Wednesday, April 15, 2015


150 Years of Bike Lane Battles 

"After the war, only children rode bikes, so bikes became a symbol of childhood."

Author James Longhurst is a historian of urban and environmental policy.
He is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, 
with a Ph.D. in history and policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

Related links:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Princeton U grad student struck by car in crosswalk accident

Chemistry grad student Nyssa Emerson was seriously injured
Wednesday night, when using a crosswalk to return to her lab 
from the Frist Campus Center. The accident occurred at the 
intersection of Ivy Lane and Washington Road, around 9:30PM. 
It was raining lightly at the time.

According to the story in The Daily Princetonian, which was
able to talk to the victim, a car had stopped at the crosswalk.
However a second car came along in the other direction, did
not notice the pedestrian or the oncoming stopped car, and
a serious accident ensued. 

In this sense, the accident had something in common with
on Washington Road, at the crossing of the D&R towpath: the
initial car stopped as required, the next car failed to stop.

Let us keep Ms. Emerson in our thoughts as she recovers
from her injuries.

Related info:

"According to the NJ State Police 563 people were killed by motor vehicle
crashes in 2014, a 4% increase from 2013. But there were 170 people killed 
by motor vehicles while walking in New Jersey, a 28% increase."

YouTube:  IBM's "Flashing Zebra Crossing" in Rotterdam, NL.

As part of its "Smarter Planet" corporate initiative, IBM teamed
up with ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. They started asking children 
for smart ideas. One idea was to make street crossings safer by 
making the "zebra crossing" (crosswalk) light up when you walk 
on it. Building such a "flashing zebra" crossing on a busy street
in Rotterdam "made people realize anything can happen if you 
challenge the status quo". 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

from Paris to Hoboken by way of DC on a Cartesian Centaur

Paris has a smog problem. And the SMOG brand of bike is not the solution.

"Paris has unveiled a bold, $164 million plan to make itself "the cycling capital 
of the world" by 2020. The goal of the plan, which goes to the city council
for approval April 13, is to triple the share of all trips made by bike from 
5 to 15 percent. To get there, in the next five years, it wants to double its 
network of bike lanes to 870 miles (partly by making many lanes two-way)
and drop speed limits on many streets to 18 mph. It would create 10,000 
secure bike parking spaces and offer financial incentives for those buying
electric and conventional bikes.   Read more here and here.

"We think that there are people ready to cycle but don't do it due to a sense 
of not being safe," said Christophe Najdovski, Green deputy mayor in charge
of transport. "This plan will create a new form of tourism in Paris which is 
booming elsewhere," he said.

From "Wonkblog" at the Washington Post - a collection of bleak maps:

"Washington's 'bike route network' is disjointed and incomplete. We'd never 
build a street grid that looks like this and expect drivers to navigate the city 
through it. But this is the reality for cyclists, and it may help explain to other 
people why cyclists have such a hard time staying out of the way — off the 
shoulder, off the sidewalk, out of traffic or car lanes. It's quite literally not 
possible to travel between many points in the city using only cycling infrastructure.

Even closer to home, a "listicle" of The Most Hipster Cities in America featuring
a nice photo of a cyclist riding off into the sunset ... but on a non-hip ten-speed!

It rates Hoboken as the top hipster place. What would Frank Sinatra say ?

He might also say Princeton has no hipsters, only a noted expert on hipsters
who published an essay about the insomniac Romanian philosopher Cioran
and his bicycle which then leads me to an essay by Christopher Fan:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hopewell event: Sourland Cycles' grand opening - next Saturday, April 11

"The revitalization of Hopewell's Broad Street continues this year with the
grand opening of Sourland Cycles, a full-service bicycle shop featuring one
of the broadest selections of bikes in the region."

[..]  "The grand opening, April 11, will feature demo bike rides across their range
of brands and styles, hourly mountain/trail rides through St. Michael's Preserve,
prizes, how-to classes, special one-day discounts, raffles, food from area restaurants
including a joint venture with the Brick Farm Market.

Read more at the Times of Trenton online article, or at the store's website.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Climate Shock (book) - the "Copenhagen Theory of Change"

Yale economist and Nobel laureate Robert J. Shiller posted to The Upshot, "a New York Times website with analysis
and data visualizations about politics, policy and everyday life."   You can read the entire article at this link. Excerpt
below. A public lecture given by "Climate Shock" author Gernot Wagner at London School of Economics is on YouTube.

