Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Next NJ BPAC Meeting on Thursday, September 8th

The following announcement comes from the good folks at the Voorhees Transportation Center, New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center at Rutgers University.  All concerned New Jersey residents are welcomed to attend.
This is a reminder that our next BPAC meeting is scheduled to be held on Thursday September 8, 2011.

What: NJBPAC Meeting
Where: Edward J. Bloustein School
33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 08901
Room 261

When: Thursday September 8, 2011,10:00am - Noon

For directions to the Bloustein School, please refer to the following link:

The Bloustein School is located a short walk from the New Brunswick rail station and encourages all to use public transportation to reach the school. Due to a change in policy earlier this year, the NBPA will no longer accommodate parking reserved in the building. If you do drive, public parking is available for a nominal fee at several facilities located close to the building. For more information, see:

We hope to see you at the meeting. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Thank you
To see the meeting agenda...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Delaware & Raritain Canal Towpath flooded just about everywhere

Oh no! Not again!

Record setting flooding of the Raritan and Millstone Rivers in NJ has undoubtedly left 20 miles of the D&R Canal impassible from Landing Lane in New Brunswick to Rt 27 in Kingston. Be prepared to use  on-road alternatives until further notice, even after the flooding recedes, as damage to the unpaved trail is likely to be extensive.  You can check out the East Coast Greenway Alliance Facebook page for updates.

Also, the canal towpath along the feeder canal that runs along the Delaware River from Trenton to Millford is also likely underwater in places.  Luckily, it seems that the flooding on the Delaware was not as bad as forecast by the USGS.

Monday, August 29, 2011

NJ TRANSIT "bikes on trains" access policy takes a major step backwards

Maybe NJ Transit should change that to, "The Way To Go Without Your Bicycle."

While other transit agencies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to greatly expand bicycle access to their trains, NJ Transit has quietly changed its policy regarding bicycles on trains that will severely limit those wishing to take there bicycles with them on their next trip.  Without any outreach or notification to bicycle advocacy organizations, NJ Transit is now restricting bicycle access to all of its stations that do not have a high-level platform, including the key Hoboken Terminal.  That ends up putting nearly half of NJ Transit's 163 commuter rail train stations out of reach for cyclists looking to take their bikes.  On some lines, a majority of stations are off-limits!    The new restrictive part of its bicycle access policy is as follows:
Cyclists and Segway users can only board or alight trains at a station with a high-level or mini high-level platform. For safety reasons, cyclists are not permitted to board or alight trains at a low-level platform, including Hoboken Terminal.
Oddly enough the following language still appears in the policy:
Cyclists or Segway users must be able to lift their bicycle or Segway up and down stairs while boarding and detraining rail cars.
The complete updated train access policy can be found here.

However, language found in updated train schedules is bit more vague leaving many cyclists confused. That language makes it sound like the use of high-level platform stations is optional and only recommended.
Bicyclists must board the train using a door marked with the symbol of accessibility, which in most cases are center doors requiring high-level platforms. For this reason, bicyclists should travel only to/from accessible stations, as indicated on the stick map.
This new policy also does not make a distinction between full-sized, standard frame bicycles and folding bikes.  As such it brings to question whether or not this policy is in violation of New Jersey Law 27:25-5a. Collapsible bicycles permitted on NJT passenger trains, that requires that owners of collapsible (folding) bicycles be allowed access to trains at all times.  This law states:
New Jersey Transit Corporation shall not, at any time, prohibit any person transporting a collapsible bicycle from passing or repassing upon any of the corporation's railroads operating rail passenger service.
WalkBikeJersey has heard of several accounts of people being denied access to trains at stations that have only low-level platforms.  There is even a story of a judge being denied access to a train on the Raritan Valley Line that he used to use with his bike to access his job at a correctional agency in Hunterdon County.  He now is forced to use his car instead.

WalkBikeJersey will be sure to follow this story in the future and will also make sure that it becomes a topic of discussion at the upcoming NJ Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee which is next week on Thursday, September 8th.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gran Fondo New Jersey postponed till September 18th

No refunds but those that can't make the new date can apply this year's registration fee to cover all of the registration of next years event.

I knew a hurricane named after my only sister would cause untold trouble.  Unfortunately due to the likely perfect timing and bulls-eye hit of the approaching Hurricane Irene, Marty and his team have decided to postpone the Gran Fondo New Jersey till Sunday September 18th.  Marty has this to say about their decision to postpone the event:

After coordinating and negotiating with the State Police, the 22 different municipalities through which we will be riding in Northwest New Jersey, and our volunteer support teams, we have made the decision to postpone the ride and all associated events until the weekend of September 18th - the ride itself will be on the 18th.

We realize that we are a “Rain or Shine” event, but a hurricane of the projected strength of Irene is unprecedented and brings with it a much higher level of danger due to forecasted torrential rains, high winds, and the potential for significant storm debris and flooding along the route. Our primary concern is the safety of both our riders, and our volunteers.

This has not been an easy decision to make, and we hope that you will understand the dilemmas we faced in making it.

Unfortunately for me, I will now not be able to participate in the Gran Fondo that I've been looking forward to and training for all Summer, as I'll be high in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State on the new date.  However, the information provided in the email or on the website does not mention any means for refunds, partial refunds or if refunds will even be offered or not. (Refunds will not be offered but those who cannot make the new date can apply their registration fee to next years event).  Also, since the date has been postponed by three weeks, there was no mention if registration would be reopened.  Again, one is likely to find more information and any other updates can be found at the Gran Fondo New Jersey Website.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tri-State: NJDOT to spend more on highways and less on bike/ped projects

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign blog, Mobilizing the Region is reporting of a progressive trend that sees a greater percentage of money being spent on new roadways and increased highway capacity, and less of fixing already broken roadways and on transit (check out their excellent and informative article here).

The percentage of NJDOT's capital program going to road capacity expansion has significantly increased in recent years.
Source - Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Included near the bottom of the Tri-State article is an overview of the loss of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects in New Jersey compared to the year before.  This year's loss in State bike./ped funding comes on the heels of loosing State funds for bike/ped projects for many years.  At this past year's New Jersey Bike/Ped Summit, I was told by very high authority, that NJDOT once had as much as $8 million in "Bikeways" funding compared to this years $3 million (note - I'm going on memory about the first number so I CANNOT definitively back that numbers up).

Tri-State even gave a run-down of the bicycle projects that will receive State funding and those that will go without.  Most notable, is the lack of funding for the New Brunswick Bikeway which would connect the College Avenue and Cook/Douglas Campuses as well as the New Brunswick Train Station.  While this project is expensive (it would also repave every road the bikeway is on), it also has the potential to see an extreme amount of use being that it would have provided a bicycling option for tens of thousands of college students, as well as faculty, staff and the other local residents.  The project is also 20 years in the making (YES!  20 years!), so it is extremely frustrating to see it left unfunded by the State.  It is not clear how the lack of State funding will effect this project or the others.

UPDATE - Driver Arrested! Bicyclist killed in 2nd Hit & Run on a bicyclist in two days

The Star Ledger reported on Thursday that the drive involved in this hit and run was arrested after police came to his home.  "Tips from the public led authorities to Sean Gieda’s home on Holman Court, in Bridgewater where they found a vehicle that had damage near the front passenger side headlight and a plastic garbage bag taped to the passenger side of the windshield."  We extend our condolences to the family of Ramiro Navarro who was the cyclist killed in this crash.

The Star Ledger reported on Tuesday August 16th of a second hit and run on a bicyclists in a mater of two days.  Even more unfortunate, this crash was fatal, happening on East Main Street in Bridgewater, NJ near the Somerset County Maintenance Garage between 2am and 6am on Tuesday morning.

Approximate location of the fatal hit & run on East Main Street in Bridgewater.  View Larger Map

Like the hit and run crash that happened on NJ Route 27 on Monday, East Main Street in Bridgewater (between Somerville and Bound Brook) is also a four lane road with somewhat narrow lanes, no shoulders and a 45mph speed limit. However having ridden on East Main Street many times to commute to work, I can say that the asphalt is in much better condition than Rt 27. Also, East Main Street doesn't carry the traffic volume of Rt 27 and it is questionable whether the road warrants four lanes versus two lanes with shoulders and maybe a center turn lane (aka a road diet).

As a cyclist with many thousands of miles and several decades of experience, and a League Cycling Instructor, the one roadway scenario that really sends a shiver down my spine is riding on four lane arterial roadways with no shoulders and high speed limits.  Despite my training, experience and current good fitness, I feel exceptionally exposed while riding on roads like this and do everything I can to avoid them but sometimes you simply have no choice.  Since most four lames roads like this could be reduced to three (2 travels lanes and a center turn lane) along with shoulders or, better yet, bike lanes without reducing the roadway's ability to handle an equal amount of traffic volume, is it possible that these two victims could have been saved their tragic fates?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Could a Missing Sidewalk have Prevented a Tragedy?

