Archive | November, 2011

Most Dangerous Roads for Bicyclists in South Jersey

30 Nov

A new analysisby the Tri-State Transportation Campaign shows that 8,281 bicyclist crashes and 63 bicyclist fatalities occurred in eight South Jersey counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem) between 2001 and 2010.

Ocean County, in GMTMA’s jurisdiction, ranked fourth most dangerous county for bicyclists in the region, with 2,132 crashes at a rate of 3.92 crashes per 10,000 residents. Eight bicyclists were killed in these crashes in the 2001-2010 time period. 787 of those crashes were between 2008 and 2010.

Their analysis also included a look at roadways that were particularly dangerous for bicyclists, almost all of which were arterials, or high-capacity, usually two-lane roads with speed limits above 40 miles per hour. These roads are also known to be very dangerous for pedestrians. In Ocean County, US 9 (88 bicyclists in accidents) and NJ 35 (63 bicyclists in accidents), followed by NJ 88 and Route 549 (46 bicyclists in accidents on each road) were the four most dangerous roads for bicyclists in Ocean County during this period.

County fact sheets and Google Maps can be found here.

This new analysis underscores the importance NJDOT’s Complete Streets policy, which was passed in December 2009. The policy requires new or rehabilitated roads to be built for all users, including walkers, cyclist, transit riders, and drivers. Counties and municipalities are following suit; Monmouth County has adopted its own Complete Streets policy, and a number of municipalities have as well. Click here for previous On the Move posts about Complete Streets in New Jersey and why they make such a difference to the safety and health of our communities.

Get Your Kids Walking and Biking to School

29 Nov

Greater Mercer TMA is working with schools and communities to help kids get fit, get healthy, and protect the planet. One of the primary vehicles (pardon the pun) within which to do this through our involvement in the nation-wide Safe Routes to School program.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federal, state, and local program to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. programs examine conditions around schools and create activities to improve safety and accessibility, reduce traffic and air pollution around schools, and make bicycling and walking to school safer and more appealing, thus encouraging a healthy active lifestyle for kids.

SRTS programs bring a wide range of benefits to students and the community, including:

  • increasing the health, mobility, and independence of school-age children,
  • reducing congestion, air pollution and traffic conflicts around schools,
  • helping students arrive at school ready to learn, and
  • teaching safe pedestrian and bicyclist skills

GMTMA is the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s designated SRTS coordinator for Mercer and Ocean counties. At no cost, GMTMA can help your school and community implement a SRTS program by helping you with the following SRTS elements:

Travel Plans

  • Document existing conditions
  • Identify assets, barriers, goals and actions
  • Outline responsibilities and funding sources

Bike/Walk Events & Education Assistance

  • Walking School Buses
  • Bike Rodeos
  • Assemblies
  • Safety education and “How To” teaching materials

Evaluation and Monitoring

  • Establish baseline of existing conditions
  • Student arrival/departure counts
  • Parent/Caregiver surveys
  • Measure progress and adjust program as needed

SRTS Infrastructure Program

NJDOT offers local governments and schools a grant program for the planning and implementation of pe­destrian and bicycle infrastructure projects near schools. This is a highly competitive program and communities who participate in non-infrastructure programs and activities, such as SRTS Travel Plans, School Wellness programs and school walk/bike activities may receive extra points on their grant applications.

Want to learn more? Contact GMTMA’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator Rebecca Hersh at rhersh@gmtma.org.

Need Holiday Gridlock Relief? Ride the Rails (or Bus)!

23 Nov

Thanksgiving is a notoriously difficult time to travel. And this year, New Jersey drivers are facing a daunting trifecta: rain-soaked roads on the busiest travel day of the year, gas prices that are 20 percent higher than they were last year, and an expected 4 percent more road volume than last year.

AAA has issued its forecast for Thanksgiving travel originating in its Mid-Atlantic region, which includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia, and they’re predicting a jump in travel from the region over last year’s number, breaking with the trend of the past three years, each in which Thanksgiving travel fell below average.

