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Greater Mercer TMA Awards Businesses, Schools and Municipalities for Leadership in Sustainability and Safety and Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh at the Annual Meeting and Luncheon

30 Oct

Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA), the Regional Transportation Management Association for Mercer and Ocean counties held its Annual Meeting and Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Princeton, on Friday, Oct 27, 2017. During the event, GMTMA recognized 23 businesses with the 2017 New Jersey Smart Workplaces Award and Municipalities and Schools with the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Recognition Award.

Guest speaker at the event was Gary Toth, the director of transportation at the Project for Public Spaces. He has 45 years experience in transportation engineering and planning, 34 of them with the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  Toth talked about placemaking and transportation’s role in supporting people and place in our communities. To learn more about placemaking, go to https://www.pps.org/about/

Also speaking at the event, GMTMA Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes highlighted GMTMA’s work over the last year.

Kastrenakes and Board President Jack Kanarek then recognized West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh for his dedicated service and the following Schools and Municipalities for their efforts to implement SRTS programs with the Safe Routes to School Recognition:

Golden Sneaker Award:  Bay Head Elementary, East Windsor Township, Johnson Park Elementary, Riverside Elementary

Silver Sneaker Award: Hopewell Elementary

Bronze Sneaker Award: Maurice Hawk Elementary, Ocean Road Elementary

GMTMA awarded employers who demonstrated leadership by providing and promoting quality commuter benefits to their employees, therefore reducing congestion and improving air quality with the prestigious New Jersey Smart Workplaces Awards. “It’s is impressive that so many of our awardees, even those already at the Platinum level continue to add more options for their employees,” said Kastrenakes.

The 2017 awardees are:

Platinum Level: A-1 Limousine Inc., Albridge an affiliate of Pershing LLC, BNY Mellon, Amazon, Bank of America, Bloomberg L.P., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Educational testing Service, Horizon NJ Health, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst, Munich Re America, Inc., Municipality of Princeton NJ Department of Transportation, NRG, Princeton University, SRI International, The College of New Jersey.

Gold Level:  University Medical center of Princeton at Plainsboro, REI Princeton

Silver Level:  Greater Mercer TMA, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Whole Earth Center

Bronze Level: Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals

Exhibitors at the event included Enterprise Rideshare, Zagster Bikeshare, DVRPC, NJTPA, AAA MidAtlantic,  and NJTIP@Rutgers, and Greater Mercer TMA.

Thank you to all the attendees and congratulations to the awardees.

 

 

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Teen Driving Safety

20 Oct

National Teen Driver Safety week is coming to an end, but that does not mean that you can’t keep the conversation going and keep reminding your teen how to drive safely. You can get creative and send them emails, text messages, use social media, or leave sticky notes in the car. Keep reminding them the rules of the road:

  1. No Drinking and Driving.

Set a good example by not driving after drinking. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix, no matter your age. Also remind them that driving under the influence of any impairing substance, including illicit or prescription drugs, could have deadly consequences.

  1. Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Everyone—Front Seat and Back.

Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what (both in the front and back seats).

  1. Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time.

Remind your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing, or using mobile apps while driving. Have them make their phone off-limits when they are on the road and turn on the “Do Not Disturb” or similar feature on their phone. Distracted driving isn’t limited to phone use; other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all sources of dangerous distractions for teen drivers.
Obey All Posted Speed Limits.

Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens who lack the experience to react to changing circumstances around their cars. Obey the speed limit, and require your teen to do the same. Explain that every time the speed you’re driving doubles, the distance your car will travel when you try to stop quadruples.

With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up. NJ’s Law restricts passengers to 1 with exception for driver’s dependents.

  1. Avoid Driving Tired.

It’s easy for your teen to lose track of time while doing homework or participating in extracurricular activities, so make sure they get what they need most—a good night’s sleep.

And remind them that NJ’s nighttime driving restriction is 11:00PM to 5:00AM.

Stay safe!

 

Source: NHTSA.org

Committing to Reduce Emissions

9 Jun

A recent Smart Growth America article highlights the ways in which cities can commit to reducing emissions and steps mayors can take to achieve the Climate Actions Agenda goals.

