Wednesday, December 30, 2009

News 4 NY: NJ Highway With No Speed Limit Now Has 4

If you follow this blog or the NJ Bike/Ped News Digest you may be aware of the up-roar about the new section of NJ Rt 18 in New Brunswick not having any posted speed limits up until very recently. Tragically, it is felt by many that the lack of a posted speed limit may have had a cause in the pedestrian crash fatality of a New Brunswick boy. Even though the boy crossed against the signal, the speed of the driver that hit him was 68mph, way above the default speed limit of 50mph. It is believed by his family that the boy misjudged the speed of the car, never expecting it to be traveling so fast and that a proper, lower speed limit should have been installed when the road first opened.

(Video might be quirky. Playing with controls might be required to get it to play)

I don't know about you but I always thought that roads were engineered and built with a speed limit already in mind. Seems silly not to do so particularly when there are "at grade pedestrian crossings," even if these crossings are "protected" by a signal.

Ped fatalities are up: NJN coverage says distracted peds are to blame

According to the Tuesday, December 29th edition of NJN News, "distractions... by pedestrians ...are the main problem" leading to the increase in pedestrian fatalities (news report starts at 8min 14sec).

NJN reports that, according to a recent report by the NJ State Police* one of the reasons (others not fully explored by NJN) why pedestrian fatalities are up is that pedestrians are distracted by, phones, PDA's, MP3 players, etc.

Further in the NJN report they interview Tracy Noble of AAA Mid-Atlantic Region offices talks about "walking while distracted" however she also gets in a few seconds to talk about need for proper engineering that includes the needs of pedestrians.

The NJN report goes on to also interview Trenton Police Detective Rick Rivera who also talks almost exclusively about distracted or obstinate pedestrians. However, streetwise Trenton crossing guard, Antonio Wiley is able to get a quick quip in about drivers not respecting his authority and the pedestrians' right-of-way.

Now, I'm not at all saying that pedestrians are 100% innocent. We all know there is and have seen some really bad pedestrian behavior out on the streets. I am absolutely sure that many pedestrian crashes and fatalities are totally the fault of an obstinate and/or distracted pedestrians even on streets where all the best pedestrian facilities were provided.

However the tone of this article is completely unbalanced and sends a message that places most if not all of the blame for the rise in deaths on the pedestrians themselves. Not once, save for crossing guard Wiley, is there ever a mention of driver behavior being a cause.

For a comparison take a look at The Record's coverage of the same topic from the same date. While touching upon a pedestrian's responsibility while negotiating traffic, it in no way lays the blame at the feet of pedestrians the way NJN did.

As a avid follower of NJN News, I expected better of them.

* - Unable to locate cited report online so to provide link.

Monday, December 28, 2009

This Week in NJ Bike/Ped News


Freehold sets rules for parking bicycles
(acknowledges that there might not be enough legal bicycle parking)
Asbury Park Press • Monday, December 21, 2009

(Scudder Falls) Bridge project would take a toll
(currently plans include bike/ped access)
The Times of Trenton • Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scudder Falls Bridge I-95 Meetings - Last Chance to Push for the Bridge Path
Philadelphia Bicycle News • Friday, December 18, 2009

In Copenhagen They Plow the Bike Lanes First… (See Movie: 36sec)
Philadelphia Bicycle News • Tuesday, December 22, 2009 & on Streetsblog

Council on the edge over sidewalks
Suburban Trends • Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NJ Bike/Ped News

USDA grant will aid residents of revitalized Harvest Point in Salem
Today’s Sunbeam • Thursday, December 17, 2009

Activists take on clogged roads
Courier-Post • Thursday, December 17, 2009

Woodbine receives $325,000 grant for bike path
The Press of Atlantic City • Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Woodbine recieves $500,000 state grant
The Press of Atlantic City • Monday, December 21, 2009

Woodbine receives grant for town center
The Press of Atlantic City • Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Summit takes safety steps for Mountain Avenue
Independent Press • Friday, December 18, 2009

Speed humps in Millburn are a last resort
Independent Press • Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Waldwick downtown gets second phase of makeover
Waldwick Suburban News • Thursday, December 17, 2009

