Celebrate Car Free Day with GMTMA

18 Sep

September 22 is Car Free Day; an international event celebrated every year to encourage people to get Car Free or Car-Lite. You can walk, bike, take the transit, carpool, vanpool, or telecommute. As long as you don’t drive alone, you can participate in the Car Free Day event.

Look at it this way; you have to get to work, and you want to get your 30 min exercise anyway, why not combine them? Walk, Bike, take transit, carpool and go for a walk during lunch, telecommute and go for a walk/bike during lunch…you get the idea. You want to go green, you know it!  Take the pledge.

 

There are no medals or special recognition, we won’t make you attend special award ceremonies if you take the pledge, but we think this will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside!  You can do it all week, a few days, or just one day on September 22.  And if you are already Car Free or Car-Lite, please brag about it – take the pledge.

We will enter all the participants in a drawing for a token of appreciation – a bike commuter kit, complete with helmet, lights, water bottle, and reflective items.

Be part of a global movement to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. It counts, even for a day.

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West Windsor Joins State Safety Campaign to Reduce Pedestrian-Motor Vehicle Crashes

12 Sep

 

“Street Smart NJ” targets speed, distractedness and safety awareness for motorists and pedestrians

The Street Smart campaign kicked-off  today, Tuesday September 12, with earlier safety campaign efforts already being conducted by the West Windsor police through a Highway Traffic and Safety State Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Education & Education Fund Grant. At the event Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh emphasized the importance of understanding the laws and Chief Robert Garofalo reinforced the West Windsor Police commitment to keeping the community safe. Greater Mercer TMA executive director, Cheryl Kastrenakes, was also present at the event and recognized West Windsor’s commitment to motorist and pedestrian safety.

The Street Smart NJ campaign is a collaborative effort between public, private and non-profit organizations. Local police will be working with Greater Mercer TMA to educate the public on motorist and pedestrian safety laws through the end of October.

 

The campaign comes at a significant time. New Jersey is ranked 6th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities, according to 2014 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The federal government has designated New Jersey a “focus” state – placing an extra emphasis on aiding the state in combating its higher-than-average pedestrian fatality rate and providing funding for this campaign.

During September and October street signs, posters, tip cards and other educational materials will be visible throughout the community.  The campaign’s partners will also be using social media in an effort to raise additional awareness about its pedestrian safety efforts.

“We’ll be interacting with motorists to make sure they know and obey the law and stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk,” said Chief Robert Garofalo. “We’ll also be reminding pedestrians to use crosswalks, cross at intersections and use the pedestrian signal buttons when available.”

Officers will also address speeding and distracted driving and walking, which often contribute to crashes involving pedestrians.

Pedestrian safety is an ongoing challenge in New Jersey. Pedestrian deaths accounted for 28.7 percent of all crash related fatalities in New Jersey from 2011 through 2015, nearly double the national average of 15 percent.  From 2011 through 2015 772 pedestrians died as a result of pedestrian-vehicle crashes, according to the most recent data available from the New Jersey State Police. That translates into one death every 2.4 days.  In the past three years West Windsor has had 24 pedestrian involved motor vehicle collisions.

The statewide Street Smart NJ campaign is managed by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and began in 2013. The campaign urges pedestrians and motorists to “Check Your Vital Signs” to improve safety on the road. Motorists are urged to obey the speed limit and stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Pedestrians are told to use crosswalks and wait for the walk signal where applicable. A “Heads Up, Phone Down” message is included in the campaign to combat distracted driving and walking.

Businesses, organizations and individuals interested in helping to promote the Street Smart NJ message in West Windsor, should contact Greater Mercer TMA at 609-452-1491. To learn more about the campaign, visit gmtma.org/street-smart. The campaign is also on Facebook (facebook.com/gmtma/) and Twitter (@gmtma).

Where Can You Find EV Chargers In NJ ?

8 Sep

In a post from November of last year, we talked about the NJ electric vehicles incentives and how the state is working to increase the number of chargers available to reduce “range anxiety.”

As a reminder, there is a $7,500 federal tax credit for drivers of All-electric or Hybrid Plug-in vehicles. For companies in NJ wishing to upgrade their facilities, there is over $725,000 in grants in the “It Pay$ to Plug-In” program.

As for availability of chargers, here is some of the info we have found:

Earth911.com compiled a list of websites and apps that can help you find an EV charger and some of these apps and websites even specify the level of charging available.  Here are the links to these apps and websites: Plugshare and Open Charge Map

We also found and tested Chargehub.com (caption below), which gives you the option to locate chargers by zip code, details on whether the chargers are public, whether they are fast charging, and what are the costs.

Caption: chargehub.com

And if you are out of charge and nowhere near a charger, AAA can provide Level 2 and Level 3 roadside charging assistance. You can also ask your insurance company if they offer roadside charging assistance.

There are three types of electric vehicle charging equipment:

Level 1 charging takes 8 to 12 hours to charge a depleted battery completely and provides charging through a 120 V, AC plug. This charger is usually found in owner’s home and requires a connector.

