Tag Archives: Plainsboro bike commuting

Happy Birthday Bicycles Everywhere

10 Feb

How many of you remember your first bike? I fondly remember my first bike in spite of the scars I have to remind me of it! My first bike was a bright red children’s Pegasus with a silver Pegasus sticker on the frame.

When I was a kid I often wondered who made the first bike, but never really pursued the question because I was too busy riding my bike, acrobatic moves and all, and scraping my knees.

It turns out this year is a great time to learn more since the bicycle turns 200.  Information on who invented the first bike tend to contradict each other, and while some records date back to 1418, the bike as we know it today seems to be modeled after the 1817 machine made by Karl Drais. It was called the “dandy horse”, “velocipede”, or “the running machine.” It’s purpose—a replacement for the horse after a crop failure led to the starvation and slaughtering of horses. It was made of wood, front wheel steer, and it was propelled by pushing it off with the feet.  This first model was short-lived though and it would be another 50 years until the bicycle would get another chance.

bike1

Photocredit: Wikimedia Commons

 

A brief history of the evolution of the bicycle

  • In 1863 there was the “bone shaker” because it was made of hard materials with steel wheels and rode on cobblestone roads.
  • 1870 the “high wheelers” looked more like a circus bicycle and weren’t very safe, it’s no wonder they were not that popular either.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photocredit: Wikimedia Commons

  • 1878 first American bicycle, the Columbia Bicycle made by the Weed Sewing Machine Company and it was quite expensive, almost ten times more than a sewing machine.
  • 1880 women could also take a spin on a new model called the tricycle. Many men also adopted this machine because it was more practical than the two, high wheels model.
  • 1888 John B. Dunlop first used a pneumatic tire for the bicycle and made it more comfortable and safer to ride.
  • 1890 advances in metallurgy lead to the “safety bike”, a model that looked a lot like what we know nowadays, much safer and more popular. During this time, the bicycle also become more accessible to a larger number of people and many of them started using it as a means of transportation as opposed to an expensive leisure machine up to this point.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • 1890 was also the time when more women started riding bicycles.
  • 1894 a change in ladies fashion allowed them more freedom and increased mobility. This is also the year when bamboo bikes were manufactured.
  • 1894-1895, Annie Kopchovsky, finished a multi-modal trip around the world. She would ride her bicycle to and from the main ports.
  • 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. patented the first e-bike.
  • 1903 Sturmey Archer invented the internal hub gears.
  • 1920 after WWI, kid’s bikes were introduced to revitalize the bike industry at a time when the automobile was gaining more and more popularity.
  • 1958 the first World Championship on road and track included women.
  • 1965 Bike-share begins in Europe.
  • 1970 on Earth Day, the bicycle sees a comeback in light of increased awareness of air pollution.
  • 1973 the Oil embargo creates even more interest in bicycling.
  • 1978 high oil prices lead to more sales of bicycles than automobiles.
  • 1980’s we see an interest in health and fitness and the bicycle is embraced for both recreational purposes and commuting. Interestingly the middle and the upper classes lead the way in this trend.
  • 1986 bicycling was the third most popular sport.
  • 1990 Shimano introduced the integrated brake levers.
  • 2002 was the year when Campagnolo introduced the 10 cog rear cluster which allowed for 30 speed bicycles.
  • 2016, the U.S. had 2,655 bike share stations in 65 cities.

I can’t wait to see where the bicycle will go next! Hopefully it will have Complete Streets everywhere so it can go anywhere it wishes.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of events. If you want to learn more check out the following sources:

https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/press_releases/bts020_16

http://www.ibike.org/library/history-timeline.htm

http://www.icebike.org/58-milestones-from-bicycle-history-you-must-know/

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Bike to Work Week 2015 Findings, Concerns, and Suggestions for Improvement

26 Jun

As we promised last week, here are some of the findings from this year’s Bike to Work Week event.

