Archive | March, 2011

Wheels of Change: The Bicycle’s Little-Known Role in Women’s Rights

30 Mar

“To men, the bicycle in the beginning was merely a new toy, another machine added to the long list of devices they knew in their work and play. To women, it was a steed upon which they rode into a new world,” – Munsey’s Magazine, 1896.

In honor of the conclusion of Women’s History Month, check out this Atlantic post on a new book —  Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)which tells the story of how the bicycle pedaled forward the emancipation of women in late-19th-century America and radically redefined the normative conventions of femininity. The book takes a look at women’s history from aboard a bicycle, which granted females the freedom of mobility and helped empower women’s liberation. The book covers early objections, influence on fashion, and impact on social change inspired by the bicycle, which, according to Susan B. Anthony, who said in 1896: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.”

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NJ Bike and Walk Conference: A Day of Inspiration

18 Mar

GMTMA was fortunate enough to be able to attend the inspiring and informative 2011 Bike & Walk Summit, hosted by the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition. The second New Jersey summit of its kind, the day’s presentations offered case studies, statistics, and stories of how to make our built environment more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly.

Keynote speaker John Pucher, a professor in urban planning and policy development at Rutgers University, spoke about the health, safety and obesity of the US cyclist/walker. he pointed out how far behind the US is from Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands in providing safe cycling and pedestrian safety and access.

“Women are an indicator species,” he began, pointing out that “women are especially sensitive to safety – more than men,” which explains why cycling in the U.S., which is not as safe as it should be, is an activity dominated by young males. “If you don’t see a lot of women cycling, then you’re not doing the right thing,” he added. He noted that fatality and injury rates are very high in the U.S., comparatively speaking, which is why women don’t ride here as much as they could. In Denmark, on the other hand, 55 percent of all bike trips are made by women.

His presentation demonstrated how other countries like Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands are far ahead of the U.S. in providing safe cycling and pedestrian access. His charts on health, safety and obesity showed that in comparison, the U.S. is lagging very far behind.

“It’s a matter of social justice: we need to make it safer and more convenient for any New Jerseyan,” to ride or walk, he said noting that in those European cities, neither “age, sex, skill level or dollars” prevent anyone from getting on a bicycle. What’s more, those countries give independence to the elderly, where over half of the trips by those 65 and over are by walking or cycling.

“Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands weren’t always so safe,” Pucher said. In the 1950’s and 1960’s there was a sizable decline in cycling because of the growth of the automobile. But since those countries adopted a purposeful policy to decrease their reliance on the almighty car and improve bike/ walk facilities, “there has been an 80 percent decrease in cycling fatalities,” he noted.

What’s more, the experience of those cities show that “as levels of cycling increases, injury and fatality rates per trip and per kilometer travel fall dramatically.” Conversely, injuries and fatalities in the U.S. are much higher per bike trip taken, he noted.

He pointed out the lack of a safe bicycling and walking infrastructure on his home turf, New Brunswick. Pucher, who gets around exclusively by bicycle and on foot, often does so at his own peril. He cited multiple intersections and areas where poor design and shoddy law enforcement means that cars almost never stop for walker and bikers, even in crosswalks.

Pucher also pointed out the “best pedestrian crossing in New Brunswick,” where flashing lights embedded in the sidewalk, cross hatching, and a raised area demarcating the crossing made it obvious that cars had to stop. “Twenty percent of cars went through anyway,” he said, “but WOW, if we could get more crosswalks like that, I would be very, very happy.”

If you didn’t make the Summit, take a look at some of the presentations here; John Pucher’s keynote presentation can be found here: http://www.njbike.org/images/pucher-presentation.pdf

Bicycle Commuters, by County

16 Mar

An interactive map, fueled by data from the American Community Survey, shows all of the U.S. counties color-coded by the percentage of bicycle commuters.  The lightest color represents places where less than 0.1 percent commute by bicycle, and the darkest color represents places with 10% or more. You can also click on a county to find out the number of people who walk, take transit or drive alone.

