Some notes of interest for today:
The Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers, reported in a Pedestrian Safety Tracking Report that male pedestrians in New Jersey are more likely to be fatally struck than females along New Jersey roads. See an article here.
The United Parcel Service is delivering gifts via bicycle this holiday season in parts of southern Colorado. Will the patter of raindeer hooves on the rooftop be replaced by the sound of bicycle tires in the driveway? See the article from Chieftain.com here.
Finally, there is some worry that the Blue Ridge Parkway, a wonderful place to ride a bike, may be closed to bicyclists, following a study focusing on the parkway as a scenic driving experience. See the article here.
NJBWC is pleased to announce that the 2012 NJ BikeWalk Summit will be held on February 25, 2012 in New Brunswick, NJ. The venue will be the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center within the Edward J. Bloustein Center at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Additional details will be posted soon but please let us know if you are thinking about attending, so we can begin to gauge the response and plan accordingly. You may respond to firstname.lastname@example.org until we set up a dedicated em-mail address.
Hope to see you in New Brunswick next year!
NJBWC will host a League Cycling Instructor in New Brunswick, NJ on the weekend of April 20-22.
Becoming a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) certified to teach Smart Cycling is a great way to help cyclists in your community. Certified instructors can teach Smart Cycling classes to children as well as adults. Help bring the joy of safe cycling to others. If you are an experienced cyclist and would like to teach others please consider taking the next step towards certification. Becoming a League member and taking Traffic Skills 101 are prerequisites for a certification seminar.
For those interested in achieving the LCI certification but who do not yet have the pre-requisite Traffic Skills 101 course, NJBWC will hold several classes in the two months prior to the seminar weekend. You can get additional information by contacting NJBWC
On September 24, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition led a grassroots movement using bikes as transportation to call for action on climate change, specifically demanding a way to bike safely from Newark to Jersey City. Cyclists from Newark, Trenton, New Brunswick, Montclair and other parts of the state rallied and rode through downtown Newark enjoying public art and illustrating the need for more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the region. The ride route highlighted murals, statues, fountains, and fantastic architectural features, winding through several parks and universities in the state’s largest city. Assemblywoman Grace Spencer and Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker attended the event to encourage participants and express support for safe streets. Attendees moved their bodies on foot, bicycle and tandem bicycle to demonstrate their commitment to moving beyond fossil fuels. Speakers called for improved transportation funding, safer bicycling laws and bicycle access between New Jersey’s two largest cities.
“It is great to see New Jersey bicyclists urging transportation reform. We know that biking and walking have economic, health and environmental benefits. Today we moved our own bodies to demonstrate a commitment to getting away from fossil fuels through active transportation,” said Assemblywoman Grace Spencer.
“Since the middle of the last century, Newark has been an auto-centric city that is often hostile to cyclists. At the same time, 40 percent of Newarkers don’t have access to a car. Whether for transportation or recreation, biking is the cheapest, greenest, healthiest and most fun way to get around the city, and the Moving Planet ride was a great way to join in the fun. Enjoying Newark on two wheels is a vision BCBC shares with many others, and with continued group rides and advocacy, Newark has the potential to be a truly green, bike-able city,” said Zoe Baldwin, Co-Founder of Brick City Bike Collective.
“We saw some beautiful art on today’s ride though Newark, including work by Gutzon Borgium, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach our original destination, Liberty State Park to see the Statue of Liberty, due to the lack of adequate pedestrian and bicycle accommodations between New Jersey’s two biggest cities. As improvements are made to area bridges, and roadways are repaved, consideration should be afforded those who travel daily along the narrow, litter-strewn tracks of dirt on the side of these same roads. The state and many communities are rightfully working to get more people out of cars, but we need to provide the space for all users to travel safely,” said Dan Fatton, Chair of Trenton Cycling Revolution.
“Events like Moving Planet New Jersey demonstrate the collective strength of our bike and walk community. The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition recognizes the power of bicyclists and pedestrians in our state speaking with one voice on policy issues like access, safety and funding,” said Karen Jenkins, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition President.
“Bike & Walk Montclair strongly supports the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition in the September 24 Moving Planet Ride to raise awareness for the need for safer bikeways in NJ as a means to increase cycling and reduce dependence on fossil fuels,” said Laura Torchio, President of Bike & Walk Montclair.
“The transportation sector is an important and growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. As future leaders in the field of city planning, we look towards community-based actions like Moving Planet to help build the grassroots support America needs to develop a more sustainable transportation system, and there is no question that walking and biking are the healthiest, most environmentally friendly modes of getting around,” said Andrew Kay, Co-Chair of Walk Bloustein Bike Bloustein.
There have been a lot of action alerts regarding the latest federal transportation authorization bill floated in the House by Rep. Mica. Our friends and fellow advocates are rightfully alarmed by attacks on dedicated bicycle and pedestrian funding.
We hope you will consider taking action by participating in one of the following efforts:
In the meantime, we went ahead and sent another letter on transportation funding to Senator Lautenberg, just to be clear on how we feel about this issue!
