Tag Archives: Bike to Work Week

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 Commuter Journal – Getting Ready for Bike Month and Bike to Work Week

5 May

Bike Month is here and so far we have enjoyed really nice weather. Let’s hope the weather will be nice during Bike to Work Week as well. For those of you who are planning to bike to work or thought about it and don’t know where to start, we put together a list of things you need.

  • A bike that fits right and has a comfortable saddle; bike shops are best able to fit your bike to you.
  • A route you are comfortable with.  Choose roads with bike lanes and slower moving traffic when possible.  You can find biking maps on our websiteor Google bike maps.
  • Comfortable clothing– if you have a short commute (under 5 miles) you could ride in your work clothes.  Just go at a reasonable speed, adjust your gears depending on the terrain (you can push yourself on the way back from work if you want a little workout). If you can, leave some clothes at the office to make sure you always look your best.  If not here are some tips: If you do not have a shower at work you could get some Action Wipes, they will do the trick.
  • Invest in a pannier you can put you bag/backpack in so you do not have to carry it.  This is both practical and important for your safety since your hands won’t be busy holding things.
  • Plan ahead and learn what to carry with you just in case –Spare tubes and tools and know how to change a tire. You can learn here .
  • If your office does not have a safe storage spot for your bike, here’s somebike locking advice .

And last but not least  – safety tips:

Bicyclists

  • Follow all the rules of the road, including riding with traffic and stopping for signs and signals
  • Be predictable and signal your intentions to others – point right or left for turning, hand down for stopping
  • Be ready to stop at driveways
  • Make yourself visible, wear bright colors, something reflective, have a white light in the front of your bike and a red light on the back, mirrors, and bell
  • Wear a helmet

Be safe and have fun! And remember if you have questions or you need help choosing a route, you can always contact us .

And don’t forget to register for bike to work week, log your miles, and share your pictures and your experiences with us.

Happy Cycling!

 

This year’s Bike to Work Week Sponsors  Kopp’s Cycle, REI Princeton, Greater Mercer TMA, St. Lawrence Rehab Center, Sourland Cycles, and Whole Earth Center

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 !

Swap-a-Ride Re-branded as Bike to Food & Friends

24 Mar

All together – spring is coming, spring is coming, spring is coming! If we repeat that often enough, the snow will melt and spring will really be here, and along with spring comes – Bike to Work Week!

But what if you work at home? What if you no longer work? What if you haven’t yet started your working career?

Great news – you can still participate in Swap-A-Ride, now re-branded as Bike to Food and Friends!

Swap-A-Ride might sound like our Ride Provide program, where instead of driving your car we give you a ride in one of ours. It might also sound like our carpool program, where you swap turns driving, like giving your neighbor a ride this week, and they give you a ride next week.

Bike to Food and Friends clearly says you drive your bike instead of your car. You might go to the train station, maybe to dinner and a show in the city.

You might go to the grocery store.

You might go to the library for a study group session, or to donate used books.

You might go for a ride in the park with friends.

These are just examples – if you would have driven there in a car, but bike there instead, it counts as Bike to Food and Friends.

Now, aren’t you looking forward to spring even more? Stay tuned for how to sign up for Bike to Food and Friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Bike to Work Week Registration is Open!

8 Apr

REGISTER NOW!  Bike to Work Week (May 16-20) and Bike Month events registration is now available at gmtma.org. Registrants that log in their miles at the end of the week are entered to win great prizes offered by the following sponsors:  Kopp’s Cycle, Whole Earth Center, St. Lawrence Rehab Center, Hart’s Cyclery, McCaffrey’s Supermarket, Halter’s Cycles, Knapps Cyclery, Sourland Cycles, and REI. First 150 registrants get a free sports grey t-shirt with the Bike to Work Week logo!

Photo Credit: Deniz Dagci

Photo Credit: Deniz Dagci

GMTMA is also sponsoring the following Bike Month events:

Swap A Ride:  For those of you who don’t or can’t bike to work, replace as many car trips as possible with bike trips and enter to win prizes!

Employer Bike Challenge: Form a group of fellow employees to participate in Bike to Work Week. Enjoy the camaraderie and the great outdoors with co-workers by commuting to and from work together, compete with other employer teams, AND get a chance to win our EMPLOYER WHEELS award.

Visions of Bicycling: To celebrate Bike Month and the beauty of bicycling, GMTMA holds a photo contest (last year’s winner shown above). Bike to Work Week participants are welcome to submit their photographs.

And for those of you who want to express the beauty of bicycling in words, check out the Bike Commuter Journal series on our blog, and email jibara@gmtma.org if you’d like to share your bike commuting experiences. You could be featured on our blog.

And of course, GMTMA offers information and safety tips for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and can provide onsite bike safety and pedestrian education programs for schools and camp programs, businesses, as well as seniors. GMTMA can also help your community do a walkability audit and identify concerns for pedestrians related to the safety, access, comfort and convenience of the walking environment. An audit can also help identify potential solutions such as engineering treatments, policy changes or education and enforcement.

Remember to log in your miles at the end of the week and win great prizes from these generous sponsors:
Halters Cycles, Hart’s CycleryKnapps CycleryKopp’s CycleMcCaffrey’s SupermarketREI Princeton St. Lawrence Rehab CenterSourland CyclesWhole Earth Center 
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