Archive | May, 2015

Bicycles, Women, and Advertising in the 19th Century

29 May

To celebrate the end of Bike to Work Month let’s take a look back at the history of the bicycle and see how far we have come.

Photo credit: pixgood.com

Photo credit: pixgood.com

Whether it is bicycling to work, to the park, or around the neighborhood both men and women can enjoy taking their two wheels out for a spin. However, the advent of the bicycle did not begin with a smooth ride. Bicycling became a popular mode of transportation in the late 19th century. During this time, there was much controversy over women riding bicycles. Something that is such a non-issue today, turned into a big issue in the 1890s!

Advertisements for the bicycle that were targeted to women began to appear in newspapers. Women typically tended to the home and raised their children. This was considered the “woman’s sphere”– the pre-determined roles of a woman in society. Bicycles were viewed by members of society as masculine. They thought bicycling did not “fit” into their world. Therefore advertisers, who wanted to make money selling to women, had to be creative when marketing bicycles to women. They had to make their ads work within the rules of society to make bicycling acceptable for women.

Advertisers were attempting to tell women through advertisements that it is okay to live outside the women’s sphere by buying and riding a bicycle. However, their advertisements reinforced the traditionally accepted values of the woman’s sphere. Instead of promoting adventure or athleticism, they connected the bicycle to romance and marriage. The bicycle was so much more than that—it allowed women to be mobile and travel outside of the home. Women could move outside of the sphere and into larger parts of the world.

Women took advantage of the benefits the bicycle provided them. Bicycling gave women freedom. It allowed them to get out of the house and move about freely. Women were changing the social rules of their own lives. The bicycle gave women the opportunity to both figuratively, and literally, ride out of the woman’s sphere.

One-third of our bike to work registrants this year were women!

 

Summer Safety Travel Tips

22 May
Photo credit: pixshark.com

Photo credit: pixshark.com

 

Memorial Day weekend is here, which means it is the unofficial kickoff to summer! People start to head out on road trips and vacations, meaning that there are more drivers on the road during the summer months. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that there are higher fatalities during the summertime.

Before you get behind the wheel, read these safety tips to ensure a safe summer:

  1. Check the air pressure in your tires. Prevent flat tires or a blowout by checking the pressure in your tires at least once a month.
  1. Never leave children or pets unattended in a car. In only 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees. Even if you are just running into a store for a few minutes, the car can heat up to dangerous and fatal temperatures. Always take your child or pet with you!
  1. Watch out for bicyclists! Warm weather can bring out many bike riders, both experienced and novice. When you are driving, be cautious of bicyclists by slowing down and moving into the next lane when it is safe to do so. Always be scanning the road for bicyclists and other pedestrians.
  1. Keep an eye out for children. During the summer, kids are out of school and are spending more time outside. Watch for children playing, walking, and riding bikes. Go slow through neighborhoods.
  1. Don’t drive distracted. Never talk or text on the phone while driving. If you are on a road trip, have someone else in the car use the phone to get directions. If need be pull over to the side of the road or find a rest stop to use your phone. Taking a life isn’t worth a text message! Keep your eyes on the road at all times.

These tips can help keep you and other drivers and pedestrians safe all summer long!

 

Bike Commuter Journal – Bright Bike Lights

15 May

Bike commuters can rejoice in the vast number of new choices to improve your visibility and to light up the road at night like never before. We’ll look at 5 options, including the lights that GMTMA uses as part of our Highway Traffic Safety grant. The Lights that we have at GMTMA are Planet Bike Blinky Safety, they are very lightweight, 2 LEDs, easily removable and run on nickel-sized CR2032 batteries.

Bike lights are useful in the day as well as required by law at night – for example, a rider close to the edge of the road on a tree-lined street is very difficult to see, so lights provide a big safety improvement.

Lights are of course white in front and red in back, and vary by strength, quality and source of power. Overall, there are lights to be seen by drivers and lights to see the road – we’ll concentrate on LED lights that are currently dominating the industry.