On June 30, the Federal Highway Administration informed state Departments of Transportation of another rescission of funds, this time totaling $2.5 million. NJDOT is being directed to remit $69 million and must respond with their decision about which programs to cut to meet the rescission by July 8. That is extremely short notice.
We know well from past experience that a disproportionately large amount of Transportation Enhancement and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funding is returned to the FHA each time a rescission is mandated. This is where most bicycling and pedestrians projects reside and they usually bear the brunt of the “claw-backs” of funds by the federal government. The League of American Bicyclists has prepared some Rescission FAQs for additional information.
What can YOU do? Contact Governor Christie’s office and strongly urge him to work with NJDOT to ensure balanced cuts, not a gutting of bicycle/pedestrian projects to protect other projects. Remember to stress that construction of bike paths offers more job creation per infrastructure dollar than investment in roads. (For more details, see this recent study by my University of Massachusetts colleague Heidi Garrett-Peltier, who analyzed 58 projects in 11 cities, using an input-output model to measure employment impact).
Received from “Professor Bicycle” John Pucher this weekend:
Dear cycling friends,
I can hardly believe the NY Times is publishing so many articles on cycling. There are two in today’s July 4 issue. This article makes a strong case for supporting cycling for its economic benefits:
A second NY Times article about cycling appears in the July 4 paper. This is the long article on women and cycling, which takes up almost an entire page of today’s print edition, page A13. Be sure to click on the multimedia graphic to see just how much higher female shares of cyclists are in Europe:
And in case you did not it, there was a truly superb article in the June 27 issue of the NY Times on the wide range of car restraint and pricing policies in European cities, which encourage walking, cycling, and public transport use. Those policy “sticks” restricting car use and making it more expensive are utterly crucial but almost totally lacking in U.S. cities, and I think that is the main reason why we’ve made so much less progress in promoting sustainable modes of travel here in the USA. It’s also the main reason we don’t have more energy efficient cars!
Just wanted to share these three New York Times articles with you, as I think all three are highly relevant to current policy developments.
Wishing you a relaxing, sunny summer blessed by the love of family and friends!
Prof. John Pucher, Rutgers University
Congratulations to New Jersey and the team at the NJ Department of Transportation for attaining a #5 ranking in the annual League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly States table. This is an improvement over #8 in 2010 and is the highest ranking ever achieved by the state since the LAB table began in 2001.
Those of you who bicycle on our streets and roads may wonder how New Jersey can be ranked #5, ahead of other bicycle nirvanas such as Oregon (with its star, Portland), California (with Davis), and Colorado (with Boulder). Are our roads and policies that much better than everyone else’s? New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition wonders as well, and took a closer look at the data released by the League.
This year, the League released its supporting data slightly differently. We are not yet sure whether this also represented a change in the way states were graded, but for the first time, letter grades were supplied for each of the six categories upon which a state is ranked:
In detail – where New Jersey is in 2011 and where it could go. Can we keep that number 5 or are we destined to fall as other states get their acts together?
Legislation (B) – New Jersey still does not have a “Safe Passing and/or a Vulnerable User Law”, and Complete Streets is still only a state-wide “policy” for state roads and highways. Complementing the state-wide policy is the excellent work done by a handful of individual communities in enacting local ordinances and Complete Streets policies to protect their citizens.
Policies & Programs (B) – NJDOT’s Complete Streets policy was recently named #1 in the nation, which certainly helped achieve the B ranking. Increasing the funding for programs like Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes to Transit would likely improve our ranking for policies and programs.
Infrastructure (D) – There are a number of achievements in New Jersey that probably account for the state achieving a passing grade. Some of these include: the bike/ped access on the Route 36/Highlands Bridge and the Route 72 Long Beach Island Bridge (on-going). The twinning of the Goethals Bridge currently calls for a 10-foot bike/ped path and there are a number of intersection upgrades coming in Union and Middlesex counties. However, the recent removal of the Route 7 connector project (Kearney to Jersey City) does not bode well for future rankings – we would like to see this reinstated to NJDOT’s Study and Development Project and the budget prioritized in these challenging financial times.
Education & Encouragement (B) – Safe Routes to School is an over-achiever here, with New Jersey being among the first states in the nation to make significant strides with this program. Its success continues to help the state achieve high rankings as a Bicycle Friendly State. We would like to see the state capitalize on New Jersey’s LAB-certified League Cycling Instructors (LCIs) in expanding education efforts throughout the state. There are more than 50 LCIs in New Jersey – let’s use them.
Evaluation & Planning (B) – NJ DOT has consistently done an excellent job of including bike and ped planning in the overall process, resulting in high marks in this area. The New Jersey Bicycle Map, in its final planning stages, should help further with this ranking.
Enforcement (C) – New Jersey has work to do in the area of training its law enforcement and judicial officials in the rights (and responsibilities) of bicyclists. Other states have made determined efforts to get enforcement personnel qualified as League Cycling Instructors and NJBWC would like to see New Jersey do the same.
Overall, congratulations to all who assisted in New Jersey’s achievement of the #5 ranking. While there is still more to do (and which must be done if we are to retain this current ranking), our thanks to all who have worked so hard over the past year!
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has indicated that the state will withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by the end of this year. Calling the program “gimmicky” and claiming that it is not working as it was intended to work, the Governor’s action is a blow to advocates for clean energy in the Northeast.
Karen Jenkins, President of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, lamented to Governor’s decision, saying, “the loss of the RGGI revenue is a huge missed opportunity for New Jersey. Transportation is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey, and active transportation is part of the solution. The RGGI program will help many participating municipalities by providing funds to help plan for more walkable and bikeable communities. There are numerous bicycle and pedestrian projects in New Jersey that would benefit from the promised planning grants. Unfortunately, that funding was diverted to the general budget for several years, and now will be lost entirely due to the Governor’s decision to pull New Jersey out of the program.”
The goal of the initiative is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants across 10 Northeast and mid-Atlantic states from Maine to Maryland by 10 percent in the next seven years, and is considered to be a trial run for a possible national program in the future. The plan enables power plant operators to buy credits at quarterly auctions for the carbon dioxide they emit. Proceeds are then to be used to pay for renewable energy initiatives. The program had raised more than $860 million through March. Called a “cap and trade” program, it is the first of its kind in the United States, although these programs are in operation in other countries. One of the largest is the European Union Emission Trading Scheme.
Several states, including New Jersey, have raided their portion of the proceeds to fill budget gaps. Governor Christie took $65.2 million from the state’s Global Warming Solutions Fund to balance the current budget.
Karen Jenkins, President of NJBWC, has released an article which has been carried as an op/ed piece in the Trenton Times and Trenton Times On-line, which can be viewed here. Her subject is “Make Our Roads Even Safer For Biking and Walking” and you can read the entire article below.
Make Our Roads Even Safer For Biking and Walking
The New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition welcomes May, National Bike Month. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising and bicycle riders are out in large numbers. To celebrate, towns across New Jersey will be hosting organized rides through their communities. Hundreds of businesses are encouraging their workers to commute by bicycle this week, which is Bike to Work Week.
Fortunately, for those looking to ride a bicycle, New Jersey has a lot to offer. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has some of the most progressive bicycle policies in the U.S. In December 2009, NJDOT instituted a “complete streets” policy, which requires accommodations for pedestrians, bicycles and users of public transit for all new projects they manage, when these users can reasonably be expected. An independent study recently ranked this policy as the best in the nation. Furthermore, the League of American Bicyclists recently ranked New Jersey the eighth most bicycle-friendly state and bestowed a Bronze Award upon New Jersey for its policies.
New Jersey is also home to a large number of well-planned, compact cities and downtown communities, which are ideal for walking and biking. Since many of these towns were built on a traditional grid pattern, bicyclists frequently have safer and more pleasant options there. In addition to our cities and suburbs, New Jersey is blessed with an incredible network of quiet, rural roads, giving sport and recreational bicyclists access to some of the best road cycling anywhere in the nation.
Yet, there is plenty of room for improvement in the Garden State. Often, county and municipal governments have been slow to meet grass-roots requests for contemporary, on-road bicycle accommodations. As a result, bike lanes and other on-road bicycle amenities are rare in the state. New Jersey is one of only four states wherein none of the municipalities has received the Bicycle-Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists.
Most of the laws regarding the proper, legal operation of a bicycle have not been revisited for years. For instance, the legality of an automobile passing a bicyclist (or any slow-moving vehicle) in a marked no-passing zone is not mentioned in Title 39 of New Jersey’s motor vehicle statutes. Technically, overtaking a bicyclist in a no-passing zone is illegal. This silence in the law is interpreted differently by drivers; some feel compelled to squeeze dangerously close to bicyclists while passing them, for fear of breaking the law if they cross the double yellow line.
While the New Jersey Legislature has been slow to act on this and other bicycling laws, states all across the nation have been rewriting their vehicle codes with language that defines the rights and duties of bicycle riders on the road, but also clarifies the responsibilities of motorists.
New Jersey has few regularized or easily accessible bicycle education programs to teach bicycle handling skills, as well as riders’ rights and responsibilities. This lack of education dramatically affects young riders and people who depend on their bicycles as their only means of transportation. Poor training and bike handling often cause bicyclists to ride against traffic flow, which is illegal, or on the sidewalk, which is dangerous for pedestrians, especially the elderly. Unfortunately, when bicyclists do ride safely on the roadway and within the law, drivers will often yell at bicyclists to “get on the sidewalk!” Compounding these issues, there is little training for law-enforcement officers on the proper, legal and safe operation of a bicycle.
Overall, New Jersey has quite a lot to offer bicycle riders. But if we are to ensure the safety of all roadways’ users and limit traffic fatalities, we cannot depend on the good work of NJDOT alone. The New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition calls on every citizen to press his or her county and local officials to institute “complete streets” policies in their communities, to install modern bicycle facilities and increase the number of education programs for riders of all ages, income levels and abilities.
With the rising cost of gasoline, as well as continued concerns about climate change and a national obesity epidemic, the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition believes every citizen in the state should fully embrace bicycling as a transportation option that offers the added benefits of healthy exercise, cheap fuel and fun.