Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Holidays from The Bike Church in Asbury Park

The Bike Church( of Asbury Park participated in 501(c) Trees - a holiday exhibit of Christmas trees decorated by local non-profits in Monmouth County. The Bike Church used a slightly aternative approach and made their tree/menorah out of a used Schwinn.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comment on NJ's Global Warming Plan

From the Tri State Transportation Campaign's Mobilizing the Region (MTR):

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s recently released draft Greenhouse Gas Plan shows promise of real change, provided that the recommendations survive the trip through Trenton.

Public meetings are being held in January click here for more information and to view MTR's expert opinion.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Jersey Bicycle Fatalities Nearly Double

22 and still counting.

Compared to 12 last year, 12 in 2006, 17 in 2005, 16 in 2004, 11 in 2003 and 15 in 2002.

Most cite the rise in the cost of gas getting more people out of their cars and on to bikes. However there could be a general awakening in America and New Jersey to the potential the bicycle as a highly functional, green and lean transportation tool. Hopefully it is more of the later and not the cost of gas.

As reported in Wednesday's Daily Record, these numbers are a major concern that the Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, Pam Fischer has to get more aggressive in trying to reduce. I've had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Ms. Fischer once and she seems to be a very competent and compassionate person. I'm quite sure that we at WalkBikeJersey could come up with a few ideas to help her out on our shared missing of bicycle as well as pedestrian safety.

I'll start with two:

#1 - An aggressive public safety awareness campaign about bicycling. I believe there was a radio campaign recently that reminded drivers about the rights of pedestrians and the duties of drivers around pedestrians as specified under NJ Title 39. Something similar focused on biking would be great since we are all aware that too many drivers honestly believe cyclists have no right to the road and should ride on the sidewalk if at all.

#2 - A blinky light give-away. I know that I read somewhere that the Chicago Bicycle Federation (now the Active Transportation Alliance) along with the Chicago Police did a sting operation where they pulled over cyclists who did not have lights. Instead of giving the offenders tickets, they gave them lights instead. Similar programs are done in Washington DC and San Francisco. I'm quite sure that if you looked at the numbers, many bike crashes and probably most of the fatalities happen at night because inexperienced (or lazy) cyclists did not have lights. This would seem like an easy and relatively inexpensive program to do. Decent LED light sets start at paltry $12.

Director Fischer, please let us know if we could help. Really!

Does anyone else have any ideas?

Rutgers' John Pucher Strikes Again!

For those of you who don't know, Prof. John Pucher is probably the most well known and widely published scholars on bicycle and pedestrian issues in the English language. His specialty is comparative analysis between nations of the beneficial economic impacts of walking and biking (often along with transit). When he is involved in the publishing of a paper on the topic, the entire bike/ped world stops and listens.

And he lives right here! In Jersey no less!

His latest is no exception. Working with four other colleges the last paper is titled, "Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, North America, and Australia" has recently been published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

The results in a nutshell: "Countries with the highest levels of active transportation generally had the lowest obesity rates." In fact the paper shows that "Active transportation is inversely related to obesity in these countries."

So essentially the more a people walk, bike and take transit to work the less likely they are to be fat. Seems like a simple enough concept but this report is pretty strong evidence that this is indeed the truth.

It's been getting some pretty good nation press too.

Oh and he goes by "Car Free John." It is a name which he really lives up to since he doesn't own a car and walks, bikes and takes transit for nearly all his trips. However, he has been know to mooch a ride off of friends once in a while. Hey! No one's perfect!

Extra Deadly / Dangerous Week for Peds & Bikes

This has been an exceptionally deadly week for pedestrians on New Jersey's roads. A total of 6 Deaths! Most disgusting is the first story about how thieves used a stolen car to rundown and kill an 87yo man for his hard earned money. The rest aren't any better (if they ever could).

Garfield man dies from head injuries in hit-and-run robbery
Jersey Journal • Friday, December 12, 2008

Rahway woman, 92, struck Monday by SUV backing out of driveway dies
Home News Tribune • Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pedestrian dies in Morristown hit-and-run crash, driver charged
The Star-Ledger • Sunday, December 14, 2008

Woman hit by school bus in Lacey dies
Asbury Park Press • Wednesday, December 17, 2008

North Plainfield police trying to ID accident victim
The Star-Ledger • Friday, December 12, 2008

Galloway Township woman killed by car while walking along Moss Mill Road
The Press of Atlantic City • Friday, December 12, 2008

Man is seriously injured in hit-and-run in Newark
The Star-Ledger • Sunday, December 14, 2008

Disabled Man and His Dog Victims of Hit and Run
NBC News 10 Philadelphia • Monday, December 15, 2008

Egg Harbor Township Car hits bicyclist along Zion Road (1st article)
Pedestrians hit in crosswalk (2nd article)
The Press of Atlantic City • Monday, December 15, 2008

Pedestrian hit in Chatham
Daily Record • Saturday, December 13, 2008

And BTW. All stories have been gathered by the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center and are released via email listserve at least once a week in their New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian News Digest. It's a great resource for those who want to stay abreast of all that is bike/ped in New Jersey (along with our blog of course) and signing up is very easy.

To give you an idea the latest digest covers the past six days, had 42 articles / links, 31 of which are New Jersey only stories. Nearly every digest is as comprehensive.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cycling 'could help boost (Scottish) economy'

On a much happier note, The Scotsman reports that "Scotland's economy could benefit by up to £4 billion each year if we cycled as much as people in parts of continental Europe."

£4,000,000,000 = $6,120,000,000

Holy economic stimulus Barack!

What other reason do you need to bike.

The report "Towards a Healthier Economy" is from Transform Scotland Trust.

What's the difference between Assault by Auto and Careless Driving?

If I told you that a driver got charged with Careless Driving after killing a cyclist and another was charged with Assault by Auto for hitting, but not killing a pedestrian you might think I had my facts mixed up. Unfortunately that is not the case.

The (Bergen) Record reported on December 6th about a case where a plumber was unloading his truck and was seriously injured after he was hit by a driver who then fled the scene. The surprisingly, all too rare but seemingly appropriate charge of Assault by Auto was issued against that driver.

In the more tragic case of the cyclists killed by a driver, it currently seems that justice may be going astray. The Record this time twice reported the case of Camille Savoy who latter died and was memorialized
by fellow cyclists. In this case it seems that Savoy, an experienced and cautious cyclists, was hit and killed by a driver as he road close to the white line that demarcates the shoulder in a manner many are calling totally legal. How this only could only be Careless Driving is a question many want answered (read the extensive coverage, including photos of the scene, read the last 10 posts on this very good blog).

The remains of Savoy's bike as photographed by Rob Glick on Benepe's Bike Blog.

This is again another good reason for a "Safe Passing Law" preferably one that requires motorists to pass cyclists by "half the width of the lane."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Three Foot Safe Passage Law In NJ?

NJDOT and the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council have been working on a 3 foot passage law for NJ. The language has been developed for this but it has yet to be introduced into the legislature. With bicycle crash deaths on the verge of doubling in NJ in 2008 we feel that it is essential that this proposed bill passes.

Stay tuned for details about a campaign to get a bill introduced into the State Legislature in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

52 Pedestrians hit in New Brunswick this Year

The Daily Targum (R.U.'s daily paper) reported yesterday that 52 pedestrians were hit by motorists in New Brunswick so far this year. Having spent way too much of the last 16 years of my life riding a bike and walking around the city, I still found this figure quite high but was not entirely surprised.

I'll theorize a little why this might be.

New Brunswick is rather crowded town with many, many pedestrians. It also has a population of younger people due to the University; some of which may not exhibit the best judgment either while behind the wheel and when walking (Yes, when walking! I've seen too many oblivious college kids walk against the red light while yapping on their cell phones to only wonder why they nearly got hit by a car).

Also it seems the city is doing all that it can to encourage more driving into town which is evidenced by the thousands (yes, thousands) of new parking spaces that have been built in town over the past decade. About 1,000 more are scheduled to be built in the near future as well.

With an increase in the number of cars and pedestrians from the increasing enrollment at the University and new downtown buildings, it might seem that a rise in this figure is all but inevitable. However there is much that the City of New Brunswick can do to remedy this problem.

#1 - More traffic calming: George St. between Albany St. and Livingston Ave is probably the best example of traffic calming in all of New Jersey. The nature of the street in this location makes it very uncomfortable to drive with any real speed (the nasty bumps sure help too). Speed has been proven time and time again to be the primary factor in traffic deaths, particularly with regards to pedestrians. Building more streets that make it very uncomfortable to drive above 15 or 10 mph has been proven in Europe to be the most effective means to reduce pedestrian crashes and has been adopted widely there. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that very few pedestrian crashes have happened on this stretch of George St. due to its current design (even though I nearly got hit just tonight by a driver who clearly drove right through a red light at George and Livingston).

#2 - Re-engineer traffic lights: Several years ago many of the traffic lights in the downtown were re-engineered to require pedestrians to push a button to get a "Walk" signal. Considering that at times more pedestrians are crossing these intersections than motor vehicles, it seems that this was a poor if not absurd decision. Imagine if one needed to get out of their car and push a button to get the light to change! Often times these buttons do not seem to work or if pushed late in the cycle, will require the pedestrian to wait until the light goes green then next time through the cycle. Pedestrians just assume that the damned buttons don't work and never bother with them again. Also these buttons can be difficult if not impossible to find for blind pedestrians (there are quite a few in New Brunswick) which calls into question ADA compliance issues. At George and Albany it is possible for pedestrians to get stranded in the island in the middle of Albany since nobody thought of putting a pedestrian signal activation button there. Finally the pedestrian signal between the train station and the Ferren Deck never seems to work and when it does, the wait for pedestrians is intolerably long so pedestrians just give up waiting, take their lives into their own hands and cross when they can.

#3 - Crack down on illegally parked cars: Who really cares if that car in the 5th ward doesn't have a parking permit! As long as it is not otherwise illegally parked, it is not causing a safety hazard. However, downtown illegally parked cars can be found at nearly every street corner; parked directly in front of stop signs, within 25 feet of the corner and sometimes directly in the crosswalk itself. These illegally parked cars cause a clear hazard not only for pedestrians but other motorists too. Unfortunately, I rarely see these cars ticketed because agents are too busy in the outer wards giving parking permit and expired meter tickets.

#4 - Build bike lanes: The reason for on-street bike lanes is two fold; one to give cyclists a safe place to ride in the street (where they belong) and away from pedestrians on the sidewalk, and two, to act as a traffic calming device to slow down cars. In October the Targum reported that the long (way too long) awaited New Brunswick Bikeway Study is finally near completion. From what I read in the article it seems the city will only approve a bike lane or route if it does not infringe on the movement of motor vehicles at all. Unfortunately this is exactly to wrong approach the city should take. Bike lanes should not purposely obstruct cars but restricting cars to a certain degree does slow them down which is safer for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

#5 - Close George St. between Albany and Livingston to all but bus and emergency vehicle traffic: It would better to eliminate this traffic as well but that might be too much to ask. Once Rt 18 is completed there will be little reason to cross town on George St. and as the Rt 18 project proved (and many other road and freeway closures around the U.S.) traffic patterns can adapt to to restriction and permanent closer of a through route. Downtown is bustling hub of activity these days, a far cry from the verge of economic collapse it once faced at the end of the 1970's when the current streetscape was built. New Brunswick doesn't need to fear an abandonment of its downtown it once did back then. Downtowns are hot! People now want to be in them and New Brunswick's is one of the hottest. The people that go to the establishments along this stretch of George St already park several blocks away and walk to them. Closing the street to traffic could only be a benefit making it a wonderful place to stroll, dine alfresco and simply enjoy life!

