Mobility As A Question Of Equality

24 Jul

In this TED talk Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogota, speaks about mobility and why buses represent democracy in action. Although he talks mostly about mobility in developing countries, it is hardly an issue limited to developing countries. It is something every country should consider seriously in the future.

Peñalosa says that mobility gets worse as societies get richer, and it becomes a question of equality. The definition of an “advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport.”

Road space is a valuable resource for a city, and it is important for a city to distribute it equally. It is important for all modes of transportation to share resources and the way Bogota solved the problem was to implement, lanes for buses, dedicated bike lanes, and sidewalks. A mass transit system where buses enjoy their dedicated lanes and zoom by cars stuck in traffic.

Protected bicycle lanes are considered a right. Being able to bike without the risk of being killed is a “powerful symbol of democracy because it shows that citizen on a $30 bike is equally important as one in a $30,000 car.”

Also, Peñalosa refers to walking as a need and says that:  “In terms of transport infrastructure, what really makes a difference between advanced and backward cities is not highways or subways but quality sidewalks.”

According to Peñalosa in developing countries more than 80% of the cities will be built in the next 4 or 5 decades. But this massive development is not limited only to developing countries.  The US alone will build more than 70 million homes in the same time frame.

He considers the current road space sharing model unsustainable and before building these cities, the relationship between pedestrians and cars has to be reconsidered. Cities that give priority to people rather than cars; cities that protect all individuals need to be built.

Peñalosa speaks based on the measures he implemented in his city, and he admits it was not easy. He proposes a few solutions and urges countries to think of these solutions when considering the next wave of massive city development.

Listen to his TED talk to find out about his work and what solutions he proposes for the future.

Let us know what you think and as always if you have a blog post you would like to share please contact us. You could be our next guest  blogger.

Meet Our Sustainable Transportation Coordinator

17 Jul

In this week’s blog post we would like to welcome and introduce our newest staff member, Ian Henderson. He is GMTMA’s Sustainable Transportation Coordinator and one of the Safe Routes to School Coordinators.

Ian

Here are some of the things Ian told us about himself:

What attracted you to this job?

I was especially interested that it involved green transportation, a field that combines my planning and environmental interests. Also, as a lifelong Mercer County resident, I jumped at the opportunity to help change the local community.

Why is transportation important for you?

Mobility. As an out of state student in Pittsburgh, I did not have a car. I relied on buses and light rail to get around.

What is a favorite thing about your job?

I really enjoy all of the creative presentations, tools, games, and other activities designed to reach students and the community at large.

What motivates you to want to change the way people commute?

There are direct health benefits involved with cleaner air and less traffic. Who doesn’t want less congestion on the roadways?

Where do you stand on the climate change debate? Do you believe climate change is real?

Yes. As an Environmental Studies major at the University of Pittsburgh, I had several science classes address the issue with an abundance of evidence.

What is your favorite book?

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

What is your favorite movie?

Batman: The Dark Knight or Apollo 13

What was the best moment of your life?

It is difficult to point to one moment. Some notable- I started my high school’s juggling club, I got to see a college energy-conservation dorm competition I designed come to fruition, family Christmas, college basketball fan section during a triple overtime, and U.S. Space Camp in elementary school.

Favorite transportation/commuting story

One summer, I had to commute to an office park just outside of downtown Pittsburgh. My bus route included a ride through the University of Pittsburgh campus, the core of downtown, right past PNC Park and Heinz Field and across the yellow Fort Pitt Bridge. I had a spectacular view of the “Golden Triangle” twice on a daily basis.

Favorite commuting app/gadget

The MyRadar app has a constantly-updating weather radar screen for the country. Also the “NJ Train Schedule” app is nice to have on hand.

What else would you like to do if you would not be working in transportation?

I would work to increase sustainability within business operations or supply chain.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve played piano for years. I like to go to live concerts or sports. I also really enjoy film, both classic and current.

Welcome Ian and we are happy to have you!

Is Today Air Quality Day?

10 Jul

Starting mid-May through the beginning of September, there is a greater chance of having an Air Quality Action Day (we had a couple days in June already). Air Quality Action Days are declared when the ozone and particulate matter in the air reaches levels that are Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) or higher. A Code Orange means that people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone and the presence of particles in the air.

AIQ

According to airnow.org, exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone can have serious health effects. It can irritate the respiratory system, airway irritation, throat soreness and coughing, and chest tightness. It also affects lung function making it difficult to breath.

Children exposed to high levels of ozone are more likely to suffer aggravated asthma symptoms, asthma attacks, inflammation and lung tissue damage, even permanent lung damage.

Most people are not adversely affected by the conditions, but it is good to be cautious and make sure children playing outdoors are not having trouble breathing and that seniors have a place to go where there is air conditioning.

If you are wondering why this happens, the answer is pollution. And transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution in New Jersey, responsible for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.  (http://www.nj.gov/dep/sage/ce-ggi.html)

What can you do to reduce the level of pollution?

