Thursday, March 2 by joegorun
The 2017 WWBPA Annual Membership meeting will be on Thursday, March 9 at 7 pm in the West Windsor Municipal Bldg, Room A. Members and non-members are encouraged to attend. Guest speaker TBA.Comments »
Building a Bicycle and
Pedestrian Friendly Community
Thursday, March 2 by joegorun
The 2017 WWBPA Annual Membership meeting will be on Thursday, March 9 at 7 pm in the West Windsor Municipal Bldg, Room A. Members and non-members are encouraged to attend. Guest speaker TBA.Comments »
Tuesday, August 16 by joegorun
Many of you probably prefer and feel safer to bicycle, run and walk on a multi-purpose path rather than on the edge of the road. Go for a walk with your dog. Say hi or wave hello to others you pass by. Let’s do this for Conover Rd. Submit your comments online by Friday, August 19 at:http://www.westwindsornj.org/conover-road.html and select ContactUs Form.Comments Off on Bicycling, Running and Walking. Oh My!
Monday, May 30 by joegorun
Join us for our annual Learn to Bike Event on June 4th at 9am-12:30pm, for children 5+ yrs old, at the WW Farmers Market. Required: working bike, helmet, current member of WWBPA. (Can buy a helmet from WWBPA for $10 and join WWBPA at LtB). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Pre-registration is suggested via email.Comments Off on Learn to Bike Event – June 4
Tuesday, May 17 by joegorun
Bring your bike to the West Windsor Farmers Market Saturday, 5/21, and stop by the WWBPA tent for our annual bike repair clinic. We’ll teach you how to do minor repairs on your bike so it is safe to ride for the summer season.1 Comment »
Monday, March 21 by joegorun
Please join us tonight at the WW Twp Council’s work session to support bike lanes and safe crossings on Canal Pte Blvd, 7:30ish pm at the WW Municipal Center, after the regular business session. The proposed repaving and reconfiguration from the current 4 lanes to 3 plus bike lanes is far from a done deal – there is an active contingent who believe that roads are for cars and bikes do not belong on them. We need your help tonight, hope to see you there!Comments Off on Canal Pte Blvd Hearing – ~7:30pm 3/21
Tuesday, March 15 by joegorun
Please come celebrate WWBPA’s 10th anniversary on Thursday March 17, 7pm at the West Windsor Senior Center, 271 Clarksville Rd, West Windsor Township, NJ 08550. Raffle, cake, awards and hear the latest happening in West Windsor.
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Wednesday, February 10 by joegorun
A big thank you to those who shovel the snow from the walks and bike parking at the Princeton Jct train station!Comments Off on Bike Parking – PJ Train station
Friday, October 2 by JerryFoster
Let’s re-visit the great war between the executive branch (NJDOT) and the legislative (NJ Title 39) and judiciary (NJ Supreme Court Polzo v Essex County ruling) branches with regard to bicycling on the shoulder. Everybody does it, but is it legal?
NJDOT’s excellent 2011 Bicycling Manual recommends “riding on the right side of the road or on the shoulder.” NJDOT’s circa-1996 Introduction to Bicycle Facilities notes, “Advanced bicyclists are best served by bicycle compatible streets and highways which have been designed to accommodate shared use by bicycles and motor vehicles.” Paved shoulders are considered one form of bicycle compatible roadway.
So NJDOT encourages it, but does that make it legal? NJ Title 39:4-14.1 states: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”
Wait a minute, isn’t a bicycle a vehicle? Not in NJ – human-powered devices are specifically excluded from the legal definition of vehicle in 39:1-1: “”Vehicle” means every device in, upon or by which a person or property is or may be transported upon a highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks or motorized bicycles.”
So what, it’s the same thing while riding in the shoulder, right? Not really, as the shoulder is specifically excluded from the “roadway” legal definition in 39:1-1: “”Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.” So a cyclist riding in the shoulder would not be granted all the rights and responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle.
Aren’t we nitpicking? Motorists can’t legally drive in the shoulder anyway – cyclists can’t very well have the same rights and responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle while riding in the shoulder, as it would also be illegal.