In closing, police can only do so much enforcement and crossing guards can only be posted at a certain number of intersections. While there have been some innovative ideas by the City on these fronts, they can only go so far. The time is right for on-street innovation. Most of the city streets where built or updated under a "move as many cars as efficiently as possible" philosophy. While that may have a place on the freeway it shouldn't be a design practice for city streets. Cities are about people not cars. It's time to relinquish some of the city, its streets in particular, back to the people.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Moorestown Wants To Be Bicycle Friendly

Originally posted on Philadelphia Bicycle News by John

June and July 2008 was a tough time for Moorestown. Two high profile bicycle fatalities Comcast Counsel General Stanley Wang and Moorestown High Student Will Christianson were both killed about one mile apart on Route 537.

Township Manager Chris Schultz and Bicycle Coalition member Mike Zickler have organized an ad hoc bicycle advisory committee to look at improving bicycling in the township. It is hoped that this committee will be formalized in early 2009.

The first major task of the committee is to create the framework for a township bicycle route map and plan. Safety and maintenance issues have also arisen as priorities among committee members.

If you are a Moorestown Resident and would like to participate please contact Township Manager Chris Schultz.

In our Byzantine structure of municipality-school district-county-state government bicycle friendly suburbs are only achievable when the local residents demand it from local officials. Consider approaching your town council or commissioners asking for bicycle improvements, the BCGP is ready and waiting to provide assistance.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Follow-up: Hoboken bicycle lanes

I promised not to beat this specific topic to death but I received confirmation that the first bicycle plan for the city of Hoboken does indeed call for the placement of a bicycle lane along the left side of one-way Madison and Grand Streets.

The situation in Hoboken City politics with this entire bike plan is very delicate and the final plan including the proposed treatments for Madison and Grand Streets came after a long period of negotiation. The last thing I would want is to disrupt the good work that was done in Hoboken to get to the point they are now. Hopefully this will be a fairly bold first step (of many) for the city as it strives towards bike friendliness.

Heck! They are even going to try using Sharrows. Sharrows! I don't know of another location in New Jersey that has even dared suggest the use of sharrows. For that alone they deserve a round of applause!

That said there is still the idea of those left side bike lanes which continue to bother me. What makes me really uneasy is that the sole reason given to place the lanes on the left side of both Madison and Grand Streets was only to reduce the potential for doorings. The consultant was said to have said that placing the lane on the left side of a one-way street would reduce to potential for doorings by 75% and that this was reason enough to use such a treatment.

I relayed this reasoning to a friend of mine who has much more experience with bike/ped planning than I. He seemed to agreed with me and thought that this reason alone really doesn't cross the appropriate threshold needed to place them on the left side of the street.

Needless to say, this practice leaves me very uncomfortable particularly since the reason given here is so general and could apply to nearly all one-way streets in New Jersey. For nearly a century and by New Jersey law (see below), bicyclists were expect to stay to the right just like all other slow moving vehicles. Staying to the right is ingrained into my mind and into the minds of countless other serious cyclists all across New Jersey and most places beyond. It is also where car drivers expect us to ride our bikes. Changing such a fundamental rule of the road for all but the most exceptional circumstance will only lead to confusion and possibly worse.

From Title 39, New Jersey's Statutes regulating the operation of roadways:

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.

L.1951, c. 23, p. 71, s. 17. Amended by L.1977, c. 388, s. 1, eff. Feb. 23, 1978; L.1983, c. 257, s. 1, eff. July 7, 1983.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

An indecent (left side) proposal in Hoboken?

Back in October Bike Hoboken reported that bike lanes would be coming to the left sides of Madison and Grand Streets. Whether or not this is actually true could not be confirmed. However I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to talk about bike lanes on the left side of one-way streets.

I must first however, commend Hoboken for going ahead and aggressively pursuing turning their city into a more bike-friendly place. Hoboken like New York City (along with nearly all of Hudson County) is ideally suited for bicycle use. Being so dense, distances are typically short and quickly reachable by bike, often much faster then by car. Still, riding around Hoboken and the rest of Hudson County is a rather scary proposition for all but the most experienced and bold cyclists so some on street amenities are sorely needed. So go build 'em Hoboken!

That having been said, anyone who has ever ridden a bike in New York City will know that bike lanes are typically found on the left side of one-way streets, like that pictured below. If what Bike Hoboken reports to be true, undoubtedly the idea to put the bike lanes on the left side of the road came from across the Hudson.

For those that don't know the original reason to put bike lanes on the left side of the road in NYC came from conflicts that arose on the avenues with buses and bikes as the buses pulled in and out from the curb when they make stops for passengers. My understanding is that for New York City to put bike lanes on the left and only on the left of one-way roads NYCDoT had to actually ask for a change their design standards at an administrative level to allow this as an accepted design practice. This need to put bike lanes on the left to avoid conflicts with buses has now lead to a design practice that has seemed to default bike lanes to the left side even on small, lightly traveled one-way streets where no or very little bus traffic exists.

