Sunday, December 30, 2012

Memphis, Veblen and the Green Belt

From the NY Times:   Sprawling Memphis Aims to Be a Friendlier Place for Cyclists

       "Bike-friendly behavior has never come naturally to Memphis, which has
        long been among the country's most perilous places for cyclists. In recent 
        years, though, riders have taken to the streets like never before, spurred by 
        a mayor who has worked to change the way residents think about commuting. 

        "Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr., elected in 2009, assumed office a year after Bicycling
        magazine named Memphis one of the worst cities in America for cyclists, not 
        the first time the city had received such a biking dishonor. But Mr. Wharton spied 
        an opportunity. 

        "In 2008, Memphis had a mile and a half of bike lanes. There are now about 
        50 miles of dedicated lanes, and about 160 miles when trails and shared 
        roads are included."

Read the entire article here.

On Sunday February 10, the very last day of the Environmental Film Festival,
naturalist/writer Stephen Hiltner will present "Saving Veblen House" at 11AM.

The contributions of Oswald Veblen, "to Princeton University and to the IAS, like 
those to the academic scene in general, were enormous." A brief obit is here. He
connected Princeton to both Einstein/geometry/relativity and ballistics/computing.

Getting back to nature, the upcoming PEFF talk about Veblen's farmstead and 
its future is bound to be informativeThis map shows the location of his house.
In its vicinity is seen, as a diagonal line in the bottom left corner, the right-of-way of
a future trail which will allow pedestrian/bike travel between VanDyke and Bunn Drive
(in that satellite image, the yellow circle is the water tower; the yellow arrow points
in the direction of the nearby Veblen house).

Some background is in this news article. The trail runs along a sewer right-of-way
for roughly half a mile, with a start/end elevation difference of around 80 feet. At
the moment it isn't really that passable, due to downed trees, patches of mud, etc.
While the entrance from the upper (Bunn Drive) end has yellow pylons and is
obvious, the connection to VanDyke at the lower end either isn't built yet, or else
might be a connection to the pavement next to Trinity All Saints cemetery.

Finally, having mentioned in a previous post the connection between Oswald Veblen 
and bike safety, now may be a good time to bring his uncle Thorstein (1857-1929),
the noted economist/sociologist, into the discussion. It seems highly probable that
I'll be encountering champagne in the near future, and champagne is often cited
as the perfect example of a Veblen good -  "a high-status, exclusive item ... which
remains appealing to certain consumers as long as prices remain high or increase"
Another good example of a Veblen good could be a limited-edition racing bicycle.

But in this era of general belt-tightening ? A cheap & cheerful bike, green belt included.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

notice: an organized ride around town on New Years Day

Princeton Freewheelers to Tour Former Perimeter of Borough

To mark the beginning of consolidation on January 1,2013, Dan Rappoport will lead a morning and an afternoon bike ride around the former perimeter of the Borough of Princeton, going in opposite directions. Mr. Rappoport is one of the incorporators of the Princeton Freewheelers, and a member of the Perimeter Bicycling Association of America.

The distance for the ride is 9 miles. Riders will assemble in the parking lot at 400 Witherspoon St. at 9:30 a.m., and meet the leader near the bike rack on the sidewalk. The tour will begin promptly at 9:45 a.m. The afternoon ride will start 15 minutes after the reorganization celebration is over, from the same location.

Read the full article (from Town Topics) here.

PS - having never heard of the "Perimeter Bicycling Association of America", 
       I paid a quick visit to their website. It seems to be a Tuscon-based 
       organization ... they had an article about "L'Eroica" which is a really
       interesting (to me, at least) event featuring vintage bikes, unpaved
       roads etc. Always the first Sunday in October, in Tuscany (not Tucson).
       If there isn't an Eroica-style event around here, hey why not launch one ?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

news about the "Freedom Trail" bikeway in South Brunswick

Dec 3, 2012:

"The South Brunswick Township Council approved an ordinance
last week to establish two crosswalks on Ridge Road and New Road in
connection with the Freedom Trail bikeway.

"The crosswalks will be placed on New Road between Ridge Road
and Route 522, and on Ridge Road near the firehouse. Once completed,
the 10-mile bikeway will run from Ridge Road in Kingston to Route 1,
and on the western side of Route 1 the path will run by Stouts Lane,
across New Road and then back to Ridge Road.

Read the entire article here. Description of Freedom Trail on this blog.

Info about the former "Rocky Hill branch" railroad is here and here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

social fitness

I was riding in the Sourlands (East Amwell township) yesterday, enjoying the sun,
when I happened to recognize the science writer/journalist Gina Kolata, who was
running in the opposite direction. Her recent NY Times piece "Updating the Message
to Get Americans Moving", can be viewed by clicking here. Here's a snippet:

     "… more recent studies using accelerometers that measure actual movement 
      rather than relying on self-reports […] the data are even more dismal. Only 3.5%
      of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 do the minimum amount of physical 
      activity recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services. Among 
      those over age 60, the percentage is even lower: 2.5%. "It is stunning," said
      […] an exercise researcher at Iowa State University."