Streetscape: Opportunity or waste?
Belleville Times • Thursday, December 17, 2009

Group revisits idea of Boonton Line trail (not previously reported)
Glen Ridge Voice • Thursday, December 3, 2009

Environmental Commission seeking money for trail signage
(not previously reported)
Suburban Trends • Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Walk of fame looking for different home in East Orange
(during streetscape project)
The Star-Ledger • Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chatham makes a game of townwide wellness
Independent Press • Saturday, December 19, 2009

Press Release: State Follows Montclair's Lead: Adopts Complete Streets Policy
Montclair Township • (no date)

Committee striving to bring new business to Bordentown
The Times of Trenton • Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A year in Somerville redevelopment
Somerset Reporter • Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Crash Report

Crossing guard struck by car in Red Bank (not previously reported)
Asbury Park Press • Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Storm blamed in woman's death, many injuries in southern New Jersey
The Press of Atlantic City • Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Police looking for black Ford in Parkway hit and run that killed Garfield man
The Star-Ledger • Friday, December 18, 2009

Union Township man arrested in Garden State Parkway hit-and-run crash
The Star-Ledger • Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Two pedestrians hit in Toms River in last two days, police say
Asbury Park Press • Thursday, December 17, 2009

Netcong police seek driver in pedestrian hit-and-run
Daily Record • Saturday, December 19, 2009

Assistant prosecutor hits pedestrian with car
Daily Record • Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pedestrian hit by car in stable condition
Bloomfield Life • Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Driver flees from Long Hill accident that killed dog (injures jogger)
The Star-Ledger • Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Police charged a 40-year-old woman with trying to run her husband over
The Jersey Journal • Friday, December 18, 2009

Follow-up: Police ID pedestrian struck in Lakewood
Asbury Park Press • Friday, December 18, 2009


Op-Ed: NJ Complete Streets: Victory or Empty Rhetoric?
Mobilizing the Region • Monday, December 21, 2009

Opinion special Follow-up: Logic Prevails in Chatham Bicycle Brew-Ha-Ha
More follow-up to these two original letters calling for bikes to be banned. &

Patience is key to road safety
Independent Press • Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Drivers (and bikers) have rules
Independent Press • Thursday, December 17, 2009

A little caution goes a long way
Independent Press • Thursday, December 17, 2009

Special Section: Bikes and Transit

How much do you know about bikes and public transportation?
League of American Bicyclists Blog • Monday, December 21, 2009

Report: Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in North America
(By Rutgers’ own John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, formally at RU)
Journal of Public Transportation • Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009
(See link below in “Interesting Links / Reports”)

Report: A Review and Critique of NJ TRANSIT Bicycle Access Policies
(previously reported but relevant to special section)

Interesting Links / Reports

Webinar (Free!): Selection of Pedestrian Treatments at Unsignalized Crossings
PBIC • Thursday, January 21, 2010 (2:00PM - 3:00PM EST)

Report: Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in North America
(By Rutgers’ own John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, formally at RU)
Journal of Public Transportation • Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009

Collisions involving pedal cyclists on Britain's roads: establishing the
(require free registration to access full report)
Transport Research Laboratory (U.K.) • Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Report - Bicycle Priority Lanes: Shared Lane Treatment for Low-Stress Cycling
Peter G. Furth, Northeastern University • July 24, 2009

Link: Members of the Congressional Bike Caucus (NJ has 5)
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

66 Articles / Links compiled by the Voorhees Transportation Center.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Freehold's Anti-Bike Parking Policy

Merry Christmas Freehold Bicyclists!

The December 21st edition of the Asbury Park Press put a spin on a story that sounded positive for bicyclists but in fact is a great setback for the rights of bicyclists to park on the streets of Freehold.

The positive spin is that bicycle racks are being installed in the borough and this is a sign that the borough, which has a concentration of Latino bicyclists is tending to the needs of cyclists:

"The Borough Council unanimously voted in favor of the new ordinance, which prohibits bicycles from being stored anywhere in town but on bicycle racks or private property with the owner's permission....

...The borough has so far installed six racks at various downtown locations...

...Higgins said Monday that 10 more have been ordered. The racks will be able to accommodate about 90 bicycles, she said."

According to the ordinance, bicycles that are found not placed in a rack, or left on streets, sidewalks or on private properties without the consent of the owner will be seized and impounded by the borough. The owner of the bicycle may claim the bicycle after paying $20 per bicycle. In addition, there will also be a $1 per day charge for storage. The owner will also have to identify the bicycle by make and color.

Imagine the outrage if the borough restricted car parking by ghettoizing cars to special corrals and impounding those that didn't comply due to "visual blight". You couldn't park in front of your house or on Main Street.

Perhaps most absurd of all is that a local government in New Jersey actually believes that it is attending to the needs of bicyclists with a half dozen bike racks and 0 miles of bike lanes.

2009-24 Bicycle Parking Racks

Friday, December 18, 2009

Scudder Falls Bridge I-95 Meetings - Last Chance to Push for the Bridge Path

Another good one From John and our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia:

Also before you might forget, see what the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission had to say about providing bike/ped access. It is definitely not the answer you would expect.

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission and the Federal Highway Administration have released the draft form of the Environmental Assessment for public comment and has announced public meetings to review the findings with public.

The document is over 200 pages but if you have a few hours to skim through it you can download it here. Several options of the bridge were weighed and the report reveals the "preferred alternative". It's a behemoth of a project with 9 lanes of traffic and 4 shoulders (two 14' interior and two 12' exterior).

The "optional" pathway would be placed on the north (upstream or southbound) side of the bridge and the criteria for its inclusion is as follows:

The addition of a bicycle and pedestrian facility on the southbound side of bridge is being considered; a decision will be made during Final Design when costs are refined and cost reasonableness can be determined.

The two meetings are:
Tuesday January 19, 2009 Villa Victoria Academy, 376 Upper Ferry Road, Ewing NJ

Wednesday January 20, 2009 Sharaton Bucks County Hotel, 400 Oxford Valley Rd, Langhorne, PA

At both meetings the Open House begins at 5PM and the Public Presentation begins at 7PM.

The public is invited to submit written comments by February 4, 2010:

1 - At the Public Meetings

2 - Via email at

3 - Or via Letter:

Kevin Skeels, PE
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission
110 Wood and Grove Streets
Morrisville, PA 19067

For questions or more information regarding the project, please call the project hotline at 800-879-0849

Thursday, December 17, 2009

News Flash! Bad driving NOT bad biking the cause of most bike-car crashes

A report published this week by the U.K. Transport Research Laboratory finds that reckless or irresponsible cycling was the cause of less than 7% of car-bike crashes in the U.K. according the to coverage published in the Guardian. In 2% of crashes a rider disobeyed a stop sign or traffic light, wearing dark clothing at night was seen as a potential cause in about 2.5% of cases, and failure to use lights was mentioned 2% of the time.

Furthermore, with crashes involving adult cyclists U.K. police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time.

According to Cycle Touring Club (a.k.a. CTC - the equivalent of the League of American Bicyclists in the U.K.) spokesman Chris Peck, "We believe this report strongly supports our view that the biggest problem for cyclists is bad driving. With that in mind we are greatly concerned that the (U.K.) government still seems fascinated with analysing and promoting cycle helmets, the value of which appears to be inconclusive. We believe that the government should now focus on tackling the causes of injury which appears to be mainly inconsiderate and dangerous driving. Reduced speed limits, stronger traffic law enforcement and cycle-friendly road design are the solutions."

For more on this see the complete coverage from the Guardian. Also check out the coverage from the U.K. online road cycling site Finally the complete report can be downloaded for free (but requires registration) directly from the Transport Research Laboratory.

NJDOT Issues a Complete Streets Policy

From John and our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia:

Below is the New Jersey Complete Streets policy signed by Commissioner Dilts. This is a big step forward and we (the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia) are pleased that NJ DOT has joined the Delaware, Oregon and other states with complete streets policy (we at WalkBikeJersey are equally pleased).

