Thursday, August 21, 2008

Common Ground Leadership Seminars

Save the Dates!!!

October 29, 2008
Common Ground Leadership Seminar: Walkability (morning)
9am to 12pm
Common Ground Leadership Seminar: Bicycling (afternoon)
1pm to 5pm
Special Events Forum, Rutgers - New Brunswick
Keynote speaker: Michael Ronkin

November 13, 2008
Common Ground Leadership Seminar: Community Trails (morning)
9am to 1pm
Special Events Forum, Rutgers – New Brunswick
Keynote speaker: Craig Della Penna

This fall the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center will host a series of
three Common Ground Leadership Seminars. The seminars build on the
foundation of the 2004 Common Ground Conference, which explored how
community design can support healthy lifestyles, specifically through the
advancement of biking and walking. Each event will feature a presentation
by a national expert on the topic, followed by a local panel discussion.
The seminars are intended to empower local officials, municipal staff, and
advocates with the knowledge to address common political, design, and
funding barriers to creating active, healthy communities. This free event
is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

The speakers:

Michael Ronkin is a nationally-recognized expert on bicycle and pedestrian
design. Formerly the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager at the Oregon
Department of Transportation, he is currently an independent consultant,
working on everything from individual sites to state and national
guidelines. He is a frequent speaker on roadway safety, aesthetics and
health, and forgotten elements of highway design in America.

Craig Della Penna is the Executive Director of Northeast Greenway
Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in helping communities
develop rail-trails and greenways. He is also a realtor specializing in
properties near rail-trails and greenways, the owner of a bed and
breakfast in Northampton, MA, the general manager of a land conservancy,
an author and a lecturer on the topic of rail trails and greenways.

We are excited to have Michael and Craig speaking at the Common Ground
Leadership Seminars. If you would like to participate, please make these
dates available. A formal announcement with a detailed agenda and RSVP
information will follow. Space is limited. If you have any questions,
please contact us at

We are still looking for panelists for each of the three sessions. If you
would like to be a panelist, or would like to suggest someone who has a
story to tell about walkability, bicycling or trails, please send us an
email at the above address.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Issue 4 "NJ Walks and Bikes" now available

The good folks in the Voorhees Transportation Center, Bicycle & Pedestrian Resource Center at Rutgers University have released their next installment of the New Jersey Walks and Bikes newsletter. As usual it is a great read.

Read the newsletter at:

New Jersey Walks and Bikes will keep you informed about issues, policies, resources, and case studies dealing with the bicycling and walking environment in New Jersey.

Also if you don't already know, make sure to check out the New Jersey Bike/Ped Recourse Center at . The center is loaded with thousands of documents, photos, design manuals, videos, etc, related directly to bike/ped issues. Also you'll be able to link to back issues of the newsletter as well.

New Jersey is really lucky to have such a great resource focused on bike/ped issues. The website and the center is one of only a few in the entire US and is specifically tailored to the needs of New Jersey which makes it truely unique.

Finally while you are there, make sure you sign up for their bike/ped listserv (It may be hard to find the link so here it is). Once signed up you'll really be "in the loop" about what's going on related to bike/ped issues in New Jersey. Only a few messages a week are posted to the listserv so it won't fill up your in-box either.

One of the best things about signing up for the listserve, is every 5 days or so you'll a get rap up of all the bicycle and pedestrian related news from New Jersey and beyond with their "New Jersey Bike/Ped News Digest." It covers just about every news article, opinion and crash report covered by the New Jersey and nearby media and will also keep you abreast of the most important news reports, articles, etc. regarding bikes and peds from around the US and the world!

Walking School Bus Training Anouncement

The NJ Department of Transportation invites you to a free Walking School Bus Training. The training will be on Thursday, September 18th from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Midstreams Elementary School in Brick TownshipJ.

Please RSVP by Tuesday, September 9th to Leigh Ann Von Hagen at or 732-932-6812 Ext. 613. You can download and share
the announcement at

By the end of this training, participants will have the tools to be able to plan and organize an effective Walking School Bus program in their own communities. The training will be presented by NJ Department of Transportation and the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers.

For more information about the NJ DOT Safe Routes to School Program,

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two In A Row and More!


Even the mainstream NEW JERSEY media is really starting to "Get It" about bikes. First it was NJN News with their favorable coverage on Monday and now The Asbury Park Press with an editorial that pretty much demands bicycle and pedestrian facilities in no less than the strongest terms I've ever heard from a newspaper!

