Monday, November 29, 2010

Bicyclist Killed By Open Truck Door In Woodbury Heights, NJ

The following was originally written by John Boyle and posted on the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle News. It is reprinted here with the permission of our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
A report in the Gloucester County Times describes the death of a man who according to the article "crashed his bicycle into the open door of a truck parked on the shoulder of Evergreen Avenue in Woodbury Heights.

The victim identified as 57 Year Old George E Schilling Jr was taken to Underwood-Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The crash occurred on Friday November 26th at 6:05PM, well after dark and Police describe the lighting in the area as poor.

Our condolences go out to Mr. Schilling's Family.

View Bicyclists Crashes 2008-2010 NJ and SE PA in a larger map

Registration For the NJBikeWalk Summit Is Now Open

The NJ Bike and Walk Coalition, has opened registration for the NJ BikeWalk Summit that will be held on February 26th, 8AM at the Masonic Temple, 100 Barracks Street in Trenton.

You can register online, or you can send your check for $45 ($25 for current members of NJBWC), made out to "NJBC", to:

New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition
P.O. Box 843
Mahwah, NJ 07430

The price of admission includes lunch - for more details please see NJBWC's current newsletter.

Movie: "Ride the Divide" comes to Lambertville

This message comes to WalkBikeJersey from the good folks at the Princeton Freewheelers:

Friday & Saturday, December 3rd & 4th, in Lambertville at the old Acme building:

Plus, Meet-the-Executive-Producer/Cyclist, Mike Dion: at post-film Q & A or at our Saturday Night Cyclist’s Reception at Chimney Hill Inn

An award-winning feature film about the world's toughest mountain bike race, which traverses over 2700 miles along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. The film weaves the story of three characters' experiences with immense mountain beauty and small-town culture as they attempt to pedal from Banff, Canada to a small, dusty crossing on the Mexican border.


Cycling-related merchandise will be sold at the event: 25% of proceeds after cost will benefit the Young Survival Coalition, young women facing breast cancer together and 75% will benefit the ACME Screening Room film program.

Friday, December 3rd

7:00pm Film, Plus Meet-the-Executive Producer,
Mike Dion / post-film Q&A
9:00pm Film Only


$10 in advance / $15 at door

Saturday, December 4th

Film, Plus ...
Meet-the-Executive Producer Reception @
Chimney Hill Inn, 207 Goat Hill Road, Lambertville, NJ
9:00pm Film Only


Film & Exec Producer Reception:
$25 in advance / $30 at door
Film Only:
$10 in advance / $15 at door
Exec Producer/Pros Reception Only:
$20 in advance / $25 at door


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Newark to build New Jersey's first protected bicycle lane; West Windsor state's first Woonerf

I hate getting scooped but then again its great that there are so many people in New Jersey concerned about bicycle and pedestrian issues and are willing to spend the time writing about it.

NJ Future's blog Garden State Smart Growth has this great write-up about a proposal for a protected bike lane in Newark's Forest Hill Neighborhood. I snagged the image off their blog of the proposed improvements from the City and Sam Schwartz Engineering to whet your appetite to read and inquire further. Cyclists, take a close look at the proposed intersection improvements. What do you think?

Further down the Northeast Corridor, Jerry Foster at the West Windsor Bike/Ped Alliance writes today about a possible "woonerf" in the proposed transit village at Princeton Junction. Very interesting stuff. If you don't know about woonerfs read Jerry's quick description or follow his links to the more in-depth discussions.

Show DRPA That You Support The Ben Franklin Bridge Walkway Ramp Project

The following was originally written by John Boyle and posted on the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle News. It is reprinted here with the permission of our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
The days of cursing the three flights of stairs on the Ben Franklin Bridge Walkway could soon be over, but we need to your help to make that a reality.

The Delaware River Port Authority will be presenting their 2011 Capital Program at the Wednesday December 1st Board Meeting. DRPA CEO John Mattheussen has been quoted in the Camden Courier Post and the >Philadelphia Inquirer that he will ask the DRPA Board to include $100,000 to begin designing the walkway ramp in time to construct the walkway in 2012.

We do not know if CEO Mattheussen's verbal promise means that the money for design is included in the final budget. We want to make sure that DRPA Board members hear that there is strong public support for starting the design work in 2011. Please come to the Dec. 1 meeting to speak at the public comment period about why you want the walkway design to begin in 2011.