Okay, so you might be asking, why is this a big deal. Well because placing bike lanes on only the left side of the street breaks the 1st of the 5 basic principles of Vehicular Cycling - "Stay to the right and ride in the direction of traffic." Now some of you may be saying, "Oh boy, Vehicular Cycling and grumpy John Forester" (I've dealt with him on a professional online forum and yes, he is VERY argumentative). While I agree that Vehicular Cycling has failed to get people out and on their bikes in the numbers needed to institute real change and "safety in numbers," I also believe that good there is a great deal of wisdom and truth to Vehicular Cycling. VC is a must-know skill that is absolutely needed once the bike lane or path ends. And accordingly, bicycle facility design should not as a general rule break the rules of Vehicular Cycling; sentiment many of us heard at the Common Ground Seminar at Rutgers last month.

I've argued many times before to our friends on the east side of the Hudson on Streetsblog why the default placement of the lane on the left is not a good idea. Those that promote it say that besides eliminating the bus conflict (which admittedly may be a good enough reason on Manhattan's avenues) that left side placement puts cyclists on the driver's side of the motor vehicle lanes where cyclists can be better seen. Also where cars are parked to the left of cyclists, there is less of a chance to get "doored" because there is not always a passenger in a car but there is always a driver and that driver will always need to get out and open the driver's side door (not the passenger side).

Admittedly the above are all good and valid benefits that arise when bikes lanes are placed to the left side of the motor vehicle lanes but it must be noted that this practice produces considerable hazards as well. Since a left side lane is totally uncustomary, it causes confusion for experienced and novice cyclists alike. I've had a friend from Philly with way more urban riding experience than me (he's older, cycled since he was a kid and has lived in Philly all his life) exclaim, "What the Hell is the lane doing over there?!?!" when I told him the bike lane was on the left side after he started riding on the right side of 8th Ave just as we got out of Penn Station and rode up town to Central Park. Also left side lanes encourages illegal contraflow (wrong-way, against traffic) riding particularly among inexperienced riders. This is not surprising since in 99% of all places in other parts of the worlds where I've ever seen a bike lane on the left of a one-way, it was placed there for exactly that purpose so to provide cyclists with a safe short cut against the flow of traffic as in the example below from my mom's hometown in Germany.

Finally there is also another reason why not to put bike lanes on the left. Particularly on wide multilane avenues being on the left side of motor traffic exposes the cyclists to faster cars, those that typically pass the slower traffic that is properly staying to the right. This was apparent to me on 8th Ave Manhattan this past Summer as all the taxis were flying past me just over my right shoulder at (a deadly) 45mph while traffic on the right side of the Avenue was at a near standstill.

With all that said, I did a little research. I found a copy of Bicycle Compatible Roadways and Bikeways: Planning and Design Guidelines published by the NJDOT in 1996. It may be a little old but the document is still surprisingly contemporary (most of the basic modern design standards for bicycle facilities had been developed by then) and it is still the latest document on the topic, specific to New Jersey. In that document it says, "Bicycle lanes on on-way streets should be on the right side of the street, except in areas where a bicycle lane on the left will decrease the number of conflicts (e.g., those caused by heavy bus traffic)" (funny it should use that example).

So getting back to Hoboken. I did a little looking at Madison and Grand Streets on Google Streets View. These streets were pretty narrow, typically with parking on both sides and not quite enough room for two cars to run side by side between those parked. Also traffic appeared almost nonexistent on the StreetViews with not a bus being driven in sight. If what I "virtually" observed is actually the case with these streets in Hoboken then it would seem that there is no valid reason to run these bike lanes on the left, at least with these two streets.

Again the Hoboken example and my conclusions about it are all highly speculative. I simply used this case so I could explain my opinion about left-side bike lanes, hopefully start a dialog and help us all learn something about bicycle facility design practice. I know I did from my little bit of research above.

Thoughts from those who must still think the Earth is flat

Ahhh.... The lovely Heritage Foundation. Still calling walking, biking and transit "19th Century transportation." That's almost as bad these days as saying your a staunch supporter of The Flat Earth Society.

Anyway, got wind of this from a nice mass transit blog called The Overhead Wire. On that blog they link and quote the latest in 1950's transportation ideology coming out of best known right-of-center think tank in the land:
At the same time, many environmental groups, labor unions, consultants, and construction companies are urging the federal government to redirect federal transportation policy toward 19th century transportation options by shifting federal resources from highways and autos to transit and trains, as well as hiking and biking, in the belief that these latter modes--while slower and more costly (emphasis mine) --are more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. With an opportunity to receive greater subsidies, the transit and train lobbies have moved aggressively to influence Congress and the media, and many in Congress are already promising to push for these changes.
Besides the derogatory and frankly stale references to walking, biking and transit as so "19th Century" (travel in Northwestern Europe to see how backwards these modes really are) the rest of the essay does bring up some interesting statistics about mode share and other strategies to reduce auto dependence. My purpose with this post is not to debate them point to point where I disagree (even though I could easily). Why waste my time (I've got something else to post!) when the entire planning profession has proven their argument shallow and false time and time again. Rather I simply wanted to point out the continuation of this right-wing trash talk.

Not that there isn't room for debate. Some of the points this essay makes are interesting. However to continue to write off the three most efficient modes of transportation on Earth that:
  • provide equity in transportation
  • have been proven time and time again to work all around the world and here in America
  • can often be much faster than a car
is simply downright laughable and without merit. Such old and tired rhetoric must be called out particularly when it comes from an organization as powerful as this.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Not 1, not 3, nor even 10 but 28 Reasons to Bike!!!

