    Don’t speed

o    Don’t react or retaliate when another driver is agitated; it’s best to avoid eye contact

o    Leave yourself plenty of travel time so you don’t feel rushed and stressed while driving

For more tips on how to avoid road rage, check this AAA Foundation Brochure.

Be the better person, get home safe.



It’s Time to Apply for the NJ Smart Workplaces Award

5 Aug

Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) awards. NJSW recognizes and honors employers who help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by providing commuter benefits to employees. Employers of all sizes are eligible to apply. Applying is easy and chances are that employers already provide some of the things that qualify them for this designation. Employers are recognized at one of four levels of achievement: bronze, silver, gold or platinum based upon the programs offered at the worksite.



Bronze Level

Employers must complete FOUR of the following activities:

  • Establish and maintain a relationship with a local Transportation Management Association (TMA).
  • Designate an on-site point of contact for employee commute inquiries.
  • Place alternative commute information in new-hire packets. (Contact us at tma@gmtma.org to receive alternative commute information)
  • Encourage employees to register for TMA traffic alerts or 511NJ.org or disseminate traffic alerts to your employees.
  • Provide access to a site-specific commuter information display.
  • Regularly promote commute options and TMA incentives through regular memos, postings, e-mail, Intranet or other employee communications.
  • Encourage employees to register their alternate commute with a local TMA.
  • Host at least one commuter information event at your worksite.
  • Host at least one vanpool or carpool formation meeting at your worksite.
  • Host at least one TMA Lunch and Learn presentation.
  • Offer an informal flextime program.
  • Offer an informal telecommuting program.
  • Working with a TMA, conduct an employee commute survey.

Silver Level

Employers must achieve Bronze and complete three of the following activities:

  • Host or sponsor TMA events/programs such as National Bike to Work Month, National Walk Month, Car Free Week, or Distracted Driving Awareness Week at the worksite.
  • Provide financial or staff assistance for TMA-sponsored community events.
  • Host two or more commuter information events at your worksite.
  • Host two or more TMA Lunch and Learn presentations.
  • Host two or more on-site vanpool/carpool formation meetings.
  • Provide a designated outdoor bicycle parking area or an appropriate indoor area.
  • Provide employees access to basic bike maintenance tools.
  • Provide preferential parking for vanpoolers or carpoolers.
  • Offer a formal flextime program.
  • Offer a formal telecommuting program.
  • Offer a formal compressed workweek policy.
  • Provide pretax payroll deductions for commuting cost for employees (vanpool, transit and/or bicycle commuters).
  • Provide Emergency Ride Home for employees who have exceeded the maximum number of TMA-provided rides.
  • Sell transit passes on site.
  • Provide on-site amenities such as food service, dry cleaner, ATM/bank, sundries or showers.
  • Implement a teleconference policy.

Gold Level

Employers must achieve FIVE Bronze Level activities and five Silver Level activities.

  • have met the requirements for the Gold Level NJ Smart Workspace.

Platinum Level

Employers must achieve Gold and implement a comprehensive site-specific alternative commute program such as:

  • Telework or compressed work week program that reduces commute trips by 3%.
  • A monthly employer subsidy toward transit passes.
  • A monthly employer subsidy/benefit for employees who carpool or vanpool.
  • Partnering with local gyms, Ys, or other groups to provide off-site showers.
  • Supplement parking by partnering with local organizations to create private park and rides.
  • Provide fleet of bicycles for employee use or rental.
  • Provide an employer-subsidized shuttle.
  • Provide electric vehicles for employee business use.
  • Provide electric vehicles and charging stations for employee use.
  • Contact your TMA for more suggestions.

The program is a partnership of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Association and the state’s Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). Greater Mercer TMA is the program’s coordinator in Mercer and Ocean counties.

There are no costs associated with this prestigious designation and all awardees will be featured on our website. Go to www.gmtma.org  to register online.

If you are not sure you qualify or you have questions about the program, please contact us at tma@gmtma.org . All NJSW awardees will be recognized at Greater Mercer TMA’s Annual Luncheon in October.

Route 130 Connection Bus Expands Service

1 Aug

New service to the Route 130 Connection bus line will soon enable Mercer County Community College students from Hightstown and East Windsor to get an inexpensive lift to the college campus in West Windsor, officials announced today.


The collaborative effort, shared by the college, Mercer County and the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (TMA), aims to increase opportunities for students to participate in higher education.

“Finding ways to help students overcome barriers to college is central to college success,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes.  “Increased access to employment and educational opportunities is the purpose of realigning and expanding service for Mercer County’s Route 130 Connection bus route, and we are so pleased to partner with the college and the TMA to add additional transportation options.”

The primary routing change is new access to the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) West Windsor Campus from the East Windsor Township/Hightstown area.

