Sunday, August 24, 2014

announcing Operation Photo Op

I had briefly mentioned in a previous post about what might go on
the cover of the upcoming "Biking in Princeton" paper map, to be
published within a few months. It hasn't been decided yet.

So for those among you who enjoy photography or drawing/sketching,
or know somebody who does, we encourage you to search in your
collection for a suitable image to include on the cover of our map. Or
wait for a fine cloudless day (today for example) and go make one.

The rules concerning format are, for the moment, pretty loose, and will
be specified by Nat Case, the cartographer in charge of the map. But

- the artwork or photo will need to be a digital file, not hard copy.

- send an email with your entry/submission to ""

- entries will be accepted until midnight on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

- you agree to donate or freely share your art with the public. For free.

- be aware of the rules/guidelines when taking photos in a public space.

- make it interesting and artful, okay ? 

Examples and counter-examples:

This scenic shot might be effective, except would get rejected
since it isn't recognizably Princeton. On the other hand, this photo
isn't usable since we don't know who owns the copyright, and
there is nary a helmet-clad bicyclist to be seen. Same problem here.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Comedian and the Bike Builder (from

From The Wall Street Journal:  Robin Williams and Dario Pegoretti: The Comedian and the Bike Builder
by Jason Gay

By now, you may have heard that Robin Williams was a cycling fanatic. He loved the sport—its history, its 
pageantry, its champions magnificent and raffish.

He was also a devoted rider, and adored the machinery. Williams collected bikes of all types, but he was 
passionate about one brand in particular: Pegoretti. If you know bicycles, you probably know Pegorettis. 
Custom-made in Italy by master builder Dario Pegoretti, who built frames for cycling icons such as Miguel
Indurain, they are wild pieces of art, almost always steel, colorfully painted by hand. They're also serious
road machines. Imagine riding a high-performance Basquiat. That's a Pegoretti.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ride idea: visit the Jersey girl "more recognized than Albert Einstein"

Google search using keywords "more recognized than Albert Einstein" yields
somebody you might not expect: Elsie the Cow.

Elsie was created in the 1930s to symbolize the "perfect dairy product". For a time in 
the mid-1940s when she was voiced by actress Hope Emerson, she was better known 
than some human celebrities, and remains among the most recognizable product logos
in North America. The first Elsie, "You'll Do, Lobelia," was a registered Jersey heifer born
at Elm Hill Farm in Brookfield, MA.  She became a star at the 1939 Worlds Fair and
was driven all over the country in "the Cowdillac", which unfortunately was rear-ended
at a US 1 traffic light in 1941, causing Elsie's early demise. Her unmarked grave is in what was
once the Walker-Gordon Dairy Farm, now a housing development, just off Plainsboro Road.

There's a headstone to memorialize Elsie, near this easy-to-spot wooden gazebo. Its
rough location is marked on this map of a fairly easy bike ride, mostly on the towpath.

Subsequent Elsie's, of which there were apparently around 50 through the years, came
from dairy farms located near Albany, the third locus of Elsie the Cow news stories.


"If you see something, say something" -- Holly Chabowski

Aarhus-based Briton Holly Chabowski, 30, toured parts of Canada with a friend from Denmark, Nanna Sorensen, 23. 
The two spent time in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax. They also rented a car and saw 
various national parks, including Forillon, as part of their 5-week visit. Apparently, on the whole, they encountered 
an unhappy shock. It stands to reason they found lots of cars, highways and congestion in those major urban
centers. But they were equally appalled by a sense of active bias against anything that wasn't car-oriented.

in the Ottawa Citizen (daily newspaper).

The letter caused a flurry of reactions, from the usual tribal outrage when an outsider criticises one's way of 
life, to explanations that Canada is too cold and/or too sparse to be anything but car-centric; this post in the 
Hazlitt Magazine blog does a good job of debunking the latter. 

"This has gotten so much attention because it's obviously an issue that people really care about," Chabowski
told The Local. "I would encourage everybody who feels strongly about an issue, regardless of what it is, to 
do something about it. Whatever your issue is, I think you should stand up and direct your energies toward 
people who can make change."

Meanwhile, Toronto mayor Rob Ford, the champion of the car-dependent suburbs who started his career with 
photo opportunities tearing up bike paths before going spectacularly off the rails, stands a chance of reelection
in October.

Related topic: If You See Something, Say Something, an op-ed piece re: scientists and climate change.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

the moon's a balloon (tire)

The Super Moon bike ride last Sunday night with start/end at Rosedale
Lake was quite a cool event. The turnout was amazing - there must have
been over 500 participants. The conditions seemed perfect - clear sky,
no bugs. The event was co-sponsored by Lawrence-Hopewell Trail Corp
and the Mercer County Parks Commissions. While there were a few
hiccups and some (including yours truly) failed to navigate the loop,
or didn't see any meteors, it was still altogether a fun experience, and
one I hope to see repeated in years to come.

