Four Princeton-area residents participated in a weeklong bicycle ride in October from Philadelphia to Fredericksburg, Va. to promote the East Coast Greenway (www.greenway.org), a 2,900-mile urban version of the Appalachian Trail that links cities from the Canadian border in Maine down to Key West in Florida.
The four, Robert Russo of Belle Mead, Dan Rappoport of Princeton and neighbors Melinda Posipanko and Silvia Ascarelli of West Windsor, bicycled on everything from trails to quiet streets to roads with plenty of traffic, and across the National Mall in Washington. Together, they raised more than $11,000 for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the nonprofit organization that is working with state and local partners to put more of the route on trails and quiet roads.
The 325-mile ride is an annual event, but the location changes. The goal to ride one section of the East Coast Greenway a year (hence the name, the Week-a-Year Ride) and finish in Key West in 2019. The 2013 ride came through Princeton and West Windsor because the East Coast Greenway includes the D&R Canal Towpath from New Brunswick to Trenton.
“This annual ride provides an exploratory trip to experience the economic impact that off-road trails can and do provide to the different communities that we ride through,” said Robert Russo, who is the treasurer for the East Coast Greenway Alliance. “We get to meet with government leaders in the different states to emphasize the economic and health benefits of a growing off-road trail network.”
All 40-plus riders met with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who is considered the most bike-friendly governor in the U.S. By the end of 2017, 60% of the East Coast Greenway route in that state should be off roads. Overall, about 30% of the route is now off roads, and the vision is to get all of it away from traffic.
Dan Rappoport has participated in three of the four rides so far, only missing the first, from Calais, Maine to Portland, Maine. In 2013, the ride from Hartford, Conn. to Philadelphia took him past his childhood home in Cranford. Riding down the East Coast, he says, is his substitute for the dream of a cross-country bike ride.
The ride was Melinda Posipanko’s first multi-day tour. She loved how the Greenway crafts safe routes by connecting existing trails with quiet roads wherever possible. She was particularly impressed that the route did not go out of its way to avoid less fortunate neighborhoods in the cities and towns it passed through thereby enhancing the possibility that bike tourism will bring economic benefits to these areas.
Like the others, Silvia Ascarelli, a first-time east Coast Greenway rider, is taken with the vision of a route from Canada to Key West. While Delaware is making impressive strides with its off-road trails, she was equally wowed with the well-used network of trails in Maryland from Baltimore to Washington that made riding there a pleasure. For more about this year’s ride, read her blog, www.exploringbybike.wordpress.com
The 2015 version of the ride will pick up where this one ended, in Fredericksburg, and will end in Raleigh, North Carolina. This will be a more difficult ride than in previous years due to longer mileage and fewer greenway sections, so it will be geared toward advanced cyclists. Anyone interested in participating can email email@example.com for more information.
In the attached photo, from left:
Silvia Ascarelli of West Windsor, Melinda Posipanko of West Windsor, former New Jersey resident Ed Majtenyi, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Robert Russo of Belle Mead, Dan Rappoport of Princeton
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Our final family bike ride of the season was a big hit: five dozen bicyclists of all ages stretched along the D&R Canal towpath from Turning Basin Park at Alexander Road to Brearley House in Lawrence, plus seven walkers who joined at Port Mercer Canal House. We may have caught one of the last days of summer to boot!
Many thanks to all who took part in our eight-mile ride — residents of West Windsor, Princeton, Lawrence and beyond — and to Terhune Orchards for providing apple cider and apples to quench our thirst at Brearley House.
With the help of our trio of number pickers, the WWBPA gave away a number of items in a drawing, from tools for repairing flat tires to safety gear such as lights, reflective tape and a reflective vest. Plus we all learned about the almost-finished 20-mile Lawrence Hopewell Trail, Brearley House and its New Year’s Eve bonfire night, Princeton’s sharrows and the Princeton Freewheelers. How exciting to learn that there will eventually be bike access from the D&R Canal towpath to the Princeton battlefield — another destination to explore!
Join the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance for its sixth annual Community Bike Ride on Oct. 6 (rain date Oct 7) as we head down the D&R Canal towpath to discover how it connects to other bicycling and walking routes.
Our eight-mile ride will leave from Turning Basin Park (Alexander Road and the canal) and head to Brearley House in Lawrence (located on the 20-mile Lawrence Hopewell Trail). We’ll stop there for refreshments and some give-aways, plus hear about the Lawrence Hopewell Trail and the East Coast Greenway before turning back.