For those from New Jersey, the group predicts more than a million will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, a slight increase from 2010. A little more than 1,048,000 will reportedly travel either by plane, train or automobile. Of that total, 89 percent will drive, a two-percent jump from last year.

Nine percent will fly, down very slightly (.2 percent) from 2010. The biggest change comes in other modes of travel, rail included, which AAA says will see a 12 percent increase from last year, although only a one percent increase for New Jersey’s travelers.

If you want to get off of the wet crowded roads, transit is a great option, and NJ Transit has adjusted its schedule for the holiday weekend to make things easier for travelers. And remember — if you take a walk to the train station or bus stop, that’s a few extra calories burned, and you can eat an extra slice of pie!

On Wednesday November 23, the busiest travel day of the year, NJ Transit will once again offer “early getaway” rail and bus service for people leaving work early and to provide extra capacity for people traveling to Newark airport. Wednesday is Newark airport’s busiest day of the year, with ridership levels double what they are on a normal weekday. Trains will operate on a weekday schedule on all lines with additional “early getaway” service from New York Penn Station, Newark Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal starting at 1 p.m. on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley, Morris & Essex and Pascack Valley lines.  Plan your trip here. Bus schedules vary by route—customers are advised to check their timetables or visit njtransit.com for schedule information.  Selected routes will operate on special holiday schedules to match service with ridership demand, including early getaway service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal between noon and 4:30 p.m. to accommodate the heaviest travel, with less frequent service during the peak periods and later in the evening due to lower ridership.  View bus holiday service information for Wednesday, November 23 here. Newark Light Rail, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River Line will operate on a weekday schedule.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, trains will operate on a weekend/major holiday schedule.  To accommodate customers traveling to and from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, NJ Transit is adding extra trains on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley and Morris & Essex lines. Plan your trip here.  Thursday’s bus schedules vary by route.  Selected bus routes will operate extra service to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal for customers traveling to the parade. View bus holiday service information for Thursday, November 24 here.

On Friday, Nov. 25, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, trains will be on a modified weekday schedule and enhanced bus service will be offered to shopping centers throughout New Jersey and additional late morning trains will operate to and from New York. Customers are encouraged to travel early, if possible, when ridership is light.Visit njtransit.com and use the “Station-to-Station Trip Planner” to find trains on Friday. Holiday bus service information for Friday, November 25 varies by route and can be found here. Light rail info can be found here.

Kids ride free on NJT! For the Thanksgiving holiday, NJ TRANSIT’s Family Super Saver Fare, which allows up to two children 11 and younger to travel free with each fare-paying adult, will be in effect from 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 23 until 6 a.m. Monday, November 28.

For complete schedule and fare information, visit njtransit.com or call 973-275-5555.


Are Bike Networks Good for Local Economies?

22 Nov

One of our favorite things to talk about is how biking (or walking) is good for your pocketbook as well as your health and safety. But there’s a growing body of evidence that has found that investment in bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly networks and infrastructure is also good for your local economy.

With all that cash you’re saving by not driving a car, you’ll end up spending at least part of that savings in your community; you can pump quite a bit of cash into your local economy when you’re not pumping it into your gas tank, or to your car insurance company, or to the DMV, or to the car dealer. A 2008 study in Portland showed bicycle-related industries alone contributed $90 million to the local economy every year — nearly 60 percent of which came from retail, rental, and repair, with manufacturing and distribution, bicycle events, and professional services, such as bike messengers and coaching and legal expertise, also contributing.

Additionally, according to the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), in denser areas, where cars and bicyclists travel at similar speeds, bike lanes can accommodate 7 to 12 times as many people per meter of lane per hour than car lanes and bicycles cause less wear on the pavement — meaning less money needs to be spent on road maintenance while more people can use the roads. The LAB also points to research that has shown that bike facilities can have positive, statistically significant impacts on home values.

