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Meet Wally Walker and Becky Biker

11 Aug

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.

Throughout the years GMTMA has promoted walking and biking with a variety of programming; safety presentations, bookmark contests, walk and bike to school events, bike rodeos, a walking school bus app (available here), and other events.

This year we have enlisted the help of two characters that will join our “staff,” Wally Walker and Becky Biker. They recently had their debut at the Jackson Library where a kindergarten audience had the chance to meet the crew up close and color in their own Wally to take on adventures.  Wally and Becky join us on screen too during our presentations.  The students get to follow Wally and Becky on their trip to school, teaching safety lessons along the way.

Wally and Becky will also be the main characters in our new walk and bike activity booklet. A cut-out version of Wally, included in the booklet, encourages kids to take a walk with Wally and write about it.  We can’t wait to hear about their adventures!

If you are interested in hosting a safety presentation or a walk and bike to school event, please contact our SRTS coordinators. 

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Bike Month Events

9 May

Bike Month is packed with all kinds of events in Mercer County. There is something for everyone in the family and that is why Greater Mercer TMA would like to ask everyone to pay extra attention, be cautious, and share the road.

Biking events for children

  • Bike to School Day for Princeton public schools:

Community Park School – TBD

Johnson Park School – May 16th

Littlebrook School – May 10th

Riverside School – May 18th

John Witherspoon Middle School – May 10th

Princeton High School – TBD

  • Bike Rodeos

St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center will host its annual Bicycle Safety Rodeo and Safe Kids Day on Saturday, May 13, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Children must pre-register for this event to receive a free bike helmet and bike inspection. Register by email at bikerodeo@slrc.org (preferred) or by phone at (609) 896-9500, ext. 2212.

For more information go to http://slrc.org/events/post/bicycle-safety-rodeo

The Princeton 7th Annual Wheels Rodeo – Saturday May 20th, 2017 from 10AM to 1:00PM at 400 Whitherspoon Street. There will be free bike safety checks, helmets, refreshments and more! Enter for a chance to win a free family pool membership or a new bike.
This is your chance to bring any unwanted bicycles to donate and to register your bike with the Princeton Police Department.
For more information call Princeton Police 609-921-2100 ext. 2121.

More info online at https://www.facebook.com/events/1894169967521136/

Biking events for adults and families

  • National Bike to Work Week is May 15-19th, and Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 19th. Register for Bike to Work Week, Bike to Food and Friends, and Bike to Work day events at http://www.gmtma.org/pg-bike-to-work.php
  • On Sunday May 21st the Historical Society of Princeton will host Chasing George,” a 10-mile bike ride along the D&R Canal State Park path, following the route George Washington took the morning of January 3, 1777 to fight in what became known as the Battle of Princeton.
  • The “Chasing George” ride joins PBAC’s Ciclovia 2017 at Quaker Road. Between 1-4pm the road will be closed to cars. Feet and people-powered wheels are welcome.

Parking for cars is available at the Quaker Meeting or at Mercer Mall.

For further details see PBAC’s blog – http://pjpbac.blogspot.com

  • Whole Earth Center Random Acts of Community

Each week in May on a randomly chosen day at a randomly chosen corner and time, Whole Earth Center will give the first 6 bicyclists who ride by a reward package from local businesses worth over $40.  Whole Earth is also a sponsor of Bike to Work Week.

For more info, go to https://www.facebook.com/wholeearthcenter/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

Street Smart Campaign Back in Princeton

7 Apr

Greater Mercer TMA and the Municipality of Princeton will kick off the second phase of the Street Smart campaign during April 10- April 14 in Princeton.  The first phase was conducted in October 2016 with a street level pedestrian safety initiative focusing on outreach and education designed to change unsafe behavior by pedestrians and drivers on our streets. In the second phase, GMTMA, Princeton Police, and Princeton University Safety will be back with outreach and education and enforcement.  Before the enforcement period starts, let’s review some of these safety tips.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

  • Cross the Street at marked crosswalks and intersections
  • Before crossing, look left, look right, and left again
  • Use pedestrian pushbuttons
  • Begin crossing the street on “walk” signal
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather
  • Watch out for trucks and buses backing out of parking spaces and driveways

Cycling Tips

  • Obey all regulatory signs and traffic lights
  • Never ride against traffic, ride with the traffic to avoid potential crashes
  • Use hand signals to tell motorists what you intend to do
  • Ride in a straight line at least a car door’s width away from parked cars
  • Always a wear a helmet
  • Use lights at night and when visibility is poor

Driver Tips

  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks
  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit
  • Yield to pedestrians and cyclists when turning
  • Look before opening your door
  • Be careful when passing stopped vehicles
  • Allow 3 feet when passing bicyclists
  • Do not drive distracted

And if you are curious about what the laws say click here.

Enjoy the spring weather and remember to be safe!

Transit as a Habit

17 Mar

In a recent blog post on planetizen.com, two researchers, Michael Smart and Nicholas Klein discussed the  findings of their  study to determine what shapes our travel behavior.  The authors of the study found that “habits and preferences for transit may be formed at an early age” and “the quality of transit experienced earlier in life can be just as important as the quality of transit in the current neighborhood.”

Smart and Klein also say that being exposed to high-quality transit during our 20s and 30s increases the chance of using transit later in life and the habit of using transit is maintained even when moving to a location with low transit choices. And as someone who likes public transit and used it a lot in my early life, I can attest to that. However, when it comes to NJ public transit, we could all use a little guidance.  For some reason, buses especially seem to be a little intimidating to some people. How do you pay? How do I know how much to pay? Can I pay the driver?

