Monday, March 26, 2012

Rutgers to Host Seminar on How to Encourage Biking and Walking

Prof. John Pucher speaking at the 2010 NJ Bike-Walk Summit (c) Benepe
The Center for Transportation at Rutgers will be holding a special session on walking and cycling for healthy cities this April.

The special session on "Planning Healthy and Sustainable Cities" to be held Friday, April 27 is a must-go for any communities contemplating the perplexing issue of how to get their populace to drop their cars in favor of human-propelled transit.

Studies show that a full 25% percent of all trips made by motorists are one mile or less, and 50 percent are 3 miles or less, according to data recently collected by the Alliance of Biking and Walking in their Benchmarking Report. Those trips could easily be translated into biking or walking, but getting people to switch is the challenge.

"Walking and cycling are the most sustainable means of transportation, providing a wide range of economic, social, and environmental benefits," said a statement from the Bloustein School which is holding the event in New Brunswick, NJ on Friday, 2 pm to 3:45pm.

The session will focus on the health benefits of walking and cycling and how to encourage these activities by a wider spectrum of the population, including women, men, children and seniors, economically disadvantaged, and to the extent possible, persons with disabilities.

Source: Alliance for Biking and Walking Benchmarking Report 2012
Studies have also shown a strong relationship between increased walking and biking and improved population health, according to the Alliance.

"Walking and cycling provide a convenient, affordable, and dependable form of daily physical activity that can be integrated into our everyday activities such as commuting to work, getting to school, shopping, and visiting friends.  Moreover, by helping reduce car use, walking and cycling can generate environmental benefits such as less air pollution, noise, energy use, and depletion of non-renewable resources."

Among the speakers will be Prof. David Bassett of the University of Tennessee who will examine regional variations in walking and cycling in the United States and the relationship of those differences with corresponding regional variations in rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.

He will make the argument that car-dependent, sprawled development without good walking and cycling facilities discourages active travel, leading to low levels of physical activity and serious health problems.

The second talk features Prof. Jennifer Dill of Portland State University, who will talk about the special concerns of women, especially related to their much lower levels of cycling compared to men in the US.

Women in northern European countries cycle as often as men, suggesting that the cycling infrastructure and transport policies there provide lessons for encouraging more women to cycle in the US.

Prof. Dill will talk about Portland, Oregon which has been at the forefront of cycling in the US, and has been successfully implementing a wide range of measures that have not only raised cycling levels by more than 6-fold since 1990 but also encouraged a higher percentage of women to get on bikes.

Prof. Ralph Buehler of Virginia Tech and Prof. John Pucher of Rutgers University will also talk about how they have documented the high levels of walking and cycling among all segments of the population in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, as well as the much greater safety of active travel on those countries compared to the US.

Here is the URL link to the full conference details and registration. Attendance is $100 for more registrants, $25 for Rutgers students, but registration allows attendees to listen to other sections of the conference which spans two days, April 26 to April 27 AICP credit is being considered. For more information: http://policy.rutgers.edu/symposium2012/ 

New Brunswick is accessible by NJ Transit train service, and is within an hour from New York City and Philadelphia. The Bloustein school is walking distance from the staton. Although bicycles are not currently allowed on the buses, they are allowed on certain trains. For more information on train rules, call NJ Transit.  Click here for directions.

New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center
Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Rutgers University
33 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Telephone: (848) 932-7901
Fax: (732) 932-3714

Visit the New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center at http://policy.rutgers.edu/vtc/srts

Saturday, March 24, 2012

BBB's "50-Cent" Bridge Toll Revived by Schwartz

Riders coming across closed lower level GWB in 2011 Gran Fondo (c) Benepe
The fifty cent toll for cyclists that Benepe's Bike Blog proposed to teh Port Authority and Elliot Spitzer in 2006 has been revived under the man who helped coin the term "gridlock."

CBS reported on their blog Friday that Sam Schwartz is proposing the same 50-cent crossing toll for bicyclists that were first proposed right here.

We haven't seen the plans yet, and though the media is waxing hot on its "green component," we don't know if they include any of the concomitant improvements on cyclist byways and connections that we originally asked for.

