Archive | July, 2015

What Is It and Who Qualifies For an NJ Smart Workplace Award?

30 Jul

NJ-Smart-Workplaces

New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) recognizes and honors employers who help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by providing commuter benefits to employees. Employers of all sizes are eligible to apply. Employers are recognized at one of four levels of achievement: bronze, silver, gold or platinum based upon the programs offered at the worksite. The program is a partnership of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Association and the state’s Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). Greater Mercer TMA is the program’s coordinator in Mercer and Ocean counties.

Applying is easy and chances are you already provide some of the things that qualify you for this designation. Take our short quiz and if you answer YES to any of the following questions, you might be eligible for the New Jersey Smart Workplaces award.

Do you go the extra mile to help your employees get to work?

Offer an informal flextime program?

Offer an informal telecommuting program?

Maintain a relationship with your local TMA?

Promote carpooling, vanpooling, and public transit?

Provide bike parking?

Have an on­site point of contact for employee commute inquiries?

Hold a commuter information event at your worksite?

Go to http://www.gmtma.org and find out for what level you qualify. There are no costs associated with this prestigious designation and all awardees will be featured on our website.

If you are not sure you qualify or you have questions about the program, please contact us at tma@gmtma.org. All NJSW awardees will be recognized at Greater Mercer TMA’s Annual Luncheon in October. See our list of 2014 Awardees.

Advertisements

Mobility As A Question Of Equality

24 Jul

In this TED talk Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogota, speaks about mobility and why buses represent democracy in action. Although he talks mostly about mobility in developing countries, it is hardly an issue limited to developing countries. It is something every country should consider seriously in the future.

Peñalosa says that mobility gets worse as societies get richer, and it becomes a question of equality. The definition of an “advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport.”

Road space is a valuable resource for a city, and it is important for a city to distribute it equally. It is important for all modes of transportation to share resources and the way Bogota solved the problem was to implement, lanes for buses, dedicated bike lanes, and sidewalks. A mass transit system where buses enjoy their dedicated lanes and zoom by cars stuck in traffic.

Protected bicycle lanes are considered a right. Being able to bike without the risk of being killed is a “powerful symbol of democracy because it shows that citizen on a $30 bike is equally important as one in a $30,000 car.”

Also, Peñalosa refers to walking as a need and says that:  “In terms of transport infrastructure, what really makes a difference between advanced and backward cities is not highways or subways but quality sidewalks.”

According to Peñalosa in developing countries more than 80% of the cities will be built in the next 4 or 5 decades. But this massive development is not limited only to developing countries.  The US alone will build more than 70 million homes in the same time frame.

He considers the current road space sharing model unsustainable and before building these cities, the relationship between pedestrians and cars has to be reconsidered. Cities that give priority to people rather than cars; cities that protect all individuals need to be built.

Peñalosa speaks based on the measures he implemented in his city, and he admits it was not easy. He proposes a few solutions and urges countries to think of these solutions when considering the next wave of massive city development.

Listen to his TED talk to find out about his work and what solutions he proposes for the future.

Let us know what you think and as always if you have a blog post you would like to share please contact us. You could be our next guest  blogger.

Meet Our Sustainable Transportation Coordinator

17 Jul

In this week’s blog post we would like to welcome and introduce our newest staff member, Ian Henderson. He is GMTMA’s Sustainable Transportation Coordinator and one of the Safe Routes to School Coordinators.

Ian

Here are some of the things Ian told us about himself:

What attracted you to this job?

I was especially interested that it involved green transportation, a field that combines my planning and environmental interests. Also, as a lifelong Mercer County resident, I jumped at the opportunity to help change the local community.

Why is transportation important for you?

Mobility. As an out of state student in Pittsburgh, I did not have a car. I relied on buses and light rail to get around.

What is a favorite thing about your job?

I really enjoy all of the creative presentations, tools, games, and other activities designed to reach students and the community at large.

What motivates you to want to change the way people commute?

There are direct health benefits involved with cleaner air and less traffic. Who doesn’t want less congestion on the roadways?

Where do you stand on the climate change debate? Do you believe climate change is real?

Yes. As an Environmental Studies major at the University of Pittsburgh, I had several science classes address the issue with an abundance of evidence.

What is your favorite book?

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

What is your favorite movie?

Batman: The Dark Knight or Apollo 13

What was the best moment of your life?

It is difficult to point to one moment. Some notable- I started my high school’s juggling club, I got to see a college energy-conservation dorm competition I designed come to fruition, family Christmas, college basketball fan section during a triple overtime, and U.S. Space Camp in elementary school.

Favorite transportation/commuting story

One summer, I had to commute to an office park just outside of downtown Pittsburgh. My bus route included a ride through the University of Pittsburgh campus, the core of downtown, right past PNC Park and Heinz Field and across the yellow Fort Pitt Bridge. I had a spectacular view of the “Golden Triangle” twice on a daily basis.

Favorite commuting app/gadget

The MyRadar app has a constantly-updating weather radar screen for the country. Also the “NJ Train Schedule” app is nice to have on hand.

What else would you like to do if you would not be working in transportation?

I would work to increase sustainability within business operations or supply chain.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve played piano for years. I like to go to live concerts or sports. I also really enjoy film, both classic and current.

Welcome Ian and we are happy to have you!

Is Today Air Quality Day?

10 Jul

Starting mid-May through the beginning of September, there is a greater chance of having an Air Quality Action Day (we had a couple days in June already). Air Quality Action Days are declared when the ozone and 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.

AIQ

According to airnow.org, exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone can have serious health effects. It can irritate the respiratory system, airway irritation, throat soreness and coughing, and chest tightness. It also affects lung function making it difficult to breath.

Children exposed to high levels of ozone are more likely to suffer aggravated asthma symptoms, asthma attacks, inflammation and lung tissue damage, even permanent lung damage.

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.

If you are wondering why this happens, the answer is pollution. And transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution in New Jersey, responsible for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.  (http://www.nj.gov/dep/sage/ce-ggi.html)

What can you do to reduce the level of pollution?

First, the less you drive and the cleaner and a more efficient vehicle you drive the less air pollution you create.  Carpooling, vanpooling, taking public transit, combining trips, and driving fewer miles can help curb the level of emissions. GMTMA can help you find alternate commuting solutions and even create a personalized transportation plan. You can find out more at gmtma.org

Second, don’t idle, turn of your engine if stopped for more than 10 seconds, to avoid CO2 emissions and getting a ticket.

Third, check AIQ Index and see if it is an Air Quality Action Day. There are other things you can do on Air Quality Days to help the air; you can find a cheat sheet here.

To receive Air Quality Action Day Alerts by email go here or follow us on Twitter @gmtma for timely updates.

Fourth of July Holiday Travel Options and AAA Travel Report

2 Jul

The 2015 AAA report estimates that 41.9 million people will be traveling during the July 4th weekend, a slight increase from last year.  Gas prices are still lower than in previous years and many of these people, over 80%, will be travelling by car. AAA also estimates a large number of people will be opting for air travel and public transit.  During this 4th of July holiday public transit comes with many choices and special deals for those planning a getaway or just seeing the fireworks.

AAA Infographic

Infographic credit: AAA

Check out some of these options for your holiday travel:

  • NJ Transit offers bus and train passes to the Jersey Shore, schedules and details available here
  • NJ Transit early Getaway schedule available here
  • NJ Transit service to Macy’s Fireworks on the Hudson River is available here
  • Amtrak Getaway offers available here
  • Amtrak also offers a number of special scheduled trains for those who want to see the July 4th Fireworks in NYC and Philadelphia available here
  • Septa’s late night schedule is available here
  • Path will be operating on a Saturday schedule, details available here

Bike shares are another way to get around in places like NYC, Princeton, and Philadelphia, and available in the following places:

Car-share options:

A great tool for anyone traveling, our traffic alerts for Mercer County and Ocean County  are always available at www.gmtma.org  and can be accessed on your mobile device (just not while you are driving).

If you didn’t make any plans yet, here is what’s happening in Mercer County  and in Ocean County.

Stay safe and enjoy your Holiday Weekend!