Exactly! If a cyclist has the same rights/responsibilities to follow the rules of the road, s/he should only ride in the travel lane, not in the shoulder.
NJDOT’s lawyers, presuming to encourage only legal cycling behavior, may well point to the sentence structure of 39:4-14.1. It implies that every person riding a bicycle *outside* the roadway (e.g. on the shoulder) would not have the same rights/responsibilities as the driver of a vehicle, but that doesn’t make it illegal, since it’s not explicitly prohibited, like it is for drivers of a vehicle in 39:4-82.
Under this interpretation, it’s a cyclist’s choice whether to ride in the roadway, and be legally bound to follow all the rules of the road, or live free on the shoulder. Just think, no rules, no responsibilities – bike against traffic, blow the wrong way through stop signs, it’s all legal if you’re a cyclist on the shoulder. Under this interpretation, cyclists have an implicitly legal option to ride on the shoulder that isn’t offered to drivers of vehicles.
So which is it? Illegal or legally available w no rights/responsibilities? According to the NJ Supreme Court in Polzo v Essex County, “Bicyclists do not have special privileges on a roadway’s shoulder. Indeed, a bicycle rider is directed to ride on the furthest right hand side of the roadway, not on the roadway’s shoulder. The Motor Vehicle Code does not designate the roadway’s shoulder as a bicycle lane.”
So, as far as the law with regard to cyclists is concerned, the NJ Supremes ruled that a cyclist “is directed” to the roadway, “not on the roadway’s shoulder.”
The Polzo ruling was in 2012 – why is NJDOT still encouraging cyclists to ride on the shoulder? Shouldn’t shoulders with sufficient space be designated as bike lanes? What ever happened to the Complete Streets policy?
4 Comments »
Thursday, September 10 by joegorun
On Sept 12 the West Windsor Bike Fest 2015 will be held at Community Park. 7, 11, 20 and 40 mi ride options. Rain date Sunday, 9/13. See http://www.westwindsornj.org/recreation/ for more information.
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Thursday, July 16 by joegorun
Bring your used bicycles Sept 19 to the WW Farmers Market. WWBPA will be collecting used bicycles to donate and support the Trenton Boys and Girls Club. Tax deductible donations.
Comments Off on Collecting Used Bicycles for Donation.
Monday, May 18 by joegorun
Saturday, May 16 by joegorun
On Sunday, May 17, 2015, if you are an adult and have always wanted to learn how to ride your bike, this is your day.
Join the WWBPA for its annual Adult Learn to Bike Event. The event is for adults 18 or older who want help to learn how to ride a bicycle. Meet at the upper Vaughn Parking Lot (the newly created lot near the PJ train station) at 10:00 a.m-12pm. Pre-registration/RSVP via email is suggested; you must bring a bike in good working order and a helmet (or you can purchase a helmet if needed). Cost is $40 per family and free to current members of WWBPA as of June 1, 2014. Email email@example.com and watch our Facebook page and website (wwbpa.org) for late changes.Comments Off on Adult Learn to Bike – Sun May 17 10am
Thursday, April 9 by joegorun
On Sunday, April 26, 2015, at 1pm the WWBPA Student Advisors will be leading a bike ride for anyone 12 years or older beginning at the East Parking Lot along Edinburg Rd in Mercer County Park. 13 or 19 mile roundtrip options. Check in at 12:45pm. Bike Ride 1-3pm. Free event. No pre-registration required. Helmets and a functioning bicycle are mandatory. Organized by the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance. Please fill out and print the waiver. Anyone under 18 must have the waiver signed by a parent or guardian.
Download and Print: Community Bike Waiver April 26, 2015
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Friday, February 13 by JerryFoster
First, the car expense – according to the AAA’s Your Driving Costs 2014 report, operating a small sedan costs $7930/year, while a SUV runs $12,446/year, including gas, maintenance, depreciation, insurance, loan interest, etc.
What about biking expenses? Elly Blue, author of Bikenomics, refers us to transportation economist Todd Littman’s 2011 research, which gives a range of $100-$300 per year for operating costs, which is comparable to AAA’s numbers, since it includes depreciated cost of the bike, etc.