The proposed bicycle toll was part of a bigger plan that Schwartz is proposing to cover motor vehicle tolls, and create funding. But when it came to bicycles the only difference is that Schwartz's proposal covers the East River, and ours referred to the Hudson River.

To complicate matters cyclists have noted on e-bikes, the electronic exchange in New York that was created by Danny Lieberman--that 50 cents is a gross over-calculation of the expected contribution that cyclists should pay.

According to cyclist and advocate Jym Dyer,  John Holtzclaw who worked on the Sierra Club's campaign against sprawl came up with a calculation for the fair charge for a bicycle crossing the San Francisco Bridge in 1998.

Using a calculation for the damage made to the bridge by speed and weight, he found that if bicycles were charged one cent, ($.01) it would  be the equivalent to charging a 4,000 pound SUV $8,000. (See calculation below). Therefore charging 50 cents for a cyclist would mean we should charge the equivalent $400,000 per trip to the SUV driver.

But if any of these changes are made, will they really be made for cyclists? We have our doubts. 

When we first wrote our letter to Kenneth Ringler, Executive Director of the Port Authority, copying Elliot Spitzer and then Gov. Pataki asking for changes, and proposing a crossing fee, Spitzer was a New York State gubernatorial candidate.

At the time we were really teed off about the rotten conditons for cyclists on the George Washington Bridge, which is one of the most heavily traveled bridges on two wheels between New York and New Jersey.

We only got an answer from Spitzer, not from the other two officials--Ringler and Pataki, who never seemed to pay much attention to cyclists.

But our suggestion, which appears to not have been attributed either by CBS, NY Times or Sam Schwartz, came with sensible requirements. Such as, ramps and byways that actually connect to the bikeways to and from the bridge on both sides.

In the case of the GWB, the pathway leading to the New York side dumps cyclists off onto a dangerous roadway with speeding cars. The transiton to the one safe bikeway along the river, the Hudson River Greenway, is hazardous, treacherous, inconvenient, not marked, and frankly an embarassment.

Considering all of the elaborate highway connections that are built through many layers of air for the millions of cars and thundering trucks, all of them spewing gasoline particles into the air--it strikes one as slightly ridiculous that not even the simplest of connections could be built for cyclists so they could travel on safely to their destination.

Mind you, this has been going on for years. When the Port Authority--which is in charge of the bridge, had to make anti-terrorist changes to the bridge span, they shut off the south walk for long periods of time, leaving cyclists to walk up and down urine-stained steps, most of them so impossibly slippery and long, that normal people just turned around when they saw what they were up against.  Stalwart racers who just had to get to the other side to get their weekend ride in slipped down the stairs in their cleated shoes.

What's more, in 2001 or 2002, the powers that be at the PANYNJ (not sure who made this behind-the-scenes decision,) decided to close off the bikeway from 12 midnight to 6 am, effectively cutting off pedestrian and bicycle traffic completely at night.  The move was ostensibly for security reasons, which none of us could ever fathom considering that a truck driver carrying a bomb to the middle of the bridge would be a lot more effective than a bicyclist or a pedestrian.

Once again, as publishers of a local bicycle blog and now CyclistsInternational, we can't claim to know the secret desires of ALL cyclists. But this we can be sure of: Those we spoke to agreed that the bridges coming into and out of Manhattan with few exceptions do not adequately, safely,and  efficiently deliver cyclists to the other side in a manner that is equal to the way motorised users are. Therefore, it is imperative that before --before--any monies are paid by cyclists these changes must be made.

Of course, none of the improvements we asked for in the letter--now over 5 years ago, have ever been made. Will they be made this time?

Below are reprinted for your convenience, the letter and original post.

Reprint of Original letter:


Sept. 12, 2006


Kenneth J. Ringler
Executive Director
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
225 Park Ave. South
New York, NY 10003




Dear Mr. Ringler:


The construction on the south side of the George Washington Bridge that has blocked the south path from pedestrian and cyclist use has proven to be an enormous inconvenience for cyclists this summer, peak bike riding season.


Several cyclists have fallen down the long, slippery steps on the north side, damaging their bodies and their bikes.