The policy is long and involved so it will take some time for us to fully analyze its potential effectiveness. At first glance we like the inclusion of resurfacing projects and the offering of incentives for Local Aid projects (the transportation money for towns and counties). On the other hand we are concerned about Exemption 5 (highlighted below in bold italics) which suggest that safety or timing issues could result in the exclusion of complete streets elements (we at WalkBikeJersey agree). A broad statement that may offer lots of wiggle room for reluctant project managers. To take an objective eye on the policy consult the Complete Streets policy elements.


To create and implement a Complete Streets Policy in New Jersey through the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of new and retrofit transportation facilities within public rights of way that are federally or state funded, including projects processed or administered through the Department’s Capital Program.

A Complete Street is defined as means to provide safe access for all users by designing and operating a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network of transportation options.

The benefits of Complete Streets are many and varied:
• Complete Streets improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, children, older citizens, non-drivers and the mobility challenged as well as those that cannot afford a car or choose to live car free.
• Provide connections to bicycling and walking trip generators such as employment, education, residential, recreation, retail centers and public facilities.
• Promote healthy lifestyles.
• Create more livable communities.
• Reduce traffic congestion and reliance on carbon fuels thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
• Complete Streets make fiscal sense by incorporating sidewalks, bike lanes, safe crossings and transit amenities into the initial design of a project, thus sparing the expense of retrofits later.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation shall implement a Complete Streets policy though the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of new and retrofit transportation facilities, enabling safe access and mobility of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users of all ages and abilities. This includes all projects funded through the Department’s Capital Program. The Department strongly encourages the adoption of similar policies by regional and local jurisdictions who apply for funding through Local Aid programs.


1. Create a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network by providing connections to bicycling and walking trip generators such as employment, education, residential, recreational and public facilities, as well as retail and transit centers.

2. Provide safe and accessible accommodations for existing and future pedestrian,
bicycle and transit facilities.

3. Establish a checklist of pedestrian, bicycle and transit accommodations such as
accessible sidewalks curb ramps, crosswalks, countdown pedestrian signals, signs,
median refuges, curb extensions, pedestrian scale lighting, bike lanes, shoulders and
bus shelters with the presumption that they shall be included in each project unless supporting documentation against inclusion is provided and found to be justifiable.

4. Additionally, in rural areas, paved shoulders or a multi-use path shall be included in all new construction and reconstruction projects on roadways used by more than 1,000 vehicles per day.
Paved shoulders provide safety and operational advantages for all road users. Shoulder rumble strips are not recommended when used by bicyclists, unless there is a minimum clear path of four feet in which a bicycle may safely operate. If there is evidence of heavy pedestrian usage then sidewalks shall be considered in the project.

5. Establish a procedure to evaluate resurfacing projects for complete streets inclusion according to length of project, local support, environmental constraints, right-of-way limitations, funding resources and bicycle and/or pedestrian compatibility.

6. Transportation facilities are long-term investments that shall anticipate likely future demand for bicycling and walking facilities and not preclude the provision of future improvements.

7. Address the need for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross corridors as well as travel along them. Even where bicyclists and pedestrians may not commonly use a particular travel corridor that is being improved or constructed, they will likely need to be able to cross that corridor safely and conveniently. Therefore, the design of intersections, interchanges and bridges shall accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in a manner that is safe, accessible and convenient.

8. Design bicycle and pedestrian facilities to the best currently available standards and practices including the New Jersey Roadway Design Manual, the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, AASHTO’s Guide for the Planning, Design and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and others as related.

9. Research, develop and support new technologies in improving safety and mobility.

10. Make provisions for pedestrians and bicyclists when closing roads, bridges or sidewalks for
construction projects as outlined in NJDOT Policy #705 – Accommodating Pedestrian and Bicycle Traffic During Construction.

11. Improvements should also consider connections for Safe Routes to Schools, Safe Routes to Transit, Transit Villages, trail crossings and areas or population groups with limited transportation options.

12. Establish an incentive within the Local Aid Program for municipalities and counties to develop and implement a Complete Streets policy.

13. Improvements must comply with Title VI/Environmental Justice, Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) and should complement the context of the surrounding community.