To make this a little easier, try to take a trip one day on the bus or train when you are not in a rush to get somewhere.  And why not make it a family trip, take your kids with you and help them form that habit earlier in life. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • NJ Transit makes it easy to purchase tickets, see schedules, and plan your trip with the help of their NJ Transit Mobile app. You can download the app from the AppStore or on Google Play.
  • If you do not use the NJ Transit app, you can find schedules and fare at http://www.njtransit.com/sf/sf_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=BusTo or you can ask us to send you a hard copy. We usually try to supply enough schedules at the local libraries and municipalities as well.
  • Local bus route tickets cannot be purchased with the app so you will need to have exact change when you get on the bus. Fares are based on zone. You can find the zone by looking at the map printed on the schedule.
  • When the bus arrives at the station, raise your hand to signal the driver you want to get on.
  • When you want to get off the bus, press the signal strip located near the window to let the driver know you want to exit at the next stop.
  • If you are planning a train trip and you do not have the app to purchase tickets or find a schedule, schedules can be found at the train station and tickets can be purchased at the ticket vending machines located near the station. The ticket vending machines accept all types of payments and fares are based on the location you wish to travel.
  • You can take your bike to transit and on the NJ transit buses and trains. There is no extra charge, but there a few restrictions for bicycles on NJ Transit train. More Bike& Ride info is available here.

Check out our mobility guide for more details on planning your bus or train trip.  You can also find bus and rail schedules and the mobility guide Spanish version on our website.

We hope you give transit a try and enjoy the ride! Let us know how it went.

Sources:

http://www.njtransit.com/rg/rg_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=BikeProgramTo

https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/09/transit-lifelong-habit-study/

 

Calling All Artists Grades 3 – 5!

17 Feb

Greater Mercer TMA’s (GMTMA) fourth annual Safe Routes to School Bookmark Design contest is now underway.  Mercer County and Ocean County students in third through fifth grade are eligible to show their love of walking by creating a bookmark with the theme “I like to walk to … with….”


bookmark

Exercise your feet and your brain! Draw a bookmark of who you like to walk with and where you like to go. The winning bookmark designs will be printed and distributed to area schools and local libraries.  Each winner will also receive a $50 gift card.  For more information about the contest and the Safe Routes to School Program, go to gmtma.org.

Submission deadline is March 24, 2017! Bookmark entry forms are available at gmtma.org

Bicyclists Outnumber Drivers In Copenhagen

2 Dec

When we think bicycle friendly city, we think Copenhagen.   And these days Copenhagen is getting a lot of attention and envy because it just reached a milestone; the number of bicyclists surpassed the number of drivers.

You can’t help but wonder how did it get here?

It turns out Copenhagen started as a city of bicycles, and then people embraced car ownership in the 1920’s. In a simple twist, bicyclists were seen as slightly annoying to motorists and the number of traffic accidents involving bicyclist and motorists increased.

Copenhagen was headed in the same direction as many other cities, congestion, traffic accidents, and pollution. People riding bicycles kept being pushed to the side of the road or off the road and they took the streets; they wanted to be able to ride their bikes safely again. Copenhageners protested and asked for a change in street design, putting bikes first and cars second and asking for safe bicycle infrastructure.

There was, as you might expect, some back and forth about design, cost, and how to pay for the new bicycle infrastructure.

In the end, city planning gave space to bicycle lanes, bicycles experienced a comeback, and it is now once again seen as a symbol of health, freedom, and the symbol to clean and lively cities. Most people in Copenhagen, even kindergarteners and a large number of politicians, bike year round.

I guess the answer is good planning, starting young and keep the wheels spinning until it becomes such a big part of your life that you are no longer willing to tolerate pollution and traffic accidents anymore and would rather leave the car behind.

Sources:
https://cleantechnica.com/2016/11/28/people-bicycling-driving-copenhagen-now/
http://denmark.dk/en/green-living/bicycle-culture/how-denmark-become-a-cycling-nation
http://denmark.dk/en/green-living/bicycle-culture/copenhagen-bike-city-for-more-than-a-century
http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/02/danish-bicycle-infrastructure-history.html
http://www.copenhagenize.com/
http://www.citylab.com/commute/2012/04/why-streets-copenhagen-and-amsterdam-look-so-different-ours/1849/

Fall is here

23 Sep

The first day of fall was yesterday, September 22. We are now looking forward to seeing the beautiful fall foliage, but not really looking forward to having shorter days.  Commuting in the dark brings about additional challenges; let’s go over a few fall safety tips.

forest-1345747_960_720

When driving:

  • Be careful when the road is covered in wet leaves, they may cause your car to slip.
  • Watch for deer, they are very active between dawn and dusk this time of year.
  • Pay particular care for bicyclists and pedestrians who can be more difficult to see during low light hours.
  • Adjust your lights to low beam when driving through fog
  • Always wear your seatbelt and do not use electronic devices while driving.

When walking or biking:

  • Make sure you have bright/light clothing, reflective gear, a glow stick, or a reflective band.
  • Cyclists must have lights on the front and rear of their bike. It’s safer and the law!
  • Pedestrians can also carry a flashlight and should always use the sidewalk when available
  • If possible walk/bike in groups to be more visible.

Stay safe and enjoy all the beauty of the fall!