Startup cost varies a lot, like the variation in the cost for driving a small sedan and a SUV. Here’s hypothetical cases for a high quality and an economical setup, based on online prices from the same national outdoor recreation equipment company:
High Quality – $2153
Economical – $543
Typical bike maintenance is easy enough to learn that many people do it themselves – fixing a flat tire, lubing a chain, adjusting brakes – a web search shows numerous how-to videos that are very instructive. Blogger James Schwartz assumed $50 per year for maintaining a $1500 commuter bike.
Clearly, bike commuting saves a lot of money if you can actually reduce the number of cars you own, since you can buy multiple high quality new bikes and gear every year for much less than the operating costs of even a small sedan. But it is very difficult in the suburbs to go car free, so what if you only have one car? Then the savings will only be based on reduced miles driven, which saves on gas, maintenance, tires and depreciation.
According to the AAA report, the operating costs (gas, maintenance, tires) for a small sedan is 16.3 cents/mile, and 23.8 cents/mile for a SUV. If your commute is 2 miles each way, like mine, then 4 miles roundtrip x 240 working days/year equals 960 miles biked each year.
The 960 mile reduction in driving would save $156.48 (operating costs) plus $33.60 (reduced depreciation), totaling $190.08 for a small sedan, and $228.48 (operating costs) plus $48.96 for (reduced depreciation), totaling $277.44 for an SUV. This is in the range for paying for the annual bike costs, but hardly a killer incentive by itself. It will help if your employer offers you the IRS Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit – you can be reimbursed up to $240 each year for bike commuting expenses.
Of course you might choose to use the commuter bike for other errands, such as small grocery runs, to the bank, post office, etc. Since only 15% of our trips are for commuting, that leaves a lot of other trips that could be done by bike – e.g. 40% of all trips are 2 miles or less, and if you take the bike/walk trips out of the denominator, 69% of car trips are 2 miles or less.
Of course, you’ll save more in indirect costs, for example if you substitute biking for a gym membership, that could save about $1000/year. And the potential for saving money on health care is huge, since you may be much healthier with regular activity.
Perhaps most important, it’s fun! Of course, you’ll also be saving the world by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, since car exhaust is the single largest contributor in our area to CO2 emissions.
Last, longtime WWBPA readers might notice a strong resemblance between the bike commuter pictured above and the bike lane fairy, who hasn’t made a public appearance recently. Could this be why? Please join us at the New Jersey Bike and Walk Summit next Saturday, February 21 – we’ll keep an eye out, you never know when you might see her next.Comments Off on Bike Commuter Journal – Cost of Bike vs Car Commuting
Saturday, January 10 by JerryFoster
Five years after Montclair and NJDOT adopted New Jersey’s leading Complete Streets policies, this week Mercer County became the first to have all roads covered – state, county and every municipality. Congratulations to Mercer County for reaching this very important milestone toward making our communities more bicycle and pedestrian friendly!
Complete Streets policies require road improvements to support biking, walking and transit for users of all ages and abilities as the rule rather than the exception, and provide for incremental improvements without mandating retrofits.
Complete Streets benefit everyone, e.g. better safety (not just for cyclists and pedestrians, but mainly for motorists), higher property values (see walkscore.com) and improved security (more eyes on the street). Those who walk or bike feel better, are healthier and live longer – students who bike or walk to school score better on standardized tests.
Realizing these benefits will take time, as responsibility for our roads is divided between the state (for federal and state roads), counties and municipalities. Even a short trip can include roads and/or bridges under the care of many jurisdictions – for example, biking around Princeton’s Carnegie Lake involves traversing 3 counties and 5 municipalities, plus a state and maybe even a federal road.
What does a Complete Street look like? It depends – Complete Streets are not cookie-cutter. All of these pictures might be considered examples in some sense, while each may have additional possibilities to make them even more complete.
See if you can pick out which picture shows which Mercer County municipality – Trenton, Hamilton, Ewing, Hopewell Township, Pennington, Hopewell Boro, Princeton, Lawrence, West Windsor, East Windsor, Hightstown and Robbinsville.Comments Off on Mercer First to Complete Streets (Policies)
Monday, November 24 by JerryFoster
There’s no marked crosswalk, but there is a streetlight. Or, you could go to the painted crosswalk at the opposite edge of school grounds, but there is no street light and no way to manually activate the blinking crosswalk lights that are set on a timer for the students.
