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10 Fun Facts about Walking

13 Oct

Fall is here, the weather is nice and it is really pleasant to take a walk outside. Besides, the leaves are starting to change color which makes for a great view. Whether you take a walk during your lunch break, before or after work, or to and from work, walking is great way to increase your daily physical activity. And since sitting has been deemed the “new smoking”, the more you walk, the better your health.

  1. Walking is the most popular form of exercise in the U.S.
  2. To burn off a plain M&M candy, you would need to walk the length of a football field.
  3. The average human walking speed is 3.1 miles per hour.
  4. A typical pair of tennis shoes last for 500 miles of walking.
  5. Less than 50% of Americans exercise enough to see significant health benefits.
  6. Walking 6,000 steps a day will help improve your health and walking 10,000 will help you lose weight.
  7. A person walks 65,000 miles in their lifetime – that’s equivalent to walking three times around the earth.
  8. Walking increases blood flow to the brain and improves your mood.
  9. Walking for 10 miles every week would eliminate 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
  10. Walking an extra 20 minutes a day will burn 7 pounds of body fat per year.

Enjoy the weather, enjoy the view and stay safe!

Sources:

https://www.factretriever.com/walking-facts

https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/why-walk-fun-facts-for-motivation

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Celebrate Car Free Day with GMTMA

18 Sep

September 22 is Car Free Day; an international event celebrated every year to encourage people to get Car Free or Car-Lite. You can walk, bike, take the transit, carpool, vanpool, or telecommute. As long as you don’t drive alone, you can participate in the Car Free Day event.

Look at it this way; you have to get to work, and you want to get your 30 min exercise anyway, why not combine them? Walk, Bike, take transit, carpool and go for a walk during lunch, telecommute and go for a walk/bike during lunch…you get the idea. You want to go green, you know it!  Take the pledge.

 

There are no medals or special recognition, we won’t make you attend special award ceremonies if you take the pledge, but we think this will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside!  You can do it all week, a few days, or just one day on September 22.  And if you are already Car Free or Car-Lite, please brag about it – take the pledge.

We will enter all the participants in a drawing for a token of appreciation – a bike commuter kit, complete with helmet, lights, water bottle, and reflective items.

Be part of a global movement to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. It counts, even for a day.

Start September with 5 Commuting Updates and Useful Information

1 Sep

 

  • NJ Transit restores full service. Phase One of Amtrak’s track renewal project is complete and NJ Transit will restore full service to and from Penn Station New York, starting September 5, 2017.  The alternate travel options, cross-honoring, and discounted fares will no longer be in effect after this date.  Cross-honoring with private bus carriers, NY Waterways, and Path will end on September 2, 3:00 AM.  New rail schedules are expected to take effect on September 5, 2017 and are available at njtransit.com. The freeB Commuter and Bank of America shuttle schedule changes will be available at gmtma.org starting September 2, 2017.
  • Avoid back to school traffic by carpooling. Check out the largest ridesharing network and register for FREE at njrideshare.org. After you register, sign up for the emergency ride home with your local TMA. Mercer and Ocean county residents can go to gmtma.org.
  • How to save about $2,000/year when you commute? Pack your lunch. Here are some lunch recipe ideas to keep your lunch box and your wallet happy.
  • Speaking of saving money, what’s up with the E-Zpass NJ-NY controversy?  Some commuters with E-ZPasses issued by other agencies other than MTA and travelling into NY were surprised to see they were not receiving a discount and were charged cash rates. MTA have a disclaimer on their website ( “E-ZPass rates apply only to customer tags issued by a New York E-ZPass Customer Service Center (CSC), including MTA Bridges and Tunnels, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York State Thruway Authority, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (Peace Bridge), and New York State Bridge Authority. Non-NY CSC customers will pay cash or Toll by Mail rates. Anyone, regardless of residency, can apply for a New York Customer Service Center-issued E-ZPass tag”) informing customers of this, but as it were the case, many NJ commuters were not aware of this because they purchased their passes with other agencies.  So, it looks like if you are commuting into NY from NJ, having an E-Zpass issued by MTA can save you money.  Transit, carpooling and vanpooling will save you even more.
  • NJ Transit cops are now wearing body cams when on patrol. According to an interview given to nj.com, an NJ Transit official said the cameras “will provide more transparency” and “de-escalate situations, minimize confrontation, and reduce civilian complaint.”

Enjoy the long weekend and be safe!

 

Sources:

http://www.njtransit.com/sf/sf_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=TrainTo

https://www.themuse.com/advice/52-creative-and-easy-lunch-ideas-thatll-make-your-coworkers-jealous

http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2017/08/how_to_save_money_during_the_e-zpass_border_war.html

Back to School Safety Tips

18 Aug

It is that time of the year again! Schools in our area are starting classes on September 5. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.

Children and Parents

Taking the school bus:

  • Wait for the bus to stop before boarding and always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access
  • Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too)
  • Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required
  • Do not move around on the bus
  • If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus

Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

 

If you are driving them to School:

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age)
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it
  • Require teen drivers to wear a seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction

 

 Biking to school:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. Use multi-use paths or bike lanes when available.
  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

Walking to School:

  • Choose a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at busier intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
  • Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school. Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.

And drivers should lookout for children, slow down, obey speed limits in school zones and be prepared to stop for school buses.

If you want to know more about bike and pedestrian safety learn how to organize a walking school bus and how to use the NJ Walking School Bus app, go to gmtma.org.

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. 

Time to Nominate an NJ Smart Workplace

4 Aug

Attention NJ Businesses Offering Commuter Benefits to Employees – You May Be Eligible for NJ Smart Workplaces Awards

 Applications are now being accepted for the 2017  New Jersey Smart Workplaces (NJSW) awards. 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. Applying is easy and chances are that employers already provide some of the things that qualify them for this designation. Employers are recognized at one of four levels of achievement: bronze, silver, gold or platinum based upon the programs offered at the worksite.