Way to go Asbury Park Press!! I hope you put this editorial in all of your New Jersey Gannett newspapers this week (I've included it below too).

But it even goes back earlier than this week. In fact The Asbury Park Press ran another editorial last week on the topic of bike / ped funding that prompted this response from Kris Kolluri, the NJDOT commissioner.

But that wasn't all. The Home News Tribune also ran a good editorial last week as did the Gloucester County Times (editorial). Then the Courier-Post ran this article last week that had a heavily in favor of bikes.

All of this brew-ha-ha in the news started with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign's recently released report Skimping on Sidewalks 2008: An Analysis of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Fatalities in New Jersey. So again, another "hats off" to the folks at TSTC for getting this issue into the spotlight.

Now in all fairness the NJDOT does really "Get It" about bikes and peds. Unless you've living under a rock for the past couple of years, you've got to realize that financial times are really tough in New Jersey. Despite such tight state budgets the NJDOT has had the wisdom NOT TO CUT bike/ped funding. It could have been much, much worse. I remember reading a few months ago that some states totally eliminate their bike/ped funds (A big state that begins with a "T" comes to mind but I'm not really 100% sure).

However, the real issue is starting to become a lack of inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian facilities by town and county governments when building a new development or designing and rebuilding roads (I'll have a great fresh example of this from the Trenton Area that I'll hopefully cover next week). The latest Asbury Park Press editorial (the one below) is the first one however that starts to make this connection.

Editorial: Increase funds for bike paths
Asbury Park
Press • Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The importance of fighting to change the state's decision to cut funding for bike and pedestrian programs was put into clear focus last week on Long Beach Island, when a 47-year-old Highland Park female on a bicycle was struck by an automobile on Long Beach Boulevard. After treatment on site and at Southern Ocean County Hospital, she was airlifted to AtlantiCare Trauma Center in Atlantic City with a reported head injury.

The establishment of pathways along busy streets could never be more important than today, when so many people are turning to two-wheeled transportation instead of four as a way to save money on gasoline. Riding a bicycle is not only good for the rider, it's also good for the environment and means fewer dollars going into the pockets of Middle East potentates or fat cat oil executives.

Anyone who doesn't think funds are needed to install bike lanes in streets, sidewalks in housing developments and to bolster intersections near schools, needs to talk to the families of the woman run down on Long Beach Island last week, or the 14-year-old boy who was hit by a car in Manchester as he was riding his bike in July, or the 28-year old hit in Toms River in June.

Please write to your state legislators and get more money allocated for bicycle and walking paths and insist every developer who does work in New Jersey be required to include bike paths and sidewalks in his development.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NJN News "Gets It"!

I'm an NJN News junky and rarely a day goes by that I don't watch it. If you saw yesterday's edition, there was a wonderful 3 minute piece on bicycle safety and the end of the broadcast. If you didn't see it, HERE it is. Just scroll forward to 22min 12 sec where the piece begins.

The piece made some great points beyond the massive scary upswing in bicyclist fatalities so far this year. Those include:
  • Many of these fatalities happened because the MOTORIST did not see the bicyclist
  • Cyclists are allowed to ride on the street and must follow the rules of the road
  • Lack of bike lanes (mentioned at least twice)
  • "I've had some weird NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES"
However the best quote of the piece comes from Kate Slevin of the Tristate Transportation Campaign. She says:
"The number one thing we need to do is make the streets safer for people who want to bike around... to include cyclists (and pedestrians) when they plan / rehabilitate roadways..."


While this is Bicycle Planning 101, all too often bicycle improvements are passed over when road projects are built even in places where there is obvious demand. And note, she said "ROAD IMPROVEMENTS", not trails, not parks and not sidewalks but ROADS. For the most part, this is where adult bicyclists belong and this is where they should be accommodated.

So "a tip of the hat" to the folks at NJN for covering bicycling in a very positive light and for using the nice, smiling Jenny Applegate who wears regular cloths and rides a regular bike as the focus of the story. She is such a welcomed reprieve from the stereotyped cyclist image typically perpetrated in the media. You know, male, sometimes nerdy, wearing funny spandex and riding an uncomfortable road bike (not that road bikes can't be cool too). But Jenny puts a regular face onto cycling that most non-cyclists can relate to.