This is the last in our series of free family-friendly bike rides for 2012. Meet at the park at 2:15 p.m.; the ride leaves at 2:30 p.m. No preregistration is necessary; just bring a bike in good working order and a helmet. Children under 13 should be accompanied by an adult.
This year, we are adding a walking option, from Port Mercer Canal House. Gather at the parking lot at 2:15 p.m. (departure time is 2:30 p.m.) for the 1.3-mile walk to Brearley House. Because of road construction, the parking lot is only accessible from Route 1, not Princeton.
The ride is so-sponsored by the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, Sustainable Lawrence and the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee.
About two dozen people, many of them new faces, joined us on Sept. 15 for a five-mile loop from Community Park down the Trolley Line Trail to Penn-Lyle Road and past High School South back to the park. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
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Our annual bike drive for Bike Exchange and the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton collected 25 bikes, some new inner tubes and other accessories. Thanks to everyone who brought a bike or two to the farmers’ market on June 30!
This is the most unusual cycle we collected. Any ideas of what it’s best suited for? It’s certainly not a simple trike! And the fat, solid rubber wheels up front mean it takes more energy to get going than on bike tires.
Missed our bike drive and don’t want to wait until next year? You can drop off your donation at Bike Exchange (Capital Plaza Shopping Center, 1500 N. Olden Ave, near the Trenton Farmers’ Market), or a number of area bike shops including Jay’s and Kopp’s in Princeton, Halter’s in South Brunswick and Bicycle Rack in Hightstown. Or watch for other groups that are having a bike drive.
Bike Exchange is an amazing all-volunteer organization. It began collecting, refurbishing and selling bikes in early 2009 and has a large selection of good-quality, low-cost used bikes for all bike riders, 3 years to 100 years old, from occasional weekend rider to serious road rider. Stock depends on what’s donated, of course. In just six months this year, it has sold 1,038 bikes (229 in June alone). Through mid-June, the amount raised was $27,000, and it all goes to fund the after-school programs of the Boys & Girls Club. That’s a busy nonprofit!
Even cooler: there are now Bike Exchanges in Newark and Plainfield.
And Bike Exchange has supported the WWBPA’s “learn to bike” classes with a few loaner bikes to make sure new riders have the right-sized bike every step of the way. Thank you!
But that was a good thing. WWBPA Advisor and Past President Ken Carlson organized a bike advocacy event in his new hometown of Somerville, Massachusetts. The challenge was for a cyclist, a T-rider (subway), and an auto to race from Davis Square in Somerville to Kendall Square in Cambridge. Ken drove the car.
The cyclist finished first, in 20 minutes. The T-rider came in second, in 29 minutes. Ken drove the course in 32 minutes. (And yes, Ken usually bikes to work.)
New York City did the same contest this week (after all, it is National Bike to Work Week) and once again the bike won. The cyclist traveled from Williamsburg to SoHo in morning rush hour in 15 minutes. The subway took 26 minutes and driving, 41 minutes.
As for West Windsor? Think how long it takes you to drive all the way around the station to the Vaughn Drive lot (unless you’ve been commuting so long that you have a Wallace Road permit) and to walk to the platform in the morning, and then to get out of the Vaughn Drive lot and over the roundabout on the way home. Your bike would be right by the tracks and probably would get you home in a similar amount of time, no sweating involved. And let’s not even think about the time you spend (or intend to spend) at the gym doing cardio. Then the bike will surely win!
Read more about Ken’s race at Metro.US and Boston.com, and tell us about your bike commute.
May is National Bike Month, and the week of May 13 is Bike to Work Week. A number of events are planned in West Windsor and neighboring communities; one (or more) is sure to be right for you. We’ve also included a few for walkers. (Note that not all events listed below are organized by the WWBPA)
May 5:West Windsor Walks to the opening day of the farmers’ market. Join us at 8:50 a.m. in the parking lot at the back of Maurice Hawk Elementary school for a leisurely stroll of just over a mile. We’ll start walking at 9 a.m. and are excited that the route this year will take us along some stretches of sidewalk that weren’t there last year. Kids will be challenged by a game of “I Spy.” People in wheelchairs and kids in strollers are welcome.
May 6: Bring your child (up to age 10) and bike to a free bike skills class at Plainsboro’s Founders Day. Princeton’s police department is sponsoring a separate bike skills class that includes a bike obstacle course on May 19; call 921-2100, ext. 1848 for details.
May 11-12: Adults aren’t being left out. This skills class, offered through the West Windsor Recreation Department, is for those who want to boost their confidence when riding on the road. Cost is $50, but the WWBPA will reimburse $25 of the cost for members. Plus we’ll cover the other $25 for the first five members who write a review of the class that we can use on our website.
May 12: Buy a bike at Bike Exchange in Ewing and get a free helmet from Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association. Learn more about this and other GMTMA events during National Bike Month here.
May 14-18: National Bike to Work Week. Register for a free T-shirt and a raffle with GMTMA.
May 15:Bikers Breakfast at the Princeton Junction train station, sponsored by the WWBPA and Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association, starting at 6 a.m. Grab a drink and a snack on us. Want a bike locker? We’ll tell you how to get one.
May 16: The WWBPA is supporting one of three area Ride of Silence events to honor cyclists killed or injured on the roads. Meet at 6:45 p.m. in the Municipal Center parking lot; the silent one-hour ride will leave at 7 p.m. We will have a West Windsor police escort and a funeral hearse courtesy of Mather Hodge. We suggest you wear a black armband and turn on your front and rear lights. We will stick together for the entire 10-12 mile route. Last year, more than 12,000 cyclists took part in events around the world.
May 19: Tour historic Trenton with the Trenton Cycling Revolution. More information about this 15-mile ride and registration at www.trentoncycling.org.
May 26: BikeFest, West Windsor’s bicycling extravaganza, with rides for people of all abilities, from 1.5 miles to 40 miles. Register at www.westwindsorbikefest.com. Say “hi” to the WWBPA after your ride!
June 16: The WWBPA holds a free “learn to bike” class for kids who want to get off training wheels at the West Windsor Farmers’ Market. Watch the video of last year’s class.Note: This is a members-only event.
We heard it, as did some Plainsboro residents. So please join us and your neighbors at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1 at the Plainsboro Library to discuss your ideas for better biking and walking in the community.
Where do you and your family want to ride or bike, and what would make it easier? The WWBPA wants to partner with people who live, work, or even go to school in Plainsboro. Together we’ll explore some ways to make Plainsboro a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly community.
Please help us spread the word to your friends and neighbors. Hope to see you there!
Representatives from the Mercer County Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will present plans for the Old Trenton Road (CR 535) Bridge replacement project and answer questions at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14 in Room D (downstairs) of the West Windsor Municipal Building.
Plans for the replacement of the bridge over the Assunpink Creek call for a turn lane and signal controlled intersection with Robbinsville-Edinburg Road (CR 526) southbound and a turn lane at Edinburg Road northbound. The turn lane will allow the smooth movement of traffic as well as a queuing lane for those cars turning between the two signals.
The design provides a single lane in each direction with a dedicated left turn lane which, due to long queues of left turning vehicles at both intersections, would extend across the new bridge. The design is documented in the West Windsor and Mercer County Master Plans available at the Municipal building.
The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance wants to ensure the plan also is friendly for bicyclists and pedestrians.
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It seems counterintuitive. You’d think that riding your own bike would be safer than riding a shared bike. But that’s not the case. In Paris, London, and Washington, D.C., fewer people are injured when they use the new bike-sharing systems.
In London, no one was seriously injured or killed on the first 4.5 million trips on what the locals call Boris Bikes (Barclays Cycle Hire system), while about 12 people are injured for every 4.5 million trips on personal bikes.
And in D.C., the same thing happens: “While only seven bike-sharing riders were injured in 330,000 trips, on average, 13 people riding personal bikes are injured over the same number of trips. And bike-sharing riders suffered no serious injuries, while riders using their own bikes suffered injuries that were sometimes serious or even fatal.”
So why does this happen? Professor Norman Garrick of the University of Connecticut speculates that it could be shorter trips on shared bikes. Professor Ian Walker of the University of Bath (England) suggests bike-sharers might be less experienced and “stick to safer cycling behavior,” or they “could be more dedicated cyclists with an above-average skill level.” Garrick adds that the shared bikes themselves might be a factor, since they’re more visible (often bright red or yellow) and slower.