View Larger Map

One Port Center is across from the Camden Children's Garden on the Camden Waterfront.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Op-Ed: What should a statewide bicycle map have?

So last week I posted a general notice about NJDOT’s public forums to get some feedback in their efforts to put together a statewide bicycle map. This project leaves me very excited since I love maps and will even confess to having over 100 in my collection. I read maps like people read books, plotting adventures and rides many of which, unfortunately, will never come to pass.

As for bicycle specific maps that I’ve seen, results seem to be hit or miss. Some of maps are excellent, a number are mediocre but still useful, while others are downright useless for navigating by bike and aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. From decades of map use to travel by bike here in New Jersey, elsewhere around North American and in Europe, I would like to suggest some ideas that I feel are critical in producing a quality New Jersey Bike Map:
  • Rate roads for bicycle suitability – This is by far the most important bit of information that a bicycle map can provide but is often not done at all or in a way that I think is incorrect. Many bicycle maps simply list the presence of a shoulder or a bicycle lane to rate the bicycle suitability of a road. Using this as the only or primary criteria in a rating system can make for a bad bicycle map. Without considering other factors, I’ve seen some maps give busy six-lane highways what appear to be a more appealing bicycle suitability ratings than the back roads that I know are fantastic to ride on. Yes, the highway has a shoulder but the little back road only gets 10 cars per hour making the shoulder all but unnecessary for bicycle travel. The most important factor in rating bicycle suitability of a roadway is traffic volume. A road may be narrow, with a 50mph speed limit and no shoulder but if only a handful of cars pass by on a given hour, that road would be far superior for riding than a 25mph arterial with a well engineered bike lanes but heavy and continuous traffic. Knowing if there is a shoulder or bike lane is still useful but that info will always be of secondary importance to a cyclist compared to knowing or conveying traffic volume.
  • Keep it large-scale – Maps that include a very large geographic area are said to be small-scale. Such small-scale maps can make visualizing details difficult, again such as small back roads that cyclists seek out due to their low traffic volumes and superior scenery. To me a scale of 1:63,360 or 1 inch = 1 mile would be ideal. 1:100,000 would be acceptable (1cm = 1km) but anything beyond 1:126,720 (1 inch = 2 miles) and you start to lose the granular detail that cyclists need. If the scale is too small the map can end up becoming useless now matter how accurate and well presented the information on it. This would likely require the creation of more than two maps but I think this could be the difference of creating just a good map to an excellent one. For example Delaware’s useful bike map divides the state into three sections, one for each county, and Delaware is smaller than New Jersey.
  • Quality Cartography – I’ve gotten spoiled from my days traveling in Europe because the maps you buy over there are true works of art. These maps are mostly hand drawn (or so they seem) and the iconography and detail they use allow for an amazing amount of information to be clearly and concisely conveyed to the map user. As a traveler of non-motorized means one will quickly appreciate the detail and information a good map can convey, particularly as the light of day begins to fade while traveling on unfamiliar roads with many miles still to go.
  • Label all roads (at least the through streets) – One of the greatest shortcomings of some bicycle maps that I’ve used was the failure to label small roads. Experience has taught me to seek out the small roads and residential back streets to avoid the high traffic volumes on arterials. While it is useful to indicate that the labeled arterial street is unsuited for bicycle travel, it would be nice to have the local side streets comprehensively labeled to help navigate around that arterial.
  • Show topography by some graphic means – A bicycle map doesn’t need topographic lines but some sort of shading to show terrain relief is just about an absolute necessity. I also like the system that many European maps use to show the grade of a climb. Chevrons are pointed uphill with a number of chevrons used to indicate steepness in grade percentage (> = 5 to 9%, >> = 10 to 14%, >>> more than 15%). Also reference elevations of significant mountains like High Point, Bearfort, Jenny Jump, the Sourland Mountains and even Apple Pie Hill in the Pine Barrens should be given, just to name a few.
  • Include and indicate unpaved roads – From the draft I looked at on-line last week, many of the gravel and dirt roads in Hunterdon County are shown on the map. This is good since these roads, by nature have very little motor vehicle traffic and are very useful to cyclists. However the map should somehow indicate that these roads are unpaved so unsuspecting roadies aren’t caught off guard. On the flip side, some significant sand roads in the Pine Barrens were omitted even though there were no other roads in that area on the map that would be competing for space. In the same vein, it would be nice to indicate graphically if multi-use pathways are paved with asphalt or some unpaved surface.
  • Locate camping icons directly where the campsites are located – For example, from the draft I’ve seen, camping is indicated in Stokes State Forest but the icon is just placed randomly in the green area indicating the state forest. Stokes State Forest is rather large, at least a dozen miles across or more in some parts. Having an accurate idea where the THREE campgrounds are actually located throughout the forest would allow for bicycle tourists to more accurately estimate travel distance and time. Also it would be nice to include county (Morris and Monmouth, maybe others) campgrounds as well as private ones (mostly located in South Jersey).
  • Include all NJ TRANSIT train stations and major bus terminals.
  • Finally, do not forget that some of the users of this map will be tourists from out of state or even out of the country. Do not assume they know anything about New Jersey and that they outcome of their trip may be entirely dependent on the information provided on the map. I’ve been there on a road far away from home, relying on the map to get me safely to my destination so I know how important an accurate map can be.
From what I’ve seen of the draft New Jersey bike map, NJDOT and its consultants are off to a good start. Still, they must remember that there are already plenty of other good map sources that this map will be competing against. Google Maps with its “Bike There” instructions has shown itself to be a very useful tool and Map My Ride will even calculate vertical profiles as it maps your ride. As for printed maps however, I still find myself grabbing for my Hagstrom and ADC county maps over any county bicycle map published for a New Jersey county so far (the new Mercer County bike map is really good but it’s only an online source as far as I know). Still, I have high hopes for this map project and look forward to the final product.

Op-Ed: Be careful were you cyclocross

I came back from a road ride one day last week and a cyclocross race broke out! I was returning to my car near sunset after putting in a few dozen miles in beautiful western Somerset and eastern Hunterdon Counties. As I approached the park parking lot with my car I was shocked to find the once empty lot full of cars and cyclists getting ready for a ride. What I had stumbled upon was a friendly pick-up after work cyclocross race and the group of 25 or 30 competitors started soon after I arrived. I watched them as I was packing up, for 15, 20 minutes or so.

For the most part the race seamed like good, clean (irony!) fun. The majority of the race went through fields and paths that could be best described as a managed meadow and did so without any noticeable lasting impact. However the course designers took the race around the parking area by using the raised landscaped areas around the parking lot and within the short amount of time that I was there, the racers had done what only could be called significant damage to this landscaped area.

I understand that mud is part of the sport and that cyclocross races are supposed to have off-camber turns and traverse slops to add technical challenge. That is all well and good but damaging public property and doing so in an area that all park users cannot help but notice is sure not to win over the general public with regards to cycling. It’s one thing to create a bit of mud on the trail in the back of the park but to chew up the landscaping into a muddy mess around a parking lot, where no one was ever really intended to walk or ride, is another thing all together. It’s a real shame too because the area of landscaping that the racers chewed up probably consisted of less than 5% of the entire race course. This area could have easily been avoided and it really wouldn’t have made a difference to the race.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Next BPAC Meeting moved back a week to December 15th

The below message come to us from Peter Bilton at the Voorhees Transportation center at Rutgers University. I always advise all New Jersey bicycle and pedestrian advocates to attend NJBPAC meetings.
Greetings BPAC Members,

This is a notice that we are moving the date of the December Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Council Meeting from December 8 to December 15 to avoid a conflict with an NJDOT meeting. I hope this doesn't cause any inconvenience.

The BPAC will be held on Wednesday, December 15 from 10am-12pm at the Bloustein School in New Brunswick. The preliminary agenda is as follows:
- Member updates
- A recap of the Complete Streets Summit
- A report on the Newark Walking School Bus event
- Ian Sacs, Director of Transportation in Hoboken, will speak about their many initiatives: carsharing, parking management, speed reduction, bikeways

An agenda, update form, and parking info will be sent out prior to the meeting. Please let me know of any upcoming bike/ped events that you would like the BPAC to be aware of so I can add them to the "events" sections of the agenda. Also let me know if there is an item that you would like to discuss and want placed on the agenda.



Peter Bilton, AICP/PP
Senior Research Specialist
Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
(732) 932-6812 ext. 586;

NJDOT to produce New Jersey Bike Map - Wants your input

From the NJ Bike Map Project Site and mailing:
The New Jersey Bicycle Map is funded through the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and is managed by The RBA Group. The purpose of the project is to provide a map of the preferred bicycling routes for the entire state. This project invites public input.
Our target is to have the map ready for the public in the summer of 2011.

To make sure they hear the needs of cyclists from around the state NJDOT is hosting 3 meeting around the state.

North Jersey
Wednesday, December 1
10:00am to 12:00 noon
Frelinghuysen Arboretum
55 East Hanover Ave
Morristown, NJ

Central Jersey
Tuesday, December 7
9:30am to 11:30am
NJDOT Headquarters
1035 Parkway Ave
Trenton, NJ

South Jersey
Wednesday, December 8
10:00am to 12:00 noon
The George Luciano Family Center
Cumberland County College
Vineland, NJ

Prior to the meeting, all are encouraged to review the draft map on the interactive website, ( You must register first and answer a few questions but then you can download PDFs of the latest drafts. If your town, county or other organization has data that might help in the correct or complete the map, you are also encouraged to upload it to that sight. Once you register on the site you will receive e-mail notices each time a new map is posted.

Please RSVP to Elizabeth Cox, The RBA Group at 973-946-5736 or a week before the meeting. Attendees will be sent an agenda and directions. If you are unable to attend, participation is encouraged through the website.

At the end of the maps development a PDF of the final map will be posted on a web site. Printing of the maps will be sponsored by organizations interested in supporting cyclists. If your organization would like to help sponsor printing, please contact the NJDOT project manager.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NJBWC seek RSVPs for 2011 New Jersey Bike/Walk Summit

New Jersey's second bike summit - actually, it's first Bike/Walk Summit - will be held on Saturday, February 26, 2011, in Trenton, NJ. As the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition organizes the summit, that's happening in just over 3 months, they need to get a tentative count of the number of people that are likely to attend. The Coalition needs to know if they should rent out the 100 seat room or the bigger one that can hold 500 people.

From the response they already got from the Coalition membership, it looks like they will go with the bigger venue but to help them out (and to prevent jamming Jim Nicholson's email box) I would like people who plan on attending (and who haven't RSVP'd directly to Jim) to reply to blog message and simply say "I'm gonna' be there!" That way Jim can get an idea without getting a gazillion emails.

Please reply just once so we might be able to use the post count for a simple rough tally. DO NOT reply if you already told Jim directly that you will be attending the Summit.

Scenes from Philly's 3rd Annual Tweed Ride

As I've said once before, "I'm all about the Tweed Rides," and Philadelphia's is one of the best in the nation (I know it's not Jersey but too bad. I had great fun.). This year's ride was the first I was able to attend and it was an absolute blast. The weather on Saturday was perfect. In fact it was almost too perfect as the sun and warm temperatures almost made riding in wool and tweed a bit uncomfortable. Still we all managed to keep a "stiff upper lip" and had a "jolly good time!"

As part of the fun some really nice prizes were handed out for:
  • Most Dapper Chap
  • Most Snappy Lass
  • Most Stylish Steed (best/most period correct bicycle)
  • Most Marvelous Moustache

Below are some of the pictures I took of the ride, its spectacularly well dressed participants and some of the beautiful bicycles that were ridden.

Winner of the "Most stylish steed,"an 1884 high wheeler. Nice helmet!

Winner of the "Most Snappy Lass" award posing with my vintage lady's Raleigh.

Besides the ladies many of the gents were also dressed to kill.

Merriment at the Memphis Tap Room biergarten.

Winner of the "most dapper chap" and a sample of
the really nice prizes awarded to the winners.

More pictures of the ride can be found at Velodelphia ( and on Velodelphia's Tweed Ride slideshow.

Also don't forget to check out the Philly Tweed Ride website with more photos and links to other galleries.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hamilton Township seeks comments for bike / ped plan

The following comes to us from the good folks at the Princeton Freewheelers. If you live in Hamilton Township or Mercer County and have some good ideas for the plan please shoot Peter Kremer at PB a line directly via
Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB) is undertaking the Hamilton Township Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan, a study of bicycle and pedestrian safety and mobility for Hamilton Township in Mercer County, New Jersey. This study is being conducted through the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Local Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning Assistance Program.