14. Implement training for Engineers and Planners on Bicycle/Pedestrian/Transit policies and integration of non-motorized travel options into transportation systems.

15. Establish Performance Measures to gauge success.

Exemptions to the Complete Streets policy must be presented for final decision to the Capital Program Screening Committee in writing by the appropriate Assistant Commissioner and documented with supporting data that indicates the reason for the decision and are limited to the following:

1) Non-motorized users are prohibited on the roadway.
2) Scarcity of population, travel and attractors, both existing and future, indicate an absence of need for such accommodations.
3) Detrimental environmental or social impacts outweigh the need for these accommodations.
4) Cost of accommodations is excessively disproportionate to cost of project, more than twenty percent (20%) of total cost.
5) The safety or timing of a project is compromised by the inclusion of Complete Streets.

An exemption other than those listed above must be documented with supporting data and must be approved by the Capital Program Committee along with written approval by the Commissioner of Transportation.

N.J.S.A. Title 27

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trash Talk: Press of AC editor blames peds / State for increase in deaths

On Sunday, The Press of Atlantic City ran an article about the continued high number of pedestrian deaths this year. Pedestrian fatalities are likely to overtake last years numbers which were again higher than the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2007. Sad as it is, as of November 28th there were 24 more pedestrian fatalities then the same date in 2008 (actual number of pedestrian fatalities for year up to 11/28 not given).

However, according to The Press's editor, Jim Perskie, fault lies with the pedestrian victims and State Department of Highway Traffic Safety for initiating the wildly successful Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Program in South Jersey this year. See, according to Perskie's twisted logic, now that the police are reestablishing a pedestrian's right-of-way while in a crosswalk, this is somehow emboldening pedestrians to walk directly out into traffic so they get hit by cars who can not stop in time. Ridiculous!

First of all, being a devout reader of the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian News Digest, I have not anecdotally noticed an outstanding increased trend in pedestrian fatal crashes by people walking out into traffic at crosswalks. Yes, there have been stories of pedestrians being killed while crossing legally in crosswalks but no noticeable spike.

Second, (sorry to break it to you Jimmy) but yielding (or stopping) for pedestrians is the law in every state in the U.S. and in most other civilized nations and is not some wacky idea that bureaucrats though up in Trenton. It's been the law here in New Jersey for 50 years.

Now stop for a second Jimmy. This might come as a surprise, but did you ever think that it might be the bad, reckless, if not homicidal behavior of New Jersey drivers that is to blame? Jim all you would have had to do is shut it for a moment to wait for the story to come over the wire the same day you wrote your piece, to read about the Air Force fighter pilot killed in Cherry Hill while working in his front yard by a driver who was speeding excessively.

While yes, there are jerks that dare drivers to hit them as they jaywalk into traffic, I'd suggest Jim, that before you make wild accusations from your position of influence, try to have more than your clear biases to back you up. We at WalkBikeJesey will keep an eye on you, particularly since this is not the first time you had something less than flattering to say about bicyclists or pedestrians.

In case Jim Perskie's editorial is pulled from the web we've included it verbatim below:
Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

There have been 24 more pedestrian deaths in New Jersey so far this year than in 2008 — and traffic-safety officials can’t figure out why.

“We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it,” said Pam Fischer, director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

Do you think it might have something to do with the increased enforcement of a decades-old law that gives pedestrians the right of way when in a crosswalk? The law was virtually ignored for years. Whatever the statutes said, pedestrians were taught to stop, look both ways and wait until no cars were coming. It worked pretty well. Then the state started handing out grants for enforcing the crosswalk law — in the name of pedestrian safety, if you can believe it.

All of a sudden, streets were full of pedestrians stepping into crosswalks — and into traffic. Why not? The cars have to stop to let you cross. The law says so. The signs say so. Except they don’t. Not always, or even often. Sometimes a car headed in one direction stops. But the car headed in another doesn’t. And any car that does stop to let a pedestrian cross runs the risk of getting rear-ended.

The Press has run dozens of letters pointing out how dangerous this law is. A friend who is a police officer stopped me on the street to tell me how dangerous this law is.

Everybody seems to get it except state traffic officials.

The kitchen sink isn’t working, folks.