Also, you’d then have to walk back to Hawk Drive to continue home.
What would you do? Cross under the street light without a painted crosswalk or at the painted crosswalk without light? See the picture for an approximation of the differences.
Please join us at the Twp Council meeting tonight, Monday November 24, 2014, to ask for an improved painted crossing with a streetlight, pedestrian-activated warning lights and turning on the existing speed display signs at all times, not just during school times.Comments Off on Safer Pedestrian Crossing of Clarksville at Hawk
Wednesday, November 12 by joegorun
I’ve been commuting to work in the Plainsboro and West Windsor area on and off for 8 years, and bikes were always a central focus of my life. Post-college, the bike was replaced with the car, shuttling from one commitment to the next. With increasing work responsibilities, I lost sight of what matters most. I started focusing on convenience over happiness and status over health. After a few years the longer car commutes, office lunches, and stress started taking a mental and physical toll. Gym memberships collected dust, and bigger pants couldn’t solve the problems any longer. Suddenly I didn’t recognize myself. A year ago I had an “awakening” and realized it was time for a number of changes, including a commitment to consistently commute by bike no matter what.
Today, it’s going well. As it turns out, this area is actually amazing for biking to work, to the store, or just for fun. Often it’s actually EASIER than driving. You have your choice of bike lanes, bike paths, or even roads, and it’s getting even better thanks to the hard work of many people. More importantly, there is a growing tolerance on the roads, and most drivers are also closet bicyclists just waiting to start bike commuting as well. You can even expand your biking with a simple bus or train excursion.
My commute brings me past the beautiful fields of Stult’s Farm, down the boulevard-esque bike lanes of Southfield Road, and even through Mercer County Park, where I routinely pass dozens of deer. I’ve also rode in rain, floods, and snow, and enjoyed every minute. I take in the beautiful scenery and admire the changing seasons, all from the seat of my bike.
Riding a bike is more than just exercise or cost savings; it’s fun too. It’s the high gear to happiness!
Lifebycycle@hotmail.comComments Off on Bike Commuter Journal
Friday, September 19 by JerryFoster
Consider the following scenario – you’re stopped in traffic by a long line of cars waiting for the light – this being New Jersey, you move up the shoulder, where there’s plenty of room. Unfortunately, a car turning left through a gap in the waiting cars hits you – who gets the ticket?
Would it be any different if you were riding a bike up the shoulder? Who would get the ticket then?
What if you were riding your bike in a bike lane instead of a shoulder – now who gets the ticket?
The motorist or cyclist on the shoulder would get the ticket, since shoulders are not for traveling – the cyclist in a bike lane would “only” be injured, not ticketed, since s/he has legal right of way.
This scenario is based on a real life incident in Chatham, where a cyclist on the shoulder was hospitalized and ticketed for unsafely passing cars on the right when he crashed into a car turning left into a drugstore driveway. As the Polzo v Essex County ruling confirmed, “a bicycle rider is directed to ride on the furthest right hand side of the roadway, not on the roadway’s shoulder.”
So cycling in the travel lane or a bike lane provides legal right of way, but what about safe operating conditions?
The NJ Supreme Court ruled that travel lanes and shoulders do not need to be maintained for safe cycling – “Public entities do not have the ability or resources to remove all dangers peculiar to bicycles.” “Roadways generally are intended for and used by operators of vehicles.” “A ‘vehicle’ is defined as ‘every device in, upon or by which a person or property is or may be transported upon a highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks or motorized bicycles.’”
Bike lanes offer safe operating conditions – “A public entity’s designation of a portion of the roadway as a bicycle lane would alter the generally intended use of that part of the road and would require the public entity to maintain it in a reasonably safe manner for those purposes.”
