Saturday, December 31, 2011

Walt Disney World - The Jekyll and Hyde of Complete Streets

How many of you have been to to Walt Disney World? Did you rent or bring your bike? Probably not. An enormous transport system of monorails, buses and boats will get you around the sprawling complex but don't count on walking or biking.



The Google Maps team has brought out much of the Walt Disney World's disconnected walking and biking paths into the light.What's interesting is that many of the resort areas offer bike rentals for use on their internal path networks.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

East Coast Greenway Alliance announces major advancement in New Jersey

The East Coast Greenway Alliance made this announcement in its December Newsletter about a major breakthrough that has closed the gap between Newark and Jersey City.

NJ ECG
The largest gap in the alignment of the East Coast Greenway as it passes through New Jersey has just been completed! For the first time, pedestrians can walk along sidewalks between Jersey City and Newark – two of New Jersey’s largest cities.  New Jersey Department of Transportation recently constructed sidewalk along the ECG alignment of Truck Route 1 & 9 in Newark and Kearny. This links Lincoln Park in Jersey City, across Kearny, through the Ironbound section of Newark to Newark’s Penn Station. There are already ECG wayfinding signs in place the rest of the way across New Jersey, between Newark and Trenton.

Now that this new segment of sidewalk is available, ECG travelers will finally be able to travel 100% of the way across New Jersey under their own power – no trains needed! There is still advocacy work to do as we continue to improve this important secion of the Greenway. However, this is a huge step forward as there is finally a continuous sidewalk network between Newark and Jersey City for everyone to use!

The above was written by Mike Dannemiller, East Coast Greenway Alliance  New Jersey State Committee Co-Chair

Thursday, December 22, 2011

DVRPC awards vast majority of $5.2 million in trails moneys to PA communities


Much of the following is taken from a recent post from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's, Bicycle News.

In late October, the Delaware Valley Region Planning Commission awarded $5.2 million through Phase I of its Regional Trails Program.  This grant program is funded by $10 Million from the William Penn Foundation, and provided money to eighteen projects around the 9 county Delaware Valley region.  However, of those eighteen projects, only two are in New Jersey and account for only $373,000 of the $5.2 million awarded, less than 7.2% of the grant money available.  While this money is available equally to counties and municipalities in both states, the massive bias towards Pennsylvania is because New Jersey communities are simply not applying for the grants.  According to John Boyle of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, "New Jersey communities are failing to come forward and apply for money to build trails in the past few years.  Kudos to Camden County/Coopers Ferry Partnership and Mercer County/Friends of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail for taking the opportunity to expand their trail networks."

These initiatives include both trail design and trail construction in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They extend existing trails, including the Schuylkill River Trail in Phoenixville, the Chester Valley Trail near Exton, and the East Coast Greenway in Tullytown. They connect the existing and planned elements of the regional trail network to neighborhoods through projects like the Baldwin's Run Tributary Trail in Camden and the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail in Lawrence. Finally, these grants support several landmark projects, including the Manayunk Bridge Trail that will provide a cross-river connection between Philadelphia and Lower Merion Township and serve as a destination for bikers and walkers from across the region.

The awards to trail projects include:
  • Reading to Hamburg Schuylkill River Trail Gap (Leesport section) – $142,630 (design and construction) – Berks County
  • Big Woods/Schuylkill-Hopewell Furnace Trail – $500,000 (construction – Phase 1, survey – Phase 2) – Berks and Chester Counties – Berks County
  • Neshaminy Creek Greenway (Phase I) -- $130,148 (construction) – Bucks County
  • US Route 13 Crossing – $471,000 (construction) – Bucks County
  • Baldwin’s Run Tributary Trail – $150,000 (design) – Camden County
  • Chester Valley Trail Phase III – $500,000 (construction) – Chester County
  • Phoenixville Schuylkill River Trail Segment – Phase I -- $285,000 (design and construction) – Chester County
  • Darby Creek Trail -- $290,000 (construction) – Delaware County
  • Lawrence-Hopewell Trail: Lewisville Road Section -- $248,000 (construction) – Mercer County
  • Chester Valley Trail Extension – $325,000 (construction) – Montgomery County
  • Canal Towpath Spillway Bridge – $170,000 (construction) – Montgomery County
  • Tacony Frankford Greenway Trail – $500,000 (construction) – Philadelphia
  • Penn Street Trail – $500,000 (design and construction) – Philadelphia
  • Schuylkill Crossing at Grays Ferry – $260,000 (preliminary design) – Philadelphia
In addition, the DVRPC Board today approved $125,000 in funding for Camden County’s Kaighn’s Avenue to Route 130 Connector Trail. This project was one of four “early action” projects originally approved for $50,000 of funding in July 2011. The grant has since been revised to $125,000. The other three early action projects were:
  • Manayunk Bridge -- $400,000 (design) – Philadelphia
  • Spring Garden Street Greenway – $75,000 (design) – Philadelphia
  • Schuylkill South -- $165,000 (acquisition for future extension of waterfront trail) – Philadelphia
In mid-December, DVRPC received applications for Phase II of the program, for projects that were seeking planning and feasibility funding. Those awards are expected to be announced in early 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peters Brook Greenway Bridge over Rt 202/206 nearly complete

A multi-use bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Rt 202/206, which will be a critical part of the Peters Brook Greenway, is nearing completion.  Late in November, the prefabricated steal truss bridge was finally put into place marking a critical moment and the final stages of this project.  Located on the northwest of edge of Somerville, a quarter mile north of the Somerville Circle and just south of Rt 22, it is hoped that this bridge will provide bicyclists and pedestrians a critical crossing over Routes 202/206 in this congested area that is the junction of numerous highways.  A week or two ago, construction workers were seen pouring the concrete running surface onto the bridge structure and it would seem that all that remains to be done before the bridge is opened is to install protective railings on the ramps, stairs and the bridge itself.


