Archive | May, 2011

Tis the Season…for Bad Air Quality

31 May

Today is an “Air Quality Action Day,” with a “Code Orange” alert. A Code Orange air quality alert means that air pollution concentrations within the region may become unhealthy for sensitive groups of people. They include children, people suffering from asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases, and the elderly.

Unfortunately, these air quality action days are a common occurrence in New Jersey during this time of year, and you’ll no doubt be hearing about this a lot on the news.

There are some things you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during these air quality alert days, including avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors, especially during mid-day.

Did you know that driving your car is the single largest contributor to ozone air pollution? To do your part to help improve air quality, you can:

  • Instead of driving, carpool, or take public transportation (use NJ Transit OzonePass, valid for travel on Air Quality Action Days — call NJ TRANSIT at 973.491.7600 for more info).
  • Telecommute, walk or ride your bike as much as possible.
  • If you must drive, avoid excessive idling or jack-rabbit starts, and try to consolidate errands.
  • Keep your car tuned up. The emissions from one un-tuned car equal those from 25 properly maintained cars.
  • Take your lunch. Or walk to a nearby restaurant – this reduces the number of vehicles on the road during the daylight hours.
  • Don’t refuel your car, or only do so after 7 pm.
  • Avoid using outboard motors, off-road vehicles, or other gasoline powered recreational vehicles.
  • Wait to mow your lawn until late evening or the next day and avoid using gas powered garden equipment.
  • Conserve energy to reduce energy needs. Set your air conditioner to a higher temperature.
  • Check the Air Quality forecast to see if tomorrow is going to be an Air Quality Action Day.

For more information about the Air Quality Index (AQI) or ‘Code ORANGE’ see: http://www.gmtma.org/system/assets/65/original/KNOW_YOUR_AQI.pdf?1305634466

 

New Pedestrian Safety Report from T4A

25 May

Transportion 4 America released a new report this week about pedestrian safety offering maps and rankings of who’s doing this right and how the worst places can improve. Pedestrian safety is something that often gets overlooked in the news cycle that is dominated by things like plane crashes, tornados, and disease, which is precisely why it is the kind of problem that society under-invests in. Here’s hoping this report, and others like it, draw some needed attention to the problems of pedestrian safety and badly-designed streets.

The 2011 edition of their pedestrian safety report looks back on the 47,000 people that were killed and 688,000 injured while walking our nation’s streets in the ten years from 2000-2009. Dangerous by Design 2011 examines the problem and several solutions for these mostly preventable deaths. The report includes a factsheet for all 50 states, including New Jersey, and shows that in the Garden State between 2000 and 2009, 1,514 people were killed while walking in New Jersey. These accidents cost the state $6.51 billion. The report notes that reducing pedestrian fatalities just 10% would have saved New Jersey $651.02 million over 10 years. New Jersey’s overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 53.2, which ranks 21st out of 50 states. Could be worse…but could be a lot better, too. In Mercer County, almost 20 percent of all traffic deaths were pedestrians.

The report also comes with a powerful visual: they have taken the pedestrian fatalities from 2001 to 2009 that have location data (all but about 5 percent) and plotted them on an interactive map, allowing you to take a look at the streets and roads near you to see how safe or unsafe they may be. Check it out here: http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011/map/. Type an address and once the map draws, click on any point to see the available information about the victim, the date, the location, the street type and even what the road looks like via Google Street View.

For a slideshow of the 10 deadliest pedestrian metro areas in the country, click here.

We’re Number Five!

24 May

According to new “bicycle friendliness” state rankings and grades just released by the League of American Bicyclists, a non-profit group that promotes the rights of cyclists, New Jersey is the fifth most bike-friendly state in the union, behind Washington, Maine, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (it’s interesting to see that all these states are certainly not what one would think of as places with bike-friendly weather). The complete list of state rankings can be found at bikeleague.org/states.

The League’s Bicycle Friendly America program evaluates not only states, but also communities, colleges, and businesses. The program is a great resource for groups to measure current conditions, to get recognion for their work and to receive hands-on assistance to create even more safe and welcoming places for cycling.

The latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities was just released a few weeks ago, to kick off Bike Month. Until this year, the Eastern United States has had very few silver-level Bicycle Friendly Communities and no gold‐level BFCs, but that’s beginning to change. In this latest round of awards, the League of American Bicyclists gave Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. silver BFC designations. The cities are now competing to be the first to earn gold.

If you’re interested in submitting an application for your business, university, or community, the application deadlines are coming soon:

With gas prices hovering around $4 per gallon, there is an increased interest in bicycling, but there is much work that needs to be done to make our bicycling environment safer. An estimated 51,000 bicyclists were injured in motor vehicles crashes and 630 were killed in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of adults who commute to work by bike jumped 44% from 2000 to 2009, according to the Census Bureau.