Also another big "
tip of the hat" goes to the Tristate Transportation Campaign and Pam Fischer at Highway Traffic Safety for getting this issue into the media spotlight!

Lets keep it going!

PS - WOW! What a difference from yesterday! Huh!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Precursor to All-Out War

Now that I got your attention with that title, let's all hope that it does not and never comes to that. However if you've been paying attention to the Bike/Ped news from around the nation, it may seem like things on the streets are truely getting close to all-out war.

Moving Targets
The New York Times • Friday, August 8, 2008


Pedal vs. Metal
• Monday, July 28, 2008

I know that many of you have already read the article "Moving Targets" in The New York Times. If not, it is a good quick read. The article goes over the willful and deliberate aggression perpetrated on cyclists by motorists and vice versa as well as some of the tension between cyclists and pedestrians. Fortunately and refreshingly the article is mostly sympathetic to the plight of cyclists just trying to go on with their business as they ply the mean streets of the U.S. It even mentions the anti-cycling bias found in our justice system, something very rarely mentioned in the non-cycling press.

Unfortunately, as many longtime experienced cyclists will tell you, the "Cold War" between motorists and cyclists is nothing new and has been going on for decades.

Let me give you one personal example:

On July 3rd of this year I was riding to work on a bright and sunny morning at 8am
. Being the Thursday right before the July 4th Holiday, traffic was lighter than normal. I was riding my 3-speed folding bike wearing "normal" cloths and a helmet. My ride takes me down 1.5 miles of Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick where the (supposed) speed limit is only 25mph. It is 55 foot wide, 4 lane road with parking on each side (that is about 50% occupied over the whole stretch). Even at morning rush hour, the road never even begins to approaches capacity. There are no bike-lanes.

Despite these somewhat ideal conditions, my totally unimposing dress (and ride) , my strict adherence to the motor vehicle code and good vehicular cycling technique, I was passed dangerously close by three drivers. Unfortunately, on top of those dangerous overtaking maneuvers the worst was yet to come.

As I was well into the downhill, homestretch of Livingston Ave traveling at the 25mph speed limit, I took the lane to avoid some nasty bumps and a big pothole on the right side of the lane. The whole time I am
keeping pace with a car only 30ft in front of me. At the point of my maximum speed I was honked at by the car behind me in a very aggressive manner. The driver then quickly accelerated next to me, told me the get the "F" out of the road and then very purposefully and deliberatively moved into the right lane to push me off the road. All of this happened as we sped towards a red light that we both had to stop for immediately after the incident was over. As we both waited for for the light to change (at least 20 seconds) and began to exchange "pleasantries" (mine, despite my anger at nearly being MURDERED, were an attempt at reason and legal rights, his were anything but) I saw that he had half a bowl of oatmeal on his lap.

Great! Not only homicidal but also distracted while behind the wheel!

AND, all this and the three dangerous passes happened to me in just the ten minutes it takes for me to get to work! Exceptional yes, but not at all unprecedented in my 2 years riding to work down Livingston Avenue everyday.

Now I have always felt that it is a real tragedy, beyond which words can describe, that road cycling in the United States continues under a
siege mentality. For me bicycling is a pastime that I love beyond all others and after a good ride I truely attain a relaxed, zen-like state of mind; totally high on life. However, every time I begin a ride (whether that's my short hop to work, out on a 3 hour-40 mile spin or on a multiday self supported tour) I always have an apprehensive feeling that I will be forced into unprovoked battle for which I am out-gunned and out-classed, due to the inattentiveness, ignorance or plane ol' willful homicidal belligerence of drivers.

Unfortunately, what happened to me
while going to work and the incidents described in the two news articles are nothing new and are typical for those trying to ride a bicycle in peace on the roads of New Jersey and elsewhere. Ultimately the "war" on the streets needs to end and hopefully very soon.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The "Blind Spot" Excuse in Pesestrian Death

In last Thursday's Asbury Park Press there was an article about what is being done to help prevent further pedestrian fatalities on Chambers Bridge Road in Brick Township (See "Officials to work at making a Brick road intersection safer" at the bottom of this entry in its entirety). For those of you who may not be familiar with this issue, there have been 4 fatalities along this road in the last 2 years. While in the other crashes the pedestrians were reported to be at fault, in this latest crash the pedestrian was crossing at a crosswalk, with the green / walk signal. In essence, the pedestrian was doing everything right and yet she was still hit and killed.

