Archive | May, 2016

Hurry up, there is only one week left to participate in the “Step into Spring” contest!

26 May

There’s still time to win so don’t wait until is too late! Use the NJ Walking School Bus App to create or join walk and get entered to win prizes. You and your children get a healthy start to the day by walking them to school, and you get entered to win prizes for doing that. It’s a double win! The app is free and even keeps track of how many calories you burn.

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The contest is open to parents and their children in Mercer County and select towns in Ocean County. To qualify for the “Step into Spring. Ready, Set, Win!” contest parents have to  download the GMTMA Walking School Bus App, create an account, join an existing walking school bus group or create a new group, and schedule and participate in walks to and from school. The app is easy to use and parents can search by elementary school for existing walking groups, create walking groups and invite neighbors to join, plan walks to and from school, assign parent leaders to walk with students, group text within the app, and alert the other parents when students have arrived safely at school.

Every time parents and/or children walk to and from school, they get entered to win prizes. The more you walk the better your chances of winning! A random drawing will be conducted from all entries on June 6th.  Prizes include:

  • A set of four Trenton Thunder Tickets donated by Trenton Thunder
  • Reflective umbrellas
  • One walking school bus will be drawn at the end of the contest and receive for the group, a $100 gift card to share (think pizza/ice cream party!), reflective umbrellas for the parents and reflective drawstring backpacks for students. Additionally the school of the winning walking school bus will receive $250 to be used for safe walking and biking programs.

Enjoy your walk!

May 20 is Bike to Work Day!

19 May

The weather forecast looks great and we have amazing incentives for all of you who registered and log your Bike to Work Week miles. Hopefully we will see lots of you biking this Friday. To make sure we all get to work safely we wanted to share a few safety tips for both drivers and bicyclists.

Photo credit: US 1/ http://princetoninfo.com/

Photo credit: US 1/ http://princetoninfo.com/

Drivers

  • Don’t drive distracted. It is more likely that you see cyclists if you are paying attention to the road
  • Give cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance, slow down and pass them when it is safe to do so
  • Look behind for cyclists before you open your door after parallel parking
  • Look for cyclists when turning in an intersection or backing out of the driveway
  • Do not honk; cyclists can lose their balance if you honk your horn when you are close to them
  • Bicyclists have the right to use a full lane
  • And don’t forget to smile when you see a cyclist, it will make the commute better for both of you

Bicyclists

  • Follow all the rules of the road, including riding with traffic and stopping for signs and signals
  • Be predictable and signal your intentions to others – point right or left for turning, hand down for stopping
  • Be ready to stop at driveways
  • Make yourself visible, wear bright colors, something reflective, have a white light in the front of your bike and a red light on the back, mirrors, and bell
  • Wear a helmet

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

And don’t forget to log your miles, share your pictures and your experiences with us.

Happy Cycling!

Bike to Work Week for Ladies

13 May

Bike to Work Week is almost here and although the number of female bike commuters has been increasing over the last few years (over 30% of our Bike to Work Week participants were women), women still represent just 25% of all bike commuters.   There are a number of reasons, but certainly a main factor–many women (and men too) just don’t feel comfortable on roads that lack safe and comfortable biking facilities.

Photo credit: Flickr.com/meligrosa

Photo credit: Flickr.com/meligrosa

Last year, women that participated in our Bike to Work Week survey cited issues such as lack of bike lanes, lack of showers at work, potholes, driver awareness, and not feeling safe.

Flickr.SteveBacker.10180265885

Photo credit: Flickr.com/Steve Backer

And if you do an internet search, many other women cite the same reasons.  Other reasons women do not bike to work are: “helmet hair”, concerns about sweating, commute too long, and worrying about getting a flat or other emergencies.

As someone who would like to bike to work but worry about all of the above  (including biking on Alexander Rd.), I am always in search of great tips to make biking to work possible more often and also more comfortable.

