Archive | January, 2015

Bike Commuter Journal – IRS Bicycle Commuter Benefit

30 Jan

Bike Commuter Tax Benefit CheckAttention bike commuters – contact your employer to get your IRS Bike Commuter Tax Benefit! You can be reimbursed up to $20/month in which you bike commute at least 10 days.

How does it work? You have to get your employer to agree to the program, which involves tracking your bike commuting days and documenting your bike commuting expenses, such as for a new bike, helmet, bike lights, fixing brakes, winter tires, new chain, etc.

See the picture for a sample form to document which days you commute by bike. For expenses, just keep your receipts and submit them to your employer before you lose them (maybe you’re more organized about paper than I). At least for GMTMA’s program, receipts and the commuter tracking log are collected at the end of the year, and a reimbursement check is then issued – it’s that simple. Theoretically, your employer may choose to reimburse you each month.

For more information, contact jfoster@gmtma.org and/or see: http://bikeleague.org/content/bicycle-commuter-benefit

Bike Commuter Journal – Lessons Learned After 1 Year

27 Jan

After a year of bike commuting from Princeton Junction to Carnegie Center in West Windsor, I’ve learned a very important lesson – timing is everything. This morning, my timing was perfect – in two miles I was only passed by 3 cars! See the video and skip to the times in parentheses referring to each lesson.

Lesson 1 (0:00) – Start after 9am (or before 8am) to avoid serious rush hour craziness. I pedaled through the neighborhood using the sidewalk shortcut that brings you to the back driveway of RiteAid on Rt 571.

Lesson 2 (0:20) – Congestion is a bike commuter’s friend. Wait at the driveway until the cars queue up, stopped for the light at Cranbury/Wallace, then proceed through the line to the left turn lane toward the station.

Lesson 3 (1:30) – Time the train schedule, and arrive at the station when people aren’t rushing to catch the train, or have just disembarked and are rushing toward the offices along Alexander and Rt 1. This morning the station was quiet, only met one pedestrian going the other way in the tunnel.

Lesson 4 (5:00) – Follow the traffic platoon. Turning right from the station (Vaughn Drive) and riding on Alexander Road is the most stressful part of the commute, since there is not enough congestion to slow traffic – it’s a 5 lane race course. I ride in the middle of the right lane, so cars pass in the left, which is very safe and as low stress as possible, given the conditions, but still not low stress. If you wait until the burst of traffic heads west on Alexander and then follow it, you’re rewarded with as much no-traffic time as possible – this morning only 3 cars passed by on this stretch.

Lesson 5 (6:00) – Watch the gap in your mirror. When you see the next traffic platoon approaching, evaluate your options for moving to the middle turn lane to make a left into any of 3 places – 2 office driveways or Roszel Road.

Lesson 6 (6:30) – The secret sidepath. On this wet and snowy morning, I went for the first office driveway and used the connecting multi-use path to the 2nd driveway and around back through the parking lot to make the left onto Roszel.

And that’s it! Somehow nobody passed me on Roszel (8:20), which is 4 lanes but very lightly traveled even between 8-9am – again I ride in the middle of the right lane.

Please contact me at jfoster@gmtma.org to share your low stress bike commuting tips.

Valentine’s Day Commuter Contest

23 Jan

02

The Valentine’s Day “Love in Transit” contest is back this year!  As we said before, you do not fall in love while driving alone in your car! Cupid’s arrow can strike in unlikely places–and public transit is one of them.  Love connections are made and soul mates are found on trains and buses and subways.

Have you found your true love on public transit? Biking or walking to work? We want to hear from you and publish your story on our blog.  You could win a $ 75 gift card to treat your special someone.

And who knows, your story might just inspire other people to start using public transit more often.

Send your story to tma@gmtma.org by February 6, 2015. Open to Mercer and Ocean County commuters.

Romance… just one more great reason to ride public transit!

Why is Bill Ford talking about the environment?

16 Jan

The answer: Ford (Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company) is looking for ways to keep our freedom to move around while we reduce the emissions of CO2 and spend less time in traffic.  An increase in population means having more cars on the streets and more traffic. And while people can switch to electric cars in an effort to cut the CO2 emissions, that alone does not help with the other issue – the traffic! In this TED talk, Bill Ford (yes, his great-grandfather was that Ford) talks about possible solutions like building smart streets, smart parking, smart cars and smart public transportation. We would like to add biking and walking as a way to reduce the number of cars on the road.

It’s a fascinating way to think about the future of our mobility while also thinking about sustainability!

Mercer First to Complete Streets (Policies)

9 Jan Trenton Bike Lane Paver and Asphault

Five years after Montclair and NJDOT adopted New Jersey’s leading Complete Streets policies, this week Mercer County became the first to have all roads covered – state, county and every municipality. Congratulations to Mercer County for reaching this very important first milestone toward making our roads friendlier and more complete!

Complete Streets policies require road improvements to support biking, walking and transit for users of all ages and abilities as the rule rather than the exception, and provide for incremental improvements without mandating retrofits.

Complete Streets benefit everyone, e.g. better safety (not just for cyclists and pedestrians, but mainly for motorists), higher property values (see walkscore.com) and improved security (more eyes on the street). Those who walk or bike feel better, are healthier and live longer – students who bike or walk to school score better on standardized tests.

Realizing these benefits will take time, as responsibility for our roads is divided between the state (for federal and state roads), counties and municipalities. Even a short trip can include roads and/or bridges under the care of many jurisdictions – for example, biking around Princeton’s Carnegie Lake involves traversing 3 counties and 5 municipalities, plus a state and maybe even a federal road.

What does a Complete Street look like? It depends – Complete Streets are not cookie-cutter. All of these pictures might be considered examples in some sense, while each may have additional possibilities to make them even more complete.

See if you can pick out which picture shows which Mercer County municipality – Trenton, Hamilton, Ewing, Hopewell Township, Pennington, Hopewell Boro, Princeton, Lawrence, West Windsor, East Windsor, Hightstown and Robbinsville.

biking on the sidewalk w adult Hightstown Stockton Dutch Neck nb Robbinsville Pond Rd MS 56 cycles ped xwalk Hamilton Estates G Dye Roundabout Cyclist East Windsor Dutch Neck Dorchester 4 xwalks Nassau Sharrows

Lawrence Johnson Trolley Trail Xing Hopewell Denow Roundabout 1 Pennington Cyclist Texting Hopewell Boro Broad St Xing

Ewing Presbyterian Church Xing

Trenton Bike Lane Paver and Asphault

Greater Mercer TMA 2014 Impact

2 Jan

web info