A View From the Cycle Path

Saturday, February 26 by silvia

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.

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Bike and Pedestrian Safety Benefits Motorists More

Wednesday, February 16 by JerryFoster

Photo BikePortland.org

The WWBPA believes that building a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community benefits everyone, not just bicyclists and pedestrians. Now there’s even more proof, coming from Portland, OR.

In a recent email, Greg Raisman of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, notes:

“Portland has had 6 of the past 12 years with zero bicycle fatalities. 2010 and 2008 were two of those years with zero bicycle fatalities. However, that’s only one part of a more important story.

Our experience has been similar to other multi-modal cities. As cities work to make walking and bicycle riding more safe, it remains true that bicycle and pedestrian safety significantly improves. However, the greatest safety benefits are realized by people driving cars and trucks.

In Portland, the numbers speak loudly. Over the past 25 years, the City has seen a long-term, downward trend in total traffic fatalities that is being reduced approximately 6 times faster than the rate for the US. In 1986, there were 79 traffic fatalities, with 61 motor vehicle deaths. In 1996, there were 59 total traffic fatalities with 41 motor vehicle fatalities. In 2010, we had 26 total traffic fatalities with 11 motor vehicle fatalities.”

So there you have it – building a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community not only raises property values, it creates safer streets for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Everyone wins, not just bicyclists and pedestrians.

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Some Like to Ice Cycle

Sunday, February 6 by JerryFoster

Enjoy this video of hardy Canadian bicyclists enjoying the winter bicycling in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Anyone up for a West Windsor Ice Cycle?

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Funny Dutch Student Video

Friday, February 4 by JerryFoster

Enjoy the very entertaining video by Dutch students pointing out some of the problems you don’t have when bicycling!

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NJDOT New Bicycling Manual

Sunday, January 16 by sandy

NJ Bicycle Manual CoverThe NJDOT just published (only online) the New Jersey Bicycle Manual. It’s not just for kids, either. Here’s a list of the covered topics, from the table of contents:

  • Selecting, Fitting & Equipping Your Bike
  • Quick Maintenance Checks
  • Off to a Good Start
  • Traffic Basics
  • Sharing the Road
  • Parking Your Bike
  • Difficult Situations
  • Riding at Night & in Rain and Snow
  • Riding with Others
  • Riding on Shared-Use Paths
  • NJ Bicycling Law & Roadway Restrictions
  • Traffic Signals, Signs and Road Markings

The manual includes lots of clear diagrams and photos to help cyclists navigate in a variety of situations (even how to share the road with pedestrians and horseback riders).

This is an excellent resource for both novice and experienced cyclists.

Read the WalkBikeJersey Blog review, but be sure to read the whole manual, too.

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What Changed at the Top in 2010

Saturday, January 8 by sandy

Proposed Schuykill trail segmentThe U.S. Department of Transportation posted its 2010 Record of Accomplishment, and the WWBPA sees some good things in it. Highlights include anti-distracted driving regulations and encouragement for more transportation opportunities. In particular, it helped level the playing field for bicyclists and pedestrians. This is a big accomplishment, particularly as some think bicyclists and pedestrians could lose out in some of the new Congress’s budget battles (see this analysis from the League of American Bicyclists).

Here’s some of what DOT did, in its own words:

In March 2010, DOT formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities to integrate the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in federally-funded road projects. DOT discouraged transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians and encouraged investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.? Such recommendations include treating walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes, ensuring convenient access for people of all ages and abilities, and protecting sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected.? Through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants program, DOT funded major projects across the country that allow Americans to safely and conveniently get where they need to go on a bike or on foot.

One of the TIGER grants “will repair, reconstruct and improve 16.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle facilities that will complete a 128-mile regional network in six counties around Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey,” including the Schuylkill Trail, with artist’s rendering above.

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Sharrows for Princeton?

Thursday, December 16 by silvia

The Princeton Joint Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee is asking Princeton Borough and Princeton Township to install “sharrows” along four streets:

  • Harrison Street from Faculty Road to Mt. Lucas Road;
  • Witherspoon Street from Nassau Street to Valley Road;
  • Nassau Street from Harrison to Bayard Lane; and
  • Paul Robeson Place/Wiggins Street/Hamilton Avenue from Bayard Lane to Snowden Lane.

Sharrows are shared lane markings that are being used in New York City, among other places, and were included for the first time this year in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a bible for transportation engineers. The markings depict a bicycle with directional arrows and are highly visible to motorists and help guide bicyclists to an appropriate place in traffic (and far enough from the risk of hitting an opening car door).

The advisory committee says sharrows are needed to fill the gap between sidewalks for novice cyclists and off-road trails for recreational cyclists. Those using their bikes for transportation (to Princeton University, the Dinky, downtown, and shopping centers, for example) and seeking direct routes currently are left out. Sharrows would work on Princeton’s narrow streets, where parking is a priority and there is no room left for bike lanes.