Let’s face it no one wants to get to the office looking and feeling like this

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so here are a few tips that will hopefully help you get on your bike:

Helmet hair

  • A silk scarf beneath your helmet can reduce friction and eliminate frizz.
  • Wearing your hair in a ponytail is a practical way to avoid helmet hair, and if a few hairs are out of place when you take your helmet off, you can fix it really fast when you get to work ( this is one is my favorite and best to tame curly helmet hair)
  • You can find more styling tips here

Sweating

Photo credit: Flickr.com/radarxlove

Photo credit: Flickr.com/radarxlove

  • If you do not have a shower at work, see if you can find a gym near your workplace and make some an arrangement to use their showers ( you can use the $20 commuter benefit towards paying for this)
  • Keep a change of clothes at work
  • If none of these options are available to you, baby wipes are a great way to refresh
  • If you are only biking a short distance, you can wear your office clothes and bike on a route that does not take much effort so you do not sweat. This works for me since I only have to bike 2 miles to work.
  • Keep a make-up, dry shampoo, hair styling, deodorant, and baby wipes kit at work, just in case.

Commute too long

  • Try to do only part of it by bike. Our colleague Carol does this every year, and she commutes from Hopewell to West Windsor. She drives one day and bikes back home and the next day she bikes to work and then drives bike home.

Getting a flat

Photo credit: Flickr.com/Heather Harvey

Photo credit: Flickr.com/Heather Harvey

  • You will need to do some planning for this one. Here is a great article on what to carry with you and how to change an inner tube.

Being Safe

As far as feeling safe and comfortable, remember to start small, pick the safest route, always wear a helmet, have lights on your bike, plan your route ahead of time and try to bike it during the weekend when you are not under pressure, and you can take your time. If you are not sure what the best route is, we can create a personalized map from your house to your workplace.

This is not a comprehensive list, so if you have any advice, please feel free to share; we would love to hear your tips.

And I hope you signed up or will sign up for Bike to Work Week. Remember to log your miles during May 16 -20 and win great prizes.   Enjoy the ride!

 

Air Quality Awareness Week

6 May

We’re near the end of the Air Quality Awareness Week (May 2 -6), but that doesn’t not mean we can stop thinking about air quality. We all contribute to air pollution and pollution is impacting all of us. In our region pollution is the largest environmental health risk.

AirQuality-TIPS[v3]-No1

Image source: dvrpc.org

According to the airqualitypartnership.org, the EPA has designated the Greater Philadelphia region as an air quality “nonattainment area” for ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Particle pollution can occur at any time of the year but it is more common during the summer months and can cause asthma, coughing, cardiac problems, decreased lung function. This pollution also impacts the environment in a significant way leading to acidification of lakes and streams. And since the summer months are close, here are some tips to protect air quality:

  • Take transit or rideshare. Ride the bus, train, subway or carpool to work or school.
  • Refuel at the end of the day. Ozone levels are usually highest in mid to late afternoon.
  • Don’t “top off” your tank when refueling. Spillage adds two tons of air pollution daily.
  • Get the junk out of your trunk. An extra 100 pounds reduces gas mileage by up to 2%.
  • Change your oil. Using a manufacturer recommended grade motor oil improved fuel economy by 1-2%.
  • Get regular tune-ups and car maintenance checks. A properly running vehicle emits less pollution and saves gas.
  • Turn it off. Idling your vehicle wastes gas and pollutes the air.
  • Keep the right amount of air in the tires. Proper tire pressure saves gas and the air.
  • Slow down and save. Each 5 MPH that you drive over 60MPH reduce fuel economy by up to 5%
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking can reduce gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds.
  • Tighten you gas cap. This is one of the easiest ways to keep gas in your tank.
  • Visit http://www.i95coalition.org  for more DRIVE GREEN, SAVE GREEN tips.

Sources: www.airqualitypartnership.org,  www.dvrpc.org,