Earl Blumenauer, famously known to be most bike-friendly member of Congress, points to a number of statistics showing how good biking is for the economy, including:

  • The average operating cost of a bicycle is just 2.5% of that of a car.
  • In Maine, bicycle tourism contributed $66.8 million to that state’s economy; in Colorado, that figure is $193 million. Wisconsin attributes $278 million of its economy to bicycle tourism.
  • A 2006 study revealed that the 125 bicycle-related businesses in Portland, OR contributed $63 million and 800 – 1000 jobs to the local economy. Two years later, there were an additional 50 bike-related businesses, raising the total economic impact to $90 million.
  • Bicycling is a $5.8 billion industry, employing close to 100,000 people in research and development, manufacturing, distribution, retail sales, service, and tourism.
  • In 2005, Americans bought 19.8 million bicycles – surpassing the total number of cars and trucks sold nationwide by 4.4 million.
  • Building a single mile of urban, four-lane highway is between $20 million and $80 million; in areas where traffic congestion is the worst, that figure can be as high as $290 million a mile. But the cost of building a mile of bicycle or pedestrian facilities is only in the range of a few thousand dollars up to $1 million.

Communities throughout the country are showing that relatively modest investments in paths, expanded shoulders, and trails can provide big gains for local economies by attracting visitors, residents, and businesses. Biking and walking isn’t just about being a do-gooder for the planet, or getting some exercise. It’s about saving money for both you and your community. In these tough economic times, that’s something that ought to get the attention of everyone.

Riding Public Transit is Good for Your Bottom Line

21 Nov

Not to sound like a broken record, but we love to highlight any study that shows that ditching your car in favor of transit, bikes, or your feet can save you some money. The American Public Transit Association (APTA) releases a monthly “Transit Savings Report” to examine how a person in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car. According to their November report, individuals who switch from driving to riding public transportation can save an average of $816 dollars this month — or about $9,797 per year. These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the November 18, 2011 average national gas price ($3.38 per gallon- reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. These savings are more dramatic this year than last year, with current gas prices nearly 50 cents a gallon higher than they were at this time last year.

They also provided a list of the top 20 cities with the highest transit ridership, and ranked them in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass and factoring in local gas prices for November 18, 2011 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate. Note that New York is #1, and Philly is not far behind at #5 — meaning that many New Jerseyans who live near those cities could probably save a lot of money too.

Biking Saves Money and Lives

18 Nov

We’ve talked before about how not using a car can save you a lot of money and is great for your health. And most of us know that walking, biking, and riding transit certainly is better for the environment. As noted in this article:

  • The typical American family spends almost $8000 a year to own and operate a car, when you count the car payments, gas, oil, maintenance and repairs, licenses, parking, and insurance.
  • Transportation of all types accounts for more than 25% of the world’s commercial energy use, and motor vehicles account for nearly 80% of that.
  • Cars emit 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping, illness-causing gas, for every gallon of gas burned.
Furthermore,  at least according to one new study published recently in the British Medical Journal, public bike sharing programs can actually have more health benefits (even taking into account road traffic accidents) beyond the benefits associated with reduced air pollution.
If you have a minute, check out this cool graphic from Care2 that details many various ways biking is good for you and everyone else, too.

Sharing the Road with the Sharrows

17 Nov

We’ve blogged about Princeton’s new sharrows before, and now that they’ve been there for a while, we’re wondering if you’ve had any experience with them, either as a driver or a bicyclist. 

A “sharrow” — the word is an combo of “arrow” and “share the road” — are popping up all over the place, not just in Princeton. Municipalities like them because they’re cheap, at only about $229 each (on average) to install, including labor and materials, while a full-blown bike lane can cost between $5,000 and $60,000 per mile. Also, many older streets are simply too narrow to accommodate a bike lane. The sharrow’s main purpose is to give bicyclists freedom to move further to the left within the travel lane, rather than brave the door zone, squeezed between moving and parked cars. Without the markings, bicyclists might seek refuge on the sidewalk or travel in the wrong direction.

So, On the Move readers, what do you think? Do you like them? Do you think they help? Do they just confuse you? Let us know.

And if you’re curious about the technical side of things, here’s an interesting post about how sharrows were actually made on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn.