The big melt was on, temperatures were rising into the 60s, school was out for teachers’ professional development, and student bicyclists flocked to Plainsboro’s Village Center.
During a short stop on a bike for coffee and a muffin on that day just over a week ago, a very interesting phenomenon was observed: the numerous bike racks in the back parking lots were completely deserted. Not to worry, the benches in front had bikes locked to them, and the bike rack next to the entrance of the new library was packed!
Nice job, Plainsboro! We in West Windsor look forward to our revitalized Main Street Route 571 being able to attract our fair share of bicyclists out for a nice ride.
In the meantime, there’s a lesson for all: if bike racks are visible (so generally, near entrances), they’ll be used much more than if they are hidden away.
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What happens when a motorist hits cyclists? This video looks back at the impressive media and public response to a road incident in the Netherlands between a reckless driver and the three cyclists he struck while they were stopped waiting for a traffic light. The motorist was arrested and temporarily lost his driving license. He would have lost it permanently had he not passed an expensive exam to retain it. It was in the news for months. Even though no one died. It’s certainly not the sort of public (or media) response we see here.
We’ve spotted a couple of Mercer County Community College summer programs with biking and hiking themes:
Among the 2011 Summer Sports Camps is Mountain Biking Camp (co-ed, ages 8-16)
July 25-29 / August 8-12 This camp focuses on some of the fundamental skills required in cross country mountain bike racing as well as the mechanics and general maintenance of bicycles. Campers will learn skills associated with mountain bike racing such as proper body position for maximum balance and control while navigating through narrow trails and terrain. How to properly go over obstacles such as small log climbs. Along with these skills campers will also learn proper racing etiquette as well as how to take care of their bike with some basic maintenance.
For more information, go to Mercer County Community College Youth Summer Sports Camps or call 609-570-3779.
For those interested in more traditional bicycling and in hiking, there’s Camp College, which offers Friday Fun Days, with this one: Bike & Hike (AGES 9-13)
July 29, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Enjoy a day trip to Mercer County Park where we will ride the trails and experience the beauty of the area on two wheels. We’ll explore the red, blue, and yellow trails then find a shady spot for our picnic lunch. Before we hit the dirt we will have a brief overview of bicycle safety, trail riding, and bike maintenance. You must provide your own bike, lock and helmet (No open toe shoes). Tuition and fees: $60
For more information and registration, go to Camp College or call 609-570-3311.
West Windsor-Plainsboro Community Education presents a Roadside Bicycle Maintenance class this spring.
This 90-minute class will give you the confidence to take that longer bicycle ride. You will be introduced to basic tools and equipment and how to use them: how to repair a flat tire, how to re-install a chain, how to overcome a bent wheel on a ride (to get you home), plus have your questions answered.
Instructor: Van Delfino, Bicycle Rack, Hightstown
1 class on Monday, April 4th 7-8:30 pm
HS South Room 900C $20
According to a study of the economic impact of traffic calming measures in San Francisco, “Sixty-six percent of the merchants believe that the bike lanes have had a generally positive impact on their business.”
The WWBPA believes that building a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community benefits everyone, not just bicyclists and pedestrians. Now there’s even more proof, coming from Portland, OR.
In a recent email, Greg Raisman of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, notes:
“Portland has had 6 of the past 12 years with zero bicycle fatalities. 2010 and 2008 were two of those years with zero bicycle fatalities. However, that’s only one part of a more important story.
Our experience has been similar to other multi-modal cities. As cities work to make walking and bicycle riding more safe, it remains true that bicycle and pedestrian safety significantly improves. However, the greatest safety benefits are realized by people driving cars and trucks.
In Portland, the numbers speak loudly. Over the past 25 years, the City has seen a long-term, downward trend in total traffic fatalities that is being reduced approximately 6 times faster than the rate for the US. In 1986, there were 79 traffic fatalities, with 61 motor vehicle deaths. In 1996, there were 59 total traffic fatalities with 41 motor vehicle fatalities. In 2010, we had 26 total traffic fatalities with 11 motor vehicle fatalities.”
So there you have it – building a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community not only raises property values, it creates safer streets for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Everyone wins, not just bicyclists and pedestrians.
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The challenge comes from Freewalkers.org, the group that started last year with the NJ2NY50 walk, 50 miles from Metropark to Penn Station. Participants can walk the Greenway at any time during the year or take part in some or all of the three walks the group is organizing: the Great Canal Walk (Trenton to New Brunswick along the D&R) on April 9; the Tween Walk (New Brunswick to Metropark) on April 16; and The Big Walk (Metropark to New York City) on May 21.
WWBPA member Leo Donner is grateful for a street light that was replaced and a pedestrian signal that was repaired at the intersection of Vaughn Drive, Alexander Road and Bear Brook Road last year. “During dark nights this winter, the lighting has really helped, he writes. “I’ve noticed, both as a pedestrian and driver, the enormous benefits of visibility.”
But, he adds: “The lighting did not prevent a recent close call for me, though. I was crossing the intersection, starting with a walk signal, and was nearly hit by two cars, one turning left from Vaughn and the other turning right from Bear Brook. Given the current sequencing of signal lights at that intersection, they both had green lights.”
He says the real solution is a change in the signal sequencing to provide a phase in which turns into the crosswalks are forbidden by signal while a walk light is active (e.g., by keeping the Vaughn/Bear Brook Light red and having a variable “No Turn on Red” sign illuminate simultaneously). But in the meantime he’d like to see two things:
(1) Signs at the intersection currently state “Yield to Pedestrians,” instead of “Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk.” State law was recently changed the “yield” to “stop,” and I’ve noticed signs have been changed elsewhere in West Windsor. Could this also be done at this intersection, where it is especially necessary?
(2) Improved police enforcement. I rarely see police at this intersection during rush hours.
The WWBPA supports his suggestions and will be following up. We’ve previously made recommendations for the intersection and would like to see pedestrians get a small head start across the road.
Cycle tracks, also known as buffered bike lanes, are placed between the curb and on-street parked cars, sometimes with a physical barrier and other times with a painted buffer area. These lanes are a key feature of the Princeton Junction Redevelopment Area plan, but were removed from the Transit Village area in favor of the shared space concept.
This is an interesting essay about a doctor’s dilemma persuading an elderly patient to stop driving. The relevance is that such strategies (and in only a few states, laws) can only be effective if there are alternatives such as public transportation (including resources provided through local senior centers and other groups) as well as pedestrian infrastructure.
Another pedestrian was struck and badly injured in West Windsor, this time near the Princeton Junction train station. The victim suffered a head injury, among other injuries, and was taken to the hospital. You can read more here, and please pass on any other details you know.
The WWBPA wishes both recent victims a full and speedy recovery.
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How many crashes have you had where your helmet prevented a more serious injury?
1 crash – 31%
2 crashes – 27%
3 or more crashes – 20%
I’ve crashed, but my helmet never touched anything – 16%
I’ve crashed, my helmet hit but did not help prevent a more serious injury – 1%
I’ve never crashed – 4%
The results are from about 2,200 responses to the January 13, 2011 question: