Bike Commuter Journal – How Things Change, or Not

Friday, April 4 by JerryFoster

Please welcome Steve Kruse as our guest bike commuter this week – he chairs the Princeton Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and bike commuted from Princeton to Plainsboro through 2005. Steve joins us via an article he wrote almost 17 years ago, Two Wheels To Work, which appeared in the U.S. 1 Newspaper, May 28, 1997, used here with kind permission of author and publisher.

It’s great to get a view from last century, to see what has improved, and what hasn’t. Steve’s article mentions road conditions, policies, motorists both considerate and not, and several planned improvements to the area.

Steve noted that “New Jersey does not spring to mind as an especially bicycle-friendly place.” Is that still true? Maybe, but NJ DOT adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2009, so future improvements should include accommodations for biking and walking, transit users and those covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As our readers know, the state has jurisdiction over only the federal highways and interstates and a few other major arteries. Fortunately for today’s Princeton to Plainsboro bike commuters, Mercer and Middlesex counties, as well as Princeton and Plainsboro have all adopted Complete Streets policies – click here to see everyone in New Jersey who’ve adopted Complete Streets.

Significant improvements have also been made to onstreet bike lanes in West Windsor, which are beginning to form a network. Steve mentioned staying out of the “door zone” of onstreet parked cars on Harrison – Princeton’s shared lane pavement markings (“sharrows”), including on Harrison, guide cyclists (and notify motorists) to the safe lane position away from cars. Plainsboro continues to extend it’s network of paved multi-use paths. The League of American Bicyclists have designated West Windsor and Princeton Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Communities, and Princeton University earned New Jersey’s first Bicycle Friendly University award.

As you read Steve’s article, what do you notice has changed? What has not?

This post also appeared in On the Move, the blog for Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association.

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Celebrate Our Bicycle-Friendly Community on Saturday

Wednesday, May 23 by silvia

Bike Friendly Community West Windsor BronzeCome to Community Park on Saturday, when West Windsor will be honored during the BikeFest festivities for being New Jersey’s first bicycle-friendly community.

Jen Laurita will present the award on behalf of the League of American Bicyclists, a national non-profit organization that honored West Windsor with a bronze medal in September. BikeFest is one of the many reasons that the community was selected. Other criteria include educational events (such as BikeFest’s Bike Rodeo to teach good biking skills), infrastructure (the many bike lanes that have been added over the years) and government policies.

The award will be given around noon, after riders are back from their rides (anywhere from 1 ½ miles to 40 miles) and grabbing lunch and just as the DJ gets going and the kids take over the moon bounce and giant slide.

Stick around to applaud West Windsor! You also have a chance to win one of 10 $25 gift certificates from Halter’s Cycles on Router 1 in South Brunswick.

Not signed up for BikeFest? You can register here or on Saturday at Community Park. (Rain date is Sunday.) Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.

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Learn to Ride in Traffic

Wednesday, April 18 by JerryFoster

If you feel confident about your bike-handling skills but haven’t yet mustered up the courage to try road riding, this class is for you! WWBPA member and League of American Bicyclists’ certified instructor Les Leathem will teach a Traffic Skills 101 course at the Senior Center on Friday May 11 and Saturday May 12.

WWBPA members who complete the course will be reimbursed $25, and the first five members who write us an account of your experience taking the course will be reimbursed an additional $25!

Please see the West Windsor Recreation Division web site for course details.

 

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I Bike. I Walk. I Vote.

Thursday, September 15 by silvia

From the League of American Bicyclists: This year, around $700 million of Federal transportation funds, which in reality is less than 2% of total transportation dollars, will be spent on bicycling and walking.  In 2012 that figure might be a big fat zero.

We expect that in the next few days, Senator Coburn (R-OK) will ask Congress to eliminate the federal Transportation Enhancements program – the primary funding source for the past 20 years for bike lanes, trails, bike racks on buses, bike education etc.  This isn’t safe or smart; it’s not good for the economy or the environment; this is bad health policy and bad transportation policy. But they are going to try because they don’t think bicycling matters.

