Archive | June, 2016

July 4th Holiday Travel Info and AAA Report

30 Jun

The 2016 AAA report  estimates that close to 43 million people will be traveling during the July 4th weekend, the highest number on record.  Gas prices are still lower than in previous years and many, over 84%, will be traveling by car. AAA also estimates a large number of people will be opting for air travel or other options.  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.

Infographic source: AAA.com

Infographic source: AAA.com

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 service for July 1st info available here
  • SEPTA’s Independence Day service information is available here
  • PATH will be operating on a Saturday schedule, details available here
  • Princeton’s FreeB bus service will not run on July 4th.

Bike shares are another way to get around in places like Princeton, New York City, and Philadelphia:

Car-share options:

And with all those people on the road, you might find our traffic alerts for Mercer County and Ocean County useful. You can find it 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, check out where you can see fireworks throughout the state.

Stay safe and enjoy your Holiday Weekend!

Sources:

AAA: Americans Will Take More Trips than Ever This Independence Day Weekend

NJ Sustainability Summit Takeaways

24 Jun

Last week on Wednesday, June 15, some of us at Greater Mercer TMA attended the Sustainability Summit organized by Sustainable Jersey.

Several interesting things were announced during the summit, including the new NJDEP “It pays to plug in” campaign, meant to increase workplace charging infrastructure.  There was also some sobering news from the keynote speaker.  Dr. Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central provided the keynote address – a sobering and sometimes frightening view of the current climate change, sea level rise and flooding impacts on New Jersey.  Dr. Strauss explained that while natural causes do contribute to the sea level rise, 67% of the global sea level rise is human caused, and CO2 emissions are the main culprit.

sand-1358809_1280

In the worst case scenario, if CO2 emissions continue to grow at the same rate, the likelihood of experiencing 5 feet coastal flooding by 2030 is 46%, and by 2040 the likelihood increases to 69%. As soon as 2060 the likelihood soars to 97%!  To get an idea of how some parts of the NJ coast might appear you can check out the climate central risk finder tool.

You can see the rest of Dr. Strauss’s presentation here.  On page 57 there’s an amazing picture of what Newark airport might look like given the predicted rising sea level.

The good news is that if we start curbing emissions now, we can avert the worst case scenario. According to Dr. Strauss, taking serious measures now could make a big difference in the long run. Low emissions could decrease the risk of 5 FT flooding to approximately 30% by the year 2100 as opposed to 100% as soon as the year 2070 (on parts of the NJ coast).

In NJ steps being taken to curb emissions. An example is the As Mentioned earlier; the NJDEP is offering grants to increase the number of workplace EV charging stations. Grant and eligibility information available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/aqes/

The first item on Sustainable Jersey’s Energy Goals is “decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in to avert catastrophic climate impacts.” The Energy and Waste Standards were the first ones of the 14 standards in the new Gold Certification announced at the summit.  Municipalities have to lower Greenhouse emission by 3.6% per year.  The new Gold certification is the highest level of certification and will also measure performance, not only implementation of actions. Reductions in GHC will be measured every three years to see whether municipalities demonstrate continued reductions.   More info available here.

And if that got you thinking about climate change and wonder what can you do to reduce or offset your carbon footprint, check out these easy steps.

Sources:
www.sustainablejersey.com
http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/uploads/ssrf/NJ-Report.pdf
http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/ssrf/new-jersey

Meet the Step Into Spring Contest Winners

17 Jun

Greater Mercer TMA congratulates Hopewell Elementary School and its walking school bus group for winning the “Step into Spring” contest. The group used the NJ Walking School Bus App to organize walks with their children to and from school. Together they have completed a total of 591 trips, walked 379 miles, burned 37,878 calories, and reduced 160,224 grams of CO2 emissions. “We found the app easy to use and my son loves walking to school with his friends” said Susan P., one of the parents who walked with the group. They will receive a $100 gift card for the group, reflective umbrellas for parents and reflective drawstrings backpacks for students. Additionally Hopewell Elementary School will receive $250 to be used for safe walking and biking programs.

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Left to right: Principal David Friedrich, Jed K., Sheila R., Susan P., Sara K.

We want to thank all the parents who used the app and organized walks. Special thanks to Sara K., Sheila R. and Susan P., the parents who organized the winning group and to the principal of the Hopewell Elementary School, David Friedrich, for being strong supporters of walking and biking programs. As the NJ Department of Transportation’s designated regional coordinator for Safe Routes to School efforts, Greater Mercer TMA works to keep children in Mercer and Ocean counties healthy by encouraging them to stay active through walking and biking to school and offering safety education.

