Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Important Bike Advocacy news from the Midwest

A couple interesting bits of bicycle advocacy news came out of two Midwestern States this week.

First in Kansas, their governor just signed into law and three-foot passing law that ALSO clarifies the legality of passing a bicyclist in marked no-passing zones.  Along with this, a different part of this new legislation now allows both bicyclist and motorcyclists to go through a "Dead Red" traffic signal when it is safe to do so.  Dead Reds are signals that do not change green because the sensors used to detect traffic are not calibrated properly to detect anything smaller than a car.  For comparison, New Jersey Title 39 DOES NOT address any of these three issues, leaving best on-road practices ambiguous at best and deadly at worst!  See the details of Kansas' new law from the Kansas Cyclists blog here.

In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn ordered that the vehicle "crash" report form be modified to include a method of reporting "dooring" as a cause of a crash.  More details can be found in this Chicago Tribune article and even more in this article from WBEX 91.5 - Chicago Public Media.  It is unknown if the New Jersey vehicle crash report form (probably officially called a "motor vehicle accident form" here) has any standardized way to record this type of crash causation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Op-Ed: Can Walking and Biking ever be safe in America with incompetent idiots behind the steering wheel?!?!

Yeah… I’m pissed! I normally don’t to let my emotions run wild on this blog and try to keep it professional but I’m gonna’ let loose a little on this one. I’m really sick and tired of dealing with brain-dead, narcissistic, antisocial, psychotic, distracted and just plain stupid drivers while I’m out riding my bike. They are absolutely clueless about how dangerous their driving behavior is not only to me, other cyclists, and pedestrians but also to themselves.

As many of you might know, I’m a League Cycling Instructor. I’ve been riding almost all of my 39 years and have been a serious cyclist for over 20 of them now. When I’m out on the road these days I do my best to use all my training and experience to perfect my own personal version of “vehicular cycling.” I adapt the classic vehicular cycling techniques depending on the bike I’m riding. If I’m casually tooling around town on the 3-speed, I tend to be a little less bold. However when I’m on my road bike riding for maximum speed, I’m more inclined to incorporate more if not all of the advanced vehicular cycling techniques.

Part of that technique is to take the lane on narrow roads, where the road conditions are bad and on blind rises or corners. Unfortunately after this winter, road conditions are REALLY bad and I find myself forced to take the lane even on roads with wide lanes, high speeds and heavy traffic volume. With a good percentage of drivers this is not a problem. They seem to understand my plight and patiently wait behind me until its clear and I give them a wave of appreciation when they have a chance to pass by. But this system of reason breaks down really quickly when it seems every forth driver is either totally clueless to a cyclists needs, just doesn’t care or even worse, hates you for even daring to exert your right to the road. Unfortunately when I went for a ride this past Easter Sunday, it seemed the later 25% were the only ones left of the road as all God fearing people were at church or home with their families.

So there I was on Fresh Ponds Road in East Brunswick just south of Milltown, cruising at pretty fast clip on my road bike. Thinking that traffic would be very light on this holiday, I was in for a rude awakening very soon after starting my ride.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

TIGER 1 Update - Camden County Freeholders Award Contract for Bike Lanes and Streetscape

Staying focused this week on what is undoubtedly one of New Jersey's neediest places for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, our affiliates at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia bring us this story about the continued progress of the highly competitive TIGER Grant that will focus some much needed monies into Camden's bike/ped accommodations.   Enjoy!

On Thursday evening the Camden County Freeholders voted on the following resolution -

"Resolution authorizing an award of Contract (Bid A-10) by and between the County of Camden (Department of Public Works) and Lexa Concrete, LLC, for the 2011 Transportation Capital Program, American Recovery Investment Act TIGER Grant, Pyne [sic] Street Greenway Enhancement Project and Martin Luther King Boulevard, Waterfront Connection Project in an amount not to exceed $2,520,648.55"

This means that construction on two of the three Camden TIGER segments can now move forward, it usually takes at least several weeks between the award of a contract and the first shovel in the ground. The projects will include Camden's first bike lanes (MLK), sharrows, road repair and streetscape improvements.
The third segment, Pearl St adjacent to the Ben Franklin Bridge has been delayed due to the collapse of the bulkhead adjacent to the Camden Waterfront Promenade. DVRPC the regional planning commission has allocated additional money to the project to design and construct the new bulkhead. Once the design has been completed that project will go out to bid and which holds out hope that all three projects will be completed by the end of the year.

