Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Op-Ed: Roadway design speeds and modern cars

Speeding by drivers is probably the greatest single safety issue for those of us in the bike and pedestrian advocacy world. Yes, many will say that this is because that for 50 years we've design roads with only the safe, smooth and efficient flow of motor vehicle traffic in mind. There is no argument there. However, I think one factor that many people are forgetting are the cars themselves and how advances in automotive technology have enabled drivers to drive faster.

When many roadway design practices became the standards we use today, cars were much less capable machines. Think about it. Cars back in the 1960's and 1970's would start to shake and rattle at speeds above 60mph. By contrast today, the average car is a highly refined and incredibly well engineered machine capable of performance well beyond all but the most exotic sports cars from 30 or 40 years ago. They can accelerated faster, corner at higher g-forces, brake quicker all with a suspension and acoustic dampening that greatly trivializes speeds.

So my point is this. Roadway design speeds derived from standards established 40 years ago can no longer be valid with today's modern cars. A road that was designed to become uncomfortable for the driver at 45mph 40 years ago is likely not to seem uncomfortable until speeds exceed 65mph in a modern car today.

All the more reason to start engineering roadways for the actual speeds that transportation officials want people to drive.

Toll Bridge Commission OK's Scudder Falls Bridge Bike/Ped Path

As reported by or friend John at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia:
(I know I've been awfully lazy lately with cut and past news).
The Trenton Times and PhillyBurbs.com report that the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced on Monday that a bicycle and pedestrian path will be included on the nine lane Scudder Falls Bridge.

Using our original blog post as the start point, the public campaign to add a pathway lasted 2329 Days or 6 Years 4 Months and 16 Days. The Commission received at least 170 action letters sent through the Bicycle Coalition's Scudder Falls webpage . 1505 people signed the petition online and nearly 200 signed in person.

"The bicycle-pedestrian facility was easily the topic that received the most comments during the public hearing process we conducted late last year and early this year,"
said Frank G. McCartney, executive director of the commission as quoted in the Times of Trenton.

Many thanks to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission and those who supported our campaign including Congressman Patrick Murphy, Congressman Rush Holt, PA State Rep. Santasiero, Ewing Township Council and the Lower Makefield Township Board of Supervisors.

This is not just a victory for bridge, its another example of retooling the Interstate Highway to function as complete streets. There are many bridges built to Interstate Standards such as the Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry Bridges that one day will have to be rebuilt. I-95 is a local demonstration that this can and should be done with every urban/suburban bridge project.

Of course nothing is set in stone until it is set in stone, and environmental impacts, tolling and two years of final design are still issues that the commission has to deal with. We will continue to work with the Toll Bridge Commission to ensure that the new Scudder Falls Bridge has a bicycle and pedestrian pathway across its span when opens later in the decade.

NJ Bicycle Coalition's 1st Annual General Meeting

From Jim at the New Jersey Bicycle Coalition:
We'd like to remind you about the New Jersey Bicycle Coalition's first Annual General Meeting, being held this Thursday, 29 April 2010. The location is the Community Room at REI in East Hanover and the meeting will run from 7 pm until 9 pm. Directions to REI can be found here.

The REI facility holds approximately 40 people and we have almost 200 members, so space might be limited. I really don't think that all 200 of you will show up but if all of you do, 40 or so will attend the meeting and remaining 160 will just have to go shopping downstairs at REI. I'm sure that REI would not be too broken up about that!

With no Coalition elections in play at the AGM, we would like to use it as an opportuntity for you to get to know your Board and give us your views on how the organization should progress over the coming year.

One very exciting thing to share with you is that the Alliance for Biking and Walking has awarded NJBC with a $25,000 matching grant (meaning we need to raise $25,000 over the next year to get the Alliance's $25,000). Our primary aim is to hire an Executive Director within the next six months to help move NJBC forward.

Below you will find a preliminary agenda for the meeting, and some proposed discussion points. If you are planning to attend, please let us know so we have an idea of how many members to expect on Thursday.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ventnor NJ Bicycle Regulations

If you're bringing your bike to Ventnor this Summer you should be aware of these regulations.


Chapter 75

Article I


75-2. Registrations and inspections.

A. All bicycles, unicycles or adult tricycles owned by residents of the City of Ventnor City and operated on the highways and Boardwalk of the city shall be inspected by and registered with the Department of Public Safety. Registration shall take place at the same time the bicycle is inspected, which inspection shall take place at the Ventnor City fire house on Winchester Avenue in the city of Ventnor City, New Jersey, on Fridays at the prescribed times as designated by the Commissioner of Public Safety. Such initial registration and inspection will be considered permanent to the effect that only in the event of a change in ownership shall a new registration and inspection be required.

B. Registration certificates shall be maintained on file with the Police Department. Upon registering and inspecting the bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle, a registration decal and inspection sticker to be placed on the bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle will be issued by the inspecting personnel, shall show the date of registration and inspection only and shall be maintained on the bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle at all times.

75-3. Audible signaling devices.

No person shall operate a bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle any siren or whistle.

75-4. Lights and reflectors.

No person shall operate a bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle at nighttime unless it is equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp on the rear which shall emit a red light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear. In addition to the red lamp, a red reflector may be mounted on the rear which shall be visible from all distances from 50 feet to 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

75-5. Brake requirements.

No person shall operate a bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the brake wheel skid on dry, level and clean pavement.

75-6. Riding restrictions.

A person propelling or riding on a bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto, nor shall he/she ride with his/her feet removed from the pedals or with both hands removed from the handlebars. No bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.

75-7. Attaching to other vehicle prohibited.

No person riding upon any bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle shall attach the same or himself/herself to any vehicle upon a roadway, and no operator of any such vehicle shall knowingly allow any person riding upon any bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle to attach the same or himself/herself to any such vehicle.

75-8. Caution and circumspection required.

It shall be unlawful to operate a bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle on any public highway, the boardwalk or the approaches thereto or on any other public right-of-way or public grounds in a careless manner or without due caution and circumspection or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.

75-9. Time and place restrictions.

A. It shall be unlawful to operate a bicycle, unicycle or adult bicycle upon the Boardwalk or the approaches thereto, except in the designated bicycle path. The aforementioned vehicles shall be permitted to operate in the designated bicycle path during the daylight hours from Labor Day to June 30. From July 1 to Labor Day, the aforementioned vehicles shall be permitted to operate from 6:00 am to 12:00 noon from Sunday to Saturday, with additional hours on Monday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, prevailing time.

B. It shall be lawful to operate a bicycle, unicycle or adult tricycle upon any sidewalk.

There is no central clearinghouse of local bicycle ordinances. As such some local regulations may be redundent or in conflict with the state laws. We intend to post more of these types of municipal regulations on the internet as we find them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Brick City Bike Collective’s Egg-Mazing Race this Saturday

All Roads Lead to Fun in Newark’s Ironbound this Saturday for Brick City Bike Collective’s Egg-Mazing Race.

WHEN: Saturday, April 24, 2010, 10:30am – 1:30pm. Meet at 10:30am at Peter Francisco Park next to Penn Station. End for an awards ceremony at 1:30pm at Hell’s Kitchen Lounge, 150 Lafayette Street.

WHO: Brick City Bike Collective, East Ward Councilman Amador, Ironbound Improvement District, and you!

WHAT: The "Egg-Mazing Race" will be a free two-hour, five-mile bicycle challenge. Riders use a map to find checkpoints, where they solve clues,
complete challenges, and gain points to win prizes. The event ends at Hell’s Kitchen for a closing and awards ceremony, refreshments, and light lunch.
Prizes for both youth and adult riders.

WHERE: The checkpoints and challenges are all located within the Ironbound. The ride begins at Peter Francisco Park (small triangle park next to Penn Station) and ends at Hell’s Kitchen Lounge.

INFO: For more information, or to pre-register, visit www.brickcitybikecollective.org, or call us at 973.937.8443.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bicyclists using NJ Transit trains will see a 64% fare increase

Hidden in the NJ Transit fare increase debate until the very last moment was the elimination of off-peak fare discounts on NJ Transit trains. These off-peak discounts typically equated to 15% off the price of a peak one-way fare. According to an Asbury Park Press article from Sunday, the elimination of this discount in conjunction with the 25% fare increase will be the equivalent of a 64% increase for riders who use the train during off-peak operations. Since bicyclists using NJ Transit can only use the train with their full size bicycles during off-peak times, they should expect ticket prices far in excess of the widely discussed 25% increase.

My personal calculations did not quite come up with an increase of 64%. Based on a hypothetical $10 peak one-way fare, the old 15% discount for buying an off-peak round trip would make the off-peak one-way equate to $8.50. With the 25% fare increase and elimination of off-peak discounts that old $8.50 off-peak one-way fare will now come to $12.50. My calculations have that increase at 47% which is still massive but who am I to argue with that 64% figure when train fares are already too high and set to go way higher.