Digression:   The technical term for a supermoon is "perigee-syzygy of the
Earth-Moon-Sun system". In astronomy, the term "syzygy" refers to the straight-
line configuration of three celestial bodies, which also occurs during a full moon.

Perhaps some day (or night) we organize our own bike ride event under a full moon.
Of course we'd need to name it The Ride of the Syzygy, I suppose. Not only due to
all the astronomers who live in town, but also those among us who miss The X-Files.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Easy Group Rides In Princeton This Weekend (August 9-10)

If the wonderful weather has got you in the mood for a bike ride, there are two great options this coming weekend around Princeton. They're not official Pedestrian and Bicycling Advisory Committee events, but are still worth checking out.

First, you have the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail 'Supermoon Bike Ride'.  It's on Sunday evening, August 10, starting at 8.30 p.m. from Mercer Meadows Park. The ride will take advantage of the full moon and the Perseid Meteor Shower. It should be a unique experience! For over 12s- remember to register and bring a helmet and lights.

Second, we have the first in a series of 'Fun Rides' around Princeton. These rides are going to be led by me, Sam Bunting (as seen in the photo above at the 5 Boro Bike Ride) - because I like a nice gentle group ride and I want to give others the opportunity to join me in a safe, social tour of Princeton. Recently, I have been doing some rides with Princeton Free Wheelers, our excellent local bike club. They have rides for all abilities, but not many really easy rides in Princeton itself. The 'Fun Rides' are going to be every 2 weeks, and are intended for all ages and abilities (helmets required, under 18s must be accompanied by an adult). It's going to be an official Free Wheelers event, but you can ride once without joining the club. Hopefully you will like it and decide it's worth joining up for more! (It's only $25 / individual or $35 / family to become a member).

The first 'Fun Ride' will be this Saturday, August 9, at 5.30 p.m. starting from the plaza in front of the Princeton Municipal Building at 400 Witherspoon St. The route will be 7.1 miles taking in the sights of the University & surrounding neighborhoods, with a stop half-way for ice-cream. If you can't make it this time, there will hopefully be many more, including one on Sat, Aug 23. Email me for details ( or visit our event page on Facebook.

Finally, the next official PBAC ride, in association with Princeton Police Department, will be "The Mayor's Ride of the Falling Leaves" - a repeat of our popular event from last fall. It will happen this year on October 19.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

avoid stress, follow bliss

> But where do you feel are the very worst "high stress" sections of road in/near Princeton ?

        Thank you to all who replied.  We think it will be important to flag or somehow
        denote the not-so-fun sections of our road network in the upcoming bike map.

        We've been strategizing about what to put on the cover of said map. It will need to
        be interesting, and eye-catching. I got to thinking this New Yorker Cartoon by Harry
        Bliss would be ideal, except (a) it is no doubt pricey, and (b) one of the protagonists
        is riding sans helmet, not to mention other transgressions (c) surely I'm joking. So fresh
        ideas may be needed - stay tuned.

        The cartoonist/essayist Tim Kreider recently published an entertaining paean to cat
        ownership. There's a link to it here. A couple of years ago, as part of a series on
        Anxiety, the NYTimes published Kreider's essay Cycle of Fear wherein he, an
        anxiety-prone cat person, reports that cycling in Manhattan gives him the feeling of
        being "most fully and electrically alive".
        Giving equal time to the opposing view, here's a clip of "Eddie", cycling's most cinematic


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Peter Furth is a civil and environmental engineering professor at Northeastern University,
and co-author of a new report out from the Mineta Transportation Institute that looks at
how varying levels of "traffic stress" on different city streets can limit where people are
willing to ride. 

Furth and his colleagues mapped out the different levels of stress on the streets of San Jose,
California, and they find that while many streets are calm enough for most riders, they're
sliced up by streets with high levels of stress. High-stress streets are measured as those
with high speed limits, limited or non-existent bike lanes and signage, and large distances
to cross at intersections. 

Furth's maps show how high stress streets create islands of low-stress bikeability that are
disconnected from each other.       Read more about this here and here.

But where do you feel are the very worst "high stress" sections of road in/near Princeton ?

My list would include:

                 - Cherry Valley Road (sections of it)

                 - Quaker Road (since it has no shoulder) between Province Line and Princeton Pike

                 - State Road (206 between Cherry Hill and Herrontown, over the ridge)

                 - the stretch of 206 (Lawrence Rd, Stony Brook bridge/dip, Quaker Road egress)

                 - the stretch of Harrison before/after it crosses Nassau/27 (road is narrow)

                 - any crossing of Route 1 (Harrison, Washington, Alexander, Scudders Mill inbound)

If you have an opinion and want it registered, please send a quick email to