The construction of the project coincides with the rehabilitation of Farnham Park which includes a new multi-use trail through the park which will connect with the City's only marked bike facility - a two way sidepath on the south side of Kaighns Ave, which heads towards Cooper River Park a location where we pointed out the difficulty of crossing route 130 to get to the main section of the park.

View Pine Street in Camden in a Larger Map

Bike/Ped advocacy works! AASHTO rescinds recommendation to limit bike/ped considerations!

Early last week I talked about how the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) request to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)to limit the mandatory consideration of bicycle and pedestrian needs for roadway projects that receive Federal funding. I also discussed how a coalition of bike/ped groups were not going to take this sitting down and fought back against AASHTO's demands.  Well due in part to the hard work of national bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups like the League of American Bicyclists and America Bikes (just to name a few) and thousands of everyday citizens, AASHTO has rescinded their request to limit bicycle and pedestrian considerations.

Take a look for yourself from the email I received from the League of American Bicyclists.  I quote:
Thank you to the thousands of you who contacted the director of your state transportation agency regarding last week’s action alert. Your voice has been heard loud and clear. Due to your combined efforts, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has withdrawn their recommendation to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to weaken the requirements for states to give “due consideration” to the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians when constructing roadways. The League of American Bicyclists, the National Center for Biking and Walking, and America Bikes will be meeting with AASHTO officials next month to discuss this and other important issues.

If you haven't already, please take action to ensure that state transportation agencies do not gut important bike funding. Visit our Advocacy Center and ask your Governor to rescind federal transportation dollars proportionally across all programs.

You can follow progress on these and other campaigns at Thanks again for your support.
Even though many projects designed prior to NJDOT's December 2009 Complete Streets Policy continue to disappoint and underwhelm many New Jersey bicycle and pedestrian advocates, it was very unlikely that NJDOT would have gone along with this carte blanche policy to essentially ignore the needs of bikes and peds.  Still, even with a Complete Streets policy at a state level, this is by no means a reason to relax our vigilance on such issues.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Traffic Skills 101 Bicycling Course to be offered in North Brunswick, NJ

Has the high cost of gas got you down?  Looking to lower your carbon footprint?  Do you want to get a little exercise on the weekends or possibly on your way to work, school or the grocery store?   Or do you just want to experience the freedom of the road powered by nothing but the strength of your muscles and the sweat on your brow (and your mom's irresistible chocolate chip cookies you devoured last night)?  Maybe your looking to do all these things but are apprehensive about traffic while riding your bike or just don't know where to start?  Well then I've got the answer for you!

The North Brunswick Township Parks and Recreation Department is proud to partner with the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition Bicycle Education Program to offer Traffic Skills 101 for bicyclists.
Following a well-established curriculum from the League of American Bicyclists ( and taught only by certified League Cycling Instructors, Traffic Skills 101 gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. The course covers bicycle safety checks, fixing a flat, on-bike skills and crash avoidance techniques and includes a student manual. Recommended for adults and children above age fourteen, this fast-paced, nine-hour course prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling.
The class will be limited to 15 students and will only be held if more than 5 students are registered.  This class is ideal for new cyclists who want to learn the basics, those returning to cycling from a long hiatus, people who want to be more independent on their bike, and those who feel a little nervous while cycling in traffic.  If you do not know how to ride a bike (that is, start, stop, balance and steer without falling down), this is not the right class for you. Participants must know how to balance and control a bicycle.

Date:  Saturday, May 7, 2011, 9 AM until 5 PM
Place:  North Brunswick Township Municipal Building
Cost:  $50 per student, checks made payable to "NJBC" and mailed to NJBC, P.O. Box 843, Mahwah, NJ  07430
Requirements:  You will need a bicycle in good working order, a helmet (no one will be allowed to participate in the on-bike portion of the class without a helmet), and a full water bottle.  This class will be held, rain or shine.
Lead Instructor:  Andrew J. Besold (
Assistant Instructor:  Jim Nicholson (

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tell NJDOT to Accommodate Bicyclists crossing US 130 into Cooper River Park

Tell NJDOT to include proper Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations at North Park Drive and US 130 in Camden/Pennsauken.

There will be a public meeting held tomorrow at:

Camden County Boathouse
Cooper River County Park
7050 North Park Drive, Pennsauken, NJ
APRIL 20, 2011 6:00 P.M.

Work will start this fall on the reconstruction of the intersection of US 130 and North Park Drive (Cooper River Park) adjacent to the old driving range. As some of you already know this is a very difficult intersection to cross on foot or bike, especially heading from the park into Camden. While this hearing focuses on the right of way acquisition of a tiny piece of Cooper River Park it is the design of the intersection that is of the most concern.

