The hot and humid NJ summer weather is here! Days with weather like today (and probably through Thursday) are ideal for creating Air Quality Action Days.
Air Quality Action Days are declared when the ozone and/or particulate matter in the air reaches levels that are Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (Code Orange) or higher. A Code Orange means that people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone and the presence of particles in the air.
So what can you do?
Most people are not adversely affected by the conditions, but it is good to be cautious and make sure children playing outdoors are not having trouble breathing and that seniors have a place to go where there is air conditioning. And you can do more!
Every time you get in your vehicle you create air pollution that is causing the Action Day. The less you drive and the cleaner and more efficient vehicle you drive, the less air pollution you create. So, on Air Quality Action Days consider taking the bus, train, or catching a ride. Also put off any errands that don’t need to be done or combine your trips so you drive fewer miles.
In addition to driving less, a great option is a more fuel efficient vehicle. Not only do you save money on gas with a high mile per gallon vehicle, you also decrease air pollution released. Greater Mercer TMA’s RideProvide service is currently using a Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid for the MPG Challenge. We are getting great MPGs (sorry, I can’t tell you the exact MPGs – we wouldn’t want to give our competitors any advantage) and are doing our part to decrease air pollution while transporting seniors to doctor’s appointments. So if you are in the market for a new car be sure to look into fuel efficient electric vehicles. You never know, they may be right for you!
One last thing you can do is sign up here, for Air Quality Action Day Alerts to be emailed to you. Or follow us on twitter @gmtma.
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Bike to Work Week Roundup
|GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week event was a great success this year. We had close to 150 registrants – approximately a 10 percent increase over last year. Many of our riders logged a lot of miles during the week – seven riders rode 100 miles or more, and the great majority of participants rode their bikes to work more than once during the week. As usual, we collected a number of great anecdotes from our riders:
- Biking to work is so much better than the car it is not funny. As traffic backs up to the lights leading to the office, I cruise past and land at my desk ahead of those coworkers who inch their way through two traffic lights.
- The event was a great motivator and reminder for me to use my bike more often. After a few days of riding to and from work I developed a routine and did not miss the car at all!
- I really enjoyed it! I felt awake and refreshed when I arrived at work. I’m going to try to bike to work more often!
- The day was beautiful and the ride up/down to and from work so much more enjoyable than being stuck in traffic on Route 1!
- I always feel so much more relaxed when I bike to and from work. It’s a nice way to begin and end the day.
- I bike to work on a regular basis and usually I’m the only one. So it was good to have some others joining me this week.
- I hadn’t gotten around to biking to work this year until a friend pointed out Bike to Work Week. Riding to work has been great and it doesn’t even take much more time than driving! I love the cool air and the solitude of the early mornings. I love that my little route of side streets and paths bypasses much of the horrible traffic in the evenings. I love that I didn’t visit the gas station at all this week! I plan to keep biking beyond Bike to Work Week into next week and next month. Heck, I’ll just keep going!
- I always enjoy my time on the bike. Being able to stay in shape, save gas and reduce driving time is very important. After my vehicle failed state inspection, I will dispose of it and be a one car family (for the summer at least).
- Organized a Bike to Work celebration at my office. We had 7 participants for the week (including me); three of whom were first time bike to workers. I think the highlight for all of them was gathering at lunch today for a group photo and comparing stories.
If you rode your bike during Bike to Work Week or Bike Month, we thank you. By riding your bike, you help clear the air, reduce auto traffic, and make yourself healthier too. And just because Bike to Work Week is over, that doesn’t mean you should get off the bike. Keep on riding! Interested in biking more often and want to freshen up on your skills? The League of American Bicyclist’s Ride Better page has detailed the Rules of the Road and commuting tips. Simple bike maintenance and fix-it info can also be found on the page. If you’re looking for a basic bike education class, contact GMTMA – we have a League of American Bicyclists Certified Cycling Instructor on staff, and we are offering “Bike Safety 101 Lunch & Learn” sessions around our region.
- Our longest bike to work commuter rode 137 miles during Bike to Work Week! That’s about 140 pounds of carbon dioxide that were not emitted into the atmosphere.
- In Japan, 15% of commuters bicycle to work. In the Netherlands, 50% of commuters bicycle to work. Less than 2% of U.S. commuters bicycle to work.
- The average person loses 13 pounds of body weight during their first year of commuting by bike.
- The average car owner spends about $10,000 each year on car-related expenses. A bike’s upkeep costs almost nothing.
The Princeton FreeB is Expanding!