In its report, the committee wrote that “shared lane markings may be the only feasible and affordable intervention to improve the safety and comfort of cyclists on Princeton streets.” It noted that the four roadways it recommended for sharrows are where 60% of the bicycle accidents from 2008 through May 25, 2010 occurred and estimates that adding these markings to the road will cost $13,000 for every two miles of roadway.

The Princeton Joint Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee Sharrows Policy Paper was presented to the Princeton Borough Council last week, and it isn’t clear when the borough and township will decide whether to follow the recommendations. The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance hopes that both will evaluate these recommendations seriously.

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Shared Space: Safe or Dangerous?

Wednesday, December 15 by JerryFoster

from Shared Space: Safe or Dangerous?Township Council recently adopted the shared space concept as fundamental to the lawsuit settlement with InterCap over the new Princeton Junction Transit Village. Under this concept, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians share the roadway as peers. But is it safe?

Four European experts reported results of their studies of the shared space experience in the Netherlands in 2007 at the Walk21 Conference held in Toronto. Shared space was implemented several locations between 1998 and 2001, with studies published between 2003 and 2007.

Overall, “reported accidents have decreased substantially.” In one location, however, minor injury collisions persisted, and “bicyclists were overrepresented”.? Significantly, “police report only a (minor) part of the accidents. Particularly bicycle and pedestrian accidents are often not reported to the police. This means that reliable and valid conclusions regarding the safety of cyclists and pedestrians cannot be made.”

What makes shared space work? “At low speeds people have more time for communication and the interpretation of verbal and non-verbal utterances.”

What keeps it from working? “Children and people with a visual or mental handicap cannot be expected to comply. Also, the elderly are not always able to anticipate and react in time, especially not when it is crowded and many things happen in a short period. This group (in total 25% percent of the population!) runs a substantially raised risk.”

How do people feel about shared space? “Most respondents do not think the situations are safe. Both car drivers and bicyclists and pedestrians are critical about it. In Haren remarkably many people (90%) demand a clear choice regarding the position of the bicycle: either on a bicycle lane or on the carriageway. The experts prefer the bicyclist on the carriageway; the public prefers a separate recognizable lane.”

The WWBPA supports the shared space concept, but recognizes that to work, all roadway users must be provided with subtle guidance as to the preferred positioning within the space. Bicyclists must be encouraged to stay out of the way of opening car doors (the “door zone”), such as through the use of a special color or pattern of pavement to guide where they ride.

The current (pre-settlement) language in the redevelopment ordinance calls for buffered bike lanes to achieve this goal. This goal can be achieved in the shared space concept, but the language regarding bike lanes is proposed to be removed. Please contact our public officials with your questions or concerns regarding the safety of our proposed new shared space.

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Freehold, Springsteen and Bikes

Sunday, December 12 by silvia

Metz Bicycle MuseumFreehold is about to release a study by the New Jersey Department of Transportation about how to make the borough friendlier for bicyclists. But turning the study into reality is hardly a slam-dunk. Its supporters need our vocal support to help businesses overcome fears about cyclists on the sidewalk and bikes that aren’t locked to bike racks, among other things. (We say cyclists can bring in extra business, particularly if downtown is on a safe route to the Shore.) The key meeting is Monday, Dec. 20.

Read this email that the WWBPA received from John F. Newman, a Freehold councilman for the Springsteen connection and more:

About one year ago,?I was elected as a councilman in Freehold Borough.? One issue that immediately reared its head was an ordinance that was passed (before I was sworn in) which required bikes to be parked at bike racks in town, despite a dearth of bike racks.

I railed against this issue, and soon thereafter secured a NJ DOT grant to have a bike-ped study of the town.? That study is about to be unveiled to the public for their review and comment, but I am learning of some opposition to the study, namely how it could affect the downtown.

I am reaching out to bicycle advocates so that they can assist me in garnering support to ATTEND the meeting and bring their views of the benefits of a bike-friendly community. Being in Freehold Borough, some items in the DOT study were to link the Henry Hudson Trail to the downtown, link the rest of the 1.9 square mile borough to the downtown, and linking the borough to points outside its boundaries, such as the Monmouth Battlefield and other nearby parks. Also, within town is proposed a bike path/trail. This will?map out places of historic interest and a tour of Springsteen’s Freehold. Of course, the study also takes into account safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.

As noted, there is some resistance. I would appreciate it if you and your friends could help me by attending the December 20, 2010 meeting. The public portion starts at Freehold Borough Hall at 4:00 until 6:30; then the council meeting starts at 7:00 where a presentation will be made directly to the mayor and council.