About 20 people from West Windsor and neighboring communities headed earlier this month to Freehold and the Metz Bicycle Museum, a museum filled with what must be more than 100 bicycles collected over 60 years by a former Cranbury resident who, we learned, came up with the idea for those scalloped cement blocks to edge gardens.
Most of us used part of the Henry Hudson Trail, a well-used, shaded and paved path on what was once a freight railroad line. We were accompanied from Marlboro High School by a number of local residents who gave us some extra local flavor: Freehold High School, Bruce Springsteen’s alma mater (we heard a few stories about him!); the Battle of Monmouth monument; and lunch on Main Street.
A smaller group of hardy cyclists peddled from West Windsor to Freehold (about 22 miles). They had the bright idea to stop for ice cream on the way home!
Our youngest cyclist, 9-year-old Ashley, hitched her bike to Dad’s some of the time. We learned she’s a budding fashionista with real affinity for shoes. So guess what her favorite bike had?
The WWBPA had something for everyone in May. Where did you see us?
On May 7, we led our second annual walk to mark the start of the farmers’ market season. About 20 people, from grandparents to grandchildren, joined for a walk from Maurice Hawk School to the Farmers’ Market at the Vaughn Drive Parking Lot. The first stop was at the Arts Center on Alexander Road where Greening of West Windsor (GroWW) was holding an Herb Sale to benefit the plantings at the Arts Center. We observed the new sidewalk along Alexander Road from Scott Avenue to Wallace Road under construction, and noted that on next year’s walk we would use it. Crossing Wallace at Alexander instead of at Scott is much safer because cars have a much greater sight line to the pedestrians. We proceeded to the station, under the tracks, and along the pathway to the Farmers’ Market, where the WWBPA handed out maps and held a drawing for a T-shirt, a reflective vest, a set of lights, a set of ankle bands and a couple of Share the Road decals.
As part of National Bike to Work Week, we joined Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association for a chilly “bikers breakfast” at the station on May 17, offering food, drink and encouragement to cyclists and others. We hope some are ready to get back on a bike, even if not to get to work.
On May 28, we were at BikeFest, talking to participants about what we do and offering ideas on where to ride.
Our “Ride of Silence,” to honor cyclists killed or injured on the roads, was delayed by rain until June 1. We rode through West Windsor, led by a police car and funeral hearse. If you missed us, check out the photos.
Wednesday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.
The Nutley Museum
65 Church St., Nutley, NJ 07110
The book (128 pages; 70 photos) provides an extensive narrative on the history of cycling in the Garden State–beginning with the formation of clubs in the 1880s; to regional cycling activity in Trenton, Asbury Park and Plainfield; to the era of grand velodromes in Newark and Nutley; and concluding with the current Tour of Somerville. It also features details on the careers of golden-age cycling heroes such as Frank Kramer, Alf Goullet, A.A. Zimmerman and Willie Honeman.
For more bicycling history, join us for a ride along the Henry Hudson Trail, with a stop at the Metz Bicycle Museum on Sunday, June 5. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
Join us for a bike ride along part of the Henry Hudson Trail, beginning and ending in Marlboro, with a stop in Freehold for lunch and a tour of the unique Metz Bike Museum, housing more than 2,000 items, including 125 of the rarest bicycles, childrens’ antique toys, gadgets, and mousetraps! If there’s time, we may check out some Springsteen sites in town.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
11 a.m. to about 3 p.m.
Cost: $10 adult (children under 12, $5) for admission to the museum. We’ll collect cash on the day.
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org. We must know how many people will join us, as the Metz Bicycle Museum tour requires at least six people and can only handle a maximum of 30 people at a time.
Meet at 11 a.m. at the Bicycle Hub bike shop in Marlboro, where you can park you car. We estimate the route is about 8 miles each way.
The Bicycle Hub of Marlboro is located on State Highway 79, one mile north of County Road 520 (toward Matawan) in Marlboro township. When using a GPS type navigation system use “239 State Highway 79, Morganville, NJ 07751.
West Windsor has a number of bicycle and pedestrian-friendly plans that will be funded during the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget (including the capital budget) is to be introduce at the April 11 Township Council meeting, followed by a public hearing and adoption later this month.
This is what’s been proposed (but items still could be cut). Please let officials know that you support these plans!
An extension of the Dinky Line trail, filling in missing pedestrian connections on a route parallel to the Dinky Line between Vaughn Drive and Route 1. This would be funded through the township’s sidewalk extension program, but the WWBPA hopes it will be treated as a multi-use trail, providing cyclists with a safe alternative to Alexander Road (and eventually extended over Route 1).
