Archive | January, 2013

Bike and Ped Commuters are the Happiest Commuters. Surprised?

31 Jan
Graph of "commute well-being" by Portland State University PhD student Oliver Smith.

Graph of “commute well-being” by Portland State University PhD student Oliver Smith.

In what should come as no surprise to anybody who has ever switched from a driving commute to a walking or biking one, new research out of Portland State University found that people who bike to work enjoy their commutes the most, and people who walk to work are close behind on the commute satisfaction scale.

The finding is based on a survey of commuters from the region conducted by Ph.D. candidate Oliver Smith. Based on surveys from 828 people taken during January through February of 2012, he found that commuting to work under your own power “increases commute well-being.” In other words, the happiest commuters are those who walk and bike. Of course I was happy to see that of all modes surveyed, biking made people the happiest (see chart). The lowest measures of commute well-being were recorded by people who drove alone.

Smith’s research also found that people who make over $75,000 per year, and people who are happy with their job and housing situation were more likely to report a high commute well-being. Major factors that dragged down well-being scores included traffic congestion (non-existent for bike riders), crowded transit vehicles, safety concerns (especially for bikers), and travel times longer than 40 minutes (for auto drivers only).

Want to drive less, but don’t know where to start? GMTMA can help you figure out alternative ways to get around. Check out our Employer Services to learn about how we can help employers encourage their workforce to leave the cars at home; learn about our programs for commuters, including carpooling and vanpooling; check out our Community Programs and learn about how GMTMA can help your community implement a wide variety of policies and programs that improve safety, mobility and sustainability; get involved in our Safe Routes to School program, which helps kids and their parents get to school safely without driving; learn how to ride your bike more; or figure out ways to ride the bus or train more often. Contact GMTMA — we can help you, your office, or your school figure out alternative ways to get around.


Pedestrian Safety Program Makes Kids Safer

23 Jan

Fewer kids were injured during early morning and after school hours once new traffic lights, pedestrian signals and speed bumps were put around New York City schools, according to a new study.

Those fixtures were added through the Safe Routes to School program, the federal program that works to improve kids’ ability to walk and bike to schools across the country. As a result of Safe Routes to School, the city’s Department of Transportation undertook safety improvements at the 124 New York City schools (out of a total of 1,471) with the highest injury rates in the city.

For the new study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, researchers tracked injury rates around 30 schools that had finished safety projects. Between 2001 and 2010, they saw a 44-percent drop in the number of school-aged pedestrians who were injured in the hours just before or just after the school day – from 8 injuries per 10,000 kids each year to 4.4 per 10,000.

In comparison, there was no drop in injury rates in areas without pedestrian safety projects – they held steady over the decade at 3.1 annual injuries per 10,000 students.

The researchers noted in the journal Pediatrics that if the program was expanded, it could prevent 210 pedestrian injuries per year among New York City students.

The same infrastructure changes everywhere can also positively affect kids’ general health because physically active kids are healthier. One of the easiest ways to get kids active is to build that activity into a child’s daily life, and enabling and empowering them to take their trip to school by foot or on a bike instead of the back of the car.

Want to get your kids walking and biking to school with Greater Mercer TMA? Find out how today.


Kaboom! Invites Grant Applications to Open Previously Unavailable Playgrounds

22 Jan

KaBOOM! is inviting grant applications from communities anywhere in the United States working to establish joint use agreements to re-open playground and recreational facilities previously unavailable due to safety and upkeep concerns.

Let’s Play Land Use grants of $15,000 and $30,000 will support creation of joint-use agreements between local governments and school districts that address cost concerns related to safety, vandalism, maintenance, and liability issues to re-open previously unavailable playgrounds and recreational facilities. The $15,000 grants will support the opening of at least four playgrounds in cities with populations of less than 100,000 people. The $30,000 grants will support the opening of at least eight playgrounds in larger communities.

Grants can be used for training and technical assistance, utilities and other building related to the extra use of the facility, legal fees, contract security services, and marketing campaigns related to the joint-use agreement. Grant recipients must commit to opening the playgrounds within twelve months of the grant decision.

KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated creating great playspaces for America’s children through the participation and leadership of communities. Their goal is to have a place to play within walking distance for every child in America.

Complete grant application guidelines are available on the KaBOOM! Web site.

Living Green and Living Affordably With Public Transportation

18 Jan





Another cool infographic we found on the Sustainable Cities Collective website shows us the possibilities for living an eco-friendly and more affordable life presented to us by seeking out alternative transportation, such as mass transit and carpooling.