I gotta' thank Mikael Colville-Andersen (aka Zakkaliciousness) over at Copenhagenize for coming across this one.

Compiled by the University of Central Florida, Environmental Management Program as part of their Bike Path Project these 28 reasons to bike all come with detailed explanations and references to boot. So load up and add this to your arsenal in your local advocacy campaigns.

The 28 reasons are:

1. Increase in local property values.
2. Correlation with Overall Wealth.
3. Less Public Money Is Needed To Create a High Quality Transportation System.
4. High-Tech Business Is Attracted by a Perceived Better Quality of Life
5. Improved Personal Finances
6. Better Physical Health
7. Better Mental and Emotional Health
8. Fewer Overweight and Obese Citizens
9. More Free Time
10. More Beauty
11. Greater Mobility
12. Inclusion of Senior Citizens
13. More Equitable Living for Low Income Earners
14. Increased Sense of Community
15. Individual Opportunities for Safer Travel
16. Less Congested Roads
17. Safer, Quieter Neighborhoods
18. More Resources for Public Use
19. Enhanced and More Credible Metropolitan Image
20. Better Air Quality
21. Visually More Appealing Metropolitan Area
22. Cleaner Surface and Ground Water
23. Quieter City
24. Slowed Pace of Global Warming
25. More Sustainable Lifestyle
26. Recognition for Leadership in Sound Environmental Policy
27. Readiness for Other Environmental Initiatives
28. Enhanced Quality of Life for Women

And the best reason of all, which they missed (and I didn't think of either)....
Biking is a whole bunch of FUN!

Again, thanks to the good folks at UCF for putting this together.

Rutgers and the City of New Brunswick, are you listening?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

East Coast Greenway Ceremony in Highland Park

You’re Invited!

Help install an East Coast Greenway Kiosk in Johnson Park!

Saturday, November 29, 2008 9:00 AM-3:00 PM

Where: Johnson Park, ½ mile south of Landing Lane on west side of road

Please join us and help us install an East Coast Greenway Kiosk in Johnson Park this Saturday.
The East Coast Greenway recently received funding to install 5 informational kiosks along its
route through New Jersey! The first was installed last year on the D & R Canal Towpath in East

Our way of saying “Thanks” for your help – we’ll buy lunch! We hope to see you on Saturday.

For more info contact Michael Oliva, (914) 844-0728,

View Larger Map

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Update on the D&R Canal From Trenton to Bordentown

RiverLINE seen from the Towpath
Originally uploaded by Philly Bike Coalition

Today was a great day to take photos of this new trail along the towpath. Currently the path is complete from Canal Blvd and Lamberton Rd down to the Crosswicks Creek. A bridge will be built soon, probably in 2009 which will connect the path to downtown Bordentown.

View Larger Map

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Record asks, "Why was driver let go on bail?"

That's a very good question. Better yet why was the driver allowed to post only a 10% option on bail set at only $20,000? 2,000 bucks is pretty cheap price to pay to sleep in your own bed at night after killing a woman, injuring 5 others all of whom were simply standing on the sidewalk. To top it off, the driver is this incident was driving on a suspended license! All that and she still got of jail for only $2,000.

That said the driver in this case is still facing some pretty steep charges. Whether they stick is a whole other question. At least the media and people are asking the right questions.

For more about this please read "Why was driver let go on bail?" from The Record of Monday, November 10, 2008 and "Fatal hit-and-run began with a fight" from Saturday's Record.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Halloween

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Halloween

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center offers the following tips for safety-related and general interest stories surrounding the upcoming Halloween holiday weekend.

Guidelines for safe walking at Halloween

Young children need a parent or other adult to go trick or treating with them. There is no magic age when children are old enough to walk alone. Parents need to judge when their children are mature enough to go without an adult.

Choose the safest routes to walk.

  • Pick places where there are sidewalks or paths separated from traffic if possible.
  • Look for well-lit streets with slow traffic.
  • Remind children to watch for cars turning or pulling out of driveways.

Limit the number of street crossings. Avoid crossing busy or high-speed roads.

Review crossing safety rules with children. Tell them to:

  • Even when adults are looking, always look for cars for yourself.
  • Stop at the curb and look left, right and left again for traffic.
    Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing. Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing.
  • When crossing the street at an intersection, obey traffic signs and signals and look for yourself to see if cars are coming. Look left, right and left and then behind you and in front of you for turning cars.
  • Walk, don’t run across the street.

Think visibility. Wear bright colors, use retro reflective materials. Carry flashlights. In bad weather, visibility is even more important.

Choose homes that welcome Halloween visitors. Look for well lit driveways, walkways or paths to the front door.

Do a costume check. Can the children walk easily in the outfit? Make sure the masks or head gear allow the children to see clearly what is around them. Be sure they can safely negotiate steps on dimly lit walkways.

When taking a group of kids trick or treating:

Have a good ratio of parents/adults to children. For young children, consider 1 adult for every 3 children.

Arrange the adults so that there is an adult in the front and one in the back. This is to prevent children from getting ahead or lagging behind the group.

Plan how to cross streets:

  • Avoid busy, high-speed or multi-lane roads.
  • Give children exiting the street room to enter the sidewalk area.

Remember children are not miniature adults.

  • They often act before thinking.
  • They have one-third narrower side vision.
  • They can’t judge speed.
  • They are shorter than adults and can’t see over cars and bushes.

Make sure the children understand what is expected of them. Have a plan for dealing with disruptive kids.