View Peters Brook Greenway - Approximate Route in a larger map

Started in July of 2010, this $3.6 million project will be an extension of the Peters Brook Greenway that runs through Somerville and will one day provide a connection to Bridgewater-Raritan High School on Garretson Road in Bridgewater. The primary reason behind this project is to provide a safe crossing over Rts 202/206 that is NOT provided at the Somerville Circle or any other place within a reasonable distance.

More pictures of the project after the jump.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

DRPA approves budget without Ben Franlin ADA ramp

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
The Board of Directors of the Delaware River Port Authority approved the 2012 Capital Program without the ramp as expected and as is the custom, took public comments only at the end of the meeting.



However advocates from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia got a good amount of press.  Helicopter video of the 10 cyclists on the bridge was seen on Fox 29 and NBC 10. People watching the TV news said the shots were tight which made the group look bigger.

Online press coverage can be found in the below links:
When it came time to vote on the resolution for $20 million in economic development project (DRPA has been slammed repeatedly...

Bloustein students proposed bicycle network and other ideas for Rutgers / New Brunswick

What might a bicycle network look like for Rutgers University and the City of New Brunswick look like? Graduate students at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy took on this question as part of Prof. John Pucher’s, Biking and Walking for Sustainable Cities Class. Students took a look at a number of issues including, bike share, turning Rutgers into a Bicycle Friendly University, a community bicycle center like Recycle-A-Bicycle and Second Life Bikes to name a few.

The other presentations I saw talked about:
  • How to motivate people to walk and bike more, 
  • Redesigning Livingston Ave (a primary access route to New Brunswick from the south),
  • A look at the safety improvements and controversy with the Prospect Park West Cycletrack

Included below are several images of the one major presentation that investigated a New Brunswick bicycle network designed to maximize the connectivity between university campuses while connecting to the French Street commercial corridor (Note: I give the students credit for trying some innovative bike lane treatments however I must say that I do have some concerns with the finer points of some of the design treatments).  For those mega bike wonks there is a link to video of the presentation (webinare style) but I don't have that link available as I publish.





Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hoboken Installs First Bike Repair Station, Doubles Bike Racks Near PATH

The following is reproduced from the official Hoboken City news blog and is published here as a public service.  WalkBikeJersey will do an independent review of these new amenities in Hoboken the next time one our "staff" are in the city.  All photos are attributed to the City of Hoboken.

Hoboken, NJ - Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
First buffered bike lane installed; Bike sharing program planned
 


The City of Hoboken has installed its first self-service bike repair station, becoming one of the first municipalities on the east coast with a public bike repair facility. The City has also doubled the number of bike racks near the PATH. The more than 30 new bike racks are available for sponsorship by businesses or residents and will be acknowledged with an engraved plaque adjacent to the bike rack.

“Our streets are public spaces that belong to everyone, not just cars,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Every Hoboken resident is a pedestrian, and more than ever, they are also riding bikes to get around. This expansion of our bicycle infrastructure demonstrates our strong commitment to making Hoboken more bike-friendly.”

The bike repair service station behind the Bus Terminal adjacent to the PATH has a stand to hold a bike, a hand-operated air pump, and basic tools including wrenches, screw drivers, and tire lever for minor repairs. The bike racks and bike repair station are part of pedestrian and cycling improvements to Hudson Place that began with construction of expanded and rebuilt sidewalks and bump-outs. Street furniture and planters are also planned for Hudson Place.



Through the City’s bike rack sponsorship program, businesses and residents can sponsor the bike racks near the PATH or can sponsor the installation of a new bike rack outside their storefront or other location. New bike repair stations can also be sponsored. The first new bike rack near the PATH has already been sponsored, and the City is seeking sponsors for the remaining racks. Interested residents or businesses should submit the bicycle rack donation form found at: http://hobokennj.org/docs/transportation/bicycle-rack-donation-form.pdf.

Earlier in the week, the City striped its first “buffered” bike lane along a segment of Clinton Street that was recently repaved between 15th and 16th Streets. The bike lane, which will be extended along all of Clinton Street, represents the first segment of 10 miles of new planned bike lanes along wider streets throughout Hoboken.



“Bike lanes aren’t just for bikes,” added Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs. “They are a critical tool in reducing vehicle speeds and improving pedestrian safety. Our bike lanes have been demonstrated to reduce speeds by an average of 4 miles per hour, greatly lowering the chance of fatality in the case of a collision with a pedestrian.”

The City is also working in conjunction with the Hudson Transportation Management Association towards implementing a city-wide bike-sharing system. More information on bicycling-related initiatives, rules, and regulations can be found at http://www.hobokennj.org/bikes.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit coming to New Brunswick

Registration Opened!

The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition is pleased to announce that the 2012 NJ BikeWalk Summit will be held on February 25, 2012 in New Brunswick, NJ. The event will be hosted by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center which is in the Edward J. Bloustein School at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  Co-hosts will be the Central Jersey Bicycle Club who will lead a tour of New
Brunswick with NJBWC LCIs.


Registration is open for the Summit and cost will be as follows:

December 7, 2011 through January 15, 2012:
$50 – Individual
$25 – Student

January 16, 2012 through February 22, 2012:
$55 – Individual
$25 – Student

If space remains after on-line and mail registration closes, you may register at the door at a cost of $65 (no student discount)


You may register on-line here.  To register by mail, send a check made out to the “New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition” to NJBWC, P.O. Box 843, Mahwah, NJ  07430.

Note that registration for the 2012 NJ Bike & Walk Summit will bring you either a one-year membership in the Coalition or an extension of any current membership!

The  agenda for the Summit is currently being developed but you can check the website and future editions of the newsletter for announcements.  There will be concurrent sessions during the day.  Bring friends and cover them all!  There will also be a mix of presentations, workshops and discussions designed to help you get things done in your own communities and in your state.  Valuable information for all!