Summer break is almost here, but the NJ Walking School Bus App will still be available in September. There are many walking groups to join or parents can create their own groups and organize walks to and from school.

The app and tutorial are available at www.gmtma.org.

We Almost Made It To Vegas!

10 Jun

At least based on the number of miles our participants biked during Bike to Work Week.

We would like to thank everyone for participating in this year’s GMTMA Bike to Work Week; together we have pedaled more than 2,200 miles, 400 miles more than last year, and eliminated 300 car trips.

Many of you are regular bike commuters as it turns out from these comments:

“I do this from April to October. The best part is passing the cars in the traffic on Alexander Road.” John F.

“I often bike to work. It was great to be able to share the road with more bike commuters last week! I hope that some of them become regular commuters too.” Bob W.

“I love riding to work.  I ride in 4 days a week in the summer after the kids are out of school for the year, and I don’t need to worry about picking anyone up from aftercare.  It helps me start the day invigorated once the blood gets flowing and it helps with my overall wellbeing.  I feel mentally and physically healthier when I ride to work.” Michael O.

While others seem to have enjoyed it enough to become regular bike commuters, as some of you said:

“It was great to have a kick in the pants to forgo the car for the bike.   I’ve been meaning to get back to riding to work, but riding to work still takes more thought and organization than jumping in the car.  This was a great incentive for me to take those extra steps.” Mark G.

“I enjoyed it quite a bit. I biked more miles the previous week than I did during bike to work week. I plan on continuing the bike commute on a regular basis.” Andres A.

“I feel more awake and happier all day on the days that I rode in. Unfortunately, project deadlines prevented me from riding Wednesday Thursday and Friday, but I plan to ride as much as possible for the rest of the summer and possibly next winter! “Anthony I.

And we are sorry to hear this Jessica D., hope you are better now and enjoying the ride “I look forward to this week every year! I used to commute by bike in all kinds of weather. But we just moved, and my commute is now 12 miles one way. I am trying to keep riding as often as possible. Unfortunately, this particular week I injured my quad and only got to bike on Monday.”

And Michael B. we hope you are feeling better and enjoying the ride “Unfortunately I was sick on BTW week and could not ride the bike.  I plan to resume regular biking to work …”

This year we had over 130 participants and 14 won in the prize drawing. Congratulations to all the winners:  Juan C., Chris T., Jenny M., Joanna B., Gareth M., Silvia A., James A., Debbie A., John F., Aaron A., Jim S., Brian C.,  Michael M.

Elizabeth M. biked the most miles, 160, during bike to work week and won the prize for the most miles. You can see why she says “Who needs spin class when you can get outside and bike to work. Work those quads and glutes!”

REI Princeton is the winner of the Employer Wheels Prize

And the Visions of cycling photo contest winner is Jim S. who submitted this photo:

Jim Simon

Congrats Jim and thanks to everyone who shared their pictures. It was hard to pick just one!

And finally, we hope you all agree with Jenny M. when she says”  “I thought it was great, but I’m not done yet!”

Stay tuned for the 2016 Bike to Work Week report, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and keep in touch. In the meantime if you have a commuting story you would like to share with us, please contact us, your story could be our next blog post.

Many thanks to our Bike to Work Week sponsors:

Hart’s CycleryMcCaffrey’s SupermarketWhole Earth CenterKopp’s CycleSt. Lawrence RehabREISourland CyclesHalter’s Cyclery.

Air Quality Action Days

3 Jun

Memorial Day weekend was just the beginning of New Jersey’s hot and humid NJ summer days. That means from now through the beginning of September, there’s a greater chance of having an Air Quality Action Day (we had a couple days in May already).

AIQ

Air Quality Action Days are declared when the ozone and/or 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. 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)

So what can you do?

It’s good to be cautious— make sure children playing outdoors are not having trouble breathing and that seniors have a place to go where there is air conditioning. 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.

Every time you get in your vehicle you create air pollution. Driving a cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicle helps, while driving less or not at all helps even more.  On Air Quality Action Days consider taking the bus, train, or catching a ride. 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. Don’t idle, turn of your engine if stopped for more than 10 seconds, to avoid CO2 emissions. Also put off any errands that don’t need to be done or combine your trips so you drive fewer miles.

And finally, 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.

Enjoy the summer!