Mercer First to Complete Streets (Policies)

Saturday, January 10 by JerryFoster

Complete Streets logoFive 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.

biking on the sidewalk w adult Hightstown Stockton Dutch Neck nb Robbinsville Pond Rd MS 56 cycles ped xwalk Hamilton Estates G Dye Roundabout Cyclist East Windsor Dutch Neck Dorchester 4 xwalks Nassau Sharrows
Lawrence Johnson Trolley Trail Xing Hopewell Denow Roundabout 1 Pennington Cyclist Texting Hopewell Boro Broad St Xing
Ewing Presbyterian Church Xing
Trenton Bike Lane Paver and Asphault

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Bike and Walk to School Week is May 19-23

Friday, May 16 by JerryFoster

WW HSS Track Team Running cropBiking and walking to school is good for children and good for the community.

Walk and Bike to School Week will be celebrated this year from May 19-23, 2014. Governor Chris Christie signed a proclamation encouraging state and local governments and school districts to promote active and healthy lifestyles by walking and bicycling to school.

Safe routes to schools is a priority for the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (WWBPA) because it benefits health and well-being of the whole community, from our youngest members to our oldest. Biking and walking to school is great for student health and academic success. Studies in Denmark and Spain have shown that biking or walking to school leads to higher levels of concentration that lasted throughout the morning hours – ?Walking and biking to school is also a great way for kids to get the physical activity needed for healthy minds. Kids who are more physically active have better academic performance. Studies are also beginning to show that exposure to nature and free outdoor play can reduce stress and relieve ADHD symptoms,? said Dr. Jennifer Rupert.

Not only is active transportation good for kids? school success, kids who get themselves around also know their neighborhood and environment better.? This study looked at kids in a high traffic neighborhood and a low traffic neighborhood and found that students who lived in the high traffic neighborhood, who were driven most places due to safety concerns, had a negative attitude about their neighborhood and could not draw a map of their street network. The children in low traffic neighborhoods had a high knowledge of their neighborhood and more positive feelings of their place. The study followed up with the adults and children in the same neighborhoods after the facilities for biking and walking were improved in the high traffic neighborhood. The children?s knowledge of their town improved once they were able to get around on their own. Previous studies had shown that adults living in high traffic neighborhoods felt more isolated from their community, too. Being able to get around outside of a car builds community and connection between neighbors.

Beyond the health and community-building benefits from walking or biking to students themselves, getting more kids and parents out of cars has congestion and air quality benefits for the whole community, especially for folks living near the schools. A traffic engineer interviewed by NPR noted that ?One of the biggest problems we have with schools in general is parents dropping off kids, buses, and kids walking, all converging in the same fifteen minute period,? says Lees.? In fact, 20 to 30 percent of morning traffic is children being driven to school, according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.?

As Dr. Rupert points out ?think about the air quality around a school when dozens of parents sit in idling cars while their children jump out. Air pollution has contributed to childhood asthma rates doubling between 1980 and the mid-1990s. Asthma rates remain at historically high levels and cause 14 million missed school days every year. Walking and biking to school is healthy for kids, healthy for communities, and healthy for the planet.?

In New Jersey there are a number of organizations working to make biking and walking safer for students and their families. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognizes that safe routes to school has benefits New Jersey, ?Since 2005, $13.5 million of this grant money has helped pay for New Jersey projects, from the construction of a bridge and sidewalk system along Route 539 and Frog Pond Road in Egg Harbor, to new crosswalks and flashing school zone signs in Jersey City. In January, Gov. Chris Christie announced a new round of grants totaling $5.7 million for 25 communities, including some struggling areas such as Garfield, Jersey City and Brick, where many children don?t have access to safe places to be physically active. This is good news for our kids, for our communities and our health.?? New Jersey has a safe routes to schools organization which helps provide coordination and resources to folks wanting to organize and advocate for safe routes to schools. They run an award program to recognize schools making strides towards safer biking and walking. We also have a walking and biking resource center funded by NJDOT and run out of the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers New Brunswick.

WWBPA supports biking and walking to school as a healthy, community building activity. We partner with students, parents and teachers in the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district to host bikes and walks to school, biking and walking ?buses? and to advocate for safer routes to schools. Recent partnerships have included working on the Knight Trail as well as the Cranbury Rd Sidewalk and Safety Project. We know that safe routes to schools are an important part of a community active transportation network.? Want to plan something for bike and walk to school month in October? Check out this fact sheet from NJ Safe Routes to School campaign through NJ DOT. Contact us at wwbpa.org to partner with us as you plan an event at your school.

Thanks to former trustee Beth Zeitler for contributing this article, a version of which also appears on the Greater Mercer TMA blog.

 

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Hawk Elementary Celebrates Walk to School Month

Saturday, October 22 by JerryFoster

Maurice Hawk Elementary School Principal Denise Mengani, Assistant Principal Patricia Buell and?the Hawk led students, their parents and WWBPA trustees for the Walk to Hawk event on October 18th, part of the International Walk to School month festivities.

We had a beautiful sunny day for the walk.? About 45 students and their parents went on the walk, which started at the West Windsor municipal center and ended at Maurice Hawk Elementary School.? WWBPA trustee Stacey Karp gave each child an “I walked to school today” sticker and everyone helped make sure all the students arrived safely at school.

We want to extend our thanks to the? West Windsor police officers who stopped traffic at several crossings so that the group could stay together.? Ms. Mengani allowed us to address the parents to we could share some of the improvements WWBPA has advocated for around town, as well as promote our upcoming events.

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New Bike Ped Curricula Guide

Monday, March 14 by sandy

Bike Ped Curricula GuideThe Safe Routes to School National Partnership announced the release a new publication, Bicycle and Pedestrian Curricula Guide: Making the Case for Bicycle and Pedestrian Youth Education.

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.

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Thanks, Congressman Oberstar

Monday, November 15 by sandy

The WWBPA trustees sent the following Letter to Congressman Jim Oberstar (MN), the chairman of the House Transportation Committee who lost his bid for re-election earlier this month. He has served in Congress for 36 years and was a champion for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, including the Safe Routes to School program.

November 13, 2010
Congressman Jim Oberstar
2365 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Oberstar,

The trustees of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (WWBPA) thank you for your steadfast advocacy of Safe Routes to School and of bicycle-friendly programs and policies. We know that support and funding for many of these initiatives would not have happened without your leadership.

As a local, grassroots organization, the WWBPA incorporates the principles of the Safe Routes program in our effort to make West Windsor Township, New Jersey and the surrounding region safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. We also advocate for ?Complete Streets? (our town has signed on; our county is our next goal) and bicycle lanes as well as fund bicycle racks and promote bicycling and walking through a number of events.

We will miss your vision and vocal support for non-motorized transportation in Congress. It is up to us and the many like us across the country to honor your legacy by working for better and safer roadways, complete with bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and clearly marked crosswalks in all communities.

With sincere thanks,
Trustees,
West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance

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