Archive | September, 2011

Buy a Bike on Saturday, Get a FREE Helmet

14 Sep

If you’re in the market for a good used bike, this Saturday afternoon September 17 from 12-3 is a great time to get one because the Greater Mercer TMA will give you a FREE helmet. That’s right, free. If you come by the Trenton Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange between 12 and 3, GMTMA will be there distributing bicycle safety information and giving away free bike helmets and reflective straps to anyone who purchases a bike!

The Trenton Bike Exchange has a large selection of good quality, low cost used bikes for all bicyclists of any age, from occasional weekend rider to serious road rider.  All bikes are reconditioned and are ready to ride.  You can ride the bike before you purchase.

The Trenton Exchange is located in the Capitol Plaza Shopping Center at 1500 N. Olden Avenue in Ewing, NJ, (near Lawrenceville and Trenton). The Exchange is 8 miles from Princeton and easily accessable by NJ Transit bus number 606.

The Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange is an all volunteer effort that collects, condtions and sells used bikes from its shops in Newark and Trenton. The mission of the Bike Exchange is to provide a source of low cost quality bikes for families and individuals in Mercer County and Newark. The Exchange also accepts donated bikes which are reconditioned and sold by volunteers. For more info on the Bike Exchange, visit their website: http://www.bikeexchangenj.org/.

There’s no time like the present to get a great new used bike, and if you do it on Saturday from 12-3, you’ll get a free helmet too.

Questions about the free helmets? Contact GMTMA’s Transportation Program Manager Rebecca Hersh at rhersh@gmtma.org.

Hope to see you Saturday!

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West Windsor Wins Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community Award!

14 Sep

Hearty congratulations are in order for the Township of West Windsor, which received a “Bronze” level Bicycle Friendly Community award today from the League of American Bicyclists. This is the first time a New Jersey municipality received such an honor. West Windsor’s years of hard work has certainly paid off, and their new award is well deserved.

The League of American Bicyclists is a non-profit group dedicated to promoting the rights of cyclists. This past spring they ranked New Jersey the fifth-most bike-friendly state in the union, behind Washington, Maine, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The complete list of state rankings can be found at bikeleague.org/states. The League’s Bicycle Friendly America program evaluates states, 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.

Until recently, 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.

Wondering if your community is bike-friendly? Fill out this questionnaire and find out.

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.

Walking School Bus Program Increases Children’s Physical Activity

13 Sep

Not that you need any more reasons to get a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program started in your community, but here’s one more: In a study of fourth-graders at eight elementary schools in the Houston Independent School District, researchers at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine found that students who participated in a Walking School Bus program had increased rates of walking to school and increased daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. The report appears in the current issue of Pediatrics.

“In the United States, children are not meeting the minimum goal of one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on most days of the week,” said Dr. Jason Mendoza, assistant professor of pediatrics-nutrition at BCM. “One of the ways that has been promising for improving children’s physical activity is getting them to walk or bike to school.”

In the ’70s, 42 percent of children in the United States used to walk or bike to school. As of 2009, this was down to a paltry 13 percent. Meanwhile, childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing, and decreased physical activity is thought to be one of the major factors in this public health problem.

Researchers will now look at the impact of the Walking School Bus program over a longer period of time and in a larger sample of schools, and will incorporate Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations to measure overweight and obesity. They will also implement a similar “bicycle train” program to measure the effects it has on physical activity in children.

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is designed to address these issues head on. At its heart, the SRTS Program empowers communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity once again. The Program makes funding available for a wide variety of programs and projects, from building safer street crossings to establishing programs that encourage children and their parents to walk and bicycle safely to school.

The goal of New Jersey’s Safe Routes to School Program is to assist New Jersey communities in developing and implementing projects and programs that encourage walking and bicycling to school while enhancing the safety of these trips. These programs can bring a wide range of benefits to students and the community. These include an easy way for children to get the regular physical activity they need for good health and even to ease traffic jams and reduce pollution around schools. A major goal of the program is to increase bicycle, pedestrian and traffic safety. Successful Safe Routes to School programs in the United States usually includes one or more of these approaches: engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement.

The Greater Mercer TMA is the local SRTS coordinator for Mercer and Ocean counties in New Jersey. If you’re interested in learning more about SRTS in your community, please contact GMTMA’s SRTS Coordinator Rebecca Hersh at rhersh@gmtma.org.

Celebrate Walk to School Day on October 5!