In addition to looking at bike and pedestrian issues within Hamilton, we are also interested in ways of improving linkages to neighboring towns; travel conditions along key roadway corridors; and access to the train station, community facilities, parks, and trail systems, including Mercer County Park and the D&R Canal towpath.

We are very interested in speaking with you about bike and pedestrian safety, commuting and recreation routes, mobility issues, and improving connections between Hamilton and its neighbors. Input can also be provided online at the website for Hamilton Township’s master plan( Click on the box titled:Your Thoughts or Check out our discussion boards, interact with other residents, and select Transportation, then Walking and Biking.

Please feel free to share this message with your colleagues and fellow advocates. We thank you for your assistance, and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Peter F. Kremer, AICP/PP
PB Americas Inc
(609) 734-7039

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NEW!! - Walk Friendly Communities Program from PBIC

The other day I explored the continued failure of a New Jersey town to score a Bicycle Friendly Community. Well all is not lost. The below message comes from Peter Bilton at the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, about a new Walk Friendly Communities program sponsored by both the FHWA and the Ped Bike Information Center (a great resource BTW).

With many old New Jersey towns built well before the advent of the automobile and with pedestrian safety a hot topic at the State and community level, it should be easy for whole bunch of New Jersey towns to score these awards. At least I hope so. Something tells me South Orange will be one of the first to score one of these (wink, wink).

Below is the message from Peter Bilton at VTC:
You might be interested in the new Walk Friendly Communities recognition program from FHWA and Ped Bike Information Center - Applications are due December 15th.

"Walk Friendly Communities is a national recognition program developed to encourage towns and cities across the U.S. to establish or recommit to a high priority for supporting safer walking environments. The WFC program will recognize communities that are working to improve a wide range of conditions related to walking, including safety, mobility, access, and comfort."


Peter Bilton, AICP/PP
Senior Research Specialist
Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
(732) 932-6812 ext. 586;

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Charity ride to honor bike crash victim, Joe McBride

The following message was originally posted on the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance Blog and was reposted here to help spread the word about this noteworthy event.
On Saturday, November 13 at 9:00 am, a charity ride will be held in honor of Joe McBride, a member of the Princeton Free Wheelers bicycle club, who was killed in a motor vehicle collision last week while riding his bike near Washington Crossing, PA.

Join the Hill Slugs on Saturday, November 13, as we ride one of Joe McBride’s favorite routes along the Delaware River and the ridge above Frenchtown. The ride will be C+/B difficulty, 13 – 16mph average speed, for about 50 miles. Joe didn’t like big hills, so we’ll stay away from the nasty ones. There will be one rest stop in Upper Black Eddy, PA, and an additional, optional, stop in Sergeantsville.

Meet in the CVS parking lot off of Route 29 in Lambertville, and please arrive about 20 minutes early, to be ready to leave at 9am. Wet roads cancel the ride.

Please bring a check made out to the American Diabetes Association or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Leaders: Laura Lynch and Joe Miller. Contact Laura Lynch ( if you have any questions.

Monday, November 08, 2010

NJ fails again to gain a Bicycle Friendly Community

First I want to put a shout out to both Hoboken and Montclair for both getting honorable mentions this year as Bicycle Friendly Communities. They do deserve credit for trying and I hope that at least one or both of these towns get BCF accreditation soon.

For those of you who are keeping count, New Jersey is now only one of only FIVE states that DOES NOT have at least one Bicycle Friendly Community with in its boarders. Last year when I looked into this New Jersey was one of only ten states without a BCF. While we do not have a BCF, every state in the south has at least one, with both Mississippi and West Virginia having two Bronze Level Communities each.

The other four states without a BFC are Hawaii, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Even here I am shocked that at least one Massachusetts town hasn't won a BFC award because of some very innovative (and controversial to some) things that have been built in both Cambridge (Alewife Park and Ride Bike Cage, Vassar St) and Boston.

Also disappointing is that besides not having a Bicycle Friendly Community, New Jersey also does not have a Bicycle Friendly Business. Only three other states, Hawaii, Nevada and North Dakota, have that dubious distinction of not having at least one of either.