First, the less you drive and the cleaner and a more efficient vehicle you drive the less air pollution you create.  Carpooling, vanpooling, taking public transit, combining trips, and driving fewer miles can help curb the level of emissions. GMTMA can help you find alternate commuting solutions and even create a personalized transportation plan. You can find out more at gmtma.org

Second, don’t idle, turn of your engine if stopped for more than 10 seconds, to avoid CO2 emissions and getting a ticket.

Third, check AIQ Index and see if it is an Air Quality Action Day. There are other things you can do on Air Quality Days to help the air; you can find a cheat sheet here.

To receive Air Quality Action Day Alerts by email go here or follow us on Twitter @gmtma for timely updates.

Fourth of July Holiday Travel Options and AAA Travel Report

2 Jul

The 2015 AAA report estimates that 41.9 million people will be traveling during the July 4th weekend, a slight increase from last year.  Gas prices are still lower than in previous years and many of these people, over 80%, will be travelling by car. AAA also estimates a large number of people will be opting for air travel and public transit.  During this 4th of July holiday public transit comes with many choices and special deals for those planning a getaway or just seeing the fireworks.

AAA Infographic

Infographic credit: AAA

Check out some of these options for your holiday travel:

  • NJ Transit offers bus and train passes to the Jersey Shore, schedules and details available here
  • NJ Transit early Getaway schedule available here
  • NJ Transit service to Macy’s Fireworks on the Hudson River is available here
  • Amtrak Getaway offers available here
  • Amtrak also offers a number of special scheduled trains for those who want to see the July 4th Fireworks in NYC and Philadelphia available here
  • Septa’s late night schedule is available here
  • Path will be operating on a Saturday schedule, details available here

Bike shares are another way to get around in places like NYC, Princeton, and Philadelphia, and available in the following places:

Car-share options:

A great tool for anyone traveling, our traffic alerts for Mercer County and Ocean County  are always available at www.gmtma.org  and can be accessed on your mobile device (just not while you are driving).

If you didn’t make any plans yet, here is what’s happening in Mercer County  and in Ocean County.

Stay safe and enjoy your Holiday Weekend!

Bike to Work Week 2015 Findings, Concerns, and Suggestions for Improvement

26 Jun

As we promised last week, here are some of the findings from this year’s Bike to Work Week event.

We asked our riders where do they usually ride and interesting to find out that while fitness and recreation seems to be the most popular reason for biking, commuting to work was the second most popular reason. Here is the breakdown:

58.71% of the total participants listed Commuting to Work, 72% percent of the total participants also listed Fitness and Recreation, 48% percent of the participants also listed Social Activities among other rides, and 43% also listed Errands and Shopping.

We asked our Bike to Work  registrants about their concerns and suggestions for what type of improvements are needed:

What most influences your decision to ride your bicycle for any given trip?

Most influence

What is your primary concern when deciding to ride your bike?

Primary concern

 

We also asked our Bike to Work registrants if there was a specific improvement they would like to see. Some of the specific concerns are listed below:

Alexander Road could be made safer for bicyclists.
Alexander Road is terrifying! Even this morning a vehicle tried to run me off the road!  Not to mention the dangerous pot holes.  Also the light at Alexander/Bear Brooke/Vaughn remains dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians as motorists continue to turn right on red and make left turns into folks in the crosswalk! 
More bike lanes/sharrows or signage to make drivers pay attention to cyclists.
Pass a 3-foot law for cars passing bikes that doesn’t penalize drivers for crossing the center line.
Make Rt. 206 bike friendly between Trenton and Princeton.
Improved sight-lines on Scudders Mill – Rt 1 overpass from the multi-use path especially the N bound U-turn lane.
Upgrade towpath or bike lane connections through Ewing and Trenton.
Widen Lower Harrison St Princeton between Lake Carnegie and Rt 1.
Some kind of bicycle accommodation along Route 27Employer entrance gates should be made bike friendly.
Safer intersection at Ingleside and Washington-Crossing Pennington Road (traffic light).
Improved road conditions!  Even where there are specific bike lanes the road conditions are poor due to potholes debris in bike lane etc.
In Plainsboro addition of a bike/ped path on the Schalks Crossing bridge over the railroad tracks separated from traffic by a concrete barrier. The bridge would need to be widened.  A nearby example in Plainsboro of a “good” bridge is the Scudders Mill bridge over the railroad tracks.
Improvement of CR518 between Hopewell Borough and Montgomery Township.
Finish the paths to nowhere.
Bike lanes on Alexander Road.
Safe way to cross Route 1.
Showers at work!!!
Just one?! Shower at work.  Bike lanes on urban arterials. 

As we can see there is more work to do to make our communities more bike-friendly and for bike commuters to feel safe.  Clearly marked bike lanes, signage and feeling safe are the biggest concerns cited by our riders.

Even so, people enjoy riding their bikes and find a way to get on their bike. These are just a few of the comments that riders have shared after completing their Bike to Work Week rides:

Great challenge.  I need to do it more often!

Great to be able to bike to the train station. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was great to see so many people biking.

My family bikes everywhere work school grocery shopping for fun… Thanks for organizing this program to raise awareness for bicycling!