Go back to teaching pedestrians to look both ways and wait for traffic to clear before crossing, and who knows? Just maybe fewer pedestrians will get killed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Healthy Community Development Mini Grants

Just forwarding this along.
Andy B.

The deadline for Healthy Community Development mini grants submission is Wednesday, December 30th at 3:30 pm.

The New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services (NJDHSS), Family Health Services - Office of Nutrition & Fitness (ONF) and the New Jersey Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (NJCPFS) invite applications to implement a Healthy Community Development initiative.

The intent of the mini -grant is to provide seed money to engage the community in local level programming which may enable communities to leverage future funding from other sources. Most grant awards will be for $2500 (twenty five hundred dollars); however, larger grants of up to $10,000 may be awarded based on merit. A total of up to $100,000 will be awarded based on available funding. It is anticipated that 10 - 20 (communities) municipalities will receive an award in 2009 - 2010.

Eligible applicants for this award include New Jersey public and private non profit entities including municipalities, parks and recreation, schools/districts, local health departments, hospitals, YW-YMCA’s and other community based organizations capable of conducting the project as outlined. Only one application per municipality will be awarded. The application must include collaboration between/among at least two agencies (i.e. community/school). A letter of support from collaborating partner/s is required.

Although communities were not required to attend the 3rd Leaders’ Academy for Healthy Community Development on November 13, 2009, additional points will be awarded for attendance. The awards will be made on a competitive basis for applications that focus on policy and environmental change with first consideration given to participants who attended the Leaders’Academy.

The RFA for the Healthy Community Development mini grants is posted on the website at

The deadline for submission is Wednesday, December 30th at 3:30 pm.

If you have any questions, please call 609-292-2209 or email


Peri Nearon

Peri L. Nearon, MPA
Director, Office of Nutrition & Fitness
Division of Family Health Services
Department of Health & Senior Services
50 East State Street
P.O. Box 364
Trenton, NJ 08625-0364

(609) 984-9384 - phone
(609) 292-9599 - fax

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DRPA Commits to Ben Bridge Ramp

From John and our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia:

Yesterday's the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) put their 2010-2014 Capital Program into the sunshine on at a public meeting and on their website. Included in the year of 2012 is 3.2 Million Dollars for an ADA accessible ramp on the Camden side of the Ben Franklin Bridge (south walkway). Previous 5 year Capital Budget programs included the ramps but placed it in "Later Years", a category which serves as a placeholder for long term (and often unfunded) projects.

We commend DRPA for prioritizing the bridge walkway. We hope that design and construction happens in a timely manner. The Bicycle Coalition is willing and able to provide technical assistance and to promote public outreach of this important bi-state connection.

John asks: Is my morning bike schlep/cardio workout at risk?
DRPA plans to replace these steps with a ramp in 2012.

To wear a bright safety vest or to not wear a bright safety vest: That is the Question!

I'm a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, APBP for short (yes such an organization exists and it is growing rapidly). Members have access to a member listserve where some of the brightest minds working in the field of bicycle and pedestrian safety exchange ideas.

A recent discussion came up if cyclists should wear bright retro-reflective safety vests under all conditions. Some professionals came out in favor, other were ambivalent, while some were downright opposed particularly if the bicycle is already equipped with a full legal (varies by state) complement of bicycle lights.

Image via Bike Nasbar Catalog.

I fell into the ambivalent category (wear 'em if you want to but I don't) until I read a response by one of the more respected members of APBP, Mighk Wilson out of Orlando, Florida:
When we start portraying such safety items as very necessary at all times, we run the risk of the contributory negligence problem. While it may not be explicitly written in law that failure to wear brightly-colored clothing is contributory negligence, we might foresee a time when that might be the common belief, and juries might unfairly rule against cyclists in some cases for that reason.
Once Mighk brought up this possible scenario John Sigurjonsson of Cycle Chatham-Kent of Ontario, Canada informed the group that:
Police reports in Ontario note the color and reflectivity of cyclists clothing (e.g. “dark, non-reflective clothing worn by smeared cyclist”)
So, since you the cyclist DID NOT dress like a 1980's neon prom queen, you had it coming to you because the helpless (hapless) driver couldn't help but NOT see you. Unfortunately this is already a common excuse when a driver hits a pedestrian who was otherwise walking along or crossing a street in a perfectly legal manner. "The pedestrian victim was dressed in 'dark clothing'" is often cited as the PRIMARY reason why a crash happened at night or other dark conditions.