"[Concerning the issue of global warming], some individuals with a strong moral compass will take action, and some
nations will do so occasionally, but most people and countries will not do so consistently. In a new book, "Climate Shock:
The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet" (PU Press, 2015), Gernot Wagner of the Environmental Defense Fund
and Martin L. Weitzman, a Harvard economist, question that assumption. In a  proposal that they call the Copenhagen
Theory of Change, they say that we should be asking people to volunteer to save our climate by taking many small, individual actions.

"Copenhagen has motivated half of its inhabitants to commute to work by bicycle every day, the Danish government says.
How did that come about? A half-century ago, the city's inhabitants were becoming almost as reliant on cars as people
anywhere else. But after the oil crisis of the 1970s, the authors point out, many Copenhagen residents made a personal
commitment to ride bicycles rather than drive, out of moral principle, even if that was inconvenient for them.

"That happened in American cities, too, but in Copenhagen there was more social support and, perhaps, social pressure to
join in the movement. The sight of so many others riding bikes motivated the city's inhabitants and appears to have improved
the moral atmosphere enough to surmount the free-rider problem."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

event: Earth Hour is tonight 8:30-9:30PM

"This year some 7,000 cities in 27 different time zones will be flicking off their
lights in observation of the ninth annual Earth Hour, in an effort to raise climate 
change awareness and spread the message of energy conservation. The 
campaign was started in Australia by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 
2007 with 2.2 million people taking part, and since then swept across the world 
in what the WWF calls "the world's largest grassroots movement."

Read an article on hereHere's the official video and the Wikipedia page.

In Australia, Earth Hour this year is focusing on farming, with fears that rising 
temperatures could ultimately damage the country's ability to produce food.

Here are Earth Hour announcements from Edward Norton and from the famous-
for-a-day shy wildlife visitor, whose name is either Bob Katz or perhaps Buddy.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

blink and it's gone

A few months ago, we at PBAC were brainstorming ideas for improvements
to off-road bike trails. I suggested it might be possible to submit a grant 
application for solar-powered lighting, to encourage more use of a certain
paved-who-knows-how-long-ago woodsy bike path, especially during winter
months. It was then pointed out to me that this proposal wouldn't get very
far, since wildlife/habitat conservation forces would nix any forest illumination.

A documentary film at PEFF tomorrow (6PM) will explore the very topic of "dark
sky erosion". Brilliant Darkness | Hotaru in the Night explores firefly conservation
efforts in Japan and the US. The film considers the challenges, implications and
significance of night and its crucial role in animal biology and life cycles. The 
screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Emily Driscoll and Karl Fischer.

The library offers other resources for delving into this issue. The 2013 book 
is by Paul Bogard, who can be heard on this All Things Considered radio interview.

From Aeon magazine, an article asking Why does Japanese culture revere insects? 
begins "In Japan, beetles are pets, grasshoppers a delicacy and fireflies are adored".
Hotaru is Japanese for firefly. Japan is said to be "a nation of legendary firefly enthusiasts
where, many centuries ago, noblemen and women enjoyed nighttime firefly-viewing excursions
to the countryside. For the ancient Japanese the firefly was a symbol of both love and war.

Among the library dvd's can be found Grave of the Fireflies - Hotaru No Haka, described
as "an achingly sad anti-war film" - in the words of the late Roger Ebert, "an emotional 
experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation".

Getting back to illumination, it will be interesting to follow developments in infrastructure
as they pertain to bike safety. Here and here are details of innovations in Copenhagen.

Aimed at saving money, cutting the use of fossil fuels and easing mobility, the LED installations 
are part of a growing wireless network of streetlamps and sensors that officials hope will 
help Copenhagen meet its ambitious goal of becoming the world's first carbon-neutral 
capital by 2025. It's all made possible through an array of sensors embedded in the light 
fixtures that collect and feed data into software. The system, still in its early stages, has put 
Copenhagen on the leading edge of a global race to use public outdoor lighting as the backbone 
of a vast sensory network capable of coordinating a raft of functions and services

Here's a short clip touting the benefits of an Intelligent Street Lighting system. More details here.

Aha - the festooning of telephone/utility poles has no end in sight.