There are no costs associated with this prestigious designation and all awardees will be featured on our website and recognized at Greater Mercer TMA’s Annual Luncheon in October.

These are some of the things we are looking for:

Bronze Level

  • Establish and maintain a relationship with a local Transportation Management Association (TMA).
  • Designate an on-site point of contact for employee commute inquiries.
  • Place alternative commute information in new-hire packets. (Contact us at tma@gmtma.org to receive alternative commute information)
  • Encourage employees to register for TMA traffic alerts or 511NJ.org or disseminate traffic alerts to your employees.
  • Provide access to a site-specific commuter information display.
  • Regularly promote commute options and TMA incentives through regular memos, postings, e-mail, Intranet or other employee communications.
  • Encourage employees to register their alternate commute with a local TMA.

Silver Level

  • Host or sponsor TMA events/programs such as National Bike to Work Month, National Walk Month, Car Free Week, or Distracted Driving Awareness Week at the worksite.
  • Provide financial or staff assistance for TMA-sponsored community events.
  • Host two or more on-site vanpool/carpool formation meetings.
  • Provide a designated outdoor bicycle parking area or an appropriate indoor area.
  • Provide employees access to basic bike maintenance tools.
  • Provide preferential parking for vanpoolers or carpoolers.
  • Offer a formal flextime program.
  • Offer a formal telecommuting program.
  • Offer a formal compressed workweek policy.
  • Provide pretax payroll deductions for commuting cost for employees (vanpool, transit and/or bicycle commuters).
  • Provide Emergency Ride Home for employees who have exceeded the maximum number of TMA-provided rides.
  • Provide on-site amenities such as food service, dry cleaner, ATM/bank, sundries or showers.
  • Implement a teleconference policy.

Gold Level

Achieve FIVE Bronze Level activities and five Silver Level activities.

Platinum Level

Achieve Gold  level and implement a comprehensive site-specific alternative commute program such as:

  • Telework or compressed work week program that reduces commute trips by 3%.
  • A monthly employer subsidy toward transit passes.
  • A monthly employer subsidy/benefit for employees who carpool or vanpool.
  • Partnering with local gyms, Ys, or other groups to provide off-site showers.
  • Supplement parking by partnering with local organizations to create private park and rides.
  • Provide fleet of bicycles for employee use or rental.
  • Provide an employer-subsidized shuttle.
  • Provide electric vehicles for employee business use.
  • Provide electric vehicles and charging stations for employee use.
  • Contact your TMA for more suggestions.

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.

Go to www.gmtma.org  to register online. If you are not sure you qualify or you have questions about the program, please contact us at tma@gmtma.org.

Safe Streets and Walkability for Seniors

28 Jul

A recent article on curbed.com brings attention to the issue of walkability for our growing older adult population.  Older adults surveyed by A Place for Mom said that it was important for them to live in a walkable neighborhood.

But in many communities being able to do so safely is an issue of design.  The traditional multi-generational communities that the survey also showed older adults preferred are not always age friendly and need to do some more work on road safety.  Some of the issues identified in a Transportation Alternatives, Safe Routes for seniors article are:  pavement is uneven and there are obstacles that could lead to tripping, seniors are unable to cross with the walk cycle, and cars do not stop for seniors walking in the crosswalk.  Because of these design issues, many seniors find themselves isolated because they don’t feel safe going out, walking or biking.  And their fear is not unfounded, an NJ State police report shows that in 2016, 166 pedestrians lost their lives, and 44 of them were 65 and older.

In some communities, like ours, there are car services available for seniors such as our Ride Provide program and the Princeton Crosstown Service. These help seniors get to a doctor appointment and do their grocery shopping, and socialize. And while this is a great service, seniors should be able to just go out for a casual walk in their community without worrying about tripping or being able to cross the street. After all leading an active lifestyle improves their quality of life.

So how can we make that possible? The Safe Routes for Seniors intiative had the following recommendations:

  • Make streets flat and have smooth transitions to the curb
  • Install shelters and benches at bus stops
  • Create wide median refuge area with benches and shelters on wide streets
  • Extend crosswalk
  • Add more pedestrian space
  • Drivers should be required to stop 15 feet from a junction

Given the fact that more and more seniors want to continue living in their communities, making these changes would make that possible.

Regardless of whether such accommodations are available, seniors who want to go out for a walk should always keep in mind the following safety tips:

  • Use paths and sidewalks when available
  • Plan your routes so you have crosswalks and crossing signals
  • If you can’t tell how much time you have to cross the street, wait for one light cycle and cross when you get a “fresh green”
  • When crossing the street look right, left, and right again
  • Look for traffic even if you are crossing with the light
  • When crossing, pay extra attention at the curb, drivers may not be able to see you until you are on the roadway
  • Be careful in parking lots, look for backup lights and engine noise
  • Wear bright clothes
  • Walk with a friend so you can watch for each other

And drivers can also help make our communities safer for pedestrians no matter their age by following these practices:

  • Follow posted speed limits
  • Lookout for pedestrians and stop at crosswalks
  • Look for pedestrians before you back out of alleyways and parking lots
  • Do not pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk
  • Do not drive while intoxicated

These small changes can help make our communities more accessible to seniors, more “age friendly,” and safer for everyone.

 

Sources:

https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/SteppingOut/getting_started_safely.html

https://www.transalt.org/files/news/reports/2009/Safe_Routes_for_Seniors.pdf

https://www.transalt.org/issues/pedestrian/safeseniors

http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/pedestrian-safety/tips-pedestrian-safety/

https://www.curbed.com/2017/7/25/16025388/senior-living-walkability-survey