Messages for Motorists

Drive slowly through residential streets and areas where pedestrians trick-or-treating could be expected.

Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.

Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs.

Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.

At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Streetfilms presents - Alewife Station’s Bike Cage: Cambridge, Mass.

So how much did this cost? At most $100,000 - Maybe?

With the average cost of a parking space in a structure going for $40,000 this type of project would be pocket change!

A couple of years ago I proposed a bikestation type facility in my hometown of New Brunswick in an empty storefront directly across from the train station (something like the Bikestation in Seattle pictured below). The store front has been empty for over 4 years. The bike parking currently at the station is a mob scene! Nearly 100 bikes parked to every available rack and a waiting list of many years for the 12 bike lockers.

The local TMA, Keep Middlesex Moving, to their credit loved my idea and tried to move it along. Unfortunately the powers that be beyond the TMA just don't seem to get it. Instead of using this empty storefront directly across from the station for secure bike parking on at least a trial basis, it was proposed that a primitive bike room would be provided in a building that won't be built for another 4 years. This building by the way will have a parking deck for over 400 cars!! (400 x $40,000 = $16,000,000!!)

In the meantime the storefront remains empty. The owner of the build with the empty storefront? The New Brunswick Parking Authority!

Tri State Transportation Campaign Lists Most Dangerous Roads For Pedestrians

Suburban routes top the list and point to need for redesigning roads with pedestrians in mind

New Jersey’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians are Whitehorse Pike (Rt 30) in Atlantic County and Route 130 in Burlington County, according to a new analysis by Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a policy watchdog organization.

Between 2005 and 2007, 9 pedestrians were killed on each of those two routes, with most of the fatalities occurring where the highways pass through relatively busy suburban areas such as Pomona and Cinnaminson. “In New Jersey, the most dangerous roads are major suburban roadways dotted with retail destinations but designed exclusively for fast-moving car traffic,” said Michelle Ernst, staff analyst with the Campaign. “Roads like Whitehorse Pike and Route 130 are perfect examples of that type of road.”

The analysis found the state’s most dangerous roads for walking over the three-year period were:



Pedestrian Fatalities (2005-2007)


Whitehorse Pike (Route 30), Atlantic County



Route 130, Burlington County



US 1, Middlesex County



US 9, Ocean County



US 40, Atlantic County



US 9, Middlesex County



Route 507, Bergen County



US 9, Monmouth County



Route 549, Ocean County



US 1, Union County


The group hopes that this new analysis will help state and local leaders determine where improvements are most needed.

“We hope that our analysis will serve as a resource to transportation planners, elected officials and community advocates.” said Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Coordinator for the Campaign. “We need to do more to reduce these tragic deaths.”

The group applauded efforts that are already underway to improve safety in many of these corridors. The state of New Jersey has made reducing pedestrian fatalities a statewide goal and sets aside significant funding for pedestrian safety projects. NJDOT’s new Safe Corridors was established to improve pedestrian safety along especially dangerous roads. And the state recently revamped its methodology for awarding state and federal safety funds to target places with the greatest need.

“While we have made some progress, these numbers clearly show that we aren’t out of the woods yet. With more people looking for transportation choices, we have to step up efforts to design more balanced, walkable streets,” said Kate Slevin, the Campaign’s executive director.

The Campaign’s analysis was conducted by Ernst and Michael Benediktsson, a Princeton University PhD candidate in sociology. The two used recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to determine which routes within each county had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities over the three-year period from 2005 to 2007. The analysis excludes Interstates and other roads where pedestrians are prohibited. Data was not available for pedestrian injuries, many of which occur in urban areas like Newark, Trenton, and Camden.

County fact sheets showing the most dangerous routes for walking are also available. The fact sheets also include a map showing the locations of each pedestrian fatality, with descriptive details for each victim killed on the county’s most dangerous route or routes.

The full report, as well as county fact sheets can be found at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning for the Somerset Regional Center

The Somerset County Planning Board undertaking an 18-month study to prepare a comprehensive bicycle, pedestrian and greenways plan for the three Regional Center towns of Raritan and Somerville Boroughs and portions of Bridgewater Township.

View Larger Map

Regional Center of Somerset County

A public design workshop for the Regional Center Bike, Greenway and Pedestrian Study scheduled for Wednesday, November 5 from 6-8:30 PM in the 1st floor Conference room at 27 Warren Street, Somerville, NJ. This new building is part of the county complex, is fully accessible located near bus and rail transit and is just one block south of the Somerset County Administration Building.

The participation by bicycle, pedestrian and greenway advocates is very important towards shaping and advancing this regional center vision for better biking, walking and greenway connections between the three towns. Everyone who lives, works or recreates within the Regional Center towns of Bridgewater, Raritan and Somerville should plan on attending this important public design workshop.

Friday, October 10, 2008

NJ Walks and Bikes Newsletter

In this Issue:

Increasing Pedestrian Safety and Mobility in Suburban Areas

Why Drive 25 MPH?

NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy

Burlington County Bike Path Partnership

Click Here to view the Newsletter

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Milford Montague Bike Ped Shuttle to End

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission is ending it's bicycle and pedestrian shuttle service on the Milford Montague Bridge. Once again bicyclists and pedestrians will have no legal means to cross the bridge until construction is completed.

While the seasonal service was greatly appreciated it's clear that the Commission just doesn't seem to get it. It's not just about recreation, its about fair and equal access for all.

The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices has established fundamental principals for traffic control through work zones.

"Pedestrians should be provided with access and safe passage through the temporary traffic control zone at all times."