On weekends there are long wait times to go up and down the stairs to cross the bridge because of the number of cyclists crossing at one time (more than 1,500 per day crossing twice).


I have watched several cyclists turning away from the bridge because of the huge inconvenience caused by the up and down staircase, including a family of three, two adults and a baby, on bikes.


The bike railings are useless for most cyclists because they wear cleated shoes that slip on the open metal stairways, and therefore while holding the side rails with their hands, they must carry their bikes. While they hold the side rails, they must do so more than 2 feet away because of the placement of the yellow bike rails which are in the way, and completely useless to them.


In the meantime, we were told the south side would be open by September.


It is not open yet, and it is now the second year in a row where cyclists are not only inconvenienced but also endangered by the construction.


In a reply to one of my emails earlier this summer, someone on your media staff said that cyclists should be thankful for any passage at all because, after all, it is “free”.


I have done an informal poll among cyclists, and found that they would be happy to pay a toll of 50 cents —the car equivalent by weight and size—to have the same amenities as motorists: ramped entrances and exits, direct connections to bike routes and bike paths, such as the Westside greenway, and most importantly, 24-hour access.


The fact that after so many years we do not have on and off ramps directly connecting us to all important bike paths in New York and New Jersey, is incredible and prejudicial, favoring motorized traffic over human beings who are preserving the environment.


That the path is closed from midnight to 6 a.m. because cyclists and pedestrians pose more of a terrorist threat than do cars and trucks which can carry huge caches of explosives, is prejudicial and without merit. The bridge can also, at any point in time, be easily hit by a missile fired from either side of the river, along any of the walkways, parks or streets which are largely un-patrolled by the authorities.


Can we have a progress report on the status of the south side please?


Please indicate in your reply the person responsible at the Port Authority with whom I can address these short and long term issues.


I will also like to open a formal dialogue on behalf of cyclists to convert the pathways to ramps that lead seamlessly into bike paths, and the restitution of 24-hour access.


Thank you for your attention to this matter.




Best Regards,




Jen Benepe
President and Publisher
http://www.nycyclenews.com
201-944-7025
2157 Center Ave., Suite One
Fort Lee, NJ 07024


Cc: Gov. George E. Pataki
NY State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer


CALCULATION FOR MOTORIST DAMAGE ON BRIDGES
reprinted from http://groups.google.com/group/ba.bicycles/msg/a6919d802f6eb63d
By John Holtzclaw

The damage to roadways from motor vehicle traffic in the
standard formula used by engineers is the speed x (axle
loading) to the 4th power.

Speed on GG Bridge:
bicycle -- 10 mph
SUV -- 50 mph
ratio SUV/bicycle = 5

Axle loading:
170 lb person on 30 lb bike -- 200 lb
SUV -- 4000 lb
ratio SUV/bicycle = 20
20 to 4th power = 160000

So SUV damage = 5 x 160000 = 800,000

To be fair, bicycles should be charged the same rate as cars
for the damage they cause.  Charging bicycles 1 cent = $0.01 is
equal to charging SUVs $8,000.  If bicycles were charged 1 cent
for every 10 bridge crossings, SUVs would be charged $800 per
crossing.  While there isn't an equivalent formula estimating
pedestrian damage, if it is conservatively assumed to be 10
times that of bicyclists, a 1 cent charge to pedestrians is
equal to charging SUVs $800.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Bike-Related Jobs in Tristate Area (New York and New Jersey)

Three new jobs have come to light and we are posting them here for the community. In the future all new job openings will be posted on CyclistsInternational. But until then, here are some juicy ones:

--Bike Mechanic needed for the Piermont Bicycle Connection, in Piermont, NY.  Enjoy riding to your job every day (what a way to lose weight and get in shape) to Piermont, NY, some 15 plus miles from New York City and the George Washington Bridge. Please be an experienced mechanic!  Duties include: Perform service work on bicycles (including road, hybrid, mountain and children's bikes). Provide technical services ranging from basic adjustments to tune-ups and overhauls. Be a part of a positive, energetic working environment where respect and professionalism for your co-workers and customers is required. Give us a call at the shop for more details. 845-365-0900. Thanks, Glenn & Steve Piermont Bicycle Connection, 215 Ash Street, Piermont, NY 10968, Online Catalog www.piermontbike.com

--Research Project Coordinator II (2 positions available) The Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey seeks qualified candidates to fill two project coordinator positions.  The center’s research portfolio includes projects that address a broad range of transportation planning and policy areas, including: transit-oriented development, bicycle and pedestrian transportation, transit planning, freight policy, human services transportation, transportation finance and transportation security. The project coordinators will provide project management and research support to the center’s project managers and principal investigators on designated projects. Responsibilities include: 
-       Conduct research and assist with the analysis of data;
-       Assist with the preparation of project reports, topical newsletters, technical memoranda, and other work products;
-       Plan and implement focus groups, workshops, committee meetings and conferences, including meeting logistics and content development related to events and meetings; and
-       Assist in the oversight of student research assistants and project consultants.

Requirements:
-       Bachelor's degree in city and regional planning or a related field, or an equivalent combination of education and/or experience that demonstrates knowledge and understanding of project coordination activities, report preparation and data analysis, writing, and outreach. 
-       Basic knowledge of the key concepts and terminology used in the field of transportation planning and policy;
-       Good written and oral communication skills and computer literacy. 

Master's in city and regional planning or closely related field is preferred. Subject matter expertise in quantitative/qualitative research methods and design; geographic information systems; transit planning, bicycle and pedestrian planning, and/or transportation operations/evacuation planning is also desirable.

Salary will be competitive, and commensurate with experience.  Interested candidates should apply via the internet through the Rutgers University Office of Human Resources at the following link:  http://uhr.rutgers.edu/jobs/JobDetail.aspx?pst_num=12-000540

New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center
Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
33 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick, New Jersey 07857
Visit the New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center at http://policy.rutgers.edu/vtc/srts

And we learned of this wonderful position based outside of the Tristate area, but within reach for most New Yorkers and New Jerseyians who would not mind moving:

TRA Project Analyst

Transportation Resource Associates, Inc. is a Philadelphia-based company providing operations, management, and technical consulting services to the public transportation industry. TRA specializes in transit and railway operations, transit safety and security, maintenance, and related areas.

Project Analyst is TRA’s base-level technical support position. The position is based in TRA’s Philadelphia office, and will include some travel. Responsibilities focus on supporting TRA’s consulting staff and their highly varied, technical field work.

Specifically, the Project Analyst will be responsible for report- and proposal-writing; editing and normalizing others’ writing; provision of data, information, information, and analysis for use by project managers; and presentation development. The position answers primarily to TRA personnel, but also will involve some interface with TRA clients in both public and private sectors. TRA’s Project Analysts are virtually always involved in multiple projects, with multiple groups of coworkers, at any given time.

Project Analyst Job Qualifications
A bachelors degree is required. Advanced degree is preferred and compensated appropriately. TRA has found that candidates with experience in transportation, engineering, planning, or similar disciplines, are most successful, however applicants with similar or parallel backgrounds will certainly be considered.

Project Analyst candidates must be consistently detail-oriented, organized, and flexible. Candidates must have excellent writing skills, strong ability for critical thinking, and excellent capacity to analyze, understand, and incorporate technical information. Candidates must also be able to think creatively about data and presenting it as useful and engaging information, both for external client reports and for internal TRA use. Because of the high level of interaction with diverse technical staff, successful Project Analysts must be outgoing, engaging, and social, and must actively look for ways they can help the TRA team. A TRA Project Analyst must be proficient in use of Microsoft Windows, and must have ninja-like skills with MS Office programs.

TRA’s Project Analysts work at the company’s Philadelphia headquarters, but short-term travel is required, as dictated by current consulting projects. Position is salaried, and is based on an approximately 50-hour work week. Schedule and total hours will vary depending on current assignments. Job progression opportunities are available.

Qualifications (preferably electronic submissions), including a cover letter detailing your skills that are relevant to public transportation technical consulting and your resume should be sent to:

Project Analyst Position
via email: pja@traonline.com
or via facsimile: 215.546.9120 Transportation Resource Associates
Suite 1602
1608 Walnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19103