According to A man walking from work in Sicklerville, Winslow Township early Friday morning was a victim of a hit and run. Vance Banks, 27, was walking home from work along Sicklerville Road in Winslow Township just after 1 a.m.and was found in the parking area of Clark Associates along the 500 block of Sicklerville Rd. Bank is in critical but stable condition at Cooper Memorial Hospital.

The victim was struck by an outlaw motorist driving a 2003 to 2007 two-door red Honda Accord, which was traveling north on Sicklerville Road. The car should have right front damage and will be missing the rearview mirror from the passenger side, said police. Anyone with information about the hit-and-run should call police at 609-561-3300

View Larger Map

The map above shows the location of crash. Note that the adjoining cul de sac has sidewalks while there are no sidewalks on Sicklerville Road. It makes us wonder if the proffers that require sidewalks (which we wholeheartedly support) should be reworked in these situations. Could a cul de sac developer be directed to build 1000 feet of sidewalk on the adjoining main road instead of the 1000 feet in front of their lots?

We wish the Mr. Banks a speedy recovery and that the perpetrator in this case is found and convicted. We also hope that this is a wake up call for Winslow Township and Gloucester County to develop a comprehensive plan to complete a safe network of sidewalks so that other hard working people walking to and from work do not have wonder whether they are going to make it home alive.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Op-Ed: Dangerous NJ Rt 27 in Highland Park help leads to cyclist hit & run

MyCentralJersey is reporting of an early morning hit & run crash on Monday that left a Highland Park man in critical condition.  The crash happened on Raritan Ave (NJ Route 27) at Rolfe Ave.  This section of the State Highway is exceedingly difficult and dangerous for cyclists to navigate as the roadway is four narrow lanes, no shoulder, no center turn lane, poor asphalt conditions and is posted at 40mph which is regularly exceeded.

Approximate location of August 15th hit & run crash with cyclist. View Larger Map

I am personally familiar with this stretch of road and do all that I can to avoid it on my bike and even in a car due to what I perceive to be unusually hazardous conditions.  Fortunately for those that are familiar with the neighborhood, there are safe and quite parallel residential streets that one can choose to ride between Highland Park and Metuchen, which totally negate the need to for cyclists to use Rt 27 at all except for that last block if one's destination is in Rt 27.  Unfortunately these alternative routes are somewhat circuitous and are not immediately obvious to cyclists not intimately familiar with the neighborhood.

I have gone to several Middlesex County meetings suggesting that an alternative route to NJ 27 be marked for cyclists using simple and discreet MUTCD compliant signage between the towns of Highland Park and Metuchen.  Unfortunately the county officials needed to defer on this one since both the State Highway Route 27 and the local roads are beyond there jurisdiction.  However this issue is not beyond the scope of NJDOT.  If a roadway is obviously dangerous for cyclists to use as Rt 27 between these two towns and there is an alternative route using local municipal roads (in this case mostly in Edison), I personally feel that NJDOT is obligated to find a solution.

I understand that budgets are tight and staffing levels are low at all New Jersey State offices but that's okay.  I've already done half the work and have figured out routes on both the east and west sides of Rt 27.  All NJDOT would need to do is shoot me an email. Maybe together we can prevent another tragedy and maybe even get more people using bikes to travel in this area.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gran Fondo New Jersey to feature some of the best U.S. cycling roads

There are a number of good reasons why I refuse to take work outside of New Jersey.  Family, the shore, easy access to Philly / NYC (and great hiking too) but a big reason is because I found few places in this country that can top the quality and beauty of New Jersey's roadways for cycling.  The sell-out Tour de Long Valley on July 31st, organized by the David D. Hammar Foundation gave riders a good sampling of the best our state has to offer.  If you missed out on that ride, there is still another even "grander" opportunity.

On Sunday, August 28th you too can get a big taste of New Jersey's great roads by taking part in Gran Fondo New Jersey being organized by Marty Epstein owner of Marty's Reliable Cycles.  Marty told me that part of the reason behind his organization of Gran Fondo New Jersey is to put on full display how good cycling can be New Jersey.  I've review all three routes, (Piccolo - 43 miles, Medio - 63 and the 103 mile Gran) and can say without reservation that Marty and his team have chosen three, most spectacular and challenging routes. To accentuate the joy of riding there will be themed rest stops, challenging timed hill climbs, plenty of food and, of course, a finish line festival.

If you want to participate you'd better act fast.  Registration closes August 19th.  Marty also told me that he is already approaching 1,000 registered riders and that there is a possibility that he might reach the maximum number riders the event can handle.

I'll be there all weekend in Morristown.  Just look for the guy in the older Rutgers jersey with the red and chrome (now) vintage lugged steel Italian road bike!