That said, the most profound tidbit was found further down from the headline. Quote:

Investigators are still trying to sort out the details of the accident, (Sgt. Donald)
Ling said. There have been no charges filed in the crash, he said. "That's not to say there won't be charges," Ling said. "We have to look at a lot of factors. Was the driver's view obstructed either by the design of the van or another vehicle?"

Now look, I know you can't trust what you always read in the papers and it can be really easy to make judgments from afar when not all the facts are available and maybe this officer was misquoted. I will also give the driver the benefit of the doubt that he/she was driving in a non-aggressive manner and had honestly made a mistake. However last I remember, failure to not account for sight obstructions due to the design of ones vehicle or other vehicles on the road was not an excuse to violate another's right of way on the road and cause an accident.

If this crash HAD NOT involved a pedestrian being hit and killed and was only instead a fender bender caused by "
the driver's view obstructed either by the design of the van or another vehicle," it seems doubtful that charges would still be pending. Let's just hope that the Brick PD are simply being thorough and "dotting their 'i's and crossing their 't's" with this very serious incident.

Officials to work at making a Brick road intersection safer
Asbury Park PressThursday, July 31, 2008

Staff Writer

Another fatality at Chambers Bridge Road and Ovation Way has township officials planning to huddle with Ocean County engineers to determine what can be done to make the intersection safer.

Christine Wirth, 78, became the crossing's latest victim July 21 as she attempted to navigate what has become the township's deadliest intersection on her motorized scooter. A left-turning van, driven by Ronald R. Caroselli, 69, of Lakewood, struck her as she was halfway across the four-lane roadway, said Sgt. Donald Ling of the police department's traffic-safety unit.

At the Forge Pond Apartments, there was both shock and sadness at Wirth's death. Friends said a physical therapist showed up at her apartment July 22 for a previously scheduled appointment, only to learn of her death.

"She was a wonderful lady," said Terri Phillips. "She was my mother's best friend. I guess I knew her for almost 20 years. She was a big part of the community here, always talking to people. Always so lively. She will be missed."

Last year, three people were killed as they tried to cross Chambers Bridge Road, but unlike Wirth, they all were crossing illegally. In Wirth's case, she was in the crosswalk and the traffic signal was in her favor, police said. But that same signal was also green for the left-turning van, police said.

Investigators are still trying to sort out the details of the accident, Ling said. There have been no charges filed in the crash, he said.

"That's not to say there won't be charges," Ling said. "We have to look at a lot of factors. Was the driver's view obstructed either by the design of the van or another vehicle?"

Phillips said she'd be surprised if Wirth had been careless.

"She was always so careful with that scooter," she said. "It was relatively new, and she had just had a new battery put in. She went everywhere with that, but she was always so careful."

For the township, the accident has forced another look at what police said is the highest pedestrian-volume intersection in the community.

Flanked by the Brick Township Housing Authority's Forge Pond Apartments on one side, and a shopping plaza and the U.S. Post Office on the other, this part of Chambers Bridge Road has become a dangerous area that is regularly crossed by the residents of the 266-unit assisted-living apartments. The age-restricted housing has many elderly residents, none younger than 62 years old, according to the housing authority.

"It's an area where people have to be extra-cautious," Ling said. "You have a lot of older residents crossing, and many have physical infirmities."

The township made the area a priority last year and teamed with county engineers to try and eliminate safety hazards there, Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis said.

Among the improvements were the installation of a fence along Chambers Bridge Road designed to keep people from trying to walk across and avoid the crosswalks, officials said.

Jersey Central Power & Light also installed an additional 15 street lights in the area and equipped them with high-intensity bulbs that doubled the area's lighting, Acropolis said.

"All of the obvious things have been addressed at this location," Ocean County Engineer Frank Scarantino said. "Between Brick and ourselves, we've done all of those things."

Now engineers will do an in-depth analysis of this particular accident to see if there is something else that could be corrected, Scarantino said. Among the options that could be explored are the timing sequence of the lights at the crossing.

One option that Acropolis wants explored is the possibility of an "all-red intersection," which would keep the traffic signals red for vehicles in all directions when the crosswalk is being used.

"It's been used in other areas," he said. "It might be what is needed here."