Hmmm... Last I checked my finest cloths are all fairly dark (my best suit and overcoat are all black). Most police uniforms are mostly black too but I have yet to hear of the "dark clothing" being an excuse when a driver hits an officer of the law.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Bike JC - Bicycle Advocacy Reborn in Jersey City

Chalk up another urban bicycle advocacy group forming in North Jersey. Today's Jersey City Independent announced the first meeting of BikeJC at Zeppelin Hall Restaurant and Bier Garden 88 Liberty View Drive in Jersey City Tuesday December 8th at 8PM.

Also take time to sign the online petition that asks the city to work towards becoming the most bike friendly city in the state

Friday, December 04, 2009

Linwood officer yields to a pedestrian; Deserves praise

I got a sad laugh out of this letter published in The Press of Atlantic City on Thursday, December 3, 2009.

The letter reads:
"Linwood officer deserves praise"

On Nov. 25, at approximately 12:20 p.m., my wife and I were walking our dog, Mick. For about two minutes, we waited to cross west over Route 9 at a designated pedestrian crosswalk. To our surprise, yet pleasure, a Linwood police officer stopped his patrol vehicle in the northbound lane of Route 9 and employed his safety lights, thereby signaling both lanes of traffic to yield to us, which allowed us to cross safely.

We are not impatient people, as we frequently wait several minutes to cross Route 9. And yes, I realize that at that time of day, traffic is usually heavy and was compounded by the holiday.

But my reason for writing this letter is to commend the officer for his courteous action and for enforcing a traffic law that was designed to promote safety for all residents and pedestrians in New Jersey. Thank you, officer, for your courtesy.


Dear Mr. McQuire,

You should NEVER have to wait several minutes to cross a road at a marked crosswalk. While it's great that this police officer did the right thing by yielding to you and using the overhead lights to force people to yield, it should never need to come to that. A driver of a car yielding to pedestrians shouldn't be such an exceptional event that you take the time to write your local paper. It should be a mundane everyday occurrence that doesn't even register in your memory, like stopping at a red traffic light

Drivers must ALWAYS yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk wanting to cross. It's the law!

39:4-36 Driver to yield to pedestrian, exceptions; violations, penalties.

a. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except at crosswalks when the movement of traffic is being regulated by police officers or traffic control signals, or where otherwise prohibited by municipal, county, or State regulation, and except where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided, but no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. Nothing contained herein shall relieve a pedestrian from using due care for his safety.
(For complete statute follow link above)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Next BPAC Meeting December 9 at Rutgers New Brunswick

The New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council (BPAC) will hold their next meeting on Wednesday, December 9th from 10am to 12pm in the Civic Square Building, room 261 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Rutgers University, Civic Square Building at 33 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ.

The featured talk at this BPAC meeting will be from members of the New Jersey Bicycle Coalition who will be discussing their formation, mission and their upcoming New Jersey Bicycle Summit.

All interested persons are invited to attend (but please be polite). Organizers ask that you please RSVP by emailing Rob Williams at ( ).

The Case for Bicycle Friendly Communities from Bikes Belong

I recently came across these two excellent videos from Bikes Belong making the case for Bicycle Friendly Communities. Given that the deadline (February 19th 2010) is coming up for the next round of BFC nominations finding these videos is as timely as ever.

Also be sure to check out the other four Bikes Belongs videos on their Vimeo video feed.

Bergen County Visioning Day

Saturday, December 5, 2009 – 9:30am to 2:00pm
Bergen County Learning Center
Bergen County Administrative Building
One Bergen County Plaza, Hackensack, NJ 07601
(light lunch to be served)

Be mindful however if you go, that this meeting is a county wide master plan touching upon many aspects planning and is not solely focused upon bicycle and pedestrian or even transportation issues. That said, please let decision makers understand that these issues are of utmost importance.