Starting this week, Princeton expanded its freeB bus service to give Princeton’s visitors and residents even more ways to get around. In response to community input and increased demand for more bus service, the Princeton freeB Task Force unveiled plans to expand its daytime freeB service, rebranded as freeB, Princeton’s Neighborhood Bus Service. Highlights of the service improvements include:
- Added service days. freeB service will now be available six days a week (Monday –Saturday).
- An extra midday trip and an extra afternoon trip.
The town’s other freeB service, the Commuter freeB that provides service to and from the Princeton Rail station, has been extended to serve the Princeton Shopping Center. The new route will travel from Bayard, across Paul Robeson Place/Wiggins Street/Hamilton Avenue to Harrison Street. From Hamilton Street and Harrison Street the bus will turn left and will proceed to the Princeton Shopping Center. The bus will then travel back down Harrison Street to Nassau Street where it will turn right, providing service along the way before going to the Princeton Rail station. Other service changes for the Commuter freeB include:
- A new Park and Ride Location. Commuters can now drive and park their car in the spaces on the south side of the shopping center. Note that commuter parking is not allowed where there are “Customer Parking Only” signs.
- A second freeB bus stop has been added at the turn-out past Rite Aid on the Harrison side of Princeton Shopping Center.
- A revised schedule.
Both freeB bus services are free and available for anyone to ride. Both of the freeB routes and schedules are on Greater Mercer TMA’s website at www.gmtma.org or call the Commuter Services Manager for information at (609) 452-1491.
- The freeB Neighborhood Bus Service connects to the new NJT 655 bus route that serves the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro as well as NJT’s 606 and 605 routes, and Princeton University’s Tiger Transit system. It makes stops at a number of spots useful for kids, teens, seniors, and anyone looking to avoid downtown traffic and parking challenges, including the Community Park Pool, the Princeton Shopping Center, Palmer Square, and more.
- The Commuter freeB service starts offering rides to commuters as early as 5:33 am, making stops at the Princeton Shopping Center and a number of locations downtown to make it as easy as possible to take the freeB to the Dinky!
GMTMA is Taking Toyota’s MPG Challenge
GMTMA is very excited to be participating in the first ever Toyota MPG Challenge during the month of June. To participate in the challenge, Toyota provided us with a new Toyota Plug-in Prius “Cool Car 99” for our RideProvide senior transportation service.
Our RideProvide drivers will be competing against six other deserving nonprofits in the NY, NJ, CT area for a $2,500 cash contribution and bragging rights for the nonprofit that gets the best overall gas mileage in the car. And boy do these cars get great mileage – on gasoline alone, the Plug-in Prius can get an EPA estimated 50 MPG (miles per gallon). With electricity and gasoline combined, the cars get an estimated 95 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).
The challenge is a great opportunity for RideProvide to use a very fuel efficient vehicle for transporting seniors and the visually impaired where they need to go and for GMTMA to promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles. We hope to show that anyone, no matter how many or few miles they drive, can use hybrid electric or other alternate fuel vehicles right now in New Jersey. The vehicles not only help the driver by saving money on fuel, they also help decrease air pollution and decrease the individual’s carbon footprint.
So be on the lookout for our “Cool Car 99” driving around Mercer County! If you see it, snap a picture and let us know. If you have any questions about “Cool Car 99” and the Toyota MPG Challenge, please contact Aly Dyson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Toyota plug-in Prius has an all-electric range of 11 miles and an expected total range of 540 miles.
- The car can go 62 miles per hour on purely electric power.
- The lithium-ion battery pack can be charged in 180 minutes at 120 volts, or in 90 minutes at 240 volts.
Walk to School Day 2013 Registration Now Open!
Registration is now open for the 17th Walk to School Day – Wednesday October 9, 2013! This annual event is a part of an international effort to celebrate the many benefits of walking and bicycling to school. Walk to School Day event registration is free and available to individuals and organizations holding an October event in the United States. Events that register on the Walk to School website, http://www.walkbiketoschool.org
, will be displayed on an interactive U.S. map on the website, where neighboring communities, media and other organizations can identify who is walking in their area.
Registering a Walk to School Day event provides organizers access to free, downloadable materials including stickers, certificates and customizable fliers. They can also easily create and share a walking or bicycling to school route via the new Map-a-Route tool. Registrants can also receive a weekly e-newsletter for four weeks in September and October with tips and resources for organizing a Walk to School Day event.
Schools in Mercer and Ocean Counties can partner with GMTMA in October to promote pedestrian safety by taking part in National Walk to School Day. For more information on Walk to School activities, contact GMTMA today!
- 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.
- While distance to school is the most commonly reported barrier to walking and bicycling, private vehicles still account for half of school trips between 1/4 and 1/2 mile—a distance easily covered on foot or bike.
- 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.