Pt Pleasant Boro Surf Taco 2 Yrs LaterThe free lights we give to bike commuters are Planet Bike Blinky Safety, they are very light, 2 LEDs, easily removable and run on nickel-sized CR2032 batteries that are claimed to give up to 100 hrs of runtime on the blinking setting. Click here to see a very useful visualization comparison tool. The lights pictured were still working 2 years after we gave them to the restaurant workers as part of our HTS program.

Another very lightweight offering uses 16 LEDs producing 80 lumens (much brighter than the lights using only 2 LEDs), are easily removable via a rubber strap, has multiple blinking modes, and are claimed to run up to 6 hours on pulse mode via USB-rechargeable lithium ion batteries (I get about 3.5 hrs).

At the upper end of the battery lights are those developed for mountain bike racing, where 24 hour events demand being able to see as if in daytime – this offering uses 6 LEDs that can produce an astounding 3600 lumens, but only for 1.5 hrs – lower settings allow for up to 16.5 hrs runtime, and software is provided so you can program your own settings.

The US doesn’t regulate bicycle lights, so if you’re a motorist approaching a cyclist sporting 3600 lumens in the opposite lane, be ready to be blinded. German regulations provide for not blinding oncoming traffic, so let’s look at 2 offerings that conform to German street regulations, both with power provided from a front hub dynamo.

Supernova E3 Pro 2 at walking speed

Supernova E3 Pro 2 at walking speed

This offering (beam pictured above in hall) provides 205 lumens, and can be paired with a 3-LED rear light – a capacitor stores enough energy for keeping lit while waiting for lights. The weight of the hub dynamo plus headlight is lighter than the high-powered mountain bike light, which has a lot of battery weight.

Busch Muller Luxos headlight and tail lightThis last offering (pictured above, see the beam pattern on the hedge) provides 70 or 90 lux (lux = lumens / square meter, this discussion compares 80 lux to a hallway, i.e. indoor lighting), and senses outside lighting conditions and adjusts the light level accordingly, plus offers the ability to charge your phone via USB. It uses an internal battery to mediate the charging capability, provide power while waiting for traffic lights and provide the 90 lux floodlight. It also senses your speed, and broadens the light beam at low speed, so you can make safer turns, for example, see the pics below to contrast the standing light, when the bike is not moving(top), with the low speed wide beam, when the bike is moving slowly (bottom).

Busch Muller Luxos U standing light in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U standing light in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U headlight beam slow moving in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U headlight beam slow moving in hall

Here’s a good illustration and discussion of different light patterns of various headlights – it’s not just brightness that matters.

And as always, contact us if you would like to be a guest blogger on the GMTMA blog.

How to Get Ready to Bike to Work  

8 May

cyclists-690644_1280

May is finally here and we are having such nice weather to enjoy the outdoors. For those of you who are planning to bike to work or thought about it and don’t know where to start, we put together a list of things you need.

You do not need a fancy high-end bike, but the bike you get has to be the right fit; bike shops are best able to fit your bike to you. The right fit increases your comfort and maximizes the efficiency of your pedaling.   A comfortable fit leads to a more enjoyable ride, which results in more riding! The saddle on your bike is worth some attention, the type of saddle you choose can make a big difference in comfort.

Pick a route you are comfortable with.  Choose roads with bike lanes and slower moving traffic when possible.  You can find biking maps on our website or Google bike maps.

Choice of clothing – if you have a short commute (under 5 miles) you could ride in your work clothes.  Just go at a reasonable speed, adjust your gears depending on the terrain (you can push yourself on the way back from work if you want a little workout). If you can, leave some clothes at the office to make sure you always look your best.  If not here are some tips:

If you do not have a shower at work you could get some Action Wipes, they will do the trick.

Invest in a panier you can put you bag/backpack in so you do not have to carry it.  This is both practical and important for your safety since your hands won’t be busy holding things.