I've been a great fan of combining my bike and transit to get about for work and recreation. I would have begrudgingly accepted the 25% increase and kept on using NJ Transit trains during off-peak times for trips where I have the option of using my car. However this massive fare increase will have me saying sayonara to NJ Transit and choosing to use my car for all but trips to NYC and even those might be more economically done by driving to the Staten Island Ferry.

At least I'm not the only person who believes that this off-peak fare increase will devastate off-peak fare-box revenues on NJ Transit.

8th Annual Tour de Montclair, Sunday May 16th 2010

Bike&Walk Montclair and the Montclair YMCA are thrilled to announce a joint celebration — the 8thannual Tour de Montclair and the Y’s Healthy Kid Day. This community event will be held at Brookdale Park on Sunday, May 16, (rain or shine).

The Tour de Montclair is Bike&Walk Montclair’s signature event held each May during National Bike Month and in conjunction with May in Montclair.

It was attended by over 1000 cyclists last year. This year, cyclists of all abilities are invited to ride one of three routes: a car-free loop within the park, a short on-road route (about 8 miles) and a more challenging “long route” throughout Montclair (about 12 miles) There will be something for everyone!

The theme of this year’s tour, — “I Bike Montclair!”– celebrates the joy of cycling and to encourage people to bike more often. Arrive at 9 AM to check-in & warm-up. Ride starts at 10 AM. After the ride, enjoy the festival and fun! Participants will receive a commemorative Bike&Walk Montclair t-shirt (while supplies last).

Montclair YMCA Healthy Kids Day will also be held on May 16 in Brookdale Park, beginning at 11:00 AM. Participants are encouraged to “Put Play in Your Day” by joining the games and activities led by YMCA staff and volunteers.

Register - Online registration for the Tour de Montclair is convenient, easy, and will reserve a collectible souvenir “I Bike Montclair!” 2010 Tour t-shirt! Online registration is $12 per person or $30 per family (up to 5 members). On-site registration for the Tour de Montclair will open at 9:00 AM and is $15 per person or $35 per family (up to 5 members).

Become a Sponsor - This is a great opportunity to advertise your business thousands of participants and throughout the year. How many prior Tour de Montclair t-shirts do you see each week in Montclair?

Volunteer - This event is fully volunteer-run and we need you to help make the annual family-friendly bike ride and festival a success! The TdM Committee is looking for leaders to help with Site Management, Volunteer Management and Registration. Please contact TourdeMontclair@bikewalkmontclair.org for more information.

Route Maps: Car-free Loop, Short Route, Long Route

Enjoy the Ride: Get Smart. All participants (adults and children) are advised to watch this 7 minute video prior to the event.

For more information see, Bike&Walk Montclair's Tour de Montclair webpage.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Collingswood Streets Hold Vigil For 90 YO Man Killed In Haddon Township

By Stella Bonaparte "Collingswood Streets: Citizens for Biking and Walking"

A vigil was held by Collingswood Streets members and other local citizens as an impromptu response to the killing of a 90 year old local man he tried to cross the street near his home. Bruno Dziedzicki was killed by the driver of a pickup- the driver was reported to be a Collingswood man. Collingswood Streets member and local bikeshare volunteer mechanic Scott Shannon suggested the vigil, the group mobilized instantly and on Wednesday night at 5:30pm 13 people and a trusty dog were present to honor Mr. Dziedzicki and all pedestrians who have been killed in NJ.

The area where the man was hit, Collings Avenue & Calvert in Haddon Township, is a short block from Route 130, the "most dangerous street for pedestrians in the state of NJ". We stood with signs that read "Pedestrian Deaths are Not Acceptable", "Town, County, State: Make NJ Roads Safe for Everyone", "Slow Down", "Get off Your Phone", "Bruno Dziedzicki Died Here", "My Friend Sean Died Here", and one sign made by a 6 year old boy read "Don’t Run People Over. It is Bad!"

A cameraman from channel 6 took some footage. As we stood there, we observed the dangerous crossing conditions at this intersection where a church advertises daily meals for the needy. Speeding motorists whipped around the corner from 130, and numerous people were spotted using cell phones while driving. Collingswood Streets does not accept pedestrian deaths as a matter of course in our town and will continue to advocate for redesign of streets to include consideration of people on foot and cyclists.

On a personal note, a boy I went to high school with died nearby while trying to cross the street- he was 16 years old. He never got to live his life. There is something wrong with our society's priorities when we allow our most vulnerable citizens- our children, elderly, and differently-abled people- to be killed because we are afraid of angering motorists or changing the status quo. We would like to see all of our local municipalities make a commitment to true equality by implementing and enforcing Complete Streets policies.

View Larger Map

Share a ride to Project E.A.R.T.H. in Basking Ridge

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of EarthDay!

