Archive | March, 2014

It’s Bike Rodeo Season

26 Mar

Police Bike RodeoMercer municipalities are sponsoring bike rodeos this spring – bring your kids to improve their bike handling skills.

The St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center’s bike rodeo is being held Saturday, May 10 from 9-1. To register e-mail (preferred) to bikerodeo@slrc.org with kid’s names, ages, phone number and requested time of arrival, or call (609) 896-9500, ext. 2212. For kids ages 3-12.

Princeton’s bike rodeo is being held Saturday, May 17 from 10-2 at the municipal center. Details to be provided in a later post.

Bike Commuter Journal – To the Train Station, All Winter Long

25 Mar

Melinda bikePlease welcome another guest commuter, Melinda Posipanko, this week – if you’d like to share your commuter experiences, contact jfoster@gmtma.org.

I seem to have had this conversation with someone almost every day this winter:  Question: “Did you ride in today?”  My answer: “Yeah.  It wasn’t too bad out.” Reply: Either 1)”Wow”, 2)”You’re insane”, 3) “Impressive”, or 4) a sad shake of the head.

Now to be completely transparent, “riding in” for me means a 1.5 mile ride from my house to the Princeton Junction train station.  Not exactly a grueling bike commute.  And I’m nobody’s idea of a “cyclist”; more tortoise than hare and riding an el-cheapo bike I bought at Kmart 5 years ago.

Let me be clear.  I HATE COLD.  So why have I gotten layered-up every morning to bike commute?  It’s not a simple answer.  I’m not crazy (at least not completely), but I really love using my body to move itself from one place to another.  I ride my bike, I take the stairs when practical, and I usually take the easy-to-find far out parking space at the mall.  Moving my body feels good.  And even a short bike ride in the morning can make a huge difference in my overall energy level for the day.

It makes some practical sense, too.  It used to take me just about the same amount of time at the end of the day to walk to my permit parking space as it now takes for me to ride home.  I don’t have to clean off my car when it snows.  Now, I pay $22.50 /quarter to rent a bike locker instead of $120/quarter for a parking space.

But really, I think it’s mostly the sense of accomplishment I have when I make it to the train under my own power no matter what Mother Nature throws at me.  Me against the world…that sort of thing.   I’m proud of the fact that I’ve driven into the station fewer than 10 times since October – and only then on days when the roads were clearly not safe.

And I’m obviously not alone.  I’ve seen bike riders and empty CitiBike stalls all over NYC even on the coldest days.

So I’ll continue to suit up and head out every day that I can.  And keep looking forward to spring!

Bike Commuter Journal – How Things Change, or Not

18 Mar

Please welcome Steve Kruse as our guest bike commuter this week – he chairs the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and bike commuted from Princeton to Plainsboro through 2005. Steve joins us via an article he wrote almost 17 years ago, Two Wheels To Work, which appeared in the U.S. 1 Newspaper, May 28, 1997, used here with kind permission of author and publisher.

It’s great to get a view from last century, to see what has improved, and what hasn’t. Steve’s article mentions road conditions, policies, motorists both considerate and not, and several planned improvements to the area.

Steve noted that “New Jersey does not spring to mind as an especially bicycle-friendly place.” Is that still true? Maybe, but NJ DOT adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2009, so future improvements should include accommodations for biking and walking, transit users and those covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As our readers know, the state has jurisdiction over only the federal highways and interstates and a few other major arteries. Fortunately for today’s Princeton to Plainsboro bike commuters, Mercer and Middlesex counties, as well as Princeton and Plainsboro have all adopted Complete Streets policies – click here to see everyone in New Jersey who’ve adopted Complete Streets.

Significant improvements have also been made to onstreet bike lanes in West Windsor, which are beginning to form a network. Steve mentioned staying out of the “door zone” of onstreet parked cars on Harrison – Princeton’s shared lane pavement markings (“sharrows”), including on Harrison, guide cyclists (and notify motorists) to the safe lane position away from cars. Plainsboro continues to extend it’s network of paved multi-use paths. The League of American Bicyclists have designated West Windsor and Princeton Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Communities, and Princeton University earned New Jersey’s first Bicycle Friendly University award.