The infographic, from, outlines the positive impact that increased public transportation has made in the past few years. Thanks to so many people opting not to use their cars, as much as 37 million tons of CO2 are not released and 340 million gallons of fuel aren’t used annually. That’s a lot of saved money on gas!

If you live in an area where transit is an option, public transportation is a great way to not only dip less into our natural resources but also to help potentially save a good deal of money on the cost of getting around, and carpooling can be equally as helpful for those that don’t live near public means of transportation.

Want to drive less, but don’t know where to start? GMTMA can help you figure out alternative ways to get around. Check out our Employer Services to learn about how we can help employers encourage their workforce to leave the cars at home; read about our Senior Programs where we provide transportation services and information to seniors who are navigating life without a car; learn about our programs for commuters, including carpooling and vanpooling; check out our Community Programs and learn about how GMTMA can help your community implement a wide variety of policies and programs that improve safety, mobility and sustainability; get involved in our Safe Routes to School program, which helps kids and their parents get to school safely without driving; learn how to ride your bike more; or figure out ways to ride the bus or train more often. Contact GMTMA — we can help you, your office, or your school figure out alternative ways to get around.


A Walk Equals a Home Run

17 Jan

If you’re a fan of America’s national pastime, you know that any time a power hitter steps up to bat, the pitcher and pitching coach need to decide if they let the batter swing, or if they should let him walk.

We’re not baseball pitchers or coaches. But we are walkers. And on Sunday June 23, The Trenton Thunder minor league baseball team, the St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, and the Greater Mercer TMA are teaming up to get kids walking around the plate.

2013 Trenton Thunder ‘Pedestrian Parade’ Challenge

On Sunday, June 23 is the first-ever Trenton Thunder Pedestrian Parade Challenge. To be eligible for FREE admission to the game (one ticket per child, additional tickets available at a reduced rate), children whose schools have participated in one of GMTMA’s Safe Routes to School educational events must complete a form (available upon request) confirming that he or she has walked to/from school at least 15 times. This form should be sent to the Trenton Thunder (the form must be received by Friday June 14). Tickets will be given out on a first come, first served basis.  

And on game day, a walk isn’t just as good as a hit — it’s even better. Children and parents are invited to celebrate their healthy choices as part of St. Lawrence Rehabilitation’s ‘Safety Day’ at the ballpark by participating in a parade on the field before the first pitch.

Interested in taking a walk around the plate? Contact GMTMA today!

Trenton Thunder

GMTMA News: January 2013

16 Jan

Do you get GMTMA’s monthly newsletter delivered to your inbox? If not, sign up today! Here’s our latest issue:


New Amazon Warehouse Provides Transportation Challenges, Opportunities

(AP Photo/Scott Sady)

With the news that is going to begin operating a new 1 million square foot warehouse at Turnpike Exit 7A in Robbinsville early next year, the transportation challenges posed by getting over 1,000 new employees to their jobs is at the forefront of the project’s planning process. GMTMA is poised to play an integral role in this process. As we noted in our last newsletter, GMTMA is heading the Mercer County team that was selected to participate in the Community Transportation Association of America’s Job Access Mobility program. The group’s efforts are centered on job access solutions in the Route 130/NJ Turnpike Exit 7A employment area. Other team members include the Mid-Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Robbinsville Township, RISE of Hightstown, Middlesex County Community College, and Mercer County. The group is actively exploring ways to put new transportation options in place to access the warehouse.

FUN FACTS: The new warehouse is estimated to create over 1,000 full-time jobs and generate more than $22 million in tax revenue for Robbinsville and Mercer County. New Jersey is the third-largest warehouse distributor in the country, with about 850 million square feet of warehouse space linked to about 10 percent of the state’s jobs.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Includes Transit Benefit Increase

Transit commuters got a new year’s gift on January 1st. They will now be able to claim as much in tax benefits as car commuters do in 2013. The legislation that averted the so-called fiscal cliff included a provision that will once again re-establish parity between the parking and transit benefits at $240/month. Unfortunately, it’s still only temporary, as this new level expires again at the end of 2013 unless Congress extends it once more. But at least for the time being, transit and parking benefits are equal, and people have one less financial incentive to drive alone to work. To learn more about getting a commuter tax benefit, contact GMTMA today.

FUN FACTS: On December 31, 2011, legislation equalizing transit benefits expired. So for 2012, transit riders received a $125 monthly benefit, although parking remained at $240 – a thorn in the side for politicians from transit-dependent states. Last March, New York Senator Charles Schumer authored legislation to re-equalize the benefit, but it wasn’t acted on until the fiscal cliff negotiations. Currently, about 700,000 people in the tri-state region take advantage of the benefit.