The below message is from our friend Stephen Mosca at Go-One LLC and local advocate in Maywood, New Jersey about the plan:

Cycling-related deaths and injuries are rising in New Jersey and cyclists from around the state are coming together to address this disturbing trend. On December 5th Bergen County will sponsor a “Visioning Day”. Many actions are taking root in our state towards more effective transportation for all citizens. The New Jersey Department of Transportation is conducting Pedestrian Safety Impact Team (PSIT) meetings to study along NJ Route 93 (Grand Street) in Bergen County; Bergen County members are involved in the Bicycle/ Pedestrian Think Tank in New Brunswick, NJ. Sponsored by the NJ/ DOT and Rutgers University Voorhees Transportation Policy Planning Group; Municipalities around New Jersey are par-taking in the “Sustainable Jersey” Program (Safe Route to School & Complete Streets); and, people are realizing the health benefits, environmental, noise and congestion benefits of cycling. We need to be proactive and apply the basic lessons of transportation.

Cyclists throughout the state will attend, representing bicycle clubs, shops, advocates, retailers, manufacturers, and other interested individuals committed to safe access of cyclists to our state’s roads and trails. State legislators and transportation policy officials will also attend. The following are “Bicycling” transportation transformation recommendations to the County of Bergen to Considers as part of this Master Planning Exercise.

1. “Complete Streets” design on County Road Bike Lane Implementation.
2. Cyclist/motorist education
3. Three (3) Feet Passing and other Legislation
4. Creating bicycle-friendly communities in New Jersey.
5. Bicycles on Busses with NJ Transit.
6. More Bicycles on Mass transit Trains with NJ Transit. Bicycle Path interconnection from rail stations to points NSE&W.
7. More Bergen County retail establishments allowing Bicycling (i.e. Bicycle usage is against the law in the new Bergen Town Mall Property in Maywood). This needs to change!
8. Construction of feeder paths to the Rochelle Park/ Wood Ridge Mixed Use Path from all points NEW&S.
9. Implementation of a NYC style bicycling Master plan with Connection to the GW Bridge, Verazzano and Lincoln and Holland Tunnels from all points NSE&W.
10. Partner with Voorhees Bike Group at Rutgers to become the most progressive Bike County in NJ.
11. Encourage Municipalities to begin the bicycle path, trails and lane inter-connectivity studies. Use the TMAs and Google Maps/ DOT Analysis technology.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Register for New Jersey's First Bicycle Summit

On Saturday February 27th, 2010 from 8am to 4pm the New Jersey Bicycle Coalition (not affiliated with WalkBikeJersey) in co-operation with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, will host the first New Jersey Bicycle Summit in at the Denville, NJ town hall.

Deville Town Hall. The location of the First NJ Bicycle Summit.
Featured speakers, at this time include:

Summit attendance is limited to 130 so early registration is encouraged. The registration fee is $40 for non-NJBC members and includes a one-year membership in the Coalition (NJBC members may register for $25). Lunch is included in the registration fee.



Also don't forget:
The League of American Bicyclists - National Bicycle Summit 2010
March 9-11 in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pedestrian dies on Rt 35 in Ocean Beach, as predicted

The Star Ledger reported (1,2) this past weekend about a Mark Infante, municipal prosecutor from West Orange who was killed while walking along the shoulder of Rt 35 as he returned home from the post office just after 12 noon.

Approximate site of the fatal crash on Rt 35 South and Bay Beach Way
Yes, unfortunately the news of a pedestrian dieing on a New Jersey State Highway is nothing new and all too common. A review of the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian News Digest shows that at least 15 bicyclists and pedestrians were killed on New Jersey roads in the month of November alone.

What is chilling about this one for me is that I predicted it.

You may recall back in August I wrote an article (Is Rt 35 south of Pt Pleasant "Shore to kill?) about the obvious and plentiful hazards facing pedestrians, bicyclist and drivers alike. However, during the quiet winter months and in broad daylight is not how I saw such a tragedy happening.

Please, let this be the last fatality of any type on this stretch of Rt 35.