Saturday, June 1st is National Trails Day, where people all over the country will be getting out to enjoy and build up our trails. We’re lucky to have so many great trails in the parks and along the waterways in NJ and if you go out any time from sunrise to sunset, the crowds will tell you how popular they are for both recreation and transport. Where do you wish we had a trail where we don’t? I know the extension of the Trolley Line Trail as part of the Knight Trail is one item on the wish list of the students in West Windsor and Plainsboro. Where else would a trail help you to get around more safely and comfortably, or help you to get out and about walking and hiking?
For those wanting to get out on National Trails Day, here are some of the events happening in our area in celebration of National Trails Day:
At our Annual Meeting, Paul Kiczek compelled us with the story of Bobby Kennedy’s 50 mile walk in 1963 which inspired him to start the Freewalkers – a group advocating fitness, adventure and community by organizing epic hikes for everyone. Paul mentioned an NPR story on the 50th anniversary hike that his group undertook in honor of that original adventure. Luckily for us, Paul is located right here in New Jersey so it’s easy and extra fun for us to participate. Several folks from the WWBPA took part in a Trenton to Princeton hike on March 24th. The next event is The Great Canal Walk – Trenton to New Brunswick – on April 6th. Check out the Freewalker’s website for more details on upcoming walks as well as the history of long hikes.
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Check out the innovative pedestrian crossing in New Brunswick: Not only does it blink when a pedestrian is crossing, it shows the speed of approaching traffic. It’s even solar-powered. A possible solution for Sherbrooke and Route 571?
On April 9, walkers will head from Trenton to New Brunswick following the East Coast Greenway, which uses the D&R Canal towpath for that stretch. Participants can walk all or part of the route, which is about 35 miles.
There also will be a repeat of the 50-mile walk from Metropark to New York Penn Station on May 21. This walk, called NJ2NY50, was a huge success in 2010 and is scheduled this time for May 21st.
Take part in both and you could essentially walk across New Jersey! More information will be on the East Coast Greenway’s website closer to the events. But it’s not too early to start training.
Two New Jersey towns are working on some big bicycle-friendly improvements.
New Brunswick is close to building a 1.9-mile bikeway. As WalkBikeJersey explains, it should help residents of Highland Park reach the train station and will connect Rutgers’ Douglas campus with downtown, among other things. The bikeway will go from the intersection of Lafayette Street and College Avenue near the Route 18 John Lynch Bridge at its western terminus, to George Street and Bishop Street at the edge of the Douglas Campus to the east. From Lafayette Street, the bikeway would run on College Avenue to Huntington Street, then down George St to Albany St (NJ Rt 27). At Albany, there will be a spur that will run south to the train station while the main route would head north to Neilson Street. Then the bikeway would head east along the entire length of Neilson Street to Bishop Street, where it will turn right for a few hundred feet back to George St. This is more than just paint on the road, and one feature will be on-street, contra-flow bike lanes. See BikeWalkJersey’s blog for more details.
Hoboken is developing a bicycle and pedestrian master plan that includes narrowing extra-wide car lanes as a way to calm traffic and adding bike boxes, which put cyclists in front of cars at a red light for safety reasons. There also would be more police enforcement of speed limits and of laws requiring motorists to yield to pedestrians. The plan is now open to public comment. Read more on Streetsblog.
The WWBPA will be watching developments in both communities with interest and to see what might work in West Windsor.
Finally, an idea from Pennsylvania that can be easily copied: writing to our elected officials in Trenton and Washington asking for effective legislation to ensure that those motorists who injure, maim or kill pedestrians and cyclists are properly punished. This letter notes that all too often, they don’t face criminal charges.