Monday, January 25, 2010

LAB Executive Dirrector, Andy Clarke to speak at WWBPA Meeting

On February 25, 2010 the West Windsor Bicycle & Pedestrian Alliance will host Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.

7:30 p.m.
West Windsor Municipal Building
271 Clarksville Road

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LAB champions bicycle-friendly communities, not only for the health of cyclists, but for the wider economic benefits they bring to communities.

Please be aware that the WWBPA is hosting Mr Clarke as part of their annual meeting but is open to the public. This is an excellent opportunity for people to hear and speak with one the most influential persons in bicycle advocacy in the United States. While Mr. Clarke will also be one of the featured speakers at the NJ Bicycle Summit two days latter, this is another opportunity to for those to meet Mr. Clarke who are unable to attend the Bicycle Summit.

WWBPA will also discuss its goals for 2010 and vote for trustees. If you live in town or in the area come and see how one of the best local bicycle and pedestrian groups operate.

New issue of NJ Walks & Bikes newsletter available

The latest issue of the NJ Walks and Bikes newsletter is now available online at:

Produced by the NJDOT through the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, this latest issue is especially good. The more notable and interesting topics in this issue are:
New Jersey DOT adopts a Complete Streets Policy
Statewide Bicycling Survey completed (with plenty of useful info!)
Cross County Connection creates Google Map showing bike routes and public transportation
Plus more!
For those of you who may be wondering what NJDOT is doing to make bicycling and walking safer, this is an excellent source to find out more. Also don't forget the back issues of the NJ Walks & Bikes Newsletter and the Safe Routes Scoop!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stop For Pedestrians Bill Is Now Law - Will There Be Enough Outreach To Make A Difference?

On Monday Then Acting Governor Steve Sweeney signed Assembly Bill No. 1329 into law which requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

  1. The new measure requires drivers to stop and remain stopped while a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk. Previously motorists were required to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks but did not have a clear obligation to stop and remain stopped.
  2. It requires drivers making a right turn at a red or yellow traffic signal or at a stop or yield sign to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians crossing within the adjacent crosswalk into which the motorist is turning.
  3. Lastly it provides that when a collision occurs between a vehicle and a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk, or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, there is a permissive inference that the driver did not exercise due care for the safety of the pedestrian.

In many places in the country drivers are trained to stop for pedestrians. Put your foot down in a marked crosswalk and four lanes of traffic will come to a stop to let you cross. With proper outreach and enforcement this law can make a huge difference in pedestrian safety. But it will be a heavy lift, it's hard to break old habits, especially if you are already ten minutes late.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Op-Ed: Is this legal? #2

Photo of riders on on Meyersville Road in Chatham Township by Anthony Albanese via the Independent Press. Another photo of legally operating cyclists can be see in the original story here.

Well it depends who you ask and how you interpret NJ Provision - 39:4-14.2. Keeping to right; exceptions; single file.

As cyclist with 20 years adult riding experience and an LCI I will say that I see no illegal actions being perpetrated by these cyclists. None of the cyclists are riding two abreast. The lanes are very narrow, the road turns to the left and goes down a blind hill. From the photo it is clearly evident that the driver of the car can not see far enough up the road to pass even one cyclist safely, even if the cyclists moved all the way to the far right of the lane. According to the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills training, any situation where the lane is too narrow and/or sight-lines blocked to allow a driver to see far enough up the road to pass safely, the cyclist should move to the left to take the lane to prevent the overtaking vehicle from passing until the road conditions make it is safe for driver of the vehicle to do so.

Part b of NJ Provision 39:4-14.2 says that cyclists may move left to "avoid ... other hazardous conditions that make it impracticable to ride at the right side of the roadway." I interpret this phase as a catch all. Since it would be hazardous for the cyclist to move to the far right to allow a driver the possibility to pass dangerously, then the cyclist has every right to move left, take the lane and prevent the possibility of a dangerous/"hazardous" pass.

NJ Provision -39:4-14.2. Keeping to right; exceptions; single file

Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that any person may move to the left under any of the following situations:

(a) to make a left turn from a left-turn lane or pocket;

(b) to avoid debris, drains or other hazardous conditions that make it impracticable to ride at the right side of the roadway;

(c) to pass a slower moving vehicle;

(d) to occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic;

(e) to travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded.

Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise shall ride in single file except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
Now all that being said, I do feel that it is somewhat rude of cyclists to ride in groups so large that they make it impossible for drivers to pass for extended long stretches of roadway. We in the bicycling community will not win over the hearts and minds of drivers and the general public by forcing others to wait for you at 18mph for a half a mile or more. If you do ride in large groups be prepared to slow down, move over and let motorists pass every so often if need be. Even though we bicyclists have every right to the road there is no reason to abuse that right.

I also interpret the New Jersey law in a way that an overtaking driver has every legal right to pass some of the bicyclists and then move back into the lane, splitting the group in two (but then again there is nothing in Title 39 that says a driver of a vehicle can pass any slower vehicle, motorized or not, in a no passing zone). Bicyclists drafting off one another may consider that to be extremely dangerous and aggressive but then again drafting 6 inches off another rider's wheel is technically tailgating and also illegal.

Also and very importantly, while I as a cyclist and an LCI interpret NJ Provision 39:4-14.2 to give bicyclists the right to move to the left in the above photoed situation, law enforcement and the courts don't always see it that way. Don't be surprised if you are ticketed and found guilty in court even if you are a just a solitary cyclists that moves to take the lane in a similar situation as described above. However, if you are ticketed I do strongly advise that you fight this in court with the hope that you can set a precedent.

This photo is part of a protracted debate going on in the Independent Press (covering the Summit area in Union County) attacking bicyclists' rights to the road. Follow the links below to read the ongoing debate (with some truely ridiculous anti-bicycling arguments) in the Independent Press (all link courtesy of the NJ Bicycle & Pedestrian News Digest).

A danger in spandex, bike riding on Chatham's narrow roads
Independent Press • Friday, December 4, 2009

A biking tragedy waiting to happen
Independent Press • Friday, December 4, 2009

Bikes, cars need to share the road
Independent Press • Friday, December 4, 2009

Fear the car more than the bike
Independent Press • Friday, December 4, 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

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

Cyclists, drivers can coexist
Independent Press • Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cycling 'packs' block the road (author is a cyclist)
(Note – Could not find full-page letter author refers to)
Independent Press • Thursday, December 31, 2009

Photos of bike riders on Meyersville Road in Chatham Township proves point
Independent Press • Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Freehold Bike Rack Placement To Be Discussed On Tuesday

its aboot time
Originally uploaded by lyle_driver
Freehold Borough, the community which banned bicycle parking in the public right of way unless there is a bike rack will be discussing the placement of 9 new bike racks in the downtown area at their council work session on Tuesday January 19th. Freehold Borough Hall is located at 51 W Main St.

A word of caution: Don't arrive by bike. There are no bike racks located at Borough Hall nor are there any racks planned for that location.

Photo is taken at the Metz Bicycle Museum which is located across the Street from Borough Hall in Downtown Freehold.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is this legal? UPDATED!!

According to one of our commenters, Kim Darst's ATV has had the motor removed so it's no longer a motorized vehicle. Still curious if she needs a permit.

The scene is the Paulinskill Trail and pictured is Kim Darst training her sled dogs for the Iditarod by having the dogs tow her on her ATV.

I'm just curious but is that legal? I'm not trying to give Mrs. Darst a hard time. I think it is cool that she is using the trail to train her dogs (just another example of the recreation opportunities trails provide) and I'm quite sure she wouldn't turn on the motor but is it still legal for her bring an ATV onto the trail even if the motor is never turned on?

I could see how an ATV would make an ideal sled substitute. However, I would still think that it's illegal to bring motorized vehicles on trails open only to non-motorized users at anytime or under any condition. What would be next? A team of draft horses pulling an old pick-up truck down the trail?