This is $19 Million dollar project, how much would it really cost find a way to get bicyclists and pedestrians fair access across the river.

Bridge bike and pedestrian shuttle to end

MILFORD - Today is the last day of the free summer-season shuttle service for pedestrians and bicyclists at the Milford-Montague Toll Bridge. The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission launched the shuttle service in May 2008 to coincide with the start of the summer tourism season in the region.

With the onset of construction activities at the bridge in February, prudence and the safety of bicyclists and motorists dictated that the Commission suspend public access to the bridge's walkway -- where bicycles are normally allowed to be walked across the bridge - because it was part of an active construction zone.

The shuttle service was put in place during the summer months to accommodate bicycle traffic during the peak vacation and tourism season in the area. The Milford -Montague rehabilitation project is projected to cost $19.1 million and take until Memorial Day 2009 to reach substantial completion.

To facilitate the work, the Commission earlier this month announced the resumption of alternating lane closures on the bridge. The bridge rehabilitation contract also allows intermittent temporary closures of both traffic lanes on the bridge for maximum 15-minute durations between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and for maximum 30-minute durations between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Work crews are required to sufficiently clear traffic queues between bridge-closure periods. Motorists may encounter delays because of the lane shutdown and intermittent bridge closures.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Monday is the Eve of Rosh Hashanah - Don't Bring Your Bike On The Train

This is perhaps my favorite NJ TRANSIT Bike on Rail rule.

Standard-frame bicycles and Segways are permitted on other rail lines at all times, except:
  • On weekday inbound trains that end their trip in Hoboken, Newark or New York between 6-10 a.m.
  • On weekday outbound trains that originate in Hoboken, Newark or New York between 4-7 p.m.
  • On major holidays (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day)
  • On Fridays prior to major holidays.
  • On Friday after Thanksgiving.
  • On the eves of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Since Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur begin at sundown does this mean that you can bring your bike on the train after sundown?

An 8PM inbound train from Gladstone probably has far more room than a 2PM departure from Penn Station, yet with this blanket rule bikes are treated the same on both trains.

These rules are modeled after the Metro North and Long Island RR bike on rail rules which were hammered out in the late 1980's when very few commuter rail systems allowed bicycles and the effects of bikes on trains was largely unknown. For some reason the holiday restrictions have stuck around, perhaps a detailed analysis of ridership patterns on trains on those days needs to be looked at to align the rules with the reality.

StreetFilms Interviews NJDOT Reformer Gary Toth

Streetsblog's Editor-in-chief, Aaron Naparstek recently interviewed Gary Toth the Senior Director of Transportation Initiatives with the Project for Public Spaces.

For thirty-four years, Mr. Toth worked for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and become known for his collaboration and facilitation skills, and was one of the architects of the transformation of NJDOT to a stakeholder inclusive process helping the state become a national leader in Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS).

Mr. Toth has written, "A Citizen's Guide to Better Streets," which is designed to help the everyperson and advocacy community better understand the behind-the-scenes processes that occur when dealing with transportation departments and how to better prepare and speak their language. He shares some of his views and advice with Aaron in this very important interview.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Were cyclists' rights violated in Rahway?

If ever there was a reason for a statewide advocacy group such as WalkBike Jersey and for more education about cyclists' rights, this case is as good as any.

Some of you may have read in Sunday's Star Ledger (see end for link) about a group of competitive cyclists being kicked out of Rahway River Park (a quiet, green oasis with little traffic last I checked) by the Union County cops. Not only were they asked to stop riding but they were even asked to leave the park under threat of arrest. From what I read from this article, it sure sounds to me that the rights of these cyclists were indeed violated.

The article states that the riders "were following guidelines by riding no more than two abreast and staying below the posted 25 mph speed limit. But officials say the cyclists can unknowingly impede traffic and stray from the side of the lane to occupy an entire lane of the two-lane road."

One of the riders also said that "
police officers threatened to give them all tickets or arrest them if they didn't leave the park," and that the officer "didn't approach it as a policeman enforcing a law or guideline, he approached it in an aggressive manner." A response by Chief Dan Vaniska of the Union County police after a complaint was filed by the rider found the officers' actions to be "within the guidelines and certainly appropriate."

Now, let me take a moment to state that I am not a lawyer; just someone trying to become a leading expert on all that is cycling in New Jersey. However, it seems to me that the Union County police need a refresher course in how NJ Title 39 applies to cyclists and to use an interpretation that is not so overtly "anti-bicycling".

According to Title 39, cyclists must stay as close to the right of the road as is practicable and are "to travel no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file." From this it seems that the Rahway riders may have been in violation of the law. However reading further into Title 39 one finds that cyclists may "occupy any available lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic" (39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11).

So what takes priority? The requirement to stay right and not ride more than 2 abreast or the right to occupy the lane when traveling at the same speed as other traffic? As a cyclist I will naturally side with the later but with good reason. It seems clear that these guys ride near or at the 25mph speed limit. The riders themselves even said that they make an effort to not exceed the speed limit. So if they are traveling at the maximum speed allowable it would seem to me that they are eligible the occupy the lane and not just one or two wide but in a manner that is again "practicable" for the safe operation of each individual's bicycle.

Again how could the riders "unknowingly impede traffic" when they are already traveling at the posted speed limit? Also
"when traveling at the same speed as other traffic" Title 39 gives them the right to "stray from the side of the lane to occupy an entire lane of the two-lane road." In this case it would seem that the police decided to take a narrow view of the law and acted in a way that was heavy handed to say the least.

However the situation gets even worse.
Sebastian D'Elia, spokesman for Union County, said "the county wanted cyclists to take part in discussions on new bike trails in the county park system." Unfortunately I don't think Mr. D'Elia understands how condescending his statement was to serious cyclists. I, like many other riders will interprete his statement this way, "Bikes don't belong on the street. If you talk with us we'll build you a playground (that will be of absolutely no use to you) off of the road where you won't get in the way of the cars." It seems obvious that the ingrained nature of the car culture is showing its ugly head here with these attitudes and responses.

Looks like we have a long way to go in Union County.

The complete article can be found at:

Free ride
is over
The Star-Ledger • Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Recreational Bike Ride Guides Available

Gleaned from South Jersey News Online

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) released three new, electronic bicycle guides.

The Burlington County Bikeways , Cape May Shoreline Ride and Cumberland Salem Revolution guides encompass over 168 miles of bicycle routes.

The Burlington County Bikeways guide features an eastern loop and western loop that encompasses over fifty miles with views of the scenic Delaware River, historic sites and cranberry bogs in New Jersey's largest county.

The Cape May Shoreline loop route begins and ends at the Cape May Lighthouse. The forty-six mile route encompasses the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, the beaches of Stone Harbor and the Victorian architecture of Cape May City.

The Cumberland Salem Revolution route begins and ends at the historic Fort Mott State Park then passes the historic Hancock House in Lower Alloways Creek and through several New Jersey's farming communities.

All NJDOT bike guides can be downloaded here.

While recreational ride guides are valuable publications they are no substitute for actually signing the roads. New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware all have signed regional bike routes. Signing these roads would have a marked impact on the bicycle tourism industry in NJ.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Jersey Ranked as 41st Worst State For Bicycling

I congratulate the State for being ranked number 9 among the Bicycle Friendly States, although that is impressive it is also a reflection of a nation that has not invested in bicycling, another words we are the best of a bad lot.

So as King of NJ here is what I will implement to leave the top 5 states in the dust. And while my wild dreams are focused on bicycling, similar strategies could be applied to pedestrian and transit issues. The approach should be that this is part of an infrastructure Marshall Plan that transportation reformers keep talking about, we should not be fighting for the crumbs on the floor.

A - Increase local aid dedicated bikeway funding tenfold. It is only $4 Million annually and it is only for off road projects, Portland Oregon estimates that to build out their bicycle network they will need $150 Million, how much will an urbanized state that has a tiny fraction of that city's infrastructure have to spend? Award bikeway funding only to governments that have adopted bicycle plans. The Governor wants $3 billion to widen the Turnpike and the Parkway. $40 million a year is chump change.

B - Identify and eliminate the existing barriers and hazards.
1- Expand the rapid design team's mission to include fixing bicycling hazards on state roads.
2 - Implement a comprehensive inlet grate replacement program, this should be easy since thieves are stealing these things in earnest.
3 - Require every road engineer in the state complete a bicycle and pedestrian design course. The recent road work that I have seen going on in Camden is appalling: multi lane ramps and turn lanes in front of the Campbells Soup site, a crosswalk in the middle of a right turn lane between Cooper Hospital and Walter Rand TC, push button signals in front of Rutgers at the RiverLINE station, right turn on red is everywhere.

C - Expand the Bicycle and Pedestrian Department
1 - Each of the four district offices should have a full time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

D - Improve the County's and Municipalities

1 - A complete streets requirement that is tied to local aid money
2 - A requirement that all county and municipal comprehensive plans adopt a bike/ped section or chapter. The state could offer guidelines and planning assistance and review to assure that the county/municipal plans are sound.

E - Improve School Districts
1 - A statewide school siting policy is desperately needed.
2 - Federal Safe Routes to School Funding should be matched by the state.
3 - Implement a statewide bicycle education program

F - Make Transit 100% Bike Accessible
1 - Every new rail car has interior bike racks.
2 - Retrofit buses so that the state is 100% bike accessible by 2010. Every bus has an exterior bike rack (including long distance coaches and contracted carriers).
3 - Eliminate the silly holiday restrictions (short term) and only restrict bicycles on the most crowded trains (long term).
4 - Work on bike parking siting (under cover and close to the platform) and design (no more ribbon racks!).
5 - Increase safe routes to transit funding or at least give transit access weight in expanded bikeway funding

G - Create a State network of signed bike routes

H - Create stronger laws and codes to link land use and transportation planning.

For all it's flaws the Bicycle Friendly States program is a great way to start a conversation on what we need to do.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

New Jersey Near Top of Bicycle Friendly States List

As a companion to the Bicycle Friendly Community Program the League of American Bicyclists announced their rankings on Bicycle Friendly States which focuses on policies, laws, funding and implementation on the state level.

Surprisingly New Jersey came in 9th place, the highest ranking on the East Coast. The state was given praise for it's dedicated bike funding (albeit a paltry $4 million), a statewide mountain bike plan, a hands free cell phone law and an exemplary Safe Routes to Schools program.

On the deficiency side the lack of three foot passing law and a complete streets policy show room for more improvement. And let's face it, infrastructure on the ground is sorely lacking, we'll need our 21 counties and 580 municipalities to step up to the plate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Common Ground Leadership Seminars

Save the Dates!!!

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

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

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

The speakers:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Issue 4 "NJ Walks and Bikes" now available

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

Read the newsletter at:

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

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

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

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

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

Walking School Bus Training Anouncement

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two In A Row and More!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NJN News "Gets It"!

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

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


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

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

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

Lets keep it going!

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

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Precursor to All-Out War

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

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


Pedal vs. Metal
• Monday, July 28, 2008

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

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

Let me give you one personal example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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