Repeated again from last year is my list of possible candidates for BFC status:
  • Ocean City (Cape May)
  • Hoboken (Hudson) *Received Honorable Mention*
  • Madison (Morris)
  • Montclair (Essex) *Received Honorable Mention*
  • Princeton (Mercer)
  • Avalon (Cape May)
  • Collingswood (Camden)
  • Morristown (Morris)
  • Haddonfield (Camden)
  • West Windsor (Mercer)
  • Franklin (Somerset)
  • Newark (Essex)
I also feel that there really isn't any reason that New Jersey can't have at least a half dozen of so Bicycle Friendly Businesses. There are several bicycle businesses headquartered here in New Jersey that likely have all the things in place that they need to be recognized as a BFB and I'm quite sure that a number of bike shops could be as well.

New Jersey does rank very well on the state level. Undoubtedly due to the hard work of a few people at NJDOT and elsewhere, New Jersey is the 8th best in the nation and even winning a Bronze Level award (the highest award has only been Silver on the state level). Unfortunately missing out again on winning a BFC prize is disappointing at the very least and is a sign of the difficult battles in advancing cycling at the local level which is where a bicycle can be the most effective as a form of transportation.

In a future piece I'll look into possible reasons why New Jersey is missing out on attaining at least one Bicycle Friendly Community (Hint: Show me the bike lanes!)

NJ Bicyclist Killed on River Rd in Washington Crossing PA

The following was originally written by John Boyle and posted on the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle News. It is reprinted here with the permission of our friends at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Joseph McBride, 58 of Ewing NJ and a member of the Princeton Freewheelers was killed Friday while bicycling on River Road near Overlook Avenue in Washington Crossing. A report in the Bucks County Courier Times stated that the victim drifted into the path of an oncoming minivan. However an unconfirmed report suggests that there was incidental contact with the rear wheel of a second bicycle that caused McBride to lose control and cross over the yellow line.

The Courier Times article has been inundated with negative comments about people on bicycles. These cowards, hiding behind their keyboards, believe that every tragedy involving a bicyclist is an opportunity for an anti-bike rant . Imagine if one of the TV stations covered the bike crash and some troll got on camera and recited "I almost hit one of these neon spandex wearing retards on my way to work". Why do news websites tolerate such inflammatory discussion when it involves the death of human being? Perhaps you can help restore sanity by leaving a supportive comment.

View Larger Map

Our sympathies go out to the family of Joseph McBride.

Joseph's Obituary on

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pedestrians: It’s that time of year to be scared again

If you thought last weekend was scary walking around with all those ghouls, goblins and ghosts wandering the streets, think again! This coming Sunday morning marks the end of Daylight Savings Time and with it comes an annual significant spike in pedestrian crashes (likely bicyclist crashes too).

This unfortunate trend is due to the end of usable daylight between 5 and 6pm and the continuation of relatively warm weather that makes walking around rather comfortable well into the evening. It is also probable that the shock of coming out and finding it dark by 5pm leaves both pedestrians and drivers a little out of phase and unaccustomed to the earlier darkness.

This crash phenomenon is one of the reasons why Daylight Savings Times now lasts so late into the Fall. Going back to Standard Time the week after Halloween gives all the trick-or-treaters more daylight to roam the streets on Halloween and all those other days and evenings in October.

Take note and take precautions whether you’ll be on two feet or two wheels.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Philly Bike Expo Rocks – Jersey Manufacturers Represented

If you didn’t get the chance to make it down to Philly last weekend to attend the Bike Expo, you missed out on a very well run event and a great time. Sponsored by both the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Bilenkey Cycle Works, the Bike Expo attracted hundreds of attendees on Saturday alone when I was there. The 23rd St Armory was a really cool venue that had just enough room to accommodate the 50 or so vendors. For those that arrived by bike, the local kids from Neighborhood Bike Works (a program that teaches Philly youth work and mechanical skills as well as the joy of cycling) did a professional and friendly job providing guarded, valet bicycle parking just feet from the Armory entrance.

Of the vendors in attendance there were at least a dozen or so custom bicycle manufacturers, two midsized production bike manufacturers (Fuji and Jamis), several clothing producers, a retailer specializing in bicycle touring equipment, one of Philly’s most notable and funky bike shops, plus many others. Advocacy groups were also present including the Pennsylvania rep for the League of American Bicyclists (who gave out tons of everyone’s favorite bicycle pins), Josh from the PA Walks and Bikes (who said a bunch of New Jersey cyclists visited his booth – hint, hint) and of course the BCGP. The event also had a number of informative seminars throughout the day but I got so rapped up in exhibit hall that I never had a chance to attend any of them to my detriment.