We asked our riders where do they usually ride and interesting to find out that while fitness and recreation seems to be the most popular reason for biking, commuting to work was the second most popular reason. Here is the breakdown:

58.71% of the total participants listed Commuting to Work, 72% percent of the total participants also listed Fitness and Recreation, 48% percent of the participants also listed Social Activities among other rides, and 43% also listed Errands and Shopping.

We asked our Bike to Work  registrants about their concerns and suggestions for what type of improvements are needed:

What most influences your decision to ride your bicycle for any given trip?

Most influence

What is your primary concern when deciding to ride your bike?

Primary concern

 

We also asked our Bike to Work registrants if there was a specific improvement they would like to see. Some of the specific concerns are listed below:

Alexander Road could be made safer for bicyclists.
Alexander Road is terrifying! Even this morning a vehicle tried to run me off the road!  Not to mention the dangerous pot holes.  Also the light at Alexander/Bear Brooke/Vaughn remains dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians as motorists continue to turn right on red and make left turns into folks in the crosswalk! 
More bike lanes/sharrows or signage to make drivers pay attention to cyclists.
Pass a 3-foot law for cars passing bikes that doesn’t penalize drivers for crossing the center line.
Make Rt. 206 bike friendly between Trenton and Princeton.
Improved sight-lines on Scudders Mill – Rt 1 overpass from the multi-use path especially the N bound U-turn lane.
Upgrade towpath or bike lane connections through Ewing and Trenton.
Widen Lower Harrison St Princeton between Lake Carnegie and Rt 1.
Some kind of bicycle accommodation along Route 27Employer entrance gates should be made bike friendly.
Safer intersection at Ingleside and Washington-Crossing Pennington Road (traffic light).
Improved road conditions!  Even where there are specific bike lanes the road conditions are poor due to potholes debris in bike lane etc.
In Plainsboro addition of a bike/ped path on the Schalks Crossing bridge over the railroad tracks separated from traffic by a concrete barrier. The bridge would need to be widened.  A nearby example in Plainsboro of a “good” bridge is the Scudders Mill bridge over the railroad tracks.
Improvement of CR518 between Hopewell Borough and Montgomery Township.
Finish the paths to nowhere.
Bike lanes on Alexander Road.
Safe way to cross Route 1.
Showers at work!!!
Just one?! Shower at work.  Bike lanes on urban arterials. 

As we can see there is more work to do to make our communities more bike-friendly and for bike commuters to feel safe.  Clearly marked bike lanes, signage and feeling safe are the biggest concerns cited by our riders.

Even so, people enjoy riding their bikes and find a way to get on their bike. These are just a few of the comments that riders have shared after completing their Bike to Work Week rides:

Great challenge.  I need to do it more often!

Great to be able to bike to the train station. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was great to see so many people biking.

My family bikes everywhere work school grocery shopping for fun… Thanks for organizing this program to raise awareness for bicycling!

I ride to work each day of the year even in snow.  If too icy I walk the bike.  It is the only way to go! 

I saw a number of new commuters out this week hope to see them after this week as well.

I usually live in Sweden and always bike to work every part of the year. So I do the same here. I wouldn’t feel good otherwise.

And finally an exciting encounter with nature, but that didn’t stop this rider from enjoying the ride and the great weather

I got goosed by a goose! A momma goose hissed and honked at me when I rode a bunch of big and little geese. Then she flapped her wings and flew right into my bike helmet. After that a tree was blocking the path. But the weather was perfect all week and the flowers were beginning to bloom and the air smelled like new flowers.

As always, let us know what you think, contact us  if you have a story you would like to share, or if you have anything to add to these findings.

 

Gear Up for Bike to Work Week

3 Apr

 Picture1

May is National Bike Month, and Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA) is celebrating again this year with Bike to Work Week events to encourage people to get on their bikes and discover the benefits and joy of cycling. The motto this year is “Biking: Happy You, Healthy Earth!”

