NJ Transit and Bikes

Wednesday, August 31 by silvia

While other transit agencies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to greatly expand bicycle access to their trains, New Jersey Transit has quietly changed its policy regarding bicycles on trains that will severely limit those wishing to take their bicycles with them on their next trip, our friends at WalkBikeJersey report.

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. This new policy also does not make a distinction between full-sized, standard-frame bicycles and folding bikes. Read the full report here.

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Learn to Bike Class

Tuesday, August 30 by silvia

learn to bike classThe West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is holding its second “learn to bike” class of 2011 to get more kids off training wheels and enjoying the freedom of two wheels.

We use a safe and effective method that teaches kids to balance on their bikes without pedals or training wheels. Then the pedals go back on and we review how to start and stop. No clutching the back of the seat! Children generally learn pretty quickly, though they may need more practice with mom and dad the next day.  It works! We’ve already taught more than 50 kids. Watch the video.

This session is being held at the West Windsor Farmers’ Market on Sept. 24 and is being offered to WWBPA members only. Not sure if your membership is current? You should have received an acknowledgment letter from us in the past year. Or ask, and we can check our records.

Please help us spread the word about this great class with friends, neighbors and colleagues. (They just need to join before signing up a kid. Membership forms are on the website, and Google checkout is an easy payment option. Or see us at the farmers’ market on Sept. 10.)

Preregistration is a must. Email wwbikeped@gmail.com to sign up a child.

One last thing: This class requires many volunteers to help with everything from accepting registration forms to taking off pedals and training wheels. Interested in helping? Email us at wwbikeped@gmail.org. We’ll happily accept as much or as little time as you can offer.

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Watch the Crosswalks!

Saturday, August 27 by silvia

Responding to concerns voiced by the Township Council, the West Windsor police are enforcing the new state law which protects pedestrians by making it mandatory for motorists to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. They also want pedestrians to stay in the crosswalks.

The law say motorists are not allowed to move again until the pedestrian is more than one lane away.  (On a two-lane road, this means until the pedestrian has crossed the road.  On a four-lane road, this means until the pedestrian is in front of traffic going the other way.)

Erring motorists are receiving tickets and points.

Police are also citing pedestrians who do not stay in the crosswalk (where one is available) when crossing a road, especially pedestrians who cross two streets at once in a diagonal line.

Pedestrians also shouldn’t assume that motorists see them

Everyone–motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians–treat each other with courtesy and enhance road safety for all!

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New Bike Racks at the Arts Center

Thursday, August 25 by JerryFoster

The next time you visit the Arts Center, check out the colorful new bike racks on the side of the new building! A big thank you to the township, Arts Center board, and especially to BikeFest, which kindly paid for them. Nice!

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Clear Out Unwanted Bikes on Sept. 10

Tuesday, August 23 by silvia

Are unused bicycles cluttering your garage or basement? Bring them to the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance’s bike drive for Trenton Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange, which refurbishes donated bikes and sells them to support the Boys & Girls Club’s programs.

Bicycle donations will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the West Windsor Farmers’ Market, Vaughn Drive parking lot (off Alexander Road). Bicycles of all ages, style and condition are gratefully accepted. The supply of adult bikes is particularly low. All donations are tax deductible.

Bike Exchange is an all-volunteer organization that collects, conditions and sells used bicycles. It is located in the Capitol Plaza Shopping Center at 1500 N. Olden Avenue in Ewing, NJ, (near Lawrenceville and Trenton) and is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It has donated about $200,000 to the Boys & Girls Club since starting in 2009. See www.bikeexchangenj.org for more information.

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Plainsboro Lowers a Speed Limit

Monday, August 22 by silvia

Plainsboro’s township committee voted last month to lower the speed limit on Edgemere Avenue, in a residential area in the center of town and next to a school, from 35 mph to 25 mph. The change will take effect later this summer.

Getting a speed limit reduced is no easy feat, but it has become easier because of a change in the law in 2008. As the Princeton Packet noted, township engineers now can change speed limits without DOT approval. They just need approval from their engineering department and governing bodies. This should encourage all of us who want speed limits reduced on other roads.

Edgemere Avenue is getting roadway improvements, including repaving, and new speed limit signs will be installed followed by the police conducting an educational enforcement campaign.

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Tour East Aurora’s Main Street

Saturday, August 20 by JerryFoster

East Aurora, NY is a pleasant town outside Buffalo with a Main Street that might offer West Windsor a few pointers. See the photos and color commentary, and let us know if you think these design elements might work for our Route 571 Main Street!

Main Street, also US 20A, is a busy road on a Friday just past 5pm, but the roundabout seems to keep the cars moving. From this western end, Main Street extends east a little over a mile, similar to West Windsor’s Rt 571 from the tracks to about South Mill Rd. The roundabout has stores and driveways, including fast food outlets.

Looking east from the roundabout, notice the center two-way left turn lane, a key feature of the Route 571 design. Also notice that the bike lanes are maroon-colored pavement, to make them stand out, and that there is on-street parking on both sides. A new Rite Aid is on the left (familiar?) and just off camera on the right is the Sunoco station (might feel like home already!), below.

Note the nice street sign for the Sunoco station. East Aurora is known for a number of things, including being the home town of Millard Fillmore (he was a U.S. President, if you were wondering), the birthplace of Fisher-Price toys and a center of the 19th-century Arts and Crafts design movement. They take their signage pretty seriously as a result, though they apparently couldn’t get Sunoco to redesign their sign to fit the Arts and Crafts style font that graces many other signs around town, as well as their town’s web site.

Moving east, notice this building, currently a bistro (it’s been a number of other things in the 7 years we’ve been visiting regularly – our daughter’s camp is nearby). They have taken away parking spaces in front of their building to put in an outside dining area. Nice! There are also a number of bikes parked in front of the dining  area. I noticed a lot of bicyclists around town, including a spandex-clad road warrior in the bike lane and more casual bicyclists riding on the sidewalks.

Moving east, the road narrows to 2 lanes, but still includes colorized bike lanes and on-street parking. This shot is in front of the post office, so you’ll notice the drive-up mailbox, but also the attractive sidewalk and lamppost planters. Hidden behind the sidewalk planter is an artsy bike rack and a bench is just visible behind. Perhaps the road sign gives us an indication of what it takes to get a main street like this?

Still moving east, this picture shows the  railroad underpass. Notice the bicyclist on the sidewalk, and the people in the car waving to him; people are very friendly in East Aurora. The bicyclist and I had a nice chat, since he was very interested in why I was taking so many pictures. He alluded to some of the controversies that the town went through to get their main street, including a big debate about the number of on-street parking spaces (the snide comment about the street signs wasn’t just my editorializing). He couldn’t entirely grasp why I liked it so much. Please leave a comment below with your opinion!

Just under the railroad tracks and past an intersection, a two-block traditional downtown area has stamped pavement colored to look like bricks. This space includes the center left-turn lane even though there are no driveways to turn into, and maintains the bike lane (nary a bike symbol, sigh). But what is really interesting is the ADA compliant on-street parking on the right and across the street, where the sidewalk is ramped up at the two ends to meet the curbed sidewalk area.  There were several of these facilities along the roadway. Of course West Windsor’s main street is not planned to have on-street parking, so this type of ADA parking would not be applicable. What is significant is how they solved the issue of making an extremely wide roadway pedestrian-friendly by using the stamped pavement.  It’s not exactly the same, but a little similar to using these sorts of treatments in the shared spaces of West Windsor’s transit village: The message of pedestrian-priority space is conveyed.

Just past the bricked area, the roadway changes back to two lanes plus on-street parking again, and the CVS pharmacy anchors the eastern end of Main Street. Note the speed limit sign: 30mph, much more pedestrian-friendly than the proposed 40mph in West Windsor’s design.

What might be improved in this design? There is a lack of tree canopy, but that’s likely because the trees are all newly planted. It would be interesting to know the history of why the two-block bricked section is so wide. Google Street View shows it with asphalt still during construction, but perhaps there used to be angle parking, or way back perhaps even a trolley line from Buffalo.

Another issue is the bike lanes. No casual bicyclists seemed to be using them: The group of teenagers, the dad pulling a kid-trailer, the various others were all bicycling on the sidewalk.  This is likely because the bike lanes aren’t very wide, and place bicyclists between the heavy traffic and the parked cars, right in the way of opening doors (the “door zone”), which is dangerous.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Let us know what you think!

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Making Traffic Engineers Bicycle-Friendly

Wednesday, August 17 by silvia

Traffic engineers often seem to treat bicycles as an afterthought when planning roadways. Or they do something for bicyclists with the best of intentions, but the result just doesn’t quite work.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has a remedy for this. Since 2005, MDOT has been putting traffic engineers, planners and public officials behind the handlebars for a view from the other side of the windshield. Hundreds of transportation officials and decision makers have received training in bike planning, but perhaps more importantly, experienced the streets from a cyclist’s perspective. And yes, that means they get on bikes and take to the streets.