Sponsors Wanted!!
Sponsorship of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit can be valuable exposure for your company or service, and will reach well beyond the 150 or so who will actually be there on the day.  If you are interested in reaching a diverse, educated, and affluent market of bicycle and walking advocates and professionals, sponsorship of the Summit may be for you. You can find information on sponsorship opportunities here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

DRPA to bicyclists: The Ben Franklin Bridge is not for you

The following article comes to us again from our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and is reprinted here with their permission.  In addition to what the BCGP has to say, a December 6th Courier Post article tells of  $30 million the DRPA is giving away for projects that have absolutely nothing to do with transportation.  And while $20 million of that will be spent on worthy causes in New Jersey, its ridiculous for the DRPA to be giving this money away when there numerous pending transportation projects in their purvey that need funding, particularly the promised bicycle ramp on the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden.

BTW - I was at the end of that queue of 250 riders
shown in the bottom photograph waiting to cross the bridge.  We had to wait for of 50 minutes till all the other cyclists labored to push their bikes up the stair ramps.


John Matheussen in 2010, promising to build the ramp
Today, with no opportunity for public comment, the Delaware River Port Authority's Finance Committee approved a draft Capital Program that reneges on their promise to design and build capital project BF1101: an ADA accessible ramp on the Camden side of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Sign this petition to send DRPA's Board a message: HONOR YOUR PROMISES - BUILD THE RAMP!

As we reported in January, funds designated in the 2011 draft budget to design the ramp were eliminated when the DRPA Board decided to delay all projects that did not directly involve public safety. This action was taken despite a public promise by Chief Executive Officer John J. Matheussen at the July 2010 Board meeting that DRPA would build the ramp in 2012.

The current entrance on the Camden side - inaccessible
for pedestrians w/disabilities and bicycle unfriendly.
The DPRA Finance Committee approved the 2012 capital budget with no public comment period. The Board of Directors will vote on the budget at its December 14th meeting (see below). Unlike most Agencies that rely on federal funding, DRPA has no obligation to allow for a 30 day public comment period, and does not include public comments attached to proposed budgets.

If DRPA does not hear from us, they will think bicyclists and pedestrians with disabilities have forgotten about their promise!

This bald-faced refusal to build the ramp:
  • Creates a hole in our regional trail network
  • Advertises DRPA's hostility towards bicyclists and pedestrians with disabilities
  • Undermines trust in DRPA's promises
Why is improving access to the iconic Ben Franklin Bridge not considered a priority? Why isn't this part of improving public safety on the bridge?

Ways you can help:
  1. Send a message that DRPA should BUILD THE RAMP!
  2. Attend the DRPA Board of Directors meeting, which will be the only in-person chance for public input on the budget:
DRPA Board of Directors Meeting
Wednesday December 14th
9AM - 10AM
1 Port Center, 11th Floor, Camden, NJ

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Advocacy works! New Brunswick reworks bike sidewalk ban.

If you've been reading this blog you would know that the City of New Brunswick was looking to reinstate a 118 year old ban on cycling on all sidewalks in the city regardless of the cyclists age.  In our original November 2nd post, we looked at the likely origins of the original 1893 bicycle sidewalk ban, how a new ordinance could be better tweaked and questioned why adults were riding on the sidewalk in the first place.  Well at the November 2nd meeting, I was able to give some feedback to the City Council and was quite impressed at how well received my comments were to the Mayor and Council.

However, when I went to the next Council Meeting on November 16th, I was almost shocked into disbelief.  Not because, the Mayor and Council ignored my suggestions but because they took nearly all of them to heart and rewrote their proposed ordinance to take into account almost all of my feedback.  Way to go New Brunswick!!

Now I can't take total credit for this.  Far from it.  Somewhat unknown to me at the time, students from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public policy, namely those in Walk Bloustein, Bike Bloustein had also been talking to the Mayor, Council and most importantly, Planning Director, Glenn Paterson who was actually drafting the ordinance.

Below are photos of the draft ordinance (no pdf or other text document was made available).  Reading the text you can see that their is great improvement from the first proposal of November 2nd.  However, this is still far from a final draft.  Planning Director, Glenn Paterson shared with me a totally reworked draft that went much further.  I felt that some items in that proposal were redundant with New Jersey state law but others were absolutely superb in that they afforded legal protections from careless motor vehicle drivers not yet provided by New Jersey Title 39, namely protections from left and right hooks, careless doorings, illegal parking and even a 3-foot provision.  Unbelievably good stuff!!

After this, can't wait to see what the City will have drafted for tomorrow's meeting - December 7th at 6:30pm.

November 16th Draft Ordinance - Page 1

November 16th Draft Ordinance - Page 2

Sunday, December 04, 2011

New Brunswick Bikeway delayed due to utilities

Cyclists in New Brunswick demanding an answer for the delays in the long anticipated (20+ years) New Brunswick Bikeway finally have a reason.  At last week's Middlesex County Transportation Coordinating Committee meeting, representatives from Middlesex County said that several utility companies have been slow to sign off on the project and that this has been the cause of the delays.  Without cross acceptance from the utilities, the project, which requires extensive road alterations in places, cannot be added to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for funding.

Seen Above, NJ Rt 27 will require significant alterations to accommodate the bikeway and is the location of greatest concern for the utility companies.  
Middlesex County officials assured those in attendance that the project has not been canceled or permanently delayed and that once the utilities sign off on the project that it would be added to the TIP for funding.  Officials also said that the county had already made a significant financial investment in the project and are determined to see it through.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

UPDATED!! Next NJ BPAC meeting Thursday December 8th

The next New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting has long been scheduled for next week and will be hosted by the Voorhees Transportation Center, at the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center .

When:    Thursday, December 8th at 10:00 am
Where:   Edward J. Bloustein School
             33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 08901
On the agenda will be a discussion from Jerry Foster of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance about his town's reward of a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community award, the first in New Jersey.

Pete Kremer of the consulting engineering firm Parsons Brinkerhoff with be discussing New Jersey's new Complete Streets Curriculum. 

Also, Karen Jenkins and Jim Nicholson of the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition will be discussing the upcoming New Jersey Bike/Ped Summit.

This is a public meeting and all interested parties are welcome to attend.

More details to come when we get them.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tri-State maps South Jerseys most dangerous roads for cyclists

The following message was originally posted on the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia blog and contains significant portions from the original Tri-State Transportation Campaign press release

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign has a released a new report that analyzes bicycle crashes in 8 South Jersey Counties from 2008-2010 to determine particularly dangerous roadways for cyclists. The report extracts NJDOT's public (but difficult to access) traffic crash data and geocodes all the bicycle crashes in the region on Google Maps.
 
The analysis shows that many crashes were clustered on specific roads, with certain roads the most dangerous in more than one county. US 30 was one of Atlantic and Camden Counties’ most dangerous roads (65 crashes in these counties combined). NJ 47 was one of Cape May, Cumberland and Gloucester Counties’ most dangerous roads (58 crashes in these counties combined).

The report's findings demonstrate the need for New Jersey to continue to examine the design of its streets, particularly the roads that have been shown to be hot spots for bicyclist crashes. The percentage of bicyclists in crashes on these “hot spot” roads ranged from 15.7% to 32.6% of each county’s total bicycle crashes.

NJDOT passed a statewide Complete Streets policy in December 2009 which requires new or rehabilitated roads to be built for all users, including walkers, cyclist, transit riders, and drivers.

"There is a clear demand for safe cycling routes in the state, yet most roads are still designed for only cars in mind,” said Matthew Norris, Tri-State Transportation Campaign's South Jersey Advocate. “We hope these numbers will help the New Jersey Department of Transportation and county officials fix these roadways to encourage healthier, more active lifestyles.”

"People need options for transportation. Not everyone drives a car, but our roads aren't accommodating to pedestrians and cyclists. They have every right to use the road but can't always do so safely. More attention needs to be paid to making our roadways not only safe, but inviting, so those who choose to travel by bike or on foot have their own established spaces can feel secure in using them,” said Patty Woodworth, owner of Action Wheels Bike Shop in Deptford.

County fact sheets and Google Maps can be found at http://tstc.org/njbiking.

The analysis found the following roads to be the most dangerous in the three suburban counties. Percentages are percent of bicyclist crashes in each county which happened on that road.
     
Burlington  
  • Route 537-Marne Hwy/Camden Ave (7.6%)
  • US 130 (6%)
  • Burlington County 607-Church St (5.2%)
Camden 
  • US 30-White Horse Pike (6%)
  • NJ 168-Black Horse Pike (5.2%)
  • Route 561-Haddon Ave/Haddonfield-Berlin Rd (4.5%)
Gloucester  
  • NJ 47 - Delsea Dr. (10.1%)
  • NJ 45 - Mantua Ave/Bridgeton Pike (9.6%)
  • US 322 - Black Horse Pike (7.9%)
Note: much of the above text is taken from the press release issued today by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

The map below overlays TSTC's crash data on top of census data, trails and bike lanes in South Jersey. A full page version is viewable here.

View map on GeoCommons

Why are South Jersey towns passing up on possible Bike/Ped monies?

Word is coming in that South Jersey towns are passing up on monies from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) that could be used to plan and design "non-motorized" transportation projects.  The DVRPC which serves Mercer, Burlington, Camden and Glouster Counties in New Jersey (as well as Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania) has a program call Transportation and Community Development Initiative (TCDI) which helps fund the planning and design of local projects that are consistent with regional and state planning objectives.  And according to the DVRPC:
The TCDI program is intended to reverse the trends of disinvestment and decline in many of the region's core cities and older suburbs by:
  • Supporting local planning projects that will lead to more residential, employment or retail opportunities;
  • Improving the overall character and quality of life within these communities to retain and attract business and residents, which will help to reduce the pressure for further sprawl and expansion into areas without infrastructure in place or planned;
  • Enhancing and utilizing the existing transportation infrastructure capacity in these areas to reduce the demands on the region's transportation network; and
  • Reducing congestion and improving the transportation system's efficiency.
Unfortunately, the DVRPC had not received enough applicants from New Jersey communities by the original September 1st deadline so the DVRPC has extended the deadline to December 28th.  Hopefully more eligible towns have already heeded the call because there was a mandatory pre-application meeting yesterday.

It's somewhat remarkable that there was a lack of interested municipalities because "planning and design" grants are often harder to come by.  Most grants available to towns are often only available for the construction of projects that are ready to go.

For more information about the TCDI Program see this guide from the DVRPC.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mapping All US Traffic Fatalities for 2001-2009

The GIS wizards at ITO World put the 369,629 US traffic fatalities between 2001 and 2010 on a single interactive map. We zoomed in on New Jersey, click on the key button to hide it. Note the clusters of blues (peds) and greens (cyclists) in the urbanized areas of the State. Thanks to the Guardian Datablog for broadcasting this amazing map.

 

  View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rutgers Releases New Jersey's 2011 Pedestrian Safety Tracking Report

Today the Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center of New Jersey released 2011 Pedestrian Safety Tracking Report. The primary purpose of the report is to track crashes and analyze patterns including hot spots where multiple crashes have taken place. 2011 New Jersey Pedestrian Safety Tracking Report Final For a more detailed description of the report go to the New Jersey Walks and Bikes Blog.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are Fall leaves turning your bike commute into an unnecessary hazard?

Rt 27 South near Carnegie Lake - Photo M. Hommer
It happens every Fall.  Towns all across New Jersey and elsewhere in the country tell their residents to "pile all leaves at the curb."  Not only does this often squeeze cyclists out of the only place that they feel safe to ride but it also creates an additional hazard as many of these leaves get crushed into a fine puree by passing cars which then turns into an incredibly slippery paste that can drop a cyclist in a split second.

While this is a problem all across New Jersey,  a good friend of mine often finds himself riding on New Jersey Route 27 just north of downtown Princeton.  Every year he tells me that leaves and other yard waste completely block the relatively wide and useful shoulder.  What makes this hazard of particular concern is that this section of Route 27 is also the on-road route of the East Coast Greenway.