If you’d like help submitting an application for your bike friendly business, college, or community, email us at rhersh@gmtma.org, we’re happy to help.

We’re Extending Bike to Work Week!

23 May

We know. The weather last week was abysmal. Worst Bike to Work Week ever. So we’re extending our event until THIS Friday — Friday May 27 — to give everyone a chance to get out on their bikes at least once. No excuses, folks. And at the end of the week, log your miles with us by emailing us your final mileage tally for the two weeks at rhersh@gmtma.org. Keep on biking!

Spend Your Lunch Hour With Us at the Princeton Public Library

20 May

May 20, 12:15-2:00 pm, Princeton Public Library, First Floor Community Room

Through a variety of innovative planning, transportation, and parking strategies, Hoboken, New Jersey is rapidly transforming itself into one of the most bikeable and pedestrian-friendly municipalities in New Jersey. The consulting firm Civic Eye Collaborative recently produced a film that documents some of the strategies that have been implemented to reduce the need for automobile ownership, and to enhance and promote access to transit and other non-motorized transportation modes. The film shows how fundamental smart urban planning is to the quality of life of citizens, and how important these issues are to a town’s vitality and sustainability. After the movie, Ranjit Walia from Civic Eye Collaborative and Hoboken’s Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs will speak about the importance of community outreach and sustainable transportation, and help guide the audience through a “visual preference survey” to engage in a discussion about where, how, and if similar transportation strategies could work in our communities.

Refreshments — generously provided by our food and beverage sponsor,Witherspoon Bread Company –  will be served, and attendees will be eligible to participate in a free raffle!

Friday is the Last Day of Bike to Work Week

19 May

Tomorrow is the last day of Bike to Work Week — and it’s National Bike to Work Day — and it looks like the weather might not be too bad, so if you haven’t done so already, try to get on the bike tomorrow. Also, if you will be in the Princeton area at lunch time, please check out our free event at the Princeton Public Library! Info can be found here.

By biking to work tomorrow on National Bike to Work Day, you’ll save yourself $4 per gallon in gas costs while simultaneously reducing congestion, energy consumption and air pollution.

National bike commuter data, provided by the American Community Survey, supports that more Americans are biking to work – there has been a nationwide 44 percent increase over the past 10 years. Communities that have actively encouraged bicycling have seen even bigger increases, including those designated by the League of American Bicyclists as Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFCs). Platinum-level BFC Portland, Ore. has seen a 230 percent increase in bicycle commuters since 2000, their percentage holding steady at 5.8 percent of work trips, while 12.3 percent of citizens in Platinum BFC Boulder, Colo. ride every day. Other stand out BFC commuting cities include: Silver-level Gainesville, Fla. with 6.3 percent, and Gold-level Minneapolis, Minn.’s number of 3.9 percent commuting by bike daily. Statistics for more than 200 U.S. cities are available here. Trenton, the only GMTMA-region city on the list, has achieved bronze-level status.

Furthermore, the bicycle economy is booming in recent months — bike sales were up 9 percent in the last quarter. And there was an even bigger jump — 29 percent — in sales of road bikes, implying that people are using their bikes to commute. We don’t know if this is because of rising gas prices or a new commitment to healthier and more environmentally-friendly transportation choices, but it’s a good sign nonetheless.

So get on that bike tomorrow! And don’t forget to stop by the Princeton Public Library for some free food (thank you, Witherspoon Bread Company!) and great discussion about how to make our region more bike- and ped-friendly.

Free Movie on Friday at the Princeton Public Library!

18 May

To cap off the end of what is shaping up to be a rainy Bike to Work Week, GMTMA is hosting a terrific event at the Princeton Public Library on Friday at lunchtime, from 12:15-2pm. Please stop by, and RSVP to rhersh@gmtma.org.

*******

May 20, 12:15-2:00 pm, Princeton Public Library, First Floor Community Room

Through a variety of innovative planning, transportation, and parking strategies, Hoboken, New Jersey is rapidly transforming itself into one of the most bikeable and pedestrian-friendly municipalities in New Jersey. The consulting firm Civic Eye Collaborative recently produced a film that documents some of the strategies that have been implemented to reduce the need for automobile ownership, and to enhance and promote access to transit and other non-motorized transportation modes. The film shows how fundamental smart urban planning is to the quality of life of citizens, and how important these issues are to a town’s vitality and sustainability. After the movie, Ranjit Walia from Civic Eye Collaborative and Hoboken’s Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs will speak about the importance of community outreach and sustainable transportation, and help guide the audience through a “visual preference survey” to engage in a discussion about where, how, and if similar transportation strategies could work in our communities.

Refreshments — generously provided by our food and beverage sponsor, Witherspoon Bread Company —  will be served, and attendees will be eligible to participate in a free raffle!

Space is limited, please pre-register by emailing rhersh@gmtma.org.