Even though bicycling projects create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects and cutting enhancements won’t impact the deficit – the money just won’t be spent on bicycling – some Members of Congress want to  force us backwards to a 1950s highway-only mindset: as if oil embargoes, congestion, smog, the obesity epidemic and climate change never happened.

Now is the time to Save Cycling, so we are asking you to contact your Senators and urge them to support continued funding for biking and walking. Don’t let them take away this vital investment program for smart, sustainable, safe transportation choices.

And as America Walks notes, the Transportation Enhancements program has also been the primary funding source for sidewalks, crosswalks, trails and more. If Sen. Coburn succeeds, it would mean an immediate end to funding for Transportation Enhancements.  It would also mean that our chances of sustaining any funding for bicycling and walking (including for Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails) in the long-term reauthorization bill would be more difficult.

West Windsor has gained numerous sidewalk extensions and bike lanes in recent years, and these projects haven’t been exclusively funded with local tax dollars. Let’s make America more bikeable and walkable. Let’s have complete streets — streets that work for all users.

Need an instant e- letter to send to our senators? Here’s one from People for Bikes.

Watch the League’s video.

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West Windsor Wins Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community Award

Wednesday, September 14 by JerryFoster

The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is very pleased to announce that the League of American Bicyclists proclaimed West Windsor Township a Bicycle Friendly Community, at the Bronze level.

This is the first time a New Jersey municipality received such an honor, the result of more than 10 years of effort on the part of many residents and with the support of the mayor, township council and county and state officials.

It could not have happened without the support of our members, who have demonstrated that they value a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community, both with their membership contributions and their time spent helping others to ride. As an all-volunteer organization, we appreciate our members’ willingness to help, whether it’s to write letters of support or to teach children to ride a bike for the first time.

This honor isn’t only for our officials and the WWBPA, but for all our community partners who help make bicycling happen. We especially thank BikeFest and our area bike clubs, who organize so many successful biking events, the SMART/JORBA volunteers, who maintain the off-road trails in Mercer County Park, and all the many individuals, organizations and businesses who have helped make West Windsor a better place for daily cycling, whether to work, school or the Farmers’ Market.

Finally, a special thanks to our intern, Kim Meersma, who worked with many people to gather the information necessary to put together a very detailed application.

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Are We a Bicycle-Friendly Community?

Saturday, July 23 by silvia

Bicycle Friendly Community logoWest Windsor’s government, with the help of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance, has submitted its application to become a bicycle-friendly community. The WWBPA is delighted and is excited to find out how we rate. We’re expecting to hear this fall.

What is a bicycle-friendly community? This is a program from the League of American Bicyclists that judges how a community fares across what it calls the Five Es: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. We believe West Windsor has made great strides in recent years by adding miles of bike lanes and creating the Trolley Line Trail. BikeFest is another important contributor to our bicycle-friendliness. The West Windsor Police, among other things, was a visible supporter of the Ride of Silence held in May. And of course, the WWBPA not only consistently advocates for bicycle-friendly roads but has installed bike racks and lockers and is constantly encouraging and educating cyclists (and motorists). The latest example of our education efforts, of course, was our wildly successful “learn to bike” class in May that got about 50 kids off training wheels and enjoying the freedom of two wheels.

The League notes: “Bicyclists are an indicator of a healthy, vibrant community. Bicycle-friendly towns, like those with good schools and enjoyable downtowns, are communities that offer improved quality of life for families, which can lead to higher property values, business growth and increased tourism. Many communities today struggle with traffic congestion, environmental degradation, declining public health and skyrocketing transportation costs. Bicycling is part of the solution to these problems.”

The highest award is platinum, followed by gold, silver and bronze. There also is an “honorable mention” category, which isn’t quite bicycle-friendly. So far, no New Jersey community has done better than an honorable mention. We hope West Windsor will.

Even getting this far would not be possible without the support of all our members. We thank you.