Of the custom bike manufacturers in attendance there was one small husband and wife team there representing good ol’ Jersey. Folk Engineered is a newer operation run by Marie and Ryan bringing bicycle manufacturing back to New Jersey and in the heart of Newark. The duo were participants in my inaugural Biergarten Bike Ride and are both formally trained artists from Rutgers University that found the bicycle to be their preferred medium of expression. They did a good job attracting attention to their booth with their bikes and a hand-built small porter rack that is perfect for transporting a 6-pack of beer along with a U-Lock which they demonstrated in front of ogling eyes (I don’t know what they were lusting over more, their bikes or the 6-pack of beer!).

Ryan and Marie at the Bike Expo. Look at that 6-pack!
And the rack and bike attached to it.

Also representing New Jersey was lighting giant, Princeton Tec. Headquartered not far from Philly in Bordentown, Princeton Tec had a highly visible (pun intended) presence at the Expo. I ended up talking to Gerard Armendinger about the company’s presence in New Jersey and their operations. Being a big fan of “Made in USA” products I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Princeton Tec produces around 80% of their items right in their Bordentown location, something they are VERY proud of (see their homepage). They even would like make more of their items in-house to have a better control on quality and to eliminate lag times getting new products to market but they were having a difficulty finding skilled machinists and die makes here in New Jersey which is a real shame. Still, it was really nice to hear of a company’s commitment to domestic production and it’s even better when that product is “Made in Jersey!”

The "bright" guys at the Princeton Tec Booth.

I almost forgot! There was one other New Jersey manufacturer at the event. Bandbox Helmets of Lebanon, NJ. I first briefly reported about them earlier in the year at the inaugural South Orange Tweed Ride. Dr. Cheryl Allen-Munley told me that the goal of the company is to produce helmets that look like stylish hats instead of the typical race inspired products on the market today. They told be that since I last saw them earlier in the spring the learning curve in their product development has been very steep. They had to ditch the idea of using Styrofoam found in 99% of helmets and are instead using a soft, pliable yet firm gel-like product used by NASA for its shock absorbing properties. Using this material they have been able to pass the required crash tests while keeping the underlying helmet size down so that the product looks like a normal sized hat. The prototypes they had on display were interesting. The concept seemed to work better in the women’s styles they had on display but they haven’t yet finalized their final production model at this moment. Still, they are in the final stages of product development and hope to have their product going out to retailers this coming Spring.

The elegant Dr. Allen-Munely at the South Orange Tweed Ride last Spring.

Finally to cap things off (no pun intended this time), I even won some swag worth over $200 from the really fun and innovative raffle that helped support the BCGP. The coalition folks had a large number of items donated to them to raffle away. They then put these items into twenty different groupings. Participants then were able to look over the items in each group and could then put their ticket stubs in bags that corresponded with the group of items they were interested in winning. This worked out great since this system precluded participants from winning items intended for the opposite sex, or stuff they just didn’t need. From one of the groupings that I put my tickets in I ended up scoring some desperately needed new sunglass from Serfas, knee-high socks from Sock-Guy and a really sharp and stylish black cycling jacket made by Sheila Moon of San Francisco. Woo hoo!

Overall, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia ran a superb event that from my perspective was a rousing success (I hope their accountant says so too). And since the Armory was close to capacity for the number of vendors they had this year, I can only imagine that the Bicycle Coalition will have to move the event to a larger venue next year. Way to go BCGP!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bike/Ped advocates loose one of two major supporters in Congress

This is big and it is sad. We all knew that a shakeup was coming in this election but few in the bike/ped world thought that we would loose the most powerful of our major supporters in Congress. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon kept his seat but Rep. Jim Oberstar, who was the powerful House Transportation Committee chairman, lost his seat representing Minnesota. This is a major blow to the cause. Not only was Oberstar chairman of the committee that helps set transportation policy and spending but he was one of the founders of the Congressional Bike Caucus.

For more on this, Andy Clark of the League of American Bicyclists sums up the loss of Congressman Oberstar better than anyone in the bike/ped advocacy world can.