Your support and input will be greatly appreciated as well as your comments on the beneficial aspects bike-friendly communities – the concept still has to be sold.

You can read more about what Freehold has been doing on WalkBikeJersey. The state also has mapped a route that goes through Monmouth Battlefield.

And did you know this about Freehold’s role in bicycling history?? Cycling champion Arthur Augustus Zimmerman resided in the town during his racing career in the 1880s and 1890s, and from 1896-1899 operated the Zimmerman Bicycle Co.; the company’s bicycles were known as the “Zimmy.” Today, Freehold Borough is home to the Metz Bicycle Museum, where the only extant “Zimmy” can be seen.

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Tale of Two Engineers ? One Visionary, One Recovering

Thursday, December 2 by JerryFoster

A revolution is underway in how towns are being redesigned for livability, and it’s playing out right here in West Windsor. The late Hans Monderman launched a movement for better safety without signs and signals, while in the Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, another engineer realizes that “Wider, faster, treeless roads not only ruin our public places, they kill people.”

Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), recounts the work of the late Hans Monderman, a Dutch traffic engineer who held to a maxim: ?When you treat people like idiots, they?ll behave like idiots.? In appropriate settings, he removed the signs and signals that tell drivers what to do. His goal? ?I don?t want traffic behavior, I want social behavior.? His work underlies the design for the promenade in the new transit village west of the train tracks.

In Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, Charles Marohn relates his professional experience “convincing people that, when it came to their road, I knew more than they did.” Why? “I had books and books of standards to follow.” Finally, “In retrospect I understand that this was utter insanity. Wider, faster, treeless roads not only ruin our public places, they kill people.”

This realization is slow in coming to our Rt 571 Main Street design, where the state guidelines are in place but the design hasn’t taken them into consideration.

Please help the county engineers learn from the transit village engineers by supporting the WWBPA’s recommendations for Rt 571 Main Street – slower speed, medians with pedestrian refuges and a pedestrian-activated signal that stops traffic at the crossing at Sherbrooke Drive.

This redesign is our chance to make drivers comfortable with the slower speed – just posting a lower speed limit will not effectively slow traffic. Our tale of two West Windsors might have the happy ending of a pedestrian-friendly Main Street and transit village promenade, leading to higher property values for us all.

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Trolley Line Trail Improvements

Monday, November 22 by silvia

Trolley-Line-Trail-Ends

A sign that will soon disappear?

West Windsor soon will install a “rectangular rapid-flashing beacon” where the Trolley Line Trail crosses South Mill Road so that trail users can safely cross this 50-mile-an-hour road. With a push of a button, users can alert motorists to their presence. Signage also will be changed.

Bicyclists and walkers currently see a “Bike Route End” sign when coming from Penn-Lyle and Brian’s Way. That was put in before the missing link along the Dataram property was added a couple of years ago, and some users are unaware that the trail continues through Community Park to Rabbit Hill Road.

In addition, the gaps in the sidewalk on Penn-Lyle will be filled in so that there is a continuous sidewalk on the Trolley Line Trail side of the street from Village Road to High School South and Clarksville Road. Work on this could begin this year and should be finished in 2011.

The WWBPA thanks the township for these improvements.

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Lawrence Township Adopts Complete Streets Policy

Sunday, November 21 by JerryFoster

Lawrence Townhall

Lawrence Township Hall

On September 21, 2010 Lawrence’s Township Council passed a Complete Streets Resolution, which calls for “all public streets … to safely accommodate travel by pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit and motorized vehicles and their passengers, with special priority given to bicyclist and pedestrian safety”.

Lawrence is one of the leaders in adopting Complete Streets in New Jersey, joining the state, Monmouth County, Montclair, West Windsor, Hoboken, Red Bank and Netcong.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes “has directed his staff to consider context-sensitive solutions that enhance safety for all travel modes whenever the County implements an improvement”, according to a recent press release. Can a Mercer County Complete Streets Policy be far behind?

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Completing Rural Roads

Wednesday, November 17 by sandy

Clarksville and Cranbury intersectionMany of the main roads in West Windsor were originally designed for an agricultural economy. Changing them to accommodate suburban design is a challenge.

Nadine Lemmon, writing for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, discusses this problem in The Challenges of “Completing” Rural Roads.

A sobering statistic is that even though most people live and work in cities, 28% of pedestrian and 30% of bicycle fatalities in 2009 occurred on rural roads.

Many times, Main Street doubles as the most direct connection to the next town, so the risk is that cars are moving faster in an area where people are on foot. Beyond Main Street, those different users, traveling at different speeds, share the road. Changing the road design, such as narrowing? the roadway or adding trees and other sight-improvements, can slow down traffic, making the road safer for all. Widening roads is not only costly but encourages faster speeds.

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