Level 2 charging takes 4-6 hours to completely charge and provides charging through a 240 V, AC plug. Compatible with all electric and hybrid vehicles, it has a cord that plugs directly into the vehicle. You are likely to find one in public parking areas and commercial settings.

Level 3 charging provides an 80% charge in 30 minutes, and it is not compatible with all vehicles.

Level 3 Tesla Supercharger only works for Tesla Model S and provides half a charge in 20 minutes.

For more details, go to evtown.org.

Let us know if you have any questions about Electric vehicles, chargers, or if you want to share your experience with one.

 

Sources:

http://earth911.com/eco-tech/transportation/3-must-have-apps-for-locating-electric-vehicle-charging-stations/

https://chargehub.com/en/charging-stations-map.html

https://chargehub.com/en/

https://www.chargepoint.com/products/station-incentives/

http://www.evtown.org/about-ev-town/ev-charging/charging-levels.html

Start September with 5 Commuting Updates and Useful Information

1 Sep

 

  • NJ Transit restores full service. Phase One of Amtrak’s track renewal project is complete and NJ Transit will restore full service to and from Penn Station New York, starting September 5, 2017.  The alternate travel options, cross-honoring, and discounted fares will no longer be in effect after this date.  Cross-honoring with private bus carriers, NY Waterways, and Path will end on September 2, 3:00 AM.  New rail schedules are expected to take effect on September 5, 2017 and are available at njtransit.com. The freeB Commuter and Bank of America shuttle schedule changes will be available at gmtma.org starting September 2, 2017.
  • Avoid back to school traffic by carpooling. Check out the largest ridesharing network and register for FREE at njrideshare.org. After you register, sign up for the emergency ride home with your local TMA. Mercer and Ocean county residents can go to gmtma.org.
  • How to save about $2,000/year when you commute? Pack your lunch. Here are some lunch recipe ideas to keep your lunch box and your wallet happy.
  • Speaking of saving money, what’s up with the E-Zpass NJ-NY controversy?  Some commuters with E-ZPasses issued by other agencies other than MTA and travelling into NY were surprised to see they were not receiving a discount and were charged cash rates. MTA have a disclaimer on their website ( “E-ZPass rates apply only to customer tags issued by a New York E-ZPass Customer Service Center (CSC), including MTA Bridges and Tunnels, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York State Thruway Authority, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (Peace Bridge), and New York State Bridge Authority. Non-NY CSC customers will pay cash or Toll by Mail rates. Anyone, regardless of residency, can apply for a New York Customer Service Center-issued E-ZPass tag”) informing customers of this, but as it were the case, many NJ commuters were not aware of this because they purchased their passes with other agencies.  So, it looks like if you are commuting into NY from NJ, having an E-Zpass issued by MTA can save you money.  Transit, carpooling and vanpooling will save you even more.
  • NJ Transit cops are now wearing body cams when on patrol. According to an interview given to nj.com, an NJ Transit official said the cameras “will provide more transparency” and “de-escalate situations, minimize confrontation, and reduce civilian complaint.”

Enjoy the long weekend and be safe!

 

Sources:

http://www.njtransit.com/sf/sf_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=TrainTo

https://www.themuse.com/advice/52-creative-and-easy-lunch-ideas-thatll-make-your-coworkers-jealous

http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2017/08/how_to_save_money_during_the_e-zpass_border_war.html

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Enforcement Campaign

25 Aug

The National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) launched the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” national campaign on August 16, and the campaign will continue until September 4, 2017. 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 credit: nj.gov

 

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 are saying this every year, 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

18 Aug

It is that time of the year again! Schools in our area are starting classes on September 5. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.

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

Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

 

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 busier intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
  • Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school. Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk 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.

And drivers should lookout for children, slow down, obey speed limits in school zones and be prepared to stop for school buses.

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.

Meet Wally Walker and Becky Biker

11 Aug

As the NJ Department of Transportation’s designated regional coordinator for Safe Routes to School efforts, Greater Mercer TMA works to keep children in Mercer and Ocean counties healthy by encouraging them to stay active through walking and biking to school and offering safety education.

Throughout the years GMTMA has promoted walking and biking with a variety of programming; safety presentations, bookmark contests, walk and bike to school events, bike rodeos, a walking school bus app (available here), and other events.

This year we have enlisted the help of two characters that will join our “staff,” Wally Walker and Becky Biker. They recently had their debut at the Jackson Library where a kindergarten audience had the chance to meet the crew up close and color in their own Wally to take on adventures.  Wally and Becky join us on screen too during our presentations.  The students get to follow Wally and Becky on their trip to school, teaching safety lessons along the way.

Wally and Becky will also be the main characters in our new walk and bike activity booklet. A cut-out version of Wally, included in the booklet, encourages kids to take a walk with Wally and write about it.  We can’t wait to hear about their adventures!

If you are interested in hosting a safety presentation or a walk and bike to school event, please contact our SRTS coordinators.