There is significant progress in creating fashionable, bike to work clothing but if you don’t think you want to invest in this type of wardrobe check out what other people like you do.

What to carry with you just in case –Spare tubes and tools and know how to change a tire. You can learn here .

If your office does not have a safe storage spot for your bike, here’s some bike locking advice .

Bike safety tips:

  1. Be predictable and signal your intentions to others:
  • When you turn left, extend your left arm to your side
  • When you turn right, hold your arm up an “L” shape or extend your right arm
  • If you want to stop or slow down, hold your arm down in a “L” shape
  1. Go with the flow of traffic not against it
  2. Be ready to stop at driveways
  3. Make yourself visible, wear something reflective, have a white light in the front of you bike and a red light on the back, mirrors, and bell
  4. Wear a helmet

WHY ride?

Well, listen to some of the people that participated in last year’s bike to work week and had a great time:

“It was great.  I enjoy bicycle commuting.  It helps clear my head and lets me think clearly. And I enjoy seeing the world around me–the migratory birds that are arriving the leaves that are unfolding.  “

“It was nice! I wish I could have ridden more often but unfortunately my schedule that week did not allow for it.”

“I’m a newbie to riding. In fact I just bought my bike in April. I wasn’t sure this would be feasible but I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly wasn’t as bad as I anticipated! Weather was mostly great. I used Route 27 rather than Route 1 since it’s a little more biker-friendly (much hillier but less traffic and bike lanes almost the entire way).”

Be safe and have fun! And remember if you have questions or you need help choosing a route, you can always contact us.

If you want to share your experience, please consider being a guest blogger.

Greater Mercer TMA recognizes local students in Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design Contest

1 May

Greater Mercer TMA (GMTMA) sponsored a Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design Contest with the theme “My favorite place to walk/bike is…”. The contest was open to all 3rd through 5th graders in Ocean County, NJ. This year we had more than twenty schools participate in the contest and received 300 bookmark contest entries.

Creativity was abundant making it very difficult to pick the winners. Just look at some of their artwork on our Pinterest page! We would like to thank the schools, teachers, parents, libraries, and superintendents for such a great collaboration. Also, we would like to thank all the students that submitted artwork, the response was amazing.

Winning designs Mercer and Ocean counties

Winning designs Mercer and Ocean counties

The winning bookmarks will be printed and distributed at local libraries and schools. Congratulations to the winners!

MERCER COUNTY

  • 3 rd and 4 th grade category Angelika Gorecka, Slackwood Elementary School, Lawrenceville NJ
  • 5 th grade category Evenly Vasquez, Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Trenton NJ

Honorable mention, Shaila Sachder, 5th grade student at Littlebrook School, Princeton, NJ and Samantha Gunton,4th grade student at Lawrenceville Intermediate School, Lawrenceville.

OCEAN COUNTY

  • 3 rd and 4 th grade category Anna Claire Willmot, Ocean Road School, Point Pleasant, NJ
  • 5 thegrade category Isabella Wade, East Dover Elementary, Toms River, NJ

Honorable mention, Julie Lees a 5th grade student at East Dover Elementary, Toms River, NJ and Olivia L. Smith, 3rd Grade student at Lucy N. Holman Elementary, Jackson, NJ.

Honorable mention designs

Honorable mention designs

 

Honorable mention

Honorable mention

“The entries were terrific and really captured the essence of what makes walking and biking so wonderful.” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, Executive Director of GMTMA.   “When we walk and bike we get to use all of our senses, we enjoy our surroundings in a way that just doesn’t happen when we are in a car. The students reflected this in their entries with detailed pictures of such places as their neighborhood, the boardwalk, and parks.”

GMTMA serves as the NJ Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School coordinator for Mercer County and works with schools, communities and PTO’s to encourage more students to walk and bike to school safely and to improve the areas where it is not safe. If you would like more information about the Safe Routes to School Program please visit gmtma.org.