Imagine if it was common practice to tell people to block a motor vehicle traffic lane with yard debris.  It wouldn't be tolerated and neither should this practice as there are clear alternatives.   In my town, residents are required to bag their leaves into large paper leaf bags.  Even better, most home owners could compost their leaves on sight and use them to increase the organic mater content in your garden and flower beds.  Brush and branches could be left on the grass off the shoulder and sidewalk.

More photos of the hazards on Rt 27 after the break

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ADVOCACY ALERT: New Brunswick to discuss bicycle ordinance tomorrow

At the New Brunswick City Council meeting two weeks ago the Council decided to postpone their discussion of the proposed bicycle sidewalk ban ordinance till their next meeting which will be tomorrow November 16th at 6:30pm.  At the November 2nd meeting photocopies of the ordinance were presented to all attendees (see photos below).  As written, the draft ordinance would ban all cyclists from most city sidewalks regardless of age.  There was some consideration to allow cyclists to use "multi-use sidewalks" on NJ Route 18 and on several other roadways.  However in addition to the sidewalk ban, Section III, Paragraph B of the draft ordinance would ban cyclist from riding two abreast regardless if motor traffic is obstructed or not.  This is part is most disturbing because New Jersey Statute 39:4-14.2. Keeping to right; exceptions; single file grants cyclists the right to "travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded."

During the public comment period at the end of the November 2nd council meeting, I addressed my concerns with the ordinance as drafted and provided some historical background and the state of cycling in 1893 when the original city ordinance banning cycling on the sidewalks was written.  From there I told the council that I was glad to see that the draft ordinance considered the needs of cyclists who use the sidewalks on Rt 18 and several other locations.  I suggested that the sidewalk ban not apply to children under the age of 14 and that it should also NOT apply to to sidewalks that are on Rutgers University property that are also not immediately adjacent to city roadways (ie. in quads and on campus between other buildings).  I did suggested to the council that a sidewalk bicycle ban was very appropriate, regardless of the age of the cyclist, in the central business district and in other select sections of the city that see constant pedestrian traffic day and night.  However I felt that the sidewalk ban was totally unnecessary on most residential streets elsewhere in New Brunswick.  I also addressed the issue of the draft ordinance's complete ban on riding two abreast which restricts the right to do so granted to cyclists in New Jersey Statute 39:4-14.2.   I wondered aloud if the city could restrict a right granted by the state and let them know that my understanding was that they could not.

Finally, I asked the council to consider why cyclists feel the need to ride on the sidewalks in the city in the first place.  Such behavior is typical when there is a dangerous on-street bicycling environment, or at least a perception that the street is a dangerous place to ride.  I told the New Brunswick City Council that the best way to solve the problem of cyclists riding on the sidewalks was to provide cyclists a place to ride in the street.  I was blunt to the Mayor and Council that New Brunswick was way behind peer university towns all across the nation that have done much, much more to accommodate cyclists.

In closing I told the Council that they could call on my expert opinion on this and other future bicycle issues in New Brunswick.  I also reminded them that some of the worlds leading experts regarding bicycle and pedestrian issues are literally a stones throw away from City Hall at the Bloustein School, namely Prof. John Pucher and the staff at the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center which is part of the Voorhees Transportation Center.

Photos of the draft New Brunswick City Ordinance that would ban all cyclists from city sidewalks are below.  Click on each and enlarged to read each page.


Friday, November 11, 2011

US Senate to Bicyclists - GET OFF THE ROAD!!!

Sign the League of American Bicyclists Petition!

Yesterday, I quickly put up a link to a Streetsblog DC article that gave a good rundown of the major aspects of the proposed US Senate transportation funding bill.  While that article was good at giving a overall summary of this big piece of legislation, it did miss this small clause on page 226 of the Senate Bill:
(d) BICYCLE SAFETY.—The Secretary of the appropriate Federal land management agency shall prohibit the use of bicycles on each federally owned road that has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater and an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of the road.
No, your eyes aren't deceiving you.  This is a mandatory sidepath law that forces bicyclists off federally owned roads (mostly in National Parks and Forests and military bases) and onto bicycle paths no matter how poorly the pathways are engineered.

Luckily, the hard working folks at the League of American Bicyclists didn't miss this egrigious little detail and fortunately for all of us, they are not going to take this lying down (HINT! This is a great example of why you need to join the League!).  In his blog post (read it!), LAB President, Andy Clarke blasts this clause as "paternalistic," and a "pretty awful" precedent.

Well, you don't have to take this direct assault to your right to ride a bike on a public right-of-way lying down either!  The LAB has put together a quick and easy petition that takes no more than a minute to fill out.  As I write this over 2,100 have already signed this petition and about a hundred people have been signing it every hour.

Make you voice heard in the US Senate.  Remind them that, "You ride and you vote!"

Senate forwards Transport Bill WITHOUT bike/ped funding

The following is written by Tanya Snyder at Streetsblog.DC and is reproduced here due to the importance and urgency of this issue and as she has done a MUCH better job summarizing the issue then I have the time to. 

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted unanimously this morning to pass a two-year transportation reauthorization bill, moving the bill one step closer to passage by the full Senate.
Unlike in the House, where the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has full responsibility for the transportation bill, the Senate splits jurisdiction among several committees, so the saga isn’t over yet by a long shot. The Senate Banking Committee still needs to consider the transit part of the bill, Commerce will get its hands dirty on the rail portion, and Finance is going to figure out how to pay for the whole thing.

Non-Motorized Transportation Takes a Hit
Rarely have bike and pedestrian safety been so squarely at the center of a Congressional boxing match as during the debate over this bill. The fight over dedicated funding for bike/ped projects – much of it focused on the Transportation Enhancements program – threatened the delicate bipartisan consensus for this bill. What emerged was a compromise that placated even the most hardened TE haters like Sens. James Inhofe and Tom Coburn.

To continue reading this article follow the link to the complete story at Streetsblog.DC.