Kolata's article from (more than) a few years ago, "Too Cold to Exercise? Try Another
Excuse" is here. My personal best on this dimension was a few years ago, early on
New Years Day. The temperature was 17F, it wasn't that enjoyable, my buddies had
postponed the ride until mid-day except I hadn't gotten that memo, but memorably, I
got a close-up eye-level view of a handsome (cold) woodpecker, along Stony Brook.

The appeal of the Sourlands for cyclists is that [a] it's scenic [b] it has the hilliest roads
around, so you can get a great workout [c] there is little motorized traffic, weekend AM.
However the roads are narrow and quite twisty, so the cyclist needs to be extra-vigilant.

The subject of this post is "social fitness", referring to the phenomenon of Strava, a
GPS-enabled app/website which allows you to compare your speed to others in
the local Strava community. For example, you can see how you rate on the well-known
challenging climbs in the Sourlands, such as Lindbergh Road or Zion Road, or else
Mine Road, north of Pennington.  With respect to "being extra vigilant in the
Sourlands", it should be obvious that Strava users also track their descent times,
and this has led to product liability lawsuits and more recently, countersuits.

Call me anti-social but for now, I think I'd prefer to remain uninformed, without a
handlebar or smartphone GPS gadget, than miss having seen that woodpecker!
But I'm glad to have learned that the word "sträva" means "strive" in Swedish, 
and I must confess their 30-second TV commercial is quite inspiring.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

request for comments, Ad-Hoc Bike Plan (Rev 0.0)

You can click here to see an initial draft of the Ad-Hoc Bike Plan document, currently
48 pages, organized according to the map being arbitrarily carved into four sectors.  The
index is below.  Any suggestions/feedback/recommendations are much appreciated.
Sectors A and B are slight compared to the others, and unfortunately we don't have
any traffic counts (usage data) yet, nor do we have a "Bike Routes" map updated.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Greater Mercer TMA monthly newsletters

GMTMA is the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association; its
 December newsletter can be viewed by clicking here.

The topics this month:

- Tackling Transportation Challenges

- The Ivy League Goes Green

- Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Commute Cost Calculator

- TMAs & Sustainable Jersey: Perfect Together

- Winter Driving Tips, Courtesy of Click and Clack

There are eight (count 'em) TMA's in New Jersey, and they have
a council which publishes its own newsletter. Click here to view it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

fyi, "Bike To Transit Stations" online survey/map

"Together with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional 
  Planning Commission, NJ Transit, and PATCO, SEPTA is now collecting information on how transit 
  stations can better accommodate bicyclists. The data will be collected through the OpenPlans 
  organization's "Shareabouts" platform, a crowdsourcing map that will allow users to click on a 
  specific stop or station and input information about its bike-related characteristics."

Here are some of the responses:

Princeton ("Dinky") Station  (1 response - they seem to have deleted mine from yesterday)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I've started seeing this new word "coffeeneuring" crop up. This is apparently
"the act act of combining two great loves" where one of the great loves is
"riding a bicycle to/from a coffee shop" and the second is either "drinking
coffee" or "just hanging out in a coffee shop". More details to be found here.

Or here's another example.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Mountain Lakes" - public talk at PPL this Thursday 7PM

Event at the public library:

"Mountain Lakes"      DATE/TIME:  Thursday, Nov 15 -     7-9PM

"Created as an ice pond in 1884, Mountain Lake gradually filled in 
 with sediment and the severe deterioration of its dams threatened 
 to drain it altogether.  Princeton Township engineering staff and 
 consultants review Mountain Lake's ice harvesting history, 
 archaeological discoveries, and the careful rehabilitation over the 
 last two years that has restored the beauty of this National Register 
 site and has preserved it for future generations."


- this blogger offers a nice color-coded version of the trail map.

- PU recently created a "Seven Parks" video which can be viewed here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

random notes

Public radio (3-minute audio clip, transcript):

      Hurricane Sandy Gets New Yorkers on Their Bikes - Lisa Mullins interviews NYC bike advocate Caroline Samponaro

From Slate Magazine:

Pedal-powered electricity generators ?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Sneakers & Cycles" fundraiser event at Littlebrook School

October 20th, 8am-10am

The Littlebrook PTO and Novo Nordisk are proud to announce Littlebrook School's 1st Annual Sneakers & Cycles 
fundraiser!  Bring the entire family and come to the Littlebrook School for a (fun) walk, run or cycle through the
Littlebrook neighborhood (~1.7 miles), with proceeds to benefit the Assemblies and Residencies Program at Littlebrook. 

Monday, September 24, 2012 article: "Why You Hate Cyclists"

Why You Hate Cyclists

"Partly because of jerks like me. But it's mostly your own illogical mind."

By Jim Saksa.      Read the entire article:

The author is a Philadelphia lawyer, find him here or else on Twitter.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

word association

According to Wikipedia,

        "The Keystone Pipeline System is a pipeline system to transport synthetic 
         crude oil and diluted bitumen ('dilbit') from the Athabasca oil sands region 
         in northeastern Alberta, Canada to multiple destinations in the United States, 
         which include refineries in Illinois, the Cushing oil distribution hub in Oklahoma, 
         and proposed connections to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas."

