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.