9 Sep
Communities and schools can encourage kids to walk and bike to school and help change community culture and create environments that are more inviting for everyone, young and old. Walking and biking to school enhances kids’ health, improves air quality, and makes our sidewalks and roadways safer for all users.
Schools in Mercer and Ocean Counties can partner with GMTMA on October 5 to promote pedestrian safety by taking part in National Walk to School Day.  Walk to School Day is the ideal opportunity to encourage parents and students to view walking as a healthy and fun alternative to being driven to school.  Registration is now open for schools interested in participating in Walk to School Day 2011.  By registering, organizers are given access to free downloadable materials including event ideas, certificates and customizable flyers.
You can also win a win a Walk to School Day Safety Kit for your school if you “like” Safe Kids USA’s Facebook page and sign up on their Facebook page. The first 100 to sign up daily will win a Walk to School Day Safety Kit for their school, worth more than $200! You can also download free Walk to School Safety E-Kits and Pedestrian Safety Tip Sheets on their Facebook page.
For assistance in getting an Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program started or organizing an event, contact Rebecca Hersh, GMTMA’s Safe Routes to School Project Manager at rhersh@gmtma.org.

Share a Car, Get Rid of Your Own

8 Sep

According to a recent article in ACCESS: The Magazine of the University of California Transportation Center, we now have an official study that shows what many people have suspected and anecdotally observed to be true: that car sharing leads to the reduction of personal vehicles owned. When someone joins a car sharing network, they often get rid of their personal vehicle.

The UCTC study surveyed 6,281 households that were part of car sharing networks, and found that households owned 2,968 vehicles before car sharing, or 0.47 vehicles per household. After car sharing, the group owned 1,507 vehicles, or 0.24 vehicles per household. That’s a decent sized reduction.

Additionally, people who join car sharing networks often times don’t own cars of their own to begin with — 60 percent of people who join car sharing networks already don’t own cars. So the ownership reduction mentioned above is actually larger than it looks.

Cars in car sharing networks are also more fuel efficient than the average automobile, since car sharing companies like Zipcar commonly bundle in fuel with the fees. The UCTC study found that the average car that was ditched for car sharing got 23 mpg, while cars in car sharing networks get an average 33 mpg.

As we mentioned in this blog in December, Hoboken is one of New Jersey’s premiere car-sharing communities and is doing a lot of work to encourage residents to live a greener and less gridlocked life with a wide range of programs, including its Corner Cars car sharing program and a Zipcar car sharing program.

On the Move readers, where in the Mercer/Ocean region would you like to see car-share programs? In which communities do you think it could work? Would you enroll in a car-share program? And if so, would you give up your own car?

Let Your Kids Bike to Work, Go to Jail?

6 Sep

In what can certainly be classified under the “sad state of affairs” category, some recent news out of Tennessee, where a mom has actually threatened with arrest if she continues to let her 5th-grade daughter bike to school, a mere mile away from her home. The mom has been told it’s illegal for her daughter to ride alone to school.

With the school year kicking off this week, how to get kids to school is on the minds of parents, school administrators, and law enforcement officials alike. Kids face many obstacles in their efforts to walk and bike to school; lack of sidewalks or protected bike lanes and ignorant drivers are at the top of the list.

How did we get to the point where children literally are not allowed to ride their bikes to school? Many of us remember a time when walking and bicycling to school was a part of everyday life. In 1969, about half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Today, however, fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or bicycling, one-quarter are made on a school bus, and over half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles. We’re not doing our kids any favors by encouraging this sedentary lifestyle — nor are we doing any favors to our communities or our environment. This decline in walking and bicycling has had an adverse effect on traffic congestion and air quality around schools, as well as pedestrian and bicycle safety. In addition, a growing body of evidence has shown that children who lead sedentary lifestyles are at risk for a variety of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Safety issues are a big concern for parents, who consistently cite traffic danger as a reason why their children are unable to bicycle or walk to school.

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is designed to address these issues head on. At its heart, the SRTS Program empowers communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity once again. The Program makes funding available for a wide variety of programs and projects, from building safer street crossings to establishing programs that encourage children and their parents to walk and bicycle safely to school.

The goal of New Jersey’s Safe Routes to School Program is to assist New Jersey communities in developing and implementing projects and programs that encourage walking and bicycling to school while enhancing the safety of these trips. These programs can bring a wide range of benefits to students and the community. These include an easy way for children to get the regular physical activity they need for good health and even to ease traffic jams and reduce pollution around schools. A major goal of the program is to increase bicycle, pedestrian and traffic safety. Successful Safe Routes to School programs in the United States usually includes one or more of these approaches: engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement.

The Greater Mercer TMA is the local SRTS coordinator for Mercer and Ocean counties in New Jersey. If you’re interested in learning more about SRTS in your community, please contact GMTMA’s SRTS Coordinator Rebecca Hersh at rhersh@gmtma.org.