The American Community Survey is an annual count that replaced the Census Long Form, the results of which were released in 2001. The ACS became official in 2005 and thus 2009 was the first year that they were able to release a five-year data set. The five year report is a sample that is large enough to drill down the commute to work data to the Census Tract level as well as every county in the U.S.

The county with the highest percentage of bicycle commuters was Gunnison County, Colorado, where an impressive 10.2% of all commuters travel to work by bicycle. Mercer County performs better than most of the rest of New Jersey, although being in the “0.5% – 1.0%” category means that there is still considerable room for improvement on our home turf.

State-by-State Bicycling and Walking Information

16 Mar

The Pedestrian and Bicycling Information Center (PBIC) has a new resource on its website that provides state-by-state resources on walking and bicycling where you can learn about programs, plans, and laws in any state in the country.

PBIC’s new interactive tool allows you to select a location to acquire state-specific bicycling and walking information, including:

  • Bicycling laws
  • State, local and regional plans
  • Bike maps
  • Case studies and success stories
  • State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator contact information

Visit http://www.walkinginfo.org/states to access this new resource.

PBIC is a national clearinghouse for information about health and safety, engineering, advocacy, education, enforcement, access, and mobility for pedestrians (including transit users) and bicyclists. The PBIC serves anyone interested in pedestrian and bicycle issues, including planners, engineers, private citizens, advocates, educators, police enforcement, and the health community.

Win a Free Bike!

15 Mar

All you have to do is buy a ticket online to The New Amsterdam Bicycle Show online and automatically be entered in The New Amsterdam/New Bicycle Giveaway! The event will take place April 30, 2011, at Chelsea’s new cultural venue Center 548 from 10 am to 7 pm, and will kick off Bike Month NYC 2011.
The New Amsterdam Bicycle Show will feature more than 33,000 square feet of unique bikes and accessories over three huge floors and is geared to promote “the alternative transportation lifestyle” to the ever-growing number of New York City cyclists. Transportation Alternatives recently estimated 201,000 New Yorkers were riding each day in 2010.

The show will benefit Transportation Alternatives, the advocacy group dedicated to reclaiming the city’s streets from automobiles. TA representatives will be on hand to provide valet bicycle parking to guests as well as safe and useful bicycling tips for new New York City cyclists.

 

New Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Guide

15 Mar

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has just released a new publication, Bicycle and Pedestrian Curricula Guide: Making the Case for Bicycle and Pedestrian Youth Education, which is designed to give Safe Routes to School practitioners, teachers, school administrators, and others the necessary background information to understand the benefits of teaching bicycle and pedestrian education in the classroom, and to provide these audiences with easy access to curricula.

Created through a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the guide is into descriptive categories that will help in choosing the right curriculum for specific classroom needs.

For more information, visit www.saferoutespartnership.org.

Is Your Company a New Jersey Smart Workplace?

14 Mar

Is your company a New Jersey Smart Workplace?

Do you go the extra mile to help your employees get to work? Do you sponsor programs that help reduce traffic and improve air quality? Do you offer high-quality commuter benefits, such as transit information, traffic alerts, free or low cost bus passes, strong telecommuting programs, carpooling matching, vanpool subsidies, or other services? Do you reward employees who walk or bike to work?

If you provide some of these opportunities, the answer might be yes. And if so, the Greater Mercer TMA encourages you to apply for the New Jersey Smart Workplaces program here: http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/njsw/application.shtm.

Qualified employers will receive awards at GMTMA’s Annual Luncheon in October 2011, but the application deadline is April 15, 2011. A NJDOT statewide press release announcing the awardees will be released in the spring.

New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) recognizes and honors organizations and individuals who help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by providing commuter benefits to employees. The program is a voluntary partnership of participating employers, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), NJ TRANSIT and the state’s Transportation Management Associations (TMA).

NJDOT recognizes participants by designating them platinum, gold, silver and bronze awardees.

Questions? Please feel free to contact GMTMA at rhersh@gmtma.org, or 609- 452-1491.