Some of the steps highlighted in the article are investing in electric cars and clean energy and building walkable neighborhoods which are served by transit.  Compact, walkable neighborhoods are efficient because they reduce the need to use a car and reduce water and energy use.  And as Smart Growth America mentions, compact, walkable neighborhoods are in demand, which is good news for people worried about climate.

Other steps mayors can take:

  • Make walking and biking safer by adopting a Complete Streets approach
  • Make public transit a priority
  • Adopt policies that make it easier  to locate homes and businesses near transit
  • Allow mixed-use development
  • Rethink street networks so that they connect and not end in a cul-de-sac

In Mercer County, Princeton’s Mayor Liz Lempert signed the Climate Mayors open letter to adopt and uphold the climate goals. Some of the highlights are:

  • Adding a new electric vehicle charging station on the first level of the Spring Street Garage
  • Adding a new temporary parklet in front of jaZams along Palm Square which will serve as a playful environment to educate people about renewable energy sources
  • Committing to reducing the municipal environmental footprint by producing less waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • And a new solar project over the former River Road landfill.

So far, over 270 mayors have committed to uphold the climate goals. And all of us can also commit to taking small steps to support them and the Climate Action Agenda by changing the way we drive and how we drive, use less energy, take public transit, and being more aware of our environmental footprint.

 

This Earth Day Green Your Commute

21 Apr

This Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day, marking the end of Earth Week, an event celebrated in 192 countries, to increase awareness about the environment, sustainability, animal extinction, rainforest depletion, and other issues.

This Earth Day we’d like everyone to focus on reducing CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. A recent NJ Spotlight article highlights the need to reduce greenhouse gases and to increase public awareness of the impact climate change had on people’s health.  In New Jersey there are 590,000 adults and 180,000 children that have a chronic respiratory disease.  The asthma rates for adults and children are higher in NJ (9%) than the national average of 8.4% for children and 7.6% for adults. Climate change also exacerbates allergic reactions and infectious diseases. It seems like we have many reasons to keep working on reducing emissions and take steps to improve our health.

This Saturday will be a good day to go out, enjoy the great weather and leave your car at home.  Maybe you can even try extending your active travel to 2 or more days a week by choosing one of the following:

  • Public transit – you can find info about traveling by bus and train in Ocean and Mercer County
  • Try bike commuting and if while you’re at it sign up for Bike to Work Week and get a free t-shirt; you can find more information about bike commuting, bike lockers, ask for maps, and more
  • Give carpooling and vanpooling a try, you can start once or twice a week and go from there – more information and registration form are available here.
  • And if you don’t have a choice and have to drive, why not go electric?!? Kudos if you already did. A lot of Americans were buying trucks and SUVs last year because the gas prices are so low, and while these vehicles may have better fuel economy than they once did, they are still impacting the environment in a negative way.

We know there are many people out there who made active commuting a lifestyle. Many people take the bus or train, bike and walk to work and that is great. Kudos everyone and we hope to see even more.

Happy Earth day and we hope you enjoy the outdoors this weekend.

 

Sources:

http://www.earthday.org/campaigns/green-cities/green-your-ride/

http://inhabitat.com/fascinating-earth-day-facts-that-you-may-not-know/

https://motiondigest.com/2017/04/18/earth-week-2017-lets-go-green-commuting/

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/17/04/18/is-climate-change-already-aggravating-asthma-other-diseases-in-new-jersey/?utm_source=NJ+Spotlight++Master+List&utm_campaign=714520017d-Daily_Digest2_5_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1d26f473a7-714520017d-398644857

Active Transportation and the Health of Our Communities

20 Jan

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) released a new report, The Case for Healthy Places, in December 2016 in which they highlight key areas that support healthy placemaking.  According to PPS one’s zip code is a better predictor of health than genetic code. Where we live and where we work matters and we can see that from research highlighting health disparities among low-income communities and high-income communities.

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We already know that Americans have some of the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and certain cancer types.  Americans also suffer from poor mental health and all of these conditions are linked to insufficient physical activity among other factors. Insufficient physical activity is directly related to the way our communities are designed.   PPS states issues such as sprawl, unwalkable communities, poor air quality, unsafe street design for walking and biking, all have a negative impact on our physical and mental health.

One of the key areas named in the PPS report is Walking and Biking. According to research cited by PPS, placemaking supports more walkable and bikeable communities which leads to improved safety  and accessibility of streets,  a sense of community, increased physical activity, support of local economies, and reduced air pollution. And we now have enough evidence that physical activity helps reduce the risk of chronic disease.

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So what would encourage more physical activity? According to the American Planning Association cited by PPS report, there are nine features that encourage active transportation:

  • Sidewalks
  • Bike lanes and racks
  • Traffic calming measures
  • Crosswalks and signals
  • Aesthetics and placemaking efforts, such as public art and fountains
  • Public space including parks and plazas
  • Street trees
  • Green infrastructures, including greenways and rain gardens
  • Street furniture, including benches, bus shelters, and signage

The report shows that active transportation is not only good for our health but also for the health of our local economies. And studies show that physically active kids have better concentration, mood, self-image, self-confidence, and fewer chronic health problems.

What do you think about the walking and biking conditions in your community?  What do you like? What would you like to change?

Let us know; you can comment on our social media or write a guest blog.

You can find the full report here and the report release article here.

Street Smart Campaign Launch

28 Sep

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Police Department are holding a news conference with the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA) Thursday, September 29 to kick off its participation in Street Smart New Jersey, a pedestrian safety initiative focusing on outreach and education designed to change unsafe behavior by pedestrians and drivers on our streets.

zerogrpah

The event is being held at Hinds Plaza at the intersection of Witherspoon and Hullfish Streets during the Princeton Farmers Market at 12:30pm.

Speakers will include Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton Police Chief Nicholas Sutter, and GMTMA Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes.

The Street Smart Campaign is launching in early October to coincide with the start of local schools and the return of Princeton University students for the fall semester.  The campaign focuses on compliance of traffic and pedestrian safety laws.  The Princeton Police Department is partnering with GMTMA, a non-profit transportation organization serving Mercer County.

“We want everyone to be safe whether they’re walking to school, to work, to the store, or out for some exercise,” said Mayor Lempert. “Princeton has lots of pedestrians because we’re a great, walkable community, and that’s why this safety campaign is so important. It’s an opportunity to remind both pedestrians and drivers of the rules that are designed to keep everyone safe.”

Street Smart is a collaborative effort between the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), Federal Highway Administration, New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.  GMTMA is working with NJTPA to coordinate Street Smart campaign in communities in Mercer and Ocean Counties.

Street Smart aims to change pedestrian and motorist behavior to reduce pedestrian-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities.  The campaign uses the slogan “check your vital signs” to remind motorists and pedestrians of safe travel roles and responsibilities.  Vital signs are displayed on tip cards, posters, and temporary street signs throughout the community as a visual reminder for drivers and pedestrians.

In the state of New Jersey, from 2010-2014, 750 pedestrians were killed and 17,000 were injured.  Between 2013 and 2015, there were 55 pedestrian-related crashes in Princeton.  Of those accidents 52 pedestrians were injured and there was one fatality.

For more information on GMTMA and the Street Smart campaign in other municipalities, go to gmtma.org/street-smart.

Is It the Low Gas Prices?

9 Sep

The latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures show a large increase in the number of traffic fatalities in the last year. A total of 35,092 people lost their life in traffic crashes, an increase of 7.2% since 2014. The total number includes drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  The previous trend of declining traffic deaths has been reversed in 2015 and the main reason cited was increased driving due to the low fuel prices. And according to a CDC study, U.S. now has the highest traffic deaths when compared to other high-income countries.

So is it really just the low gas prices? Not really. Low gas prices led to an increase in the number of people driving, but it didn’t cause the crashes. The CDC study shows that too many people are behaving recklessly, speeding, driving while intoxicated and not always using their seatbelt.

In addition, poor transit options and street design that prioritizes cars over humans also play a big role. And that’s why supporters of Complete Streets policy and Vision Zero are gaining ground in more and more places across United States. Designing our streets to be safer can reduce the instances of traffic deaths by lowering the speed limit, giving pedestrians and bicyclists safe access, and allowing public transit to run on time.

Until we have safer streets and better transit options, we can help change the trend by driving carefully and looking out for each other whether you are a driver, a cyclist, or a pedestrian.

Sources:

http://nacto.org/2016/08/31/traffic-deaths/

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/motor-vehicle-safety/index.html

http://www.curbed.com/2016/9/1/12737230/streets-traffic-deaths-pedestrians

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/traffic-fatalities-2015