So here’s the score:
The court provided NJ cyclists with another option to gain safe operating conditions for specific roadway or shoulder segments – notify the maintaining entity (state, county or municipality) that you routinely cycle on a specific road or shoulder. “Plaintiff offered no evidence that the shoulder of Parsonage Hill Road was designated as a bicycle lane or routinely used as one.” “We need not address here the standard of care that might apply under the Torts Claims Act if a roadway’s shoulder were routinely used as a bicycle lane and the public entity responsible for the maintenance of that roadway was on notice of that use.”
Will adoption of a Complete Streets policy provide a future court sufficient evidence of intended use by cyclists? If so, cyclists would enjoy a better standard of care for travel lanes, though perhaps not as good as for bike lanes.
2 Comments »
Friday, September 12 by JerryFoster
Now our 4th annual survey, WWBPA volunteers counted 343 bicyclists and pedestrians at 3 locations around the train station on Wednesday September 10, 2014 between 5-8pm. Last year the count was 334, but the numbers are not directly comparable, since we counted at 5 locations last year. Comparing the same locations at the same times, biking and walking increased 24% over last year (which had decreased 18% from the year earlier). The weather cooperated this year, only 80 degrees and mostly sunny, in contrast to last year’s hot (90 degrees) and humid day.
Once again we participated in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, an effort to accurately and consistently measure usage and demand for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
Our 2014 findings:
- Cranbury/Wallace/571 (Rite Aid) – 28 bike, 113 walk
- Scott/Alexander (Arts Center) – 34 bike, 106 walk, 2 others
- Vaughn/Alexander (bus stop) – 18 bike, 42 walk
Total: 343 people, 80 who bike, 261 who walk, 2 on motorized wheelchairs or skateboards
Thanks to our volunteers!
Traffic along 571 in downtown West Windsor flowed freely except from 6:00-6:04pm, likely due to 2 different trains from NYC arriving within 5 minutes of each other.
Friday, August 29 by JerryFoster
The NJ Supreme Court ruled in 2012 re the county’s potential liability for surface defects on the shoulder that a cyclist was riding on when she crashed and subsequently died (Polzo v Essex County). The ruling generated concern that cyclists riding on the shoulder may be treated differently by the legal system than those in a bike lane, but after reading the ruling carefully, I believe that concern is unfounded.
The court found:
1. The depression caused the tragic fatality.
2. “The Motor Vehicle Code provides that a “roadway” is the portion of highway generally used for vehicular travel; the “shoulder” borders the roadway and is for emergency use; and “vehicles” are not bicycles. Bicyclists are directed to ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. While they may be inclined to ride on the shoulder, they have no special privileges if they do.”
3. “Public entities do not have the ability or resources to remove all dangers specific to bicycles.”
The ruling is clear to this point – cyclists riding on the road or shoulder may not expect a standard of care specific to bicycles. Cyclists may be dismayed by the NJ Motor Vehicle Code, but there is equality between the roadway and shoulder re the standard of care. “No special privileges” does not mean “at your own risk.”
They then examined if the actual depression was a dangerous condition under the Tort Claim Act, noting “Under the TCA, a dangerous condition means a condition that creates a substantial risk of injury when such property is used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used.”
They might have stayed with the logic that cyclists riding on the shoulder have no special privileges, because the law says shoulders are not part of the roadway, and only roadways are generally intended to be used by bicycles under the law (to the extent bicycles are an intended use even though they’re not vehicles).
But no, they said:
4. “Plaintiff offered no evidence that the shoulder was routinely used as a bicycle lane, which might implicate a different standard of care.”
So a shoulder that is “routinely used as a bicycle lane” might be expected to be held to a “different standard of care,” though presumably not to the extent as to “remove all dangers specific to bicycles.”
Since evidence of routine use may determine generally intended purpose and trigger a different standard of care, concern re a distinction between shoulders and bike lanes is unnecessary, in my not-a-lawyer view.
Perhaps the plaintiff’s lawyer should have introduced NJDOT standards for bicycle compatible shoulders as evidence of intended purpose, but in any case Essex County now has a Complete Streets policy that clarifies that bicycling is an intended purpose for county roads.
While cyclists are rightly concerned about the NJ Motor Vehicle Code, the suit was primarily about tort claims, which used the MVC only to determine intended purpose, and even finding none with regard to shoulders, ignored it in favor of a standard of evidence of routine use.
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