The county has already installed "talking crosswalk" signals that assist pedestrians, Ling said. Those mechanisms trigger an audible signal when pushed to cross. The signals tell a pedestrian to wait or walk. When there is 17 seconds of crossing time left before a light's due to change, it begins a countdown to assist those trying to cross, Ling said.

Among the suggestions that probably won't happen is a pedestrian overpass, Acropolis said.

It's an option that was explored, but because of the engineering requirements, the best spot would be a half-mile away from the shopping centers, he said.

A crossing guard for peak hours is also an option, the mayor said.

"We're not stopping," Acropolis added. "We want to be sure we have done everything possible to make this intersection as safe as possible."

Monday, August 04, 2008

New Jersey Bike and Ped News for Monday, August 4th, 2008

New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian News Digest for Monday, August 4th, 2008

34 Articles / Links


Experts: Bike, pedestrian safety an uphill battle
Gloucester County Times • Thursday, July 31, 2008

NJ Bike/Ped News

Officials to work at making a Brick road intersection safer
Asbury Park Press • Thursday, July 31, 2008

Speed tables placed in Brick neighborhood (read comments)
Asbury Park Press • Friday, August 1, 2008

New trail opens up 2.5 mile stretch
The Trenton Times • Sunday, August 3, 2008

Denville bridge project will close roads in August
Daily Record • Thursday, July 31, 2008

Deaths prompt focus on rail safety in Manville
The Courier News • Sunday, August 3, 2008

Small-town chaos
The Star-Ledger • Thursday, July 31, 2008

Route 1 road work on schedule
The Home News Tribune • Saturday, August 2, 2008

Morristown in running for cycling hall of fame
The Courier News • Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hoboken cyclist in NYPD uproar is back on job
The Jersey Journal • Thursday, July 31, 2008

Doctors: Texting while walking dangerous
Courier-Post • Thursday, July 31, 2008

Crash Report

Two pedestrians were sent to hospital after being hit by vehicle
Courier-Post • Monday, August 4, 2008

Man struck by tractor-trailer in Piscataway, hospitalized in serious condition
The Home News Tribune • Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bicyclist injured in accident in Long Beach Township (read comments)
Asbury Park Press • Thursday, July 31, 2008
Woman bicyclist in trauma center after being struck on Long Beach Blvd
Press of Atlantic City • Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pedestrian hit by vehicle in Cape May
South Jersey News Online • Wednesday July 30, 2008

IMPROPER PASSING: Truck hits cyclist on one-lane bridge
Courier-Post • Thursday, July 31, 2008

Follow-up: Progress in recovery of 6-year-old hit-run victim
The Jersey Journal • Thursday, July 31, 2008


Editorial: Pathway funding going off course
Asbury Park Press • Friday, August 1, 2008

Editorial: Protect pedestrians, bicyclists by building safer roads
The Home News Tribune • Saturday, August 2, 2008

Editorial: Be aware of foot and pedal power
Gloucester County Times • Monday, August 4, 2008

Letter: Route 18 work should include sidewalks
The Home News Tribune • Saturday, August 2, 2008

Editorial: HITS & MISSES, HIT: Pedals blooming (last entry)
The Home News Tribune • Saturday, August 2, 2008

Letter: Intelligence is best bike safety measure
The Record • Saturday, August 2, 2008

Beyond New Jersey

Man testifies he shot boy after feeling threatened
Courier-Post • Friday, August 1, 2008

Police and a Cyclists’ Group, and Four Years of Clashes
The New York Times • Monday, August 4, 2008

Op-Ed: Struck by New York
The New York Times • Thursday, July 31, 2008

Op-Ed: Put the brakes on these bicyclists
The Daily News • Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Whalley Suggestions Don’t Impress DOT (read comments)
New Haven Independent (Connecticut) • Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Last Thursday becomes nearly carfree, naturally
Bike Portland Blog • Friday, August 1, 2008

Emeryville firm pays employees to bike
San Francisco Chronicle • Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hit-and-run driver who struck 19 ruled insane
AP via Press of Atlantic City • Friday, August 1, 2008

Risking Life and Limb, Riding a Bike to Work in L.A.
WSJ via Yahoo News • Friday, August 1, 2008

Fun / Humor

Bikers strip for eco demonstration
AP via The Jersey Journal • Monday, August 4, 2008