Registration for Bike to Work Week and Bike Month events is available on www.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, Whole Foods Princeton, St. Lawrence Rehab Center, Hart’s Cyclery, McCaffrey’s Supermarket, Knapps Cyclery, Sourland Cycles, and REI.

First 150 registrants get a free t-shirt! REGISTER NOW! 

GMTMA is also sponsoring the following Bike Month events:

Swap A Ride: Don’t bike to work? No problem. 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. AND, get a chance to win our EMPLOYER WHEELS award.

Visions of Bicycling: To celebrate Bike Month and the beauty that is bicycling, GMTMA is hosting a photo contest. Bike to Work Week participants are welcome to submit their photographs. Check out last year’s winning photograph, “Lunchtime Errands”, in the photo above!

 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.

Many thanks to our sponsors!

Horiz

Bike Commuter Journal – How Things Change, or Not

18 Mar

Please welcome Steve Kruse as our guest bike commuter this week – he chairs the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and bike commuted from Princeton to Plainsboro through 2005. Steve joins us via an article he wrote almost 17 years ago, Two Wheels To Work, which appeared in the U.S. 1 Newspaper, May 28, 1997, used here with kind permission of author and publisher.

It’s great to get a view from last century, to see what has improved, and what hasn’t. Steve’s article mentions road conditions, policies, motorists both considerate and not, and several planned improvements to the area.

Steve noted that “New Jersey does not spring to mind as an especially bicycle-friendly place.” Is that still true? Maybe, but NJ DOT adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2009, so future improvements should include accommodations for biking and walking, transit users and those covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As our readers know, the state has jurisdiction over only the federal highways and interstates and a few other major arteries. Fortunately for today’s Princeton to Plainsboro bike commuters, Mercer and Middlesex counties, as well as Princeton and Plainsboro have all adopted Complete Streets policies – click here to see everyone in New Jersey who’ve adopted Complete Streets.

Significant improvements have also been made to onstreet bike lanes in West Windsor, which are beginning to form a network. Steve mentioned staying out of the “door zone” of onstreet parked cars on Harrison – Princeton’s shared lane pavement markings (“sharrows”), including on Harrison, guide cyclists (and notify motorists) to the safe lane position away from cars. Plainsboro continues to extend it’s network of paved multi-use paths. The League of American Bicyclists have designated West Windsor and Princeton Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Communities, and Princeton University earned New Jersey’s first Bicycle Friendly University award.

As you read Steve’s article, what do you notice has changed? What has not?

If you’d like to share your commuter experiences, please contact jfoster@gmtma.org.

Bike Commuter Journal – My Moment of Commuter Zen

5 Mar

whit at workPlease welcome Whit Anderson, our guest commuter this week – if you’d like to share your commuter experiences, contact jfoster@gmtma.org.

I love my commute. Rarely a weekday goes by when I am not appreciative of how lucky I am to have it. I bike commute from Hopewell Borough to Princeton University’s Forrestal campus, four or five times a week, all the year round. For the most part, my route is quite idyllic – lovely bike lanes on most of CR518 (I am working on Mercer County to address the parts lacking), scenic bike path on the Kingston Branch Loop Trail and a quick turn up to Mapleton where I give the bald eagles a nod if they happen to be nesting.  When I get to my lab, a suite of bike lockers and racks are waiting for me, and inside we have showers and changing facilities.  Yep, it is a pretty sweet deal.

Even after describing my commute to people I still get the “you are crazy” comments. Most of the time I laugh and shrug it off – too bad for them, they will never know what they are missing. “Me crazy? They are crazy” – that’s what I would always say to myself.

Then this winter happened. A few times this winter I caught myself agreeing with them – even with the multiple layers of wool and synthetics, the studded winter tires and a large thermos of steaming coffee I found myself thinking, “I am crazy”.  But the thought never lasts long. As soon as I get to my destination the feeling of accomplishment washes away any lingering negativity. That, and the hope that spring is just around the corner. Come on spring.