Also make sure you read Tanya Snyder's second look at the Senate Transportation Bill and why she thinks it's not as bad as it could have been.  Also make sure you read the reaction by Rails-to-Trails' Kevin Mills to Tanya's second article (his is the second comment).  He is not so optimistic.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

STOLEN BIKE!! Maplewood - Brown Surley Crosscheck

The below comes from Tom Reingold, a leading force behind the South Orange Maplewood Bicycle Coalition.  Help Tom get his bicycle back!


STOLEN BIKE

Stolen from my home in Maplewood at around 10:30pm on November 7, 2011.

CASH REWARD if you bring it back to me. CASH REWARD if you lead me to the person who had it or has it. This bike is not only valuable to me, it has a lot of sentimental value. I put a lot of handiwork into building it.

Brand: Surly

Model: Cross Check

Color: Brown, though it may be painted by the thief

Distinctive features: Unusually shaped mustache handlebars. Drum brake hubs (i.e. the brakes are in the wheel hubs; they don’t grab the rims). Silver fenders.


Email: tom@sombike.com
Phone: 973-821-3662

Monday, November 07, 2011

HISTORY LESSON: How the Dutch got their cycle paths

I came across this great video the other day that presents one well accepted view of how the Netherlands became one of the best countries in the world for cyclists and cycling infrastructure.  The video was produced by Mark Wagenbuur who, with blog founder David Hembrow, produce the superb A view from the cycle path... blog which documents Dutch cycling infrastructure for all the world to see.  Besides the blog, if you go to Mark's YouTube channel you will find over 150 videos that will give the curious American a great idea of what a transportation infrastructure built around the bicycle can look like.



One thing that you should take away from this video is that the world class Dutch bicycle infrastructure that many think was always there, was almost lost at one point and that advocacy was a critical part of turning local and national transportation policy around in the Netherlands.  Imagine what New Jersey might look like today if bicycle advocacy had been well organized since the 1970's.  I doubt it would be exactly like the Netherlands but I think we would be much further along then we are today.

Friday, November 04, 2011

BCBC Halloween bicycle scavenger hunt this Saturday


Our really cool friends at the Brick City Bicycle Collective in Newark along with City Councilman Augusto Amador and Grove Street Bicycles of Jersey City will be hosting their 3rd Annual Halloween Bicycle Scavenger Hunt starting at 11:30 this Saturday.  For more information including a registration form please go to their webpage for the event.

I sure wish I could make this event!


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Rand Paul's Attack On Bike/Ped Funding Defeated In Senate

The below message comes from our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and was written by Nicholas Mirra.

They attacked again, and again safety and forward thinking prevailed.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Cars)'s plan to scrap the Transportation Enhancements program was defeated Tuesday by a 60-38 vote. Thank you to everyone who contacted your senators and urged them to vote against this backward-thinking, regressive bill.

Unfortunately, this will likely not be the last time members of Congress attack federal funding for bicycling and pedestrian improvements. We will keep you informed so you can help us drag members of Congress, kicking and screaming, into a future where pedestrians and bicyclists are safer.

The Boston Globe has an article about the vote, and some of the misinformation which was fueling arguments for ending the Transportation Enhancements program.

The League of American Bicyclists posted a recap and includes who voted how


[Update: 4:15 pm: A previous version of this post stated that Pennsylvania's two senators voted along party lines. Sen. Casey voted against the measure, and Sen. Toomey voted for it. Party lines, however, is an inaccurate method of recapping the vote. While no Democrats or Independents voted in favor of the bill, seven Republicans and one Independent voted against it. ~NM]

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

ADVOCACY ALERT: New Brunswick to discuss reinstating 118yo bicycle ban

The large, imposing and dangerous Penny-
farthing was still popular when the
original New Brunswick bicycle sidewalk
ban was put into place.
Tomorrow at 6:30pm the New Brunswick City Council will discuss the possible reintroduction of an 1893 city ordinance that would ban ALL cyclists from riding on ALL city sidewalks regardless of age.  According to a September 23rd article in the Rutgers University Daily Targum, the Victorian Age city ordinance was accidentally repealed last year (sorry but I could not find the language of the old ordinance or the proposed reintroduced ordinance O-091101).

When the ordinance was originally passed in 1893, almost all bicyclist were adults and were often called "scorchers" as they were often the fasting things on the roadways (see bottom of page 3).  The large imposing and dangerous penny-farthing was still the bicycle of choice.  Roadways were often made of dirt even in cities and most importantly, the modern traffic laws that we take for granted today were still many decades from being developed.  When one considers this, the law in its time made total sense.  But that was over 100 years ago and the law is clearly antiquated today at least in its old form.

While we at WalkBikeJersey do not usually advocate that adults ride on the sidewalk, there are some situations where it might be okay and even appropriate.  Children under 15 (give or take a year) should be allowed to ride on most city sidewalks.  NJ Route 18 in New Brunswick was recently rebuilt with wide sidewalks for bicyclists to share with pedestrians.  Reinstating the old ordinance would seem to require cyclists to ride in the highway with high-speed traffic where there is often no shoulder.  And yes, we've all ridden down the sidewalk a little bit to get a little closer to our final destination.  As long as this sidewalk riding is done with discretion, care and caution for pedestrians and traffic at intersections, all should be okay.

However, it is also appropriate to ban cyclists from certain sidewalks.  New Brunswick being a city, has a busy downtown with sidewalks that are packed with pedestrians most hours of the day and night.  It is never appropriate for cyclists to ride on sidewalks that are full of pedestrians.  In the central business district even children should refrain from sidewalk riding and walk there bikes.

Yet, the question that should be asked (and often isn't) is, "Why do adults insist on riding their bikes on the sidewalk in the first place?"  Well, the reality is that many adult cyclists have been literally scared off the roads due to poor roadway engineering, careless and sometimes reckless drivers and a long, pervasive, popular but false belief that bicyclists simply don't belong on the roadway that was "built for cars."

If New Brunswick would really like to reduce dangerous bicycle riding on sidewalks, it needs to begin providing well engineered on-road bicycle amenities that have been proven exceptionally effective in towns and cities all across the country for many decades.  Being a college town, New Brunswick is unfortunately, way behind most of its peer college cities in providing appropriate bicycle amenities.