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NJ: Fifth Most Bike-Friendly State

Tuesday, May 24 by silvia

The League of American Bicyclists has released its latest rankings for bike-friendly states, and New Jersey comes in fifth. Only Washington state, Maine, Wisconsin and Minnesota outrank us. Yes, we do better than Colorado (No. 8), home to bike-friendly Boulder, and Oregon (No. 12), despite the incredible biking infrastructure in Portland. We’ve also moved up from 8th last year and 10th in 2009.

That’s some of the good news. Here’s some of the bad: We get a “D” on infrastructure and don’t get an “A” in any category. We’re more like a “B” student — Bs for legislation, policies and programs, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning. We get a “C” on enforcement.

Amazingly, we come in fifth without any bicycle-friendly communities.

How does the League come up with its rankings? It uses a multi-faceted Bicycle Friendly State (BFS) questionnaire that is answered by each state’s Bicycle Coordinator. The data collected – based on 95 questions, across six categories – is verified by League staff in concert with advocates in each state. States that continue to promote bicycling and improve conditions can expect to improve their scores.

Oh, and those other states across the rivers? Pennsylvania is 25th (a “D” student, with three Fs), and New York is 34th (another “D” student, despite an A for legislation.)

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How to Bike with Traffic

Wednesday, April 27 by JerryFoster

Why bike with traffic? There are lots of good reasons to bike to the grocery store, school, or the post office: better health, less pollution, save some money, among others. But it’s not as easy as a quick drive to and then bike on the D&R Canal path; you have to know how to successfully navigate with the other, larger vehicles on the road. There’s a training course just for that, and it’s being held in nearby North Brunswick!

The North Brunswick Township Parks and Recreation Department is proud to partner with the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition Bicycle Education Program to offer Traffic Skills 101 for bicyclists. Following a well-established curriculum from the League of American Bicyclists and taught only by certified League Cycling Instructors, Traffic Skills 101 gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail.

The course covers bicycle safety checks, fixing a flat, on-bike skills and crash-avoidance techniques and includes a student manual. Recommended for adults and children above age 14, this fast-paced, nine-hour course prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling.The class will be limited to 15 students and will only be held if more than 5 students are registered.

Date:  Saturday, May 7, 2011, 9 AM until 5 PM

Place:  North Brunswick Township Municipal Building

Cost:  $50 per student

Please click on this link to the WalkBike Jersey blog for more information, and enjoy the course!

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Bike Lanes Do More For Jobs Creation

Friday, January 14 by silvia

Here’s a study we like: dollar for dollar, building bike infrastructure creates more jobs than road works.

The findings, publicized by the League of American Bicyclists and quickly making its way around the blogosphere, examined the costs of engineering, construction, and materials for different projects in Baltimore and found that bike lanes create about twice as many jobs as road construction for the same amount of money. (Pedestrian infrastructure also tops roads.) Some of it has to do with the need for labor compared to materials. You can read the entire study here.

For those who say roads are paid for with gas taxes and tolls, well, no, they’re not. Not by a long shot, as this analysis points out.

High Point to Cape May

High Point to Cape May Bike Route

As the LAB points out, it’s one more way bicycle infrastructure is good for the economy. An LAB study notes that bicycle industry and bicycle tourism can boost local employment levels and economic activity. West Windsor is fortunate to be located along the East Coast Greenway, with hotels and other businesses that are accessible from the route, and just off the state’s mapped route from High Point to Cape May (Note: this file is more than 50 MB; be patient while it downloads–the guide is worth it).

For more routes, see the NJDOT’s Biking in New Jersey Tours.

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Andy Clarke, Again

Wednesday, December 8 by silvia

Andy Clarke, the president of the League of American Bicyclists, will be the guest speaker at the WWBPA’s annual meeting on March 17.

You may remember that Andy was supposed to speak at our annual meeting in February 2010, only to have it snowed out. So we’ve moved the annual meeting to March and Andy has agreed to come again, fresh from the League’s annual National Bike Summit in Washington D.C.

Save the date and tell your bicycle and/or advocacy buddies. All are welcome! More details closer to the date.

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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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