Here's a map indicating the path of the pipeline between Alberta and Texas.  The tar
sands are basically synonymous with the again-booming town of Fort McMurray, AB.

Interestingly (to me, at least), the well-known bike advocate Mikael-Colville Andersen
was born in Fort McMurray. Andersen originated words/concepts including cycle chic and
 "copenhagenize"  (verb; sample usage: "we'd like to copenhagenize the world"). He has
published and presented often on the topic of, in the words of this Austin-based blogger, 

In conclusion, whenever you hear a story about Keystone XL in the news it should also
perhaps trigger philosophical reflection or thoughts of two-wheeled epicurianism.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Re: Walk/Bike to School Month in October

Fun Walk to School activities:

    If anybody is interested in having fun updating/customizing
    the SRTS poster we gave out to local schools 2 years ago,
    I can email the source file. A treasure trove of trivia factoids !


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bike Circulation Plan (2002); follow-up re: "Ethicist" op-ed

Charles Carmalt is currently Philadelphia's Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator,
Board hired him over a decade ago, and the resulting 83-page document, 
"Bicycle Circulation Plan for the Princeton Community" is now online. You
can view it here:

The key chapters to read are probably VIII (Bicycle Improvement Plan) and
IX (Implementation Program), starting on Page 34 of the PDF. Carmalt's report
is teeming with quality ideas and suggestions, a few of which actually have
been implemented. Sadly, other ideas were either deemed unaffordable or
for various reasons, haven't gotten any traction in the intervening years.

The NYT op-ed piece by Randy Cohen generated several letters to the editor,
(TA) evolving from fringe to mainstream.

For more info, TA's director Paul Steely White left his tire marks on YouTube.

NYC's anti-bike viewpoint was prominently displayed in the grocery checkout line.

Monday, August 6, 2012

curb your enthusiasm for sharp-edged granite

They look swell, they add curb appeal, they are super-durable. What's
not to like about granite "Belgian block" curbing ?  One does need to
be extra-careful with ones parallel parking, lest one join the ranks of
motorists who have ruined their tire !!

In the event of a bicyclist who loses control and crashes, they are a hazard.

Excerpt below is from a letter by Ithaca's town planner to a developer:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Re: NYTimes op-ed: the ethicist weighs in

> Forget Kant.  Ethics has nothing to do with it.  

     Surely you're joking, Mr. Suber.  You gotta love Randy "The Ethicist" 
     Cohen (who doesn't have any credentials as a real philosopher, by the 
     way. Among other things, he originated the "Top Ten List" during his
     stint as one of David Letterman's comic writers).

     I'd read his columns, but didn't know he was a bike advocate. Here's
     a guy who declares "I worship at the shrine of Jeanette Sadik-Khan"
     (referring to the new pedestrian-friendly configuration of Times Square):

     His various pronouncements in this 4-minute video clip are LOL entertaining:

     Cohen gets very annoyed by cyclists riding the wrong way on one-way bike
     lanes, a dangerous practice known as "salmon cycling" (going against the current).
     Meanwhile, financial journalist / blogger Felix Salmon rebuts Cohen, saying
     "he is kidding himself that he's behaving ethically". Both columns are here:

Re: NYTimes op-ed: the ethicist weighs in

From: Mike Suber
Subject: Re: NYTimes op-ed: the ethicist weighs in
Date: Saturday, August 4, 2012, 6:01 PM

Steve et al -
Yes, I read the opinion piece on the web site.  Forget Kant. 
Ethics has nothing to do with it.  Consider the effect on other cyclists
and motorists who observe such irresponsibility: Flout the law, behave unlike
most responsible motorists, and bring derision and danger to all cyclists. 
I can't believe that TA might consider this acceptable behavior.
Mike Suber
On Sat, 4 Aug 2012 14:48:47 -0700 (PDT) Steve Kruse writes:

"If Kant Were a New York Cyclist"     by Randy Cohen

THE rule-breaking cyclist that people decry: that's me. I routinely run red lights, 
and so do you. I flout the law when I'm on my bike; you do it when  you are on 
foot, at least if you are like most New Yorkers. My behavior vexes  pedestrians, 
drivers and even some of my fellow cyclists. Similar conduct has stuck cyclists
with tickets and court-ordered biking education classes.

But  although it is illegal, I believe it is ethical. I'm not so sure about
your blithely ambling into the intersection against the light while
texting and listening to your iPod and sipping a martini. More or less.

Read the entire article at

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 "Penalty for Rule-Breaking Bicyclists: A Remedial Class"

The eight wrongdoers sat inside a windowless basement classroom, serving a 
court-ordered penance for their transgressions. For the next 90 minutes, they 
would learn about the proper rules of the road, how to use hand signals and 
when to change lanes safely — even if most did not believe they had done 
anything wrong.

Read the entire article: