Tag Archives: bike to work day

Bike Commuter Journal: Bike Commuting to REI

17 May

Aaron is an REI Princeton Employee and he bike commutes very often. One of his colleagues told us that he “bikes more often than anyone I know, in all kinds of weather.” So we decided to ask Aaron to tell what his secret is and he kindly agreed to. From tips on how to be prepared and ride safely, to his nature encounters and racing with a blue heron, he has a lot to say. Here is Aaron’s bike commuting story:

Aaron is pictured here first on the right

  1. Tell us a little about yourself

My biking revival started one day after work staring at a Chick-Fil-A sign at the mall for the MS Coast the Coast Bike Ride. Being active with the MS Walks since I was in 5th grade, I thought it would be a cool way to get more involved. I hadn’t touched my bike since the day I got my driver’s license. After working your standard 9 to 5 job for a couple years I gained an astounding amount of weight to my dismay. I was able to finish the MS Coast to Coast 50 mile bike ride on my old Huffy Mountain Bike with high spirits despite its 40lbs of steel and poor shifting. I felt like I was a kid again and it renewed my love for biking. I was motivated to get a real road bike, complete multiple triathlons, and three cross country bike trips!

  1. How long have you been bike commuting?

I started bike commuting when I began working for the REI in East Hanover back in 2011. It was 23 miles one way so making the journey for every shift was time consuming so I would bike as time permitted.  With the opening of the REI in Princeton/Lawrenceville in 2015, I was now able to take the East Coast Greenway / Delaware & Raritan Canal Path from home to store but it was a longer but safer 30 mile commute. I made the move to Ewing over a year ago which shortened my bike commute to a mere 13 miles!

  1. Why did you choose to bike commute?

Before moving, my car commute was about an hour. After the move, I would still have an hour commute but I could swap out my car for my bike!  I was no longer stuck in route 1 traffic and trading it out for more canal paths and backcountry road time.

  1. How often do you bike commute?

I bike commute every chance I get. Rain, snow, cold, I feel like a mailman. I have only missed a handful of opportunities to bike into work in the past year and a half.

  1. What is one item that you can’t leave home without?

My bike! Besides my helmet, I cannot leave home without my lights. I bike with a minimum of two blinking red lights to shine my presence on the road, even in the daytime. Grabbing the attention of drivers is the name of the game and having them give you the room you need to ride safely lets me know it’s working!

  1. Do you have any tips for people who want to start bike commuting?

For first time riders, I suggest checking in with a local bike shop with popular bike routes in the area. This gives a rough outline for which roads are good for traveling and has a good bike presence as to not surprise motorists. Bike shops usually have good local maps marking which roads as well as the Greater Mercer TMA website (link) which grades roads by its safety factors. Google maps has a biking option but it should not be used as your primary route creating method. I have had Google lead me on roundabouts that were hiking trails, closed trails, and even busy roads. Next, drive the route (if not a pedestrian and bike path only route) to see if you are comfortable with the roads and neighborhoods. Find a free day to test bike the route to give you a sense of how long you would need to get to work on time then factor in extra time for packing your bags, the unexpected flat tire, and getting dressed for work. Bring a friend and make a day of it!

If your ride is long, just find a “Park and Ride” train station. You can also shorten your commute by finding safe public parking along the route or at a friend’s house and bike in from there. Driving to work with your bike so you bike home and back to work the next day can help split up the mileage as well. If all else fails, call a loved one for a pick up!

  1. What do you like most about bike commuting?

The scenery is one of the best things about bike commuting. There are many things to see on a bike commute doing it year round, from the flowers of spring to the frozen rivers in winter. The scenery changes almost on a daily basis to keep things interesting. The exercise I get from it also a big bonus so I don’t have to hit the gym after work all the time!

  1. How long is your commute?

My bike commute is 13.1 miles long. I jokingly tell my co-workers that I’ll run to work one day since I run half marathons as well.

  1. Do you have any advice or tips for people who are thinking about starting to bike to work?

Helmet, Helmet, Helmet! I grew up in a time where it wasn’t a requirement and wearing one is not the cool thing to wear. When I began riding again, I was encouraged by people to wear one and I’m glad I listened. During a group ride, I was able to test the usefulness of my helmet in a pile up. I flipped my bike and landed on my helmet which cracked in half leaving me virtually unharmed. I have also witnessed 2 friends whose life was saved as well. Working at REI, I have seen numerous other people come into the store with similar stories as mine even on what seemed like a “safe” canal ride. Riding with traffic and as far to the right as safely possible is also a requirement. Making your moves smooth and predictable around road hazards allow drivers to predict your direction easier, and looking at parked cars for occupants to prevent getting “doored”.

Saddlebags are a lifesaver as they take the weight off your back and don’t leave you sweaty. They also keep the added weight lower for minimal ride adjustment when properly secured. They also provide the extra room I need for rainy weather gear for that unexpected shower or cold front!

  1. Do you have any funny bike commuting stories?

I once helped 3 turtles cross the canal path on the same day. I was afraid I was going to be late for work helping these little guys and gals out! I had a good discussion with a family about turtles and how we should leave them in the wild and not make them into a pet. Blue Herons are a canal path local and find them all over the place. I once “chased” one down the path for over 2 miles as he would fly down every hundred yards, rest, and fly again! He was definitely going at least 15mph as I wasn’t able to catch up with him.

Thank you Aaron!

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

Bike With Us Mercer and Ocean County!

14 Apr

Registration is now open for all Bike to Work Week events! May is National Bike Month, and GMTMA is celebrating with another Bike to Work Week event to promote bicycling as a viable transportation option.

“Bicycling is practical and joyful, good for your health and good for the environment.  Bike Month and Bike to Work Week celebrates the unique power of the bicycle,” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, GMTMA’s Executive Director, “and we encourage everyone to get on a bike and participate in our bike month activities.”

GMTMA’s biggest event is its annual Bike to Work Week event, which is May 15-19. Bike to Work day is May 19th. Registration for the event is open on GMTMA’s website, www.gmtma.org. The first 150 registrants will receive a free Bike to Work t-shirt. After the week is up, all registrants who log their miles on GMTMA’s website will automatically be entered in a drawing to win one of the terrific prizes provided by Bike to Work Week’s sponsors: Kopp’s Cycle, REI Princeton, Greater Mercer TMA, St. Lawrence Rehab Center, Sourland Cycles, and Whole Earth Center.

Other GMTMA promotions during Bike to Work Week are the Employer Bike Challenge for groups of fellow employees, the Visions of Bicycling photo contest, and Bike to Food and Friends for people who can’t bike to work, but replace as many car trips as possible with bike trips – taking your kids to school, to the post office, to the store, going out to eat with friends and family, or any other errands. Participants in these promotions are also entered in prize drawings.
And don’t forget to check out the Bike Commuter Journal series on our blog at gmtma.org, and email us  if you’d like to share your bike commuting experiences or if you have any Bike to Work Week questions.

Happy bicycling !