I ride to work each day of the year even in snow.  If too icy I walk the bike.  It is the only way to go! 

I saw a number of new commuters out this week hope to see them after this week as well.

I usually live in Sweden and always bike to work every part of the year. So I do the same here. I wouldn’t feel good otherwise.

And finally an exciting encounter with nature, but that didn’t stop this rider from enjoying the ride and the great weather

I got goosed by a goose! A momma goose hissed and honked at me when I rode a bunch of big and little geese. Then she flapped her wings and flew right into my bike helmet. After that a tree was blocking the path. But the weather was perfect all week and the flowers were beginning to bloom and the air smelled like new flowers.

As always, let us know what you think, contact us  if you have a story you would like to share, or if you have anything to add to these findings.

 

GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week and Photo Contest Winners

19 Jun

A big thank you to everyone who rode their bike to work during GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week challenge this year! In just one week you eliminated 300 car trips and rode over 1800 miles!

While many people that registered for bike to work week do regularly or occasionally ride their bike to work, 15% of our bike to work registrants were first-time bike to work riders. Sixty percent of these new riders were women.  Some could not bike to work but chose to swap an errand typically done by car with a bike ride. Cargo bikes proved to be great for running errands and grocery shopping.

33% of the participants that reported their rides for the week, rode to work five times, 23% rode three times, and 8% ride their bike seven days.

The longest commute by bike was 32 miles/day which adds up to 160 miles per week and five people reported more than 100 miles rode in a week.

This year’s participation by gender:

gender

The incentive to ride was great this year, besides the great weather, we had 25 prizes to give out thanks to our generous sponsors:

Hart’s CycleryMcCaffrey’s SupermarketWhole Earth CenterKopp’s CycleSt. Lawrence RehabREISourland CyclesHalter’s Cyclery,Knapps CycleryWhole Foods Market (Princeton) and NJ Bike Tours.

The prizes ranged from Trenton Thunder tickets, $25, $50 and $100 dollars gift cards to helmets and bike tune-ups.

The winners are: Jenny M., Deniz D., Robert W., Sharon H., Sena V., Jim S., Christian J., Marc B., Sam B., David B., Vanshaj B., Daniel W., Chris S., Elizabeth M., Joseph K., Charles K., Michael L., Philip C., Ellen F., Ken M., Jenny G., Ted B., and Edwin S.

The Bike to Work Week Team Challenge prize goes to a group of four riders from Maser Consulting.

Maser Consulting Team

Maser Consulting Team

The Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner is Deniz D.

Who needs a car on a beautiful spring day? We are a car-free family. You ask if that is even possible in New Jersey? It sure is and we love it! Here’s a classic example of a resourceful bicycle moment: my wife managed to get an entire piece of plywood home (cut to fit in our daughter’s chariot, yet just the right length for our project). But if that wasn’t enough, she stopped to pick up a watermelon along the way. The best part was the proud smile on her face when she got back home!

-Deniz D.

Kudos to Deniz and his family and thank you for the great picture!

GMTMA Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner

GMTMA Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner

And as one of the riders said: “It’s not over yet!!   The more I ride the more I enjoy my bike! Thanks for the extra push on my spring and summer riding. “

We hope this was an incentive to get you started and you will keep biking every chance you get.

Don’t forget to join us for the next Bike to Work Week Challenge!

Until then send us your stories or join us as a guest blogger.

We will follow up with a post about all the suggestions we received to make our communities more bike friendly.

National Safety Month Tips

12 Jun

June is National Safety Month and the focus this year, among other things, is on learning more about transportation safety.

Car crashes are still the leading cause of unintentional death in US but we can change that if we take steps to ensure safety.

To begin, don’t be an aggressive driver! More than half of all traffic fatalities are the result of aggressive driving.  Bring your patience along on every trip!  For signs of aggressive driving go here .

Don’t use your cell phone while you’re driving.  Doing other activities while driving – like texting or eating – distracts you and increases your chance of crashing. Almost 1 in 5 crashes (17%) that injured someone involved distracted driving.

Get enough rest and do not drive until you know how certain medications might affect you. Drowsy driving leads to more than 1500 people being killed each year.

nhtsa.gov

nhtsa.gov

If your teen just started driving take them to practice driving once a week, limit night time driving, and limit the number of passengers in their car. A great resource for parents of teen drivers  can be found here.

Other transportation safety tips to consider:

Car Seat Safety – Here is a checklist of things to consider when installing a car seat.

Never leave your children or your pets in a hot car – The temperature inside a car can get close to the temperature of a hot oven. Even if you are just running into a store for a few minutes, take your child or pet with you! A list of tips on how to avoid that can be found here.

Brakes Safety Carcare.org is advising us to look for the following signs that might indicate something is wrong with the brakes:

Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.

Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.

Low Pedal: brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.

Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.

Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.

Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.

Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

With more and more people switching to bikes for their transportation needs, it is important to keep in mind the following bike safety tips:

  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

Enjoy your summer and be safe!

Other sources: healthfinder.gov, http://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 761 other followers