With the weather getting nicer, excluding todays just icky rain, people are constantly asking, where can I bike in NJ? One of the best resources I have found is the NJDOT website. It gives locations for both biking and information regarding biking. If you are interested on rail-trail touring, MTBing, or just getting out on your bike with the family, I think you will be able to find what you need here.

Link to NJDOT biking resources www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/bikemaps.shtm

Biking in Atlantic City is \

An article in the Star Ledger last week told the story of high school students in the environmental club at Bridgewater-Raritan High School in Central New Jersey that were prohibited from installing bike racks on school grounds. The school principle said that the roads were too dangerous for students to bike and that the school did not want to be held liable for any bike accidents that occurred while students were biking to school. Incredibly, a group of 50 students from the environmental and biking clubs, as well as  other concerned students, retaliated by biking to school, without any injuries, and locking their bikes throughout their front of the school. I must commend these students for their proactive attitudes.  In a society where it is difficult to simply get kids away from television, video games, computer and a slew of other sedentairy “activities” these students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School are demanding their right to a healthy and active lifestyle.

However, the administration at the high school feels that biking to school is too dangerous for students and encourages them to take they bus or drive to school, putting thousands of dollars into expanding the parking lot for cars (thats right, they want less bikes and more cars!).

For the benefit of the administrators at Bridgewater-Raritan HS, I would like to briefly consider the dangers of not riding your bike to school. If student A and student B both live 5 miles from BRHS, and student A rides his bike and student B drives. Student A bikes at about 15mph, which is quite easy especially for a high school-aged student, he will get to and from school in approximately 20mins each way, and have burned a total of 600 Calories/Day (enough to offset a school lunch of pizza (370Cal), Choc. Milk (170Cal), and salad with dressing (~100Cal). However,  the  only  Calories  student B burns  are on his 15-30 min commute to school is when he is shouting at the traffic in front of him.

I don’t think that the problem with biking to school is a lack of safe roads, I bike upwards of 250 miles a week in the same area as BRHS as training part of my training for the Rutgers Cycling Team and I have never once been hit by a car or had any other road related injury. However, I will agree that these roads are heavily used and their are some dangers, but if you are aware of your surroundings and road conditions, biking becomes a safe and affordable alternative to driving to local destinations. My organization, Bike N’ Walk, helps communities just like Bridgewater increase their bikability by providing them with interactive mapping websites that allow the community to monitor road conditions and determine the best bike routes by logging on and submitting their personal knowledge of the area to the  interactive map of the local community. We have already provided maps for the West Windsor and New Brunswick/Rutgers  areas with great success . I think that with the determination of the students at BRHS and the proper resources, BRHS students will get a valuable real-world education in conservation and the power in numbers. So my advice to the students of Bridgewater-Raritain High School is KEEP RIDING

This weekend I participated in an event hosted by VERTICES LLC. and NYRestroom.com to locate and rate restrooms throughout New York City. The objective was to increase the resources for the website NYRestroom.com. NYRestroom provides an interactive mapping domain in which users can log in (free of charge) and locate different restrooms throughout New York City.

The event was a great success, compiling nearly 80 new bathrooms in 3 different districts throughout the city. What I found amazing, and really inspiring, was the need that this website fills. While finding/using a restroom is something that is not normally discussed in moder society (at least outside of fraternity houses) I was surprised to hear on every block a tourist or a child whispering to the person your with, “We need to find a bathroom”. It is dire situations like these that lead to less sanitary conditions throughout the city. If people were able to find a restroom whenever they needed to use the facilities or simply wash your hands, imagine how much cleaner New York would be.

NYRestrooms also has implications for alternative transportation. Imagine how many more people would decide to walk or ride their bike if they knew they could find a restroom to freshen up in once they reach their destination or in route to different locations.

The truth is, We’ve all gotta go, and in a place like New York City this basic biological function can be a daughting task. However, with the help of initiatives like NYRestrooms.com, cities across the US could seem a lot more managable.  

As I biked home yesterday, I saw a man biking down a 3 lane highway (speed limit 55mph, cars doing 70mph) right next to a large concrete wall. This made me realize that know which routes are safe to bike and the conditions of the road are crucial. That is why I have provided safe routes to bike throughout the New Brunswick, NJ area with my mapping website Rutgers Bus to Bike. The website ha tons of information, pics, and videos to make people’s commute around the area more enjoyable. This website was made by VERTICES LLC and can be made for any organization looking to put info on the web in a clear and dynamic way. So before you make a new commuting route, look for information like that posted on Rutgers Bus to Bike because it could be a life saver.

A video from the Rutgers Bus to Bike Webstie

Good news for all those Jersey organizations that are in need of some funding to help make their schools more bike and walk friendly. The Safe Route To School (SRTS) deadline has been extended to May 2nd. For application info click here.

In the past year, the federal government gave over $145 million to different Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs throughout the country. A good portion of these projects are manual labor projects in which communities and organizations help rebuild areas surrounding areas to make schools more accessible by walking and/or biking. these projects mostly accomplish their goals and make schools more accessible.

The remaining SRTS projects focus on promoting alternate transportaion methods for children to go to school, and these efforts seem to be less successful in convincing kids to walk or bike to school. The majority of these promotional projects are events and activities that try to show students the benefits of walking or biking to school. However, these events are usually one day and have little effect on the children’s commuting habits. What is needed is a way to continuously inform students on the benefits of walking or biking to school each day.

Some organizations have begun using modern, Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) to display walking and biking information for students. Projects like in West Windsor, NJ, where the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance has established a West Windsor Walkability and West Windsor Bikeability websites to show not just students, but adults as well, the benefits of walking or biking about town.

Maps like these are provided by the company VERTICES. VERTICES provides mapping applications through its online amppling application, Mappler, for non-profit and government organizations. One of the most noted features of Mappler is its interactive abilities. Anyone with the correct password can log on to a Mappler website and add or change information, which first must be checked for accuracy by and administrator. Route conditions, hazards, and highlights can be updated instantly. This interactive quality makes Mappler the perfect program for SRTS promotion because it will give the children the opportunity to become part of the map-making process, which invests them more in the walkability and bikeability projects. In the coming years, Mappler will be one of the pioneering SRTS applications the will help change how we get children involved in walk and bike friendly activities.

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April 15, 2008

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