If you would like to attend the meeting to voice your opinion about this ordinance and help begin a constructive dialog with the New Brunswick City Council to provide well engineered on-road bicycle amenities all throughout the city (and not just between college campuses), please attend the New Brunswick City Council Meeting on Wednesday at 6:30pm.  The meeting will be held in the New Brunswick City Hall, located at 78 Bayard Street in the Council Chambers on the second floor.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

News Flash: "GOP lawmakers spin funding tall tales" about the need to eliminate TE funding

If you haven't heard, there are some Republican Congressmen and Senators who are claiming that Transportation Enhancement (TE) funding, the primary source for bicycle and pedestrian project from the federal government, is driving the US Government broke and causing our nation's bridges and roadways to crumble (read here)

Well fortunately, the good folks at the League of American Bicyclists have done an excellent job of refuting those claims.  To backing up the League's arguments, Jay Walljasper of the Huffington Post wrote a great piece claiming that federal money on bicycle and pedestrian projects is money well spent. 

Well now there's even more!  An October 31st article by Joan Lowy of the Associated Press essential shreds any remaining credibility of the GOP claims that the TE program is full of wasteful spending.  She even goes as far to say in the title that "GOP lawmakers spin funding tall tales."  You can read the article in full here.

Also check out the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federations well articulated response to the revelations found in the AP article.  In their response, MOBikePedFed makes the the very astute observation:
The fact check is unusual — every supposedly horrible example of Transportation Enhancements spending is completely debunked. Each example turns out to be either grossly exaggerated or completely misleading. That’s not surprising, because Transportation Enhancements is the single largest source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian funding in the U.S. today, and those projects are important, popular, and much needed.

There are more than enough very good, very needed, projects to crowd out bad projects — and it looks like that is exactly what happened to many of the examples opponents have cited. They were bad and so they were turned down for funding entirely. That’s a sign of a system that is working — but it hasn’t stopped opponents from clogging the media airwaves and the public discourse with these fabricated examples. 

Enhancements funding is used effectively and fills an important need in communities large and small, and ranging from urban to suburban to rural. Bicycle and pedestrian projects are inexpensive, cost-effective, popular with citizens, and well used. We always have plenty of money to build a new freeway through town or add an extra lane so that semi-trucks can get there a few minutes faster. And you’re telling us we can’t put in a sidewalk and a crosswalk on the state highway going through town, so that grandma can get from her home to the grocery store safely?
It's great to read of the TE program and the spending of some of that money on much needed bicycle and pedestrian projects getting so much support. But there is something that you can do.  People for Bikes, an initiative of Bikes Belong, has put together this petition for us all to sign.  Take a minute or two to fill it out!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bike/Ped News you aught'a use - 10/26/11

Officials to consider safety measures for Wayne rail crossing where 2 teens were killed
The Star-Ledger ● Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bicyclist charged with driving wrong way in Clinton Township
Hunterdon County Democrat ● Monday, October 24, 2011

High Hopes for the (Jersey City) Harsimus Embankment
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy ● Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chatham Borough awarded 'Complete Street' grant
(Will use $7,500 grant to develop Complete Streets plan)   
Independent Press ● Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Poll - Debate Over New Roadway Markings on Bergen Street Set to Resume Tomorrow.
What's Your Opinion?
(NIMIBYism at it worst threatens Lawrence Complete Streets policy)
Lawrencville Patch ● Monday, October 17, 2011

Aftermath Of Hit-And-Run Tragedy: Town Must Get Tough On Safe Access
Lawrencville Patch ● Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NJDOT installing 5K feet of sidewalk along Atlantic County highway
New Jersey Newsroom ● Tuesday, October 18, 2011

All Aboard the Walking School Bus
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Blog ● Thursday, October 20, 2011 


National

City Bike Plan Is Accused of a Neighborhood Bias
(Leaders in poorer neighborhoods upset that more bike lanes NOT coming to their parts of town) Chicago News Cooperative via The New York Times ● Saturday, October 15, 2011

Audio: Interview with League of American Bicyclists President, Andy Clarke
TheOutSpoken Cyclist ● Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

VideoTrailReviews.com - Like Streetfilms for NJ Mt. Biking

I just stumbled across this excellent website, VideoTrailReviews.com which gives web viewers exactly what the title advertises; great video reviews of the mountain bike trails on the East Coast but mostly here in New Jersey.  Manny Lugo, the creator of the website and most of the short films on the site, focuses primarily on hot spots for mountain biking but there are some exceptions.

I found the videography and editing to be superb and pretty much on par with the more famous Streetfilms.  While this is in part due to the amazing capabilities of the small, new helmet mounted cameras, it is also obvious the Manny knows how to get the most out of this and the rest of his equipment.  The "rider's eye" shots are very well composed and really capture the essence, pure speed and thrill of biking sweet New Jersey singletrack.  You really feel like your on the bike, threading your way through the trees!  Plus, his highly professional post production and choice of background music make for great fast pace entertainment.  Before you know it, the two to three minute videos are quickly over and you are left wanting more or better yet, wanting to get out on the bike even if it is 2am in the morning!

Here are two examples of Manny's work at VideoTrailReviews.com:

Monday, October 17, 2011

AARP Targets Pedestrian Safety on the Deadly Black Horse Pike

South Jersey Seniors urge Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ2) to Co-Sponsor the Safe and Complete Streets Act,using the poor design and horrific pedestrian crash toll on the Black Horse Pike (US 322) in Atlantic County to make their case.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Folk Engineered, Newark charter school kids participate in Oregon Manifest

Late last month Folk Engineered, New Jersey's only bicycle makers, made the long trip Portland to participate in Oregon Manifest.  Billed as "A competition to design and build the ultimate modern utility bicycle," the event attracts the nation's and the world's best bicycle artisans such as perennial bike show winner Tony Pereira and industry icon Chris King and is Cielo Bicycles.  Being true to their unwritten mission to give back to the City of Newark that is their home, Ryan and Marie teamed up with some of the kids from the Discovery Charter School to produce their utilitarian entry.     