While the crosswalk shown in the diagram is an improvement (vs nothing) it still forces a westbound cyclists to cross the intersection at the crosswalk. This means that cyclists will be riding across to a narrow sidewalk instead of a 10' multi-use path. For pedestrians it is much worse - the skewed unprotected intersection will mean that they will have to cross at least 70 feet of roadway across a skewed intersection, very difficult for the young, elderly and disabled.

US 130 has been cited by the Tri State Transportation Campaign as one of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians in the state. we should demand that at a minimum that the crosswalk geometry is fixed, with a pedestrian refuge added in the center median. In addition a pedestrian activated "no turn on red" phase would allow pedestrians to safely cross US 130. The design should also include a westbound bike box for cyclists in front of the stop bar on North Park Drive to get ahead of the turning traffic.

The details of the entire 130/30 project is here.

Click on the image to enlarge - The main section of Cooper River Park is on the bottom of this drawing while the old driving range on the top side.

Meeting announcement

New Jersey bicycling photo of 2011

A bit of Portland / Amsterdam comes to Newark

While passing through Newark's Branch Brook Park on Sunday as part of the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey's 2nd (or 3rd?) Annual Cherry Blossom Bike Tour (which shouldn't be confused with the Brick City Bike Collective's ride of the same name), I came across this most beautiful vision of cycling perfection:
There were just so many things right about this sight which I assume was a mother and her three kids. Seeing them brought such joy to me that day as it does again as I write about this two days later.  When I first passed the quartet, one couldn't help but notice the wide smiles on all of their faces.  It was clear that they were all having a blast.  When I stopped to take a picture of them, I asked if they were from the city or just passing through.  "Captain Mom" replied, "Right here in Newark!"  to which I said, "Perfect! Even better!"

And before you reply telling me all about Bakfiets, cargobikes, and the Danish/Dutch minivan, I'm way ahead of you.  I just hope that sights like this become more common in New Jersey and all around the USA.  With gas prices climbing ever higher I feel its inevitable. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bike advocates fight back against AASHTO's recomendations


The other day I talked about how AASHTO (the American Association of Highway Transportation Officials) is looking to relax rules that require bicycle and pedestrian consideration in all roadway projects that receive federal funding. Well bicycle and pedestrian groups aren't taking this lying down. America Bikes, a coalition of bicycle, pedestrian and trail advocacy groups, recently wrote this letter to the US DOT in support of keeping the current bike/ped considerations in roadway projects.  I highly suggest that you take a look at that letter!

I know many cyclists often lament wanting to join addition groups, aren't interesting in advocacy and often just don't care.  Well, if these national groups weren't out there fighting for your rights to the road and for the road to be built to better consider your needs, its clear to me that your ride would be much less enjoyable, possibly even illegal.  As such, give a thought to joining one or more of the following organization who are all members of the America Bikes coalition:

Adventure Cycling Association
Alliance for Biking and Walking
America Walks
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
Bikes Belong
International Mountain Bicycling Association
League of American Bicyclists
National Center for Bicycling and Walking
National Complete Streets Coalition
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Safe Routes to School National Partnership

Closer to home here in Jersey think about these groups:

The New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition
The East Coast Greenway Alliance
Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

AASHTO seeks to weaken considerations for bikes & peds

This news has hit the bike/ped universe rather hard today.   Fortunately, us bike/ped folks are hitting back equally hard.  In a letter to the Federal Highway Administration the American Association of Highway Transportation Officials asked for a "change" in FHWA bicycle and pedestrian policy. The part of interest is below.  Emphasis mine, I quote:
FHWA Guidance for Bicycle and Pedestrian Provisions of Federal Transportation Legislation, updated on April 4, 2007, states the following:  
"Due consideration" of bicycle and pedestrian needs should include, at a minimum, a presumption that bicyclists and pedestrians will be accommodated in the design of new and improved transportation facilities. In the planning, design, and operation of transportation facilities, bicyclists and pedestrians should be included as a matter of routine, and the decision to not accommodate them should be the exception rather than the rule. There must be exceptional circumstances for denying bicycle and pedestrian access either by prohibition or by designing highways that are incompatible with safe, convenient walking and bicycling.
The law clearly states that bicycle and pedestrian facilities shall be considered where appropriate. However, FHWA guidance has embellished the law from “consider where appropriate” to a must include condition unless not doing so can be justified. Furthermore, it states that “there must be exceptional circumstances” for not providing such facilities. This regulation presents an undue burden on states to justify exceptional circumstances when not including provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians in a project. Recommendation: FHWA should rescind their guidance on the meaning of “due consideration.”
WalkBikeJersey contributor and Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Advocacy Director, John Boyle asks:
What does this mean? The FHWA improved its due consideration language to reflect the values of a good complete streets policy. AASHTO is not happy with that language and wishes to exclude any suggestion that they must justify not accommodating bicycles and pedestrians in transportation projects. Justification for exclusion is perhaps the most important element of a complete streets policy-that you just can't say no because the project manager says so. Note that the Federal language says "should" not "shall"