Join RideWise and the Somerset County Park Commission at the Environmental Education Center (EEC)

Environmental Education Center (EEC)
190 Lord Stirling Road, Basking Ridge (Map)
Sunday, April 25,2010 10:30am–4:30pm

  • Share a ride to Project E.A.R.T.H: Two families travel together in the same vehicle. To be eligible for a prize, a car should have five passengers with representatives from two or more families and a van should have at least seven passengers with representatives from two or more families. Invite your friends, colleagues, neighbors, and classmates. At least one person should be from a different family. Save money on gas, get priority parking as space allows, and be eligible to win Patriots baseball tickets while supplies last!
  • Bike to Project E.A.R.T.H: The first ten families who arrive to Project E.A.R.T.H. with three or more bicycle riders biking from home to the EEC will receive one Somerset County Park Commission Leisure Pursuit Card per family.

All Project E.A.R.T.H. visitors may enter the My Green Journey contest.

Meet the Somerset Patriots Mascot – Sparkee 10:30 – 2

For more information, contact Natalia Black at RideWise at 908-704-1011 x 14 or email
Natalia@ridewise.org, or visit www.ridewise.org.

RideWise is the source for sustainable travel alternatives that improve mobility, reduce traffic congestion and decrease carbon emissions.

Hats off to Ridewise and Somerset County Parks for "walking the walk" by addressing transportation at an Earth Day events.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cherry Blossom Rides (yes plural) & Bike Share all in Newark!

I had the pleasure of taking the train up to Newark and joining up with our friends from the Brick City Bike Collective this past Sunday for their Cherry Blossom Bike Tour. The ride was a smashing success with nearly 100 people in attendance, way more then anyone expected. Included in the mix was Kendra and Dave from the Morristown Pedal Pushers Blog. Elizabeth Press from Streetfilms who I invited on a last minute lark came with her camera along with some of her friends at Transportation Alternatives. We were all very glad she could make it and her Streetflims "shorty" below really captures the family friendly fun of the afternoon, despite the fact that most of the cherry blossoms were done blooming due to last week's heat.

Some of the sights along the way include Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the ever elegant Forest Hill Neighborhood, the old Tiffany Factory (smartly converted into apartments) amongst many others and of course, 4,000 cherry trees in beautiful Branch Brook Park.

With this ride such a success, I was surprised to find out that the folks at the Brick City Bike Collective had done another Cherry Blossom Ride the week before with the transportation folks at Rutgers Newark. They too brought a film crew and in the below video of the event they even talk about Rutgers Newark's new Bike Share Program! My God! Who would have thunk it!

Fill Out the Galloway Township Bike Survey

The New Jersey Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Township of Galloway, is performing a Bicycle Study in Galloway, Atlantic County. Galloway's goal is to provide bicycle connections between employment, commercial and population centers, as well as schools and recreation areas in the Township and to surrounding municipalities.

The purpose of this study is to determine the bicycle compatibility of roadways identified in the township's bicycle circulation map, perform bicycle crash analysis, develop recommendations for roadways that are not bicycle compatible, and provide a plan for implementation with prioritization. A Bicycle Master Plan for Galloway will be prepared to summarize the findings and recommendations of the study.

Local knowledge and input early in the study process is invaluable to advancing a successful effort that satisfies the needs of the community. The goal of this survey is to assist NJDOT and Galloway in identifying bicycle deficiencies and opportunities in the township.

This survey should take you approximately 10 minutes to complete and will be available online from April 6, 2010 through May 6, 2010. Information collected will be confidential and used solely for the purpose of developing the Galloway Bicycle Master Plan.

Go to the Bike Survey

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Streetsblog Interviews Dan Burden

I don't normally cover stuff that other blogs are writing. I figure most of you will read it on your own and look to WalkBikeJersey for original and Jersey only content. However, this time I must make an exception.

Streetsblog has done an excellent interview with Dan Burden, one of the "wise old men" of the bicycle and pedestrian cause. In the interview Dan talks about the new book from the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) called Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach. The interview is long but full of incredibly insightful information that anyone working to make New Jersey's streets a safer and more convenient to walk and bike should know about.

The book looks like a must have for any bike/ped advocate or street designer but it will cost you up to $37.50. Oh wait! You can download it for free too!

Friday, April 02, 2010

BCBC Announces 2010 Cherry Blossom Bike Tour

Our friends over at the Brick City Bike Collective have announced there 2010 Cherry Blossom Bike Tour in Newark’s spectacular Branch Brook Park. The ride is on Sunday April 11th, starts a 1pm and is easily accessible by NJ Transit.