Source: Oregon Manifest.
While they did not win, just being invited to the competition is quite an honor in itself.  Making it all the way out to Portland, Oregon with the participating students and a beautiful bike in tow, surely had to be all the reward they needed.  Ryan and Marie, who are married, always have a glow about them as it is clear that they have found their callings in building beautifully crafted bicycles in Newark and sharing their passions and talents with the kids of the Brick City whether at the the Discovery School or at the newly opened Newark Bike Exchange (more on that soon on WBJ).

For more about Folk Engineered's entry with many more pictures (and a number of their other projects) see the following links (1, 2).

Our cycling caps are off to Folk Engineered and the kids of the Discover Charter School for representing Newark and all of New Jersey at this highly regarded bicycle industry event.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Why were 3 Wayne boys crossing Rt 46 on a train trestle?

Simple!  There is absolutely no other way for the kids to walk or bike between the area neighborhoods and towns.

If you haven't heard, over the weekend two boys were hit and killed by an NJ TRANSIT train and another injured as he jumped off the trestle bridge to avoid getting hit (Read the informative and well written article from The Star-Ledger).  This tragedy happened at where I 80, NJ 23 and US 46 all intersect.  This interchange is locally know as the "Spaghetti Bowl" due to its seemingly endless and dizzying expanse of twisting, turning off-ramps and clover leaves.  Unfortunately this interchange was built in an era when no consideration was given to the needs of pedestrians or bicyclists looking to travel between the surrounding neighborhoods.  Even more unfortunate, at least one of the possible alternative crossings was given a major renovation within the past 15 years with nary a consideration given for anything other that the efficient flow of motor vehicle traffic.


View Location of Wayne double fatal NJ TRANSIT crash in a larger map

If you take a close look at the above map I prepared, you can see that there are no practical routes for miles around for non-motorized road users looking to travel north or south over both I 80 and US 46 anywhere near the NJ 23 corridor. 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Camden County Bicycle and Multi-Use Trail Master Plan Meeting

The Camden County Bicycle and Multi-Use Trail Master Plan will identify both on-road bike routes and off-road trail locations that together will create an interconnected trail network from Winslow and Waterford to Camden and Pennsauken and all municipalities in between. The plan is being completed in four phases, and public input is requested.

A public meeting on the plan will be held on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

7:00pm – 8:30pm
Gloucester Township
Court Room/Senior Drop In Center
1575 Hider Lane
Laurel Springs, NJ 08021

The Plan is considered a companion to the Camden County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Plan in that it makes maximum use of the greenways identified in that plan for future off-road trails thereby providing residents with access to publicly owned green space.

Phase I of the Plan, covering ten central Camden County municipalities, has been completed, while Phase II, involving an additional 13 municipalities is nearing completion. Phases III and IV will be completed simultaneously over the next eighteen months by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. Once all phases are completed, they will be presented to the Camden County Planning Board for incorporation into the County’s Master Plan.

During the development of each phase of the Plan, the input of local municipal officials and the public has been, and is being, encouraged. Project Teams consisting of one or more locally appointed individuals have been formed to guide the process offering insight into local points of interest, trail/route impediments, and possible solutions to those impediments.














The 13 towns in the current phase of the project, Phase II, include: Audubon, Barrington, Bellmawr, Brooklawn, Gloucester Township, Haddon Township, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Lawnside, Magnolia, Mt. Ephraim, Runnemede and Tavistock

Camden County Bikeway Trail Plan Phase II draft

Friday, September 30, 2011

Great Dutch video shows "Cycling for Everyone"

Streetsblog SF picked up on this yesterday.

The Dutch Cycling Embassy (actual webpage not yet operational) a new effort by the Dutch government to share their expertise about cycling with the world, released this 7 minute plus video to announce the launching of the embassy.

Just a couple of notes:
  • "Cycling for everyone" I believe was first coined by New Jersey's and Rutgers University's own John Pucher in a ground breaking report he and Ralph Buehler wrote a few years ago.
  • Our friends at NJ TRANSIT could learn a few things about bike/transit integration starting at time-stamp 2:43 (but they can close there ears when the narrator mentions "small fee").  All the ideas shown in the video are discussed in my report A Review and Critique of NJ TRANSIT Bicycle Access Policies (and facilities).
  • Check out the spectacular bike/ped bridge at the end of the video.  If you ever rode over a bridge like this, like I have in Germany, you would never be satisfied with the caged over "cattle chutes" that pass for bike/ped bridges here in NJ.
Enjoy this great video!


Cycling For Everyone from Dutch Cycling Embassy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September's NJ BPAC meeting rescheduled for October 6th

Last months BPAC meeting was canceled due to areas of flooding throughout the state that prevented some members from being able to attend.  To compensate, the meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, October 6th at 10am. All members of the public are welcomed to attend.
What: NJBPAC Meeting
Where: Edward J. Bloustein School
33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 08901
Room 261
When: Thursday October 6, 2011,10:00am - Noon
The agenda is the same as it was to be in September and can be seen in WalkBikeJersey's previous announcement here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

YES!!! West Windsor is New Jersey's first Bicycle Friendly Community!

After years of lamenting New Jersey dubious distinction of being in an ever shrinking group of states without a Bicycle Friendly Community (1 & 2), West Windsor, Mercer County is now New Jersey's first and only Bicycle Friendly Community at the Bronze Level as awarded by the League of American Bicyclists.

Clearly, the main reason behind West Windsor's award rests on the tireless efforts of the West Windsor Bicycle & Pedestrian Alliance.  I've long lauded their superb advocacy efforts.  And even though they are busy celebrating their well earned award, that did stop them from their work.  Just a day before announcing their BFC award, they were busy demanding (and helping) Mercer County design a more appropriate and "complete" Route 571.  This reality just goes to show how much further even New Jersey's first BFC and the rest of us really need to go.

All (two) of us at WalkBikeJersey, salute West Windsor and the WWBPA for there Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community Award.