“Looking at the numbers, it just made sense,” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, Executive Director of TMA. “After meeting with MCCC staff and reviewing current enrollment and census data from the area, it was apparent there was a need for transportation service from the eastern part of the County and we wanted to see that gap filled.”

College records indicate that last semester there were 567 students attending MCCC from East Windsor Township/Hightstown.

John Simone, MCCC’s Assistant Dean of Student Services, noted that the addition of the 130 Connection bus route from East Windsor and Hightstown to the        West Windsor Campus will be an excellent complement to the college’s existing shuttle service from the James Kerney Campus in downtown Trenton and the Quaker          Bridge Mall shuttle, which was added just last year.

“We listened to the transportation concerns of students, parents and community members, and we are grateful to the Greater Mercer TMA for helping us find a reasonable solution,” Simone said. “Our priority is to remove obstacles to student success, and through Mercer County’s expansion of 130 Connection bus service, we are working together to eliminate barriers related to transportation.”

County Executive Hughes, who this year announced the formation of the Educational Attainment Commission, reiterated the County’s support for the service to MCCC.

“Improving the educational attainment of our residents may be the single most important thing we can do for the future of Mercer County,” Hughes said. “Higher education provides training and a strong foundation for future employment. Better transportation access will make it easier for County residents to obtain that education.”

Mercer students can view the complete schedule for service to MCCC’s West Windsor Campus at www.mccc.edu/shuttle.

The first trip from the East Windsor/Hightstown area arrives at the college at 8:35 a.m. There are four more trips to the College and nine return trips.

“The TMA has been closely monitoring ridership on the route and for the last two years and has been working with Mercer County on various routing and scheduling scenarios,” said Kastrenakes. “Besides the routing to MCCC, we wanted to make the route more efficient by providing more bus service to areas underserved by transit, streamline the route where it is underperforming and eliminate duplication of service that is already provided by NJ TRANSIT.”

Besides the new service to MCCC, other highlights of the new route include:

  • Increasing the number of trips from two to three between Trenton and the warehouses at exit 8A, with limited stops along the way on weekdays.
  • Connections to the ZLine bus that serves Matrix Business Park/Amazon at Hamilton Marketplace.
  • More frequent service throughout the weekday and on Saturday. Currently, the route does not operate during the middle of the day.
  • Saturday service will operate from East Windsor Township/Hightstown bus stops to Hamilton Marketplace, only. Connections to NJ TRANSIT bus routes at Hamilton Marketplace will allow passengers to travel to other locations in Mercer County. Kastrenakes explained, “The elimination of Saturday service in Hamilton and Trenton was a duplication of service that is provided by NJ TRANSIT. By not serving those areas, we are able to deploy resources to underserved areas. The travel time between locations is reduced from every 45 minutes to 35 minutes.”

Discontinued service and alternative transportation options:

  • Service to RWJ Hospital will be discontinued. Service to the hospital is provided by NJ TRANSIT’s 603 bus route.
  • Elimination of some trips to and from Hamilton Rail Station. Options include NJ TRANSIT 606 or 608 or NEC line.
  • The bus stop on Quakerbridge Road will be relocated to Sloan & Clover Square pending approval.

The route, which operates primarily along the Route 130 corridor, is funded in part through a grant received by NJ TRANSIT. The Mercer County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is the recipient of the grant funds that are used to provide transportation services to access employment.  The exact fare is $1 each way; drivers do not make change.

The new schedule can be found at http://www.gmtma.org/pg-bus-mercer.php

What Do Transit Riders Want?

22 Jul

Transit Center recently released the results to the “Who’s on Board 2016. What Today’s Riders Teach Us About Transit That Works” study and there are some interesting findings and recommendations to note.  The foundation conducted the study with the purpose of better understanding the needs and the behavior of transit riders across the United States.


Some of the Findings:

The terms “choice riders” and “captive riders” currently used to describe transit riders are not accurate. Many people use transit occasionally, 53% of the respondents indicated that they use transit between one day a week and one day per month. Fourteen percent of the interviewees indicated that they were commuters, and 32% said they were using transit for multiple purposes.

People who live and work in areas with better transit ride more frequently, whether they own a car or not. When transit service increases, people turn to transit more often and for multiple purposes.

In addition to good service, having stations within walking distance is seen as more likely to promote the use of transit for various purposes.

People who use transit for multiple purposes are also multimodal, meaning they ride a bike, walk, take a taxi, car share, and are more likely to use a non-car alternative.

The availability of “shared–use mobility” options increases the likelihood that more people will use transit.

The so-called “captive riders” (people who don’t have cars and are thought of as using transit regardless of quality) use transit less frequently when the service is poor.

People value service frequency and travel time the most; they value the condition of the stations and the stops, having real-time information, reliability, and care less about flashy design, and Wi-Fi on board.

Large numbers of Americans of all ages indicated that they would prefer to live in a mixed-use neighborhood with access to transit, but they don’t currently have that option.