For more info please be sure to check out their announcement.

I can think of no better way to see one of the worlds greatest cherry blossom collections (said to be even bigger then the more famous collection in Washington DC) then by bike!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

No Fooling - Motorists Must Stop – And Stay Stopped – For Pedestrians In Crosswalks


Trenton -- Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer today reminded motorists that effective April 1, they must now stop - and remain stopped -- for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Prior to this legislative change, motorists were required to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

“For years, too many pedestrians have been dying in traffic accidents in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Dow. “With these changes to our law, motorists and pedestrians will no longer have to play a game of chicken when it comes to maneuvering on our roadways. The law brings new clarity that drivers must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks, and pedestrians, in turn, must use due care and not jaywalk or step into traffic outside of those crossing points.”

Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer explained that the agency will be working with law enforcement officials to educate both motorists and pedestrians about the change in the law.

“We’re asking law enforcement officials, when interacting with motorists and pedestrians, to educate them about the change to the law, as well their respective duties and responsibilities when walking or driving,” said Director Fischer. “Our goal is to reinforce the importance of pedestrians always using crosswalks, their safety zone, and for motorists to recognize that when approaching crosswalks they must be alert for pedestrians and stop and stay stopped to allow them to cross safely.

“We recognize that we cannot change everyone’s behavior overnight; this will take sustained effort over a long period of time,” Fischer added. “However, through education and enforcement, we can change the culture and improve safety for all roadway users.”

To educate motorists about the new law, the Division has developed an oversized palm card, similar in size to a traffic ticket, that outlines the changes as well as the penalties for failing
to comply. The card will be distributed to all police departments in the state, and made available to high school driver education teachers and defensive driving program providers. The new law will also be detailed in the New Jersey Driver Manual. The public can download it from the Division’s web site, at www.njsaferoads.com.

"This new law complements our ongoing effort to enhance pedestrian safety on New Jersey's busy roadways," said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson. "Since 2006, NJDOT has completed or funded 205 pedestrian safety initiatives, and just a few months ago we adopted a Complete Streets policy that promotes safe accessibility for all who share our roads."

“Pedestrian safety is a two-way street and it is important that both drivers and those sharing the road take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries and fatalities,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Acting Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “Continued improvements to engineering, education and enforcement are the keys to enhancing safety throughout our state.”

Motorists violating the new law face a $200 fine, plus court costs, and 2 points on their license. They can also be subject to 15 days of community service and insurance surcharges. Pedestrians may also be cited under state law for failing to use due care when crossing. The law requires them to obey pedestrian signals and use crosswalks at signalized intersections as well as yield the right of way to traffic if they are not crossing within a crosswalk or at an intersection. Failure to comply with the law carries a $54 fine, plus court costs.

Fischer noted that since 2004, approximately 150 pedestrians have been killed annually in traffic-related crashes on New Jersey roadways. In 2009, after a three-year downward trend, the number of pedestrian deaths statewide increased to 157. As of March 26 of this year, 28 pedestrians have been killed in motor vehicle-related crashes statewide, as compared to 48 for the same time period last year. Additionally, since 2004, more than 30,000 pedestrians have been injured in motor-vehicle related crashes statewide.

“While the numbers are once again moving in the right direction, even one life lost is one too many,” Fischer said. “Until we achieve zero fatalities, we must educate both pedestrians and motorists about the importance of remaining alert at all times, and taking personal responsibility for their actions.”

The Division offers the following safe walking tips for pedestrians:

  • Wear bright-colored, reflectorized clothing, especially at night.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths and always cross at the corner, within marked crosswalks if provided. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and make eye contact with motorists.
  • Never cross mid-block (unless within a marked crosswalk), between parked cars or by climbing over median barriers. This is not only unsafe, but against the law.
  • Look left, then right and left again before crossing, and always be on the look-out for turning vehicles.
  • Continue to look for vehicles while crossing, even when in marked crosswalks.
  • Learn the proper use of “walk/don’t walk” signals and obey them.
  • Walk and cross with others, when possible.
  • Do not attempt to cross while talking or texting on a cell phone. Pedestrian inattention is a common cause of pedestrian-motor vehicle conflicts.
  • Try not to walk at night or in bad weather, such as rain, snow or ice. (WalkBikeJersey's Advice: If you do need to walk, improve your visibility with a reflective vest and some type of flashing light.)
  • If you drink alcohol, have someone escort you to your front door.

Click Image to Enlarge
Pictured above from left to right: Joel Feldman, father of Casey Feldman; Attorney General Paul T. Dow and Pam Fischer, Irector of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. Click image to enlarge photo.