An extension of the bike lanes on Edinburg Road, from Village Road East to the entrance of Mercer County Park. This would mean a continuous bike lane from the intersection of South Mill Road and Route 571 (close to a crossing of the Trolley Line Trail) down to the park entrance and almost to Old Trenton Road. According to the capital improvement budget, design work would be done in August and September, followed by engineering work and the preparation of bid documents, and then the actual bidding. Construction is anticipated for August to November 2012.
A traffic light at Canal Pointe Boulevard and Meadow Road. The WWBPA last year supported a letter from a Canal Pointe resident calling for traffic lights (both letters are here) and called for a road diet to help make the road safer. This traffic light is a step in the right direction, but we would like to see other recommendations made in a recent study. Design and engineering work for this was funded two years ago, and the budget would provide the second $75,000 for construction. Construction is planned for between August and October of this year. The budget also calls for funding engineering work for a traffic light at Canal Pointe and Carnegie Center Boulevard that would be installed in another year.
More bicycle and pedestrian improvements are planned in the following five years of township’s six-year capital program.
The bike-lane extension program through 2016 calls for adding bike lanes along North Post Road between Woodmeadow Lane and Village Road West; Village Road West between the Windsor Ponds Development and Quakerbridge Road; Village Road East between Old Trenton Road and South Lane; Alexander Road between Wallace Road and Route 571/Princeton-Hightstown Road; and Harris Road between Alexander Road and Clarksville Road.
The sidewalk-extension program through 2016 calls for sidewalks on Cranbury Road between Sunnydale Way and Route 571; South Mill Road between Village Road East and Edinburg Road; Millstone Road between Cranbury Road and Plainsboro Township border; Cranbury Road between Clarksville Road and Van Nest Park; Clarksville Road between Cranbury Road and Princeton Hightstown Road; Rabbit Hill Road between Route 571 and Bennington Drive; North Post Road between Clarksville Road and Village Road West; Conover Road between Ginnie Lane and Aldrich Way; North Mill Road between Clarksville Road and Route 571.
What’s missing, in the WWBPA’s opinion, is any mention of completing the sidewalk on Route 571 between Clarksville and Wallace roads. This should be a priority for our downtown and should be done as soon as possible. Watch our video to see just how few gaps there are!
We encourage the township to use money for sidewalk repairs and intersection upgrades to fix a couple of the problem spots in the next 12 months and to consider installing the missing sidewalks for our downtown without waiting for the yet-to-be approved and financed overhaul of Route 571.We know this is an “interim” measure until Mercer County reconstructs the road, but “interim” can be a very long time. It’s also unlikely that the sidewalks would move if the road is reconfigured.
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Join us April 9 from 10 a.m. to noon, when Bike New York comes to Train the Trainers for our West Windsor Bikes: “Lose the Training Wheels” session at the Farmers’ Market on May 21, when we’ll teach children to ride bikes without training wheels.
We’ll start our training session at the West Windsor Library and then head outside. Please email us at email@example.com so we can know to expect you and contact you if plans change because of bad weather.
Click here to read about the Balancing First Method.
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The guide, created through a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to give Safe Routes to School practitioners, teachers, school administrators and others the necessary background information to fully understand the positive benefits of teaching bicycle and pedestrian education in the classroom, and to provide these audiences with easy access to currently available curricula. The guide and its accompanying inventory are organized into descriptive categories that will help in choosing the right curriculum for specific classroom needs.
We just have to share this heart-warming story of a small town that built a camp for cyclists pedaling through (often on the TransAmerica or Lewis and Clark trails). It all came about because one resident realized the business they could bring to this Montana town.
“All the bike riders passing through were like gold going by in a river,” that man, Bill White, said. “I started thinking about how to make Twin Bridges more than a place to get a cup of coffee.”
The result: residents raised funds to build a shelter in the park that would draw in riders, provide a free shower and a place to set up tents on the grass. Most riders in turn leave donations that cover the cost of utilities and cleaning supplies. And they spent money in town, which gave the local economy a boost.
Other communities haven’t gone as far as building a shelter, but they, too, are learning that bicyclists bring tourism dollars. Long-distance routes, mapped and (hopefully) signposted, are a magnet that everyone can profit from.
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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.