I don't know the answer but I'm asking. I would be cool if she had a special permit.

Check out the other pictures of Kim Darst training her dogs on the Paulinskill Trail.

Opinion: Allentown NJ - Hotbed of dangerous traffic, bullying, sexual harassment and criminal activities?!?!

Believable it or not, we are talking about courtesy busing to school.

Last week there was a good article in a locally distributed weekly paper called the Examiner, which covers the bucolic rural towns in far western Monmouth County. The article discussed what Upper Freehold Township is trying to do to eliminate unnecessary courtesy busing in and around the village of Allentown. In the past ten years or so a number of sprawling developments have popped up around the idyllic farm town but within very close proximity to the local schools that are with easy walking distance of Main St. Accordingly the town is looking to install sidewalks and paths to better connect these developments and the town so that local children can walk and ride bikes to school.

While these sidewalks and paths should have been built when the developments went in, it is highly commendable that the local township with the board of ed is now trying to do the right thing. By spending money upfront on sidewalk infrastructure they can avoid continuously dumping it into endless payments for unnecessary busing particularly when the kids live so close to their schools.

In 2010, Upper Freehold predicts it will spend close to $100,000 on courtesy busing. That amount could build quite a bit of sidewalk.

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Allentown, NJ. Rockwellian, small-town America or hotbed of crime, dangerous traffic and sexual lewdness?

However, if you read further down towards the last two paragraphs of the article you will see that some parents have already objected to the possibility of eliminating of courtesy busing. In their objection they cite that their children will be forced "to walk through dangerous intersections in downtown Allentown" and "that sidewalks would be dangerous because they are potential places for bullying, sexual harassment and criminal activities."

When I read that statement my jaw hit the floor. I'm very familiar with Allentown. It is one of the most peaceful and quaint small towns in all of New Jersey. One couldn't hope to live in a more perfect rural setting. The historic Main St is still the hub of local commerce and there isn't a strip mall within miles. Sidewalks are plentiful within the old town and local police make sure that NO ONE exceeds the posted 25mph downtown. I couldn't imagine a more perfect and safe place in New Jersey to raise a child and let them roam around and live an active childhood like that I enjoyed when I was a kid.

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Shaded, historic Main St, Allentown, NJ.

I know that the parents out there will say that since I'm not a parent I can't begin to understand and that things are "different" since when I was a kid (yeah, back in the 1970's every parent exposed their kids to second hand smoke, people drove drunk without penalty and lead was in the gasoline, so life has got to be more dangerous today - hint, sarcasm). However, I beg to differ. I believe that the fear that parents have for their childrens' safety is far beyond rational and has become all-out, unhealthy paranoia and it takes a childless person to point that out.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Last Chance For Pedestrian and Bike Access on the I-95 Scudder Falls Bridge

View Philadelphia Regional Trails in a larger map

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission is re-building the Scudder Falls (I-95) Bridge that links Ewing (pop. 35,707) and Lower Makefield Twp, PA (pop. 32,681) as well as the Delaware River canal towpaths on both sides of the river.

Currently, the Bridge is not accessible to pedestrians or bicyclists. The Bridge Commission is taking public comment on the bridge's new design. Although it is considering the inclusion of a new bicycle/pedestrian pathway, it is not convinced that the $18 million cost of the pathway justifies building it. This cost would only adds 6% more to the total project cost of $300 million project. Current state and federal complete streets guidelines define reasonable cost of bicycle and pedestrian facilities at 20% of the total project cost.

Take three minutes to send a letter to the Commission by scrolling down and right in the frame below

For more information on the project go the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's Scudder Falls Bridge page.

Friday, January 08, 2010

WWBPA does public comments right

Just a few days ago this week the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance released their public comments regarding the redesign of the Main St. section of County Rt 571, Princeton Hightstown Rd. I suggest that any and all New Jersey advocacy groups take a look at their comments since they are very well done and could be used as a model for other groups to emulate. Also, notice who they copied on their correspondence. Their comments can be found here.