Many haven’t been on a bicycle in decades so they don’t all feel comfortable with this. And then they might be taken down a four-lane, high-traffic arterial road without bike treatments.

You can read more about this here, and then imagine how different West Windsor and New Jersey might look if we did this too.

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Traffic-Free NYC

Monday, August 15 by silvia

Head to New York City this Saturday, Aug, 20, for the last of its three Summer Streets festivals and experience the city in a totally different way.

On these Saturdays, Park Avenue and connecting streets from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park (including the underpass under Grand Central!) are closed to all motor traffic from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and are turned into a people-friendly venue on which to bike, skate, run, stroll and just hang out.

Here’s a report from WWBPA members Norma and Tim, with pictures they’ve taken over the years:

We first learned of Summer Streets four years ago when it began and have been returning each year for at least one and sometimes two or three events. In 2010, we took the Staten Island Ferry with our bikes and joined dozens of others in a ride up the West Side bikeway and then across town to City Hall where we started up the route first on Lafayette Street and then onto Park Avenue all the way up to 72nd Street, where we headed west into Central Park. Along the way, we passed dance troupes, Juan Valdez and his burro at the free coffee stand, swimming pools made from large metal containers with a “beach area with cabanas” on the side, through the tunnel at Grand Central Station and on up to the park. All manner of bike, tricycle and other people-powered vehicles wheeled gracefully uptown and downtown, and everyone– police officers, riders, joggers, and walkers–were in great high spirits and having a ball.
After riding for a couple of hours, we dropped our bikes off at the Bike Valet around 23rd Street and headed into the “Picnic Area,” where Whole Foods had set up booths to dispense goodies from yogurts to gelatos, cheeses to juices and all manner of free yummies. As 1p.m. approached, we headed back to the West Side and rode back to the ferry and started the boat and car trip back to Princeton Junction.
This year we decided to leave the bikes at home, ride the train in and take advantage of the “Free Bike Rentals” from Bike NY. We took our helmets and bike gloves in, as the thought of shared helmets was too much to contemplate. Once up from the depths of Penn Station, a brisk stroll east to Park Avenue got us to the pick-up station at 25th St. As we stood in line, we learned that the “free” portion is limited to 60 minutes, after which they charge $1/minute. The idea is to let everyone have a chance and to get a constant supply of bikes coming back. Within 20 minutes, we were on street bikes and heading uptown. The hour is enough time to go the majority of the route, but left no time to visit the entertainment venues, so next year, our own bikes go in with us. We did have a great time and the bikes provided were quite good.

To promote safety, the DOT has a “free helmet” program where you sign up and receive a brand-new helmet along with assistance in getting it correctly fitted. There are free bike repair areas and places where they provide training on how to ride. The whole experience is very bike and pedestrian friendly.

Thanks, Tim and Norma, for sharing this!


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Rogers Preserve Trail Work

Sunday, August 7 by silvia

Part of the Rogers Preserve (a former Christmas Tree farm, with entrances on Clarksville Road, Landing Lane and Berkshire Drive) was down to a single track until the WWBPA and some neighborhood volunteers took on the weeds. (Other parts had been recently mowed by the township.) Now there’s room to run!

Rogers Preserve volunteers

Some of our volunteers

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The Ribbon Is Cut

Thursday, August 4 by silvia

Enjoy a few photos from Saturday’s ribbon-cutting for the West Windsor Historic Bike Trail, a project by West Windsor resident Paul Ligeti, with a supporting cast of his Scout Troop 66. The kiosk that explains this 11-mile loop is next to the World War II memorial in Dutch Neck. Read the article in the Trenton Times too.

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A Bicycle and Pedestrian Path on South Post Road

Tuesday, August 2 by silvia

Construction is expected to start in late August or early September on an eight-foot-wide multi-use path along the Mercer County golf course on South Post Road from Village Road West to Conover Road. Most of the cost is covered by a grant from the NJ Department of Transportation.

The path will let kids bike safely to the ball fields at the corner of Conover Road and give rowers at the Caspersen Rowing Center a safe place to run.

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March 9   ******* Annual Membership Meeting ******* 7 pm – WW Municpal Bldg (Main Mtg Rm A). Guest Speaker TBA.

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March 12  WWBPA participating at the St Anthony’s Health Fair 1:30-2:30pm in the gym at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Hightstown.

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