Tuesday, April 8, 2014

foodie in the house

Frank Bruni, op-ed columnist for the New York Times - a longtime restaurant critic for the NYT
whose 2009 memoir, Born Round, was a bestseller - is teaching a writing seminar at Princeton
University this semester.

Here's a link to the 2011 op-ed piece Bruni wrote on bicycling in New York City, which ends thusly:

The Chicago transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, noted that biking pushed back against
a range of modern ills. "There's the congestion problem," he said. "The pollution problem.
The obesity problem. The gas problem."  On top of all that, it makes an important statement
about our priorities — about our willingness to amend the reckless, impatient, gluttonous ways
that have created not only smog and clog in our cities but also a staggering federal debt.  

"Bikes are definitely a symbol of what your city stands for," said Klein.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

article about blue bikes in the Grey Lady

Also, a review of Bruce Weber's book "Life Is A Wheel" about his cross-country bike trip, a
a new arrival in the public library. Weber is also well known for authoring NYT obituaries,
and his 2009 book about MLB umpires

Recent items in the Times' "bicycles and bicycling" rubric are listed here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

event: "Fireflies" bike ride on Pi Day (3/14) at CP South

We, the volunteers on Princeton's pedestrian/bicyclist advisory committee (PBAC), organize several public events each year.

These are meant to encourage bike usage and safe riding practices, and to foster a sense of community and solidarity among 

those of us who prefer to get around town on two wheels.

To inaugurate the upcoming bike-riding season, and to kickoff Pi Day in a memorable and fun way, we have  arranged to host 

a social gathering and short ride called "Kuramoto Model (1,000 Fireflies)" on the night of March 14.

Participating bicyclists will make their way to Community Park South (380 Witherspoon) in time for an 8PM start to the organized 

ride. They will be obliged to obey New Jersey law by riding bikes equipped with front and rear bicycle lights and reflectors. Bike 

helmets will be mandatory for this event, which is sponsored by the municipality of Princeton, by Princeton University (Community 

and Regional Affairs), and by Pi Day Princeton.

Starting at 7:30PM in  the area next to the parking lot at CP South, between John and Race Streets, bicyclists who register for the

event will be issued with special blinking red tail lights. Helpers from PBAC will be on hand to help attach these lights to the rear of

bikes, helmets, or backpacks as appropriate. There will be enough light kits on hand to equip 159 - a number related to Pi - cyclist


The red tail lights are augmented by low-cost radio transceivers, and can instantly synchronize with one another, such that all lights will

eventually blink at the same rhythm.  Participants in the event will be able to ride in a clockwise loop on the bike path surrounding 

CP South playing fields for a distance of at least Pi (3.14) miles, while remaining in synchrony with all their neighboring riders, pedaling 

and blinking in unison. Putting the weather in the back of your weather-fatigued mind for a brief moment, can you imagine how cool this 

will be ? We purport to know enough about Einstein's temperament to know he would dig it.

Princeton will become the third community in the US to stage the "Kuramoto / Fireflies" event, which was conceived by Chicago-based 

artist David Rueter. It was unveiled in 2012 at the Northern Spark dusk-to-dawn summer arts festival in Minneapolis with 1,000 bicyclists, 

and again last September at the EdgeUP art festival in Chicago with 250 cyclists. According to Rueter, "the project aims to activate the 

cooperation and unity of the urban social network, especially as it applies to the cycling community. The synchronization will highlight 

cycling as a system with unique patterns and effects while transforming the system momentarily through a large-scale community ride / 

performance piece. […] No leader is required - the group is entirely self-organizing. This kind of lateral self-organization is politically 

significant in the context of the project: the social structures that make automobile travel possible are fundamentally hierarchical, and 

in many ways the bicycle is a much more decentralized approach to transportation."

Princeton's 2014 incarnation of the "Fireflies" ride is possible thanks to the enthusiastic backing of Pi Day, a 3-day event celebrating the 

the March 14 birthday of Albert Einstein, the renowned theoretical physicist who, among other accomplishments, got through life without ever 

driving a car. Our intent is that the event will stimulate participants and their friends to learn about and contemplate the important scientific advances 

made not only by Einstein, but by other mathematical and/or scientific luminaries who passed through Princeton during the twentieth century.

For example, Japanese physicist Yoshiki Kuramoto published his ingenious model of coupled oscillators in 1975, but Arthur Winfree, who obtained 

his doctorate in biology at Princeton, had already made a theoretical breakthrough in understanding the phenomenon of collective synchronization. 

Winfree's insights and results were eventually collected in "The Geometry of Biological Time" (1980), a classic of interdisciplinary science. 

As summarized by Winfree's collaborator Steven Strogatz in his bestseller "Sync: How Order Emerges From Chaos In the Universe, Nature, and 

Daily Life", "the tendency to synchronize is one of the most mysterious and pervasive drives in all of nature".

Of the many astonishing feats of synchrony in nature, one of the most widely known is the phenomenon whereby, in a small number of firefly 

species, the individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns, dazzling human spectators. During a 2-week period in June, a desire to see this 

awe-inspiring display leads tourists to congregate at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as described in this NYT article.

But as described in detail in "Sync" and elsewhere, collective synchrony can also emerge in non-living systems, and this is where Einstein helped 

boost our understanding. In 1924 he received a letter from a then-unknown Indian physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose, requesting help getting a paper 

translated and published. Einstein soon realized the importance and far-reaching implications of Bose's work, and predicted a new and exotic state 

of matter which could come into being only at very low temperature, near absolute zero. In this phase of matter, eventually known as a Bose-Einstein 

condensate, separate atoms or subatomic particles can coalesce into a single quantum mechanical entity, or "super atom". The story of Einstein

and Bose is related here by Yale physics professor A. Douglas Stone, who will be giving a talk at the public library at 6PM on Pi Day (March 14). 

As Stone relates in a Q&A about his new book"a very unusual concept in quantum theory is that fundamental particles, such as photons, are 

'indistinguishable' in a technical sense.  When many photons are bunched together it makes no sense to ask which is which.  This changes their 

physical properties in a very important way, and this insight is often attributed to the Indian physicist, S. N. Bose (hence the term “boson”).  

In my view Einstein played a larger role in this advance than did Bose, although he always very generously gave Bose a great deal of credit."

So science/math and community-oriented bike enthusiasts are invited to join us, to come spin with us, in this Pi Day (Pi Night?) event to connect

with each other, and to connect with the spirit of scientific exploration. To pre-register and assure that a blinking light is reserved for you to use,

please send a quick email to princetonmimi@gmail.com or if you prefer, fill out this web form.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Now Would Be A Really Great Time For That Spring Bike Tune-Up!

Congratulations to the winter cyclists! As seen in the photo above- there is a strong community here in Princeton who have not been put off by this crazy, snowy winter. It's amazing to regularly see people out cycling, well wrapped up in warm winter gear. But on the other hand, is it really so surprising? When you catch the 'bug' for cycling, it can become a real habit. That's why it's great to make life easier for cyclists, because once people start cycling, they often make it a regular part of their routine- and find ways of dealing with the weather!

For the rest of us- now would be a really great time to get your bike ready for the spring season. Yes, yes, so the start of March is due to bring another 6 inches of snow. But was anybody out last weekend? When the temperatures climbed to the low 60s? It was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l out! What a pleasure to get back on two wheels! My bike was slumped in a corner of the garage with a couple of tarps lying over it (which had been used to cover the woodpiles in the backyard). On inspection, both tires were almost completely flat. A little bit of love and it was flying again!

What kind of state is your bike in right now? Is it ready to ride as soon as the weather picks up? Do your tires need a breath of air? Does the chain want oil? Brakes tightening? Why not use this cold weekend to get your bike in with one of our great local Princeton bike shops for a tune-up? Maybe Kopp's- the oldest bike store in America- on Spring Street? Or maybe Jay's on Nassau st. (also seen in photo above)? Don't wait for the weather to warm up. Let's be honest, after this winter- we don't want to miss a single good day! Get your bike ready now!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Princeton Future Meeting This Saturday To Discuss Complete Streets, Biking In Princeton!

Last year, Princeton made a huge step forward for alternative transportation by making 'Complete Streets' a central part of the municipal Masterplan. This week, Princeton Council took another great step by setting a goal to draw up an implementation plan for Complete Streets and a Bike Route Network by the end of the year. This is an exciting time to be living in Princeton if you agree that more walking and cycling can promote a healthier, greener, more enjoyable lifestyle!

On Saturday, February 22, two members of Princeton's Pedestrian-Bicycling Committee  will be presenting as part of Princeton Future's public meeting on 'Traffic and Transit'.

This meeting will be an important opportunities for members of the public to make their voice heard with municipal committee members who help to guide transportation policy. New PBAC member Sam Bunting will speak about 'Complete Streets'. Complete Streets are streets that are designed with all users in mind- that means equal opportunity regardless of age or mobility level, and regardless of whether people are moving on foot, by bicycle, or in a car. But how can we adapt Complete Streets to Princeton's busy and crowded streets? These questions will be explored in a short talk with question and answer session to follow.

PBAC Chair, Steve Kruse, will also describe the strategy of the Pedestrian/Bicycling Committee to make a safe bicycle network around Princeton. Who cycles in Princeton and why? What roads and streets should form part of the bike route network? And what sort of infrastructure is required to make streets safe for cycling? Steve will be taking questions, as we aim to complete and formalize an official Princeton Bike Plan some time in 2014.

There will also be presentations by former Borough Mayor Marvin Reed, Traffic & Transportation committee member Ralph Widner, and Chair of the Alexander Street/University Place Transit Task Force, Kevin Wilkes. You can find all the details about the event by clicking here. The meeting runs 9 a.m. - 12 noon in the Princeton Public Library. It would be great to see lots of advocates for biking and walking in Princeton, and have the opportunity to hear your opinions, so we hope to see lots of you there!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Who To Call To Report Icy Sidewalks In Princeton

With regular snow this winter, many local walkers and cyclists are facing icy sidewalks and paths. Most Princeton homeowners have done a great job with clearing snow- see for example the photo at top. But we regularly receive complaints from walkers who observe paths that have not been scraped after snowfall.

It's the law in Princeton that property owners must clear paths and sidewalks next to their homes or businesses. This must be completed within 24 hours of snow falling in the former Borough (ordinance) or 48 hours in the former Township (ordinance). It's the law for a good reason: unscraped sidewalks are dangerous to pedestrians, who may fall on untreated surfaces or put themselves at risk by walking in the roadway to avoid icy patches. Leaving untreated ice or snow is not allowed. If the ice is too hard to dig out, it should be covered with sand or ashes to allow pedestrians to pass safely.

In Princeton it is a police matter to enforce untreated sidewalks next to private property. If you see an untreated sidewalk next to a private home or business, call the police department at 609-921-2100, ex. 2124 to report it. (Note- do not call 911.) The police will visit the property, and issue a fixed penalty notice and order-to-shovel as appropriate. They have already issued several this season.

For paths on public/municipal land, the Department of Public Works is responsible for treating snow and ice. Call them at (609) 497-7639 to report untreated surfaces.

Thanks to everybody who has taken the time to shovel sidewalks around their homes. It has definitely been more of a burden than usual this year, but it's great when everybody pulls together to keep our sidewalks clear and help our community beat the winter weather!