As you read Steve’s article, what do you notice has changed? What has not?

If you’d like to share your commuter experiences, please contact jfoster@gmtma.org.

“I like to walk/bike because…” Bookmark Design Contest

12 Mar

Do you know a 3rd-5th grader who likes to walk or bike? 

Would they like to win $50?

Untitled

GMTMA is sponsoring a Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design Contest where 3rd-5th graders can express their love of walking, biking or both!

Two winners, one from Ocean County and one from Mercer County will have their bookmarks printed and distributed to schools. Each winner will also receive $50 and a biking or walking safety kit.

The bookmark must contain the phrase “I like to walk/ bike because….”. Other than that – the most creative, original, and reproducible bookmark wins!

Print the entry form now!

Bike Commuter Journal – Wake Up and Smell the Bakery

11 Mar

Don Pillsbury bike

Please welcome another guest commuter, Don Pillsbury, this week – if you’d like to share your commuter experiences, contact jfoster@gmtma.org.

How far is your commute? For me it is almost a trick question. The first half of my commute is 35 miles – snaking through Trenton, Bordentown, Mt. Holly and eventually to my office in Mt Laurel. For the trip home I “cheat” and use the RiverLine train for half the journey. The ride from my office to Riverside Station is 8 miles and then there is another 8 miles home from the Trenton Transit Station. The round trip is 50 miles.

Except for this winter, I typically do this twice a week. I’ve come to cherish each piece of the route for what it is. The early morning ride on
car-free roads that I would not normally be brave enough to travel. The smell of the Guatemalan bakery preparing the day’s treats. Watching the sun rise over Burlington County farmland. The trip home is the antithesis. Passing schools and playgrounds bustling with activity. Pausing for 40 minutes to read on the train and enjoy the camaraderie of regulars. And finally, riding through the City of Trenton with all of its urban vitality.

It was Ernest Hemingway that said: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills
and can coast down them.” Perhaps my route is too flat to fully appreciate Mr. Hemingway’s point. But then I think his observation misses the nuances of life that can be witnessed and appreciated by riding a bike.

Record Transit Use in 2013

10 Mar

The American Public Transportation Association reported transit use in 2013 was the highest since 1956, up 1.1% over 2012. The report included ridership increases for New Jersey:

  1. PATH – up 0.47% to 76,004 trips
  2. PATCO – down 0.67% to 10,612 trips
  3. NJ Transit – up 1.54% to 262,273 trips

By way of comparison, New Jersey’s 2013 (motor) vehicle miles traveled was reported up 0.2% to 6,408 million miles.

Bike Commuter Journal – My Moment of Commuter Zen

5 Mar

whit at workPlease welcome Whit Anderson, our guest commuter this week – if you’d like to share your commuter experiences, contact jfoster@gmtma.org.

I love my commute. Rarely a weekday goes by when I am not appreciative of how lucky I am to have it. I bike commute from Hopewell Borough to Princeton University’s Forrestal campus, four or five times a week, all the year round. For the most part, my route is quite idyllic – lovely bike lanes on most of CR518 (I am working on Mercer County to address the parts lacking), scenic bike path on the Kingston Branch Loop Trail and a quick turn up to Mapleton where I give the bald eagles a nod if they happen to be nesting.  When I get to my lab, a suite of bike lockers and racks are waiting for me, and inside we have showers and changing facilities.  Yep, it is a pretty sweet deal.

Even after describing my commute to people I still get the “you are crazy” comments. Most of the time I laugh and shrug it off – too bad for them, they will never know what they are missing. “Me crazy? They are crazy” – that’s what I would always say to myself.

Then this winter happened. A few times this winter I caught myself agreeing with them – even with the multiple layers of wool and synthetics, the studded winter tires and a large thermos of steaming coffee I found myself thinking, “I am crazy”.  But the thought never lasts long. As soon as I get to my destination the feeling of accomplishment washes away any lingering negativity. That, and the hope that spring is just around the corner. Come on spring.