Steer Clear of Traffic with GMTMA

If you’re heading out onto the road, or already on the road, did you know that GMTMA can help you avoid traffic hot spots and/or figure out why you’re stuck in a traffic jam? Our website features traffic alerts and maps for both Mercer and Ocean counties. And we’ve just added a new feature – QR codes. All you have to do is use your mobile device to scan the image, and it will automatically direct your device to a mobile traffic alert page. Check it out today (click here for Mercer County, click here for Ocean County), and stay out of traffic!

FUN FACTS: QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional bar code) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacture.

My Bus Now? Your Bus Now! 

Riding the bus in New Jersey just got a whole lot easier. Thanks to MyBus Now, new technology rolled out by NJ Transit a few weeks ago, bus riders can check their phones and see, in real time, exactly when the next bus will arrive. For bus stops where there are long gaps between each bus, this technology could make all the difference. The service is available right now on a test basis for riders using 16 bus routes in all of Mercer County and parts of Somerset and Middlesex counties, but the program is expected to be expanded to the entire state by early spring in all of the state’s more than 19,000 bus stops. The 16 bus routes currently served by the program are:

  • No. 600 Trenton-Plainsboro (U.S. 1 Corridor)
  • No. 601 The College of New Jersey-Trenton-Hamilton Marketplace
  • No. 602 Pennington-Trenton
  • No. 603 Mercer Mall-Hamilton Square-Yardville-Hamilton Marketplace
  • No. 604 East Trenton-Trenton Transit Center
  • No. 605 Montgomery Township-Princeton-Quaker Bridge Mall
  • No. 606 Princeton-Mercerville-Hamilton Marketplace
  • No. 607 Ewing-Trenton-Independence Plaza
  • No. 608 Hamilton-West Trenton
  • No. 609 Ewing-Quaker Bridge Mall
  • No. 610 Trenton-Princeton Seasonal Service
  • No. 611 Trenton-River View Plaza Circulator
  • No. 612 Lawrence-West Windsor
  • No. 613 Mercer Mall-Hamilton Square-Yardville-Hamilton Marketplace
  • No. 619 Ewing-Quaker Bridge Mall-Mercer County College
  • No. 655 Princeton-Plainsboro

Riders can type in the bus stop number — listed on a sign at the bus stop, or found online here — or their bus route number and location. For more information, click here.

FUN FACTS: Using GPS and some of its own technology on board, the bus transmits back to a central system that does calculations for how long it should take a bus to get to a particular stop. Riders will see all of the buses that are within 30 minutes of that stop. New buses already are equipped for the technology, and NJ Transit is retrofitting its older buses. The agency has more than 2,000 buses in its fleet, operating on more than 200 routes.

Kids, Join the Trenton Thunder Pedestrian Parade!

As part of GMTMA’s Safe Routes to School program, GMTMA has partnered with the Trenton Thunder to offer a free ticket to a Thunder baseball game and a pre-game Pedestrian Parade on the ball field to any kids who have recently participated in one of our in-school workshops or safety events. The Pedestrian Parade is part of St. Lawrence Rehab Hospital’s Safety Day at the ballpark, and kids who choose to participate will meet outside the stadium to be led onto the field and march around the bases. The game will be on Sunday June 23, at 1:05 pm. Interested in learning more or participating? Contact us at or 609-452-1491.

FUN FACTS: Within the span of one generation, the percentage of children walking or bicycling to school has dropped precipitously, from approximately 50% in 1969 to just 13% in 2009. In 2009, American families drove 30 billion miles and made 6.5 billion vehicle trips to take their children to and from schools, representing 10-14 percent of traffic on the road during the morning commute. A California study showed that schools that received infrastructure improvements through the Safe Routes to School program yielded walking and bicycling increases in the range of 20 to 200 percent.


Bike Sharing: Coming to Your Town?

14 Jan

If there were bicycles for rent in various points around your town, would you ride more often? Would you use a shared bike program for short trips to the bank, the coffee shop, the deli, the train station? Bike sharing has quickly attracted attention as an effective complement to public transportation. It increases mobility options, gets more Americans biking and enhances the overall transportation networks in our cities and towns.

Bike sharing involves a network of bicycles and stations, where a member or renter can check out a bike from a station and return it to any other station within the network. When planned well, these systems complement existing transportation systems by offering users an option for quick and reliable one-way trips.

Bike sharing is an innovative transportation solution, ideal for short-distance, point-to-point trips. These systems provide users the ability to pick up a bicycle at any self-serve bike station and return it to any other bike station located within the service area. Additional information on bike sharing can be found at the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center at:

So would you participate in a bike share program?