Enable more people to walk to reliable transit by making the walk safe and pleasant and concentrating developments around transit.

Have transit in walkable places with many residents and with destinations for people to visit.

Increasing frequency of service and reducing travel time.

How do we score?

We looked at how Mercer and Ocean counties score on AllTransit Performance by using the All Transit ranking tool which is available at http://alltransit.cnt.org/. The Ranking uses station, stop, and frequency of service for bus, rail for all major transit agencies.  It also looks at connectivity and access to jobs.

In Mercer County, we have 11.7 acres of walkable neighborhoods within half a mile of transit, 4.75% commute by walking and live within half a mile of transit. There are 254,247 people who live within a half of mile of transit and no one lives within half of mile of high-frequency transit.  The overall AllTransit Performance score for Mercer County (on a scale from 0 to 10) is 4.5., and 8.25% commuters use transit.

Mercer County total population in 2015 – 366,513

In Ocean County, there are 13 acres of walkable neighborhoods within half a mile if transit, .61% commute by bicycle, and 2.02% commute by walking and live within half a mile of transit. Overall there are 301,356 people who live within half a mile of transit and 2.18% commuters use transit. The AllTransit Performance score is 1.7.

Ocean County total population in 2015 – 576,567

More transit information is available at http://alltransit.cnt.org/ , including numbers of jobs near transit, the number of farmers markets, transit trips per week, etc.

As you can see, Mercer County scored much higher on its Transit Score than Ocean County. To put the scores in perspective to some other counties in New Jersey, both were far below the higher scoring counties like Hudson (9.08), Essex (7.67) and Bergen (6.57). Clearly, there is more work to be done to meet the needs of transit riders.

If you live in Mercer or Ocean County, and you need more transportation information check out Good Moves, a GMTMA program that offers personalized transportation plans.






Greater Mercer TMA Recognizes REI Princeton with the Employer Wheels Award

18 Jul

Greater Mercer TMA (GMTMA), League of American Bicyclists, and New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition staff were at REI Princeton for a celebration event on July 15. REI Princeton received two awards for their efforts to support bicycling in our community and among their employees.

GMTMA’s Employer Wheels Award was presented by Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes to REI for winning the Bike to Work Week Employer Challenge held from May 16 – May 20. A team of 13 REI employees participated in the Bike to Work Week challenge and together they biked 532.2 miles.  “REI Princeton’s support of biking to work makes it possible for their enthusiastic employees to commute by bike.  Encouragement and amenities for biking at the corporate level get more employees out of their cars.  We can’t wait to see how many miles they ride during bike to work week next year!” said Kastrenakes.


The second award was the League of American Bicyclists “Bicycle Friendly Business” designation for providing safe accommodations and encouraging people to bike for both transportation and recreation. “The League of American Bicyclists is pleased to welcome REI-Princeton as a Bicycle Friendly Business.  In the short time REI has been in Princeton, the business has become an important asset to the surrounding community through its support for bicycling and the benefits it brings.  REI-Princeton joins hundreds of leading businesses across the nations that are transforming their communities by creating more bicycle-friendly destinations and workplaces. The League congratulates Colin Manning and Liz Usmiani of REI-Princeton for taking the lead by encouraging staff to ride their bikes to work and actively engaging with local advocacy organizations such a New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Lawrence Hopewell Trail, and West Windsor Bike and Pedestrian Alliance, and Greater Mercer TMA; groups that working to make New Jersey a better place for all citizens.  ” said the League of American Bicyclists Board of Directors Chair, Karen Jenkins.

REI is one of the two businesses in Mercer County to receive recognition, and the only one to receive Gold level recognition from League of American Bicyclists and one of the 9 businesses who participated and logged their miles during the GMTMA Bike to Work Week event.  “At REI, we seek to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. REI Princeton is proud to have a staff that lives these values everyday by bicycle commuting throughout the year. We support the local cycling community by volunteering at charity bike rides, offering free bike maintenance classes and supporting multi-use trails through our community grant program. We are honored to receive the Employer Wheels Award from Greater Mercer TMA and Gold Bike Friendly Business designation from the League of American Bicyclists. We hope it inspires more people to get outside and ride.” said the REI Princeton Outdoor Programs and Outreach Market Coordinator, Liz Usmiani.

NJ Bike & Walk Coalition congratulated REI- Princeton on becoming a gold level Bicycle Friendly Business and for receiving the Employer Wheels Award from Greater Mercer TMA. “REI joins only three other businesses in the state in becoming a BFB.  REI has clearly demonstrated that bike commuting to the Mercer Mall is safe, efficient, fun and a healthy alternative to driving. NJBWC is proud to have REI as a sponsor and congratulates them for setting an example for other businesses near the Lawrence Hopewell Trail.” said Cyndi Steiner Executive Director, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition

Congratulations REI Princeton and keep it up!


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