Also, for some background information, here is a presentation given on December 15th 2009 that reviews some of the planned "improvements" for the roadway.

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The section of County Rt 571 in West Windsor Township in question.

WANTED! - LCI Candidates

This message comes from Jim Nicholson, President of the NJ Bicycle Coalition and one of the finest League Cycling Instructors in America. - Andy B.
Dear fellow New Jersey bicyclists,

We are putting together a New Jersey LCI seminar, tentatively planned for April of this year. Our time-line is tight and complicated by an ongoing search for an appropriate venue, although we think that should be resolved shortly. At the same time we are doing this, we need to identify potential LCI candidates. I'm sure you can understand the difficulty in asking someone if they would like to attend a 2.5 day seminar when we can't give them an exact date and location!

Would you or do you know of anyone who would like the opportunity to train and become a League Cycling Instructor? If so, please contact me at You can also forward names and contact details to me and I will do the calling.

Remember that all potential candidates have to be LAB members, pay a fee for the training, and need to have completed the Traffic Skills 101 prerequisite at least 30 days before the actual seminar. For those who may not have the TS101 course under their belts, we will do all that we can to schedule a class so this can take place. You see, we really do want to fill this seminar...

While I am an LCI, and will, in most probability, be teaching much of this seminar, I am also the president of the New Jersey Bicycle Coalition, a cycling advocacy organization. One of our goals for 2010 is for New Jersey to have at least one LCI in each of its 21 counties, each teaching at least 3 courses per year. While there are many LCIs already teaching and exceeding this number, could you imagine the effect, statewide, if this were to become reality? Whether these new LCIs teach on their own, or perhaps for some of your own organizations, the outcome is the same. Many cyclists in New Jersey will get the benefit of the same training that you got, and become safer, more efficient, and happier cyclists.

So, in closing, thanks for reading this and if you do know of a suitable candidate, let's see if we can get her or him enrolled in this seminar.

Best regards for the new year,

Jim Nicholson
LCI 1625
President, NJ Bicycle Coalition

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Interesting Statute of the Month - No Charge for Bikes

I was doing a little research for work today and came across this most interesting New Jersey Statute:
48:12-108. Transportation of bicycles as baggage; penalty for refusal
The holder of a ticket issued by any railroad company entitling him to transportation on its railroad or ferries as a passenger shall have the right in lieu of other baggage, to the transportation as baggage without further charge of one bicycle to and from the place designated in such ticket. Such transportation shall be on the same train or boat with the passenger where facilities for the transportation of baggage then exist on such train or boat.

The passenger shall remove any lantern from such bicycle but not any usual bicycle bell or cyclometer nor need he crate, cover or otherwise protect the bicycle. No railroad company transporting bicycles pursuant to this section shall be liable for damage done to any bell, cyclometer or like attachments.

Any railroad company refusing to accept for transportation or to transport bicycles as baggage as required by this section shall pay to such passenger ten dollars for each offense, to be recovered in an action at law in any court of competent jurisdiction.

The archaic language in the statute makes me believe that it dates back a hundred years or so; back when the League of American Wheelmen (former name of the League of American Bicyclists) and its local chapters were a political force to be reckoned with.

Still, I'm curious. Does this mean that NJ TRANSIT has a statutory responsibility to transport one's bicycle, free of charge at ALL TIMES? Also, does the statute require ferry companies to do the same? Are ferry companies exempt since all that I'm aware of operate services that cross state lines or are they require so long as the service connects to a New Jersey port?

This law, as old as it may be, is still on the books, so it would seem to still have some teeth. I'm sure there is something in the statutes that organized NJ TRANSIT that exempts it from this statute, however other passenger trains services (tourist) and ferry services are probably still on the hook for this. Maybe we all have 10 bucks coming our way!

Are there any legal scholars out there who might know the answer?