So basically AASHTO is attempting to further weaken a flimsy federal policy for accommodating bicycles and pedestrians. That doesn't sound supportive and bicycle and pedestrian advocates deserve an explanation.
I couldn't agree more.  This is such a shame and a surprise since from where I stand, it seemed that AASHTO was coming around to the side of of bicyclists and pedestrians.  However, Executive Director of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Kit Keller, had this to say today :
AASHTO officials seem to be oblivious to blossoming interest and innovation of local governments across the land that want walkable, bicycle-friendly communities. AASHTO's recent pronouncement contributes to a growing sense of the irrelevance and irrationality of applying state mandates to local road conditions and needs. Hence the development of new tools like the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.
Whoa!  You tell 'em Kit!  I knew there was a reason why I liked you.

For more analysis on this, see this great post from Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Star-Ledger covers cycling at Rutgers Newark

Thanks to Streetsblog's Headlines I was made aware of this great story from The Star-Ledger covering bicycling at the Rutgers, Newark campus.  It's great to hear that the University is trying to take a more proactive role it getting its students, faculty and staff to think of the bike, with the use of transit, as a viable means of getting to and from campus.

As a two time alumni of Rutgers, New Brunswick, it would be great to see the Department of Parking and Transportation get more proactive in promoting cycling in and around the five campuses in New Brunswick.  I personally think that while the bus system is fantastic between the campuses, there is really no reason why many of the trips currently taken by bus, couldn't be done by bike.  And reducing bus demand would obviously reduce costs to students in an era of out of control student fees. I think to do this Rutgers should look to hire a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator (hint, hint - I know some one who would be perfect for the job - wink, wink).  And it would be really, really special to see Rutgers try to become a League of American Bicyclists, Bicycle Friendly University.

Come on Jack!  I know your up to it!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sightline Daily asks, "Who Bikes?" using Pucher, Buehler data

Eric De Place, of Sightline Daily put together a few very informative charts in his post that goes a long way to help visualize the numerical reality of who is bicycling in America.  Most notable is the pie chart above that goes far to disprove the false notion that most cyclists are "rich, yuppie elitists."  In fact, that is far from the truth with the poorest making up the largest portion of cyclists but with people of all economic fortunes almost equally represtend.
The data for Da Place's article comes from a new report from our very own John Pucher of Rutgers University and his protegee Ralph Beuhler who is now at Virgina Tech.  The report title "Analysis of Bicycling Trends and Policies in Large North American Cities," take a look at trends in number of large American cities and takes special focus on New York City highlighting its achievements as well as its failures.
I highly advise that you take a look at both De Place's short blog post and Pucher and Beuhler's report.

Monday, April 04, 2011

This Sunday - Branchbrook Park Cherry Blossom Bike Tour!

Sorry that WalkBikeJersey has been quite for a while.  I was living the dream that is walking and bicycling in Germany for the past two weeks while visiting my great family over there.  I thought I would blog a little.  I even brought my laptop.  But it was a futile effort.  The bike riding I did in Southern Germany was otherworldly (glass smooth streets with no motor traffic, beautiful small farm villages dotted between picturesque forests and fields of green, all with the snow covered Alps as a backdrop and all with perfect weather to boot!).  I swear there were several times that I literally smacked myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  And when I wasn't walking or biking through the German countryside, I was either partying or staying up late talking with my family which is, hands down, much better than tapping at a keyboard particularly when it will be at least another 2 years before I get to break bread with them once again.

So anyway, The Brick City Bike Collective is having their Cherry Blossom Bike Tour once again.  It looks like the timing for the Cherry Blossoms will be right on schedule as the weather has been cool and the event is a little earlier this year.  Last years event was one of the best fun bike rides I attended in all of 2010.
I was hoping that this years event could also be turned into New Jersey's "Tweed Ride" for those that voluntarily wish to play dress-up but my suggestioned was turned down for this year.  Well too bad!  I'm going to turn this into my own personal Tweed Ride.  To find me on Sunday, just look for the the sharply dressed lad on the 3-speed. 

Check out BCBC post for more details about the event and directions on how to get there.  And for a taste of the event, check out this video short from the good folks at StreetFilms that attended last years event.