Tag Archives: princeton 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 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 
sponsorslogo

 

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.

 

GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week and Photo Contest Winners

19 Jun

A big thank you to everyone who rode their bike to work during GMTMA’s Bike to Work Week challenge this year! In just one week you eliminated 300 car trips and rode over 1800 miles!

While many people that registered for bike to work week do regularly or occasionally ride their bike to work, 15% of our bike to work registrants were first-time bike to work riders. Sixty percent of these new riders were women.  Some could not bike to work but chose to swap an errand typically done by car with a bike ride. Cargo bikes proved to be great for running errands and grocery shopping.

33% of the participants that reported their rides for the week, rode to work five times, 23% rode three times, and 8% ride their bike seven days.

The longest commute by bike was 32 miles/day which adds up to 160 miles per week and five people reported more than 100 miles rode in a week.

This year’s participation by gender:

gender

The incentive to ride was great this year, besides the great weather, we had 25 prizes to give out thanks to our generous sponsors:

Hart’s CycleryMcCaffrey’s SupermarketWhole Earth CenterKopp’s CycleSt. Lawrence RehabREISourland CyclesHalter’s Cyclery,Knapps CycleryWhole Foods Market (Princeton) and NJ Bike Tours.

The prizes ranged from Trenton Thunder tickets, $25, $50 and $100 dollars gift cards to helmets and bike tune-ups.

The winners are: Jenny M., Deniz D., Robert W., Sharon H., Sena V., Jim S., Christian J., Marc B., Sam B., David B., Vanshaj B., Daniel W., Chris S., Elizabeth M., Joseph K., Charles K., Michael L., Philip C., Ellen F., Ken M., Jenny G., Ted B., and Edwin S.

The Bike to Work Week Team Challenge prize goes to a group of four riders from Maser Consulting.

Maser Consulting Team

Maser Consulting Team

The Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner is Deniz D.

Who needs a car on a beautiful spring day? We are a car-free family. You ask if that is even possible in New Jersey? It sure is and we love it! Here’s a classic example of a resourceful bicycle moment: my wife managed to get an entire piece of plywood home (cut to fit in our daughter’s chariot, yet just the right length for our project). But if that wasn’t enough, she stopped to pick up a watermelon along the way. The best part was the proud smile on her face when she got back home!

-Deniz D.

Kudos to Deniz and his family and thank you for the great picture!

GMTMA Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner

GMTMA Visions of Bicycling photo contest winner

And as one of the riders said: “It’s not over yet!!   The more I ride the more I enjoy my bike! Thanks for the extra push on my spring and summer riding. “

We hope this was an incentive to get you started and you will keep biking every chance you get.

Don’t forget to join us for the next Bike to Work Week Challenge!

Until then send us your stories or join us as a guest blogger.

We will follow up with a post about all the suggestions we received to make our communities more bike friendly.

Bike Commuter Journal – Bright Bike Lights

15 May

Bike commuters can rejoice in the vast number of new choices to improve your visibility and to light up the road at night like never before. We’ll look at 5 options, including the lights that GMTMA uses as part of our Highway Traffic Safety grant. The Lights that we have at GMTMA are Planet Bike Blinky Safety, they are very lightweight, 2 LEDs, easily removable and run on nickel-sized CR2032 batteries.

Bike lights are useful in the day as well as required by law at night – for example, a rider close to the edge of the road on a tree-lined street is very difficult to see, so lights provide a big safety improvement.

Lights are of course white in front and red in back, and vary by strength, quality and source of power. Overall, there are lights to be seen by drivers and lights to see the road – we’ll concentrate on LED lights that are currently dominating the industry.

Pt Pleasant Boro Surf Taco 2 Yrs LaterThe free lights we give to bike commuters are Planet Bike Blinky Safety, they are very light, 2 LEDs, easily removable and run on nickel-sized CR2032 batteries that are claimed to give up to 100 hrs of runtime on the blinking setting. Click here to see a very useful visualization comparison tool. The lights pictured were still working 2 years after we gave them to the restaurant workers as part of our HTS program.

Another very lightweight offering uses 16 LEDs producing 80 lumens (much brighter than the lights using only 2 LEDs), are easily removable via a rubber strap, has multiple blinking modes, and are claimed to run up to 6 hours on pulse mode via USB-rechargeable lithium ion batteries (I get about 3.5 hrs).

At the upper end of the battery lights are those developed for mountain bike racing, where 24 hour events demand being able to see as if in daytime – this offering uses 6 LEDs that can produce an astounding 3600 lumens, but only for 1.5 hrs – lower settings allow for up to 16.5 hrs runtime, and software is provided so you can program your own settings.

The US doesn’t regulate bicycle lights, so if you’re a motorist approaching a cyclist sporting 3600 lumens in the opposite lane, be ready to be blinded. German regulations provide for not blinding oncoming traffic, so let’s look at 2 offerings that conform to German street regulations, both with power provided from a front hub dynamo.

Supernova E3 Pro 2 at walking speed

Supernova E3 Pro 2 at walking speed

This offering (beam pictured above in hall) provides 205 lumens, and can be paired with a 3-LED rear light – a capacitor stores enough energy for keeping lit while waiting for lights. The weight of the hub dynamo plus headlight is lighter than the high-powered mountain bike light, which has a lot of battery weight.

Busch Muller Luxos headlight and tail lightThis last offering (pictured above, see the beam pattern on the hedge) provides 70 or 90 lux (lux = lumens / square meter, this discussion compares 80 lux to a hallway, i.e. indoor lighting), and senses outside lighting conditions and adjusts the light level accordingly, plus offers the ability to charge your phone via USB. It uses an internal battery to mediate the charging capability, provide power while waiting for traffic lights and provide the 90 lux floodlight. It also senses your speed, and broadens the light beam at low speed, so you can make safer turns, for example, see the pics below to contrast the standing light, when the bike is not moving(top), with the low speed wide beam, when the bike is moving slowly (bottom).

Busch Muller Luxos U standing light in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U standing light in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U headlight beam slow moving in hall

Busch Muller Luxos U headlight beam slow moving in hall

Here’s a good illustration and discussion of different light patterns of various headlights – it’s not just brightness that matters.

And as always, contact us if you would like to be a guest blogger on the GMTMA blog.

How to Get Ready to Bike to Work  

8 May

cyclists-690644_1280

May is finally here and we are having such nice weather to enjoy the outdoors. 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.

You do not need a fancy high-end bike, but the bike you get has to be the right fit; bike shops are best able to fit your bike to you. The right fit increases your comfort and maximizes the efficiency of your pedaling.   A comfortable fit leads to a more enjoyable ride, which results in more riding! The saddle on your bike is worth some attention, the type of saddle you choose can make a big difference in comfort.

Pick a route you are comfortable with.  Choose roads with bike lanes and slower moving traffic when possible.  You can find biking maps on our website or Google bike maps.

Choice of 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 panier 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.

There is significant progress in creating fashionable, bike to work clothing but if you don’t think you want to invest in this type of wardrobe check out what other people like you do.

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 some bike locking advice .

Bike safety tips:

  1. Be predictable and signal your intentions to others:
  • When you turn left, extend your left arm to your side
  • When you turn right, hold your arm up an “L” shape or extend your right arm
  • If you want to stop or slow down, hold your arm down in a “L” shape
  1. Go with the flow of traffic not against it
  2. Be ready to stop at driveways
  3. Make yourself visible, wear something reflective, have a white light in the front of you bike and a red light on the back, mirrors, and bell
  4. Wear a helmet

WHY ride?

Well, listen to some of the people that participated in last year’s bike to work week and had a great time:

“It was great.  I enjoy bicycle commuting.  It helps clear my head and lets me think clearly. And I enjoy seeing the world around me–the migratory birds that are arriving the leaves that are unfolding.  “

“It was nice! I wish I could have ridden more often but unfortunately my schedule that week did not allow for it.”

“I’m a newbie to riding. In fact I just bought my bike in April. I wasn’t sure this would be feasible but I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly wasn’t as bad as I anticipated! Weather was mostly great. I used Route 27 rather than Route 1 since it’s a little more biker-friendly (much hillier but less traffic and bike lanes almost the entire way).”

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

If you want to share your experience, please consider being a guest blogger.

Bike Commuter Journal – Two Half-Commutes

27 May

Carol Bike 1Please welcome my colleague Carol Staats as this week’s guest commuter.

As a fair weather biker, I have been patiently waiting for warm enough mornings to begin my bike to work commute between Hopewell and West Windsor for the year. In celebration of Bike to Work Week, I planned to begin Monday.   I typically do a one way bike commute so that my car is available to me for work purposes – so Monday was a bike to home day. I was one happy biker when I got to Rosedale Road yesterday (Monday) afternoon during rush hour. The cars were backed up beyond Province Line Road all the way to Carter Road. It was a nice reward for me as a biker because I just kept on biking right past those idling cars! I am thankful for many courteous drivers on the roads yesterday and again this morning; we all can safely share the road.

Thanks Carol – if you’d like to share your commuting experience, please contact jfoster@gmtma.org.