Have you met the Wexters?

Whether or not you can place the name, you have met the Wexters.  You’ve probably bumped into them on the street.  The Wexters are folks who walk and text at the same time.fear-of-the-zombie-apocalypse

You’ve seen these distracted pedestrians ambling down the sidewalk, through the parking lot, and across the street with eyes down as they busily text, talk, or listen to music all at the same time.  With no idea what is going on around them, the Wexters are dangerous to themselves and others.

There are reports of distracted pedestrians that have walked into utility and sign posts, bumped into walls and other pedestrians, and stepped in front of moving cars. Occasionally, we hear of the distracted pedestrian who walked into a glass door or into a fountain.  Let us not forget the woman who fell into Lake Michigan.  A study published by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) revealed 40% have witnessed a distracted pedestrian incident and 25% admitted their own involvement in an incident.

It’s easy to laugh.  In fact, 22% of AAOS respondents think distracted walking mishaps are “funny.”  But incidents like these are no joke.  Serious injuries can and do occur.  In 2013, Ohio State University released a nationwide study which reported 256 distracted pedestrian emergency room visits in 2005.  Five years later, in 2010, the number rose more than 500% to 1,506.  This does not account for visits to personal physicians.

Avoid becoming a Wexter:

  • Keep volume on headphone low enough to hear traffic.
  • Focus on the people, objects, and obstacles around you.
  • Obey traffic signals.  Don’t jaywalk.
  • Look up especially at curbs, stairs, and escalators.
  • If you must make a call or text, step to the side, out of the way of pedestrians and traffic.

Photo credit: Found online. Unable to trace source

Riding in the Road: 8 Tips for Safe Cycling

Andrew_Peter_May07-001As a bike rider, it can be challenging to feel comfortable riding in the road with motor vehicles, but roads are often the best way to get from A to B whether for shopping, commuting or enjoying a ride. Learning to ride defensively can increase your comfort and safety, and expand the number of roads where you can ride. Here are some tips for defensive bicycling.

  • Choose your route 
    • Before your ride, select a route with the lightest or slowest traffic or the widest shoulder that gets you where you want to go. Select a route where you’re comfortable riding.
  • Ride predictably
    • Ride in a straight line, in the direction of traffic on the right side of the road. However, don’t hug the curb. Leave room to safely navigate issues such as pot holes, debris, sewer grates and other obstacles.
    • Obey traffic signs and signals, they’re for both bicyclists and motor vehicles.
    • Use extra caution around turning vehicles and at intersections. Avoid passing stopped vehicles on the right.
    • Use extra caution around large vehicle like trucks and buses, which have a larger blind spot and make wider turns.
    • When there is a short gap between parked cars, ride in a straight line rather than weaving in and out. This way, drivers see where you want to go and you can avoid merging back into the travel lane when you have to pass the next parked car.
    • Don’t swerve at the last second to avoid potholes or debris. Instead, move over early when you notice an obstacle up ahead.
  •  Be visible
    • When a travel lane is too narrow for both a bike and motor vehicle to share, move towards the center of the lane to make yourself more visible to motorists.
    • Use a front white light and red rear light in low-light conditions and at night. It’s New Jersey law.
    • Wear bright, highly visible clothing, preferably with reflective tape or patches.
  • Avoid distractions and hazards
    • Keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
    • Ride four feet from parked cars to stay out of the “door zone,” where you could collide with an opening car door.
    • Avoid drinking, eating, using your phone, or anything that requires your hands while bicycling.
    • At large, complicated or busy intersections, consider getting off your bike and walking across.
  • Communicate
    • Look behind you and scan for oncoming vehicles before making all turns.
    • Signal your turns, especially in mixed traffic and around other cyclists.
    • Make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians.
  • On the trail or sidewalk
    • When riding near pedestrians, let them know you’re there using a bell or your voice.
    • Reduce speed when passing pedestrians and other cyclists.
    • Slow down and use extra care at intersections and blind corners.
  • Have the right equipment
    • Wear a helmet every time you ride.
    • Ride a bike that’s the right size for you.
    • Keep your bike in good working order. Check tire pressure, brakes, and chain regularly.
  • Ride more and learn more!
    • When driving look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.
    • Consider taking a Smart Cycling class from the League of American Bicyclists.

The Best Commute in New Jersey

kmm guest post blogI boast to myself often, and sometimes to co-workers, that I have the best commute in New Jersey!   My name is Sam Gilbert, and I bicycle several days a week from Middlesex Borough to the Johnson and Johnson campus in New Brunswick.  Approximately 6 miles of my 9 mile commute is along the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath. I enter the towpath at the Queen’s Bridge in South Bound Brook, and exit it at the Landing Lane Bridge.  And, it is a truly a pleasurable ride.

I average 70 or 80 bike commutes a year, excluding the winter.   Though I carry rain gear in my back pack when the weather is “iffy,” I tend to ride on days when the weather reports are favorable.  And, in case you’re wondering, I do have access to a shower at work!!

An added treat is the wildlife I enjoy along the canal.  A casual birder, I have seen herons, osprey, a great Horned Owl, a Bald Eagle and more!  Deer are a given.  But, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, muskrats are also to be seen.  And then, there are the beavers.

KMM guest post blogIn the past few years, there has been a population explosion of Beavers in NJ. I’ve seen few of them along the canal in the past.   But this year, beavers are swimming in the canal almost every day! There is beaver hut on the bank of the canal approximately 100 yards south of the footbridge near where Demott Lane meets the canal.  A beaver is often seen in this area, and I see another near the Landing Lane Bridge.  I suspect there is a beaver hut in this area.

“The best bicycle commute in NJ?  OK, maybe I exaggerate, but only slightly.   I REALLY do enjoy my ride.  Perhaps some other NJ Bike commuters will share their experiences of cycling to work.  If there is a better bicycle commute than mine, I’d sure like to read about it.

Post written by guest blogger, S. Gilbert.  Photos by guest blogger, S. Gilbert

The Winter Doldrums

kmm.orgDon’t let winter weigh you down.  Lift your family’s spirits with a brisk walk.  A walk around the corner, to a friend’s house, to the park, to the skating rink or sledding hill, or even to school in the sunshine and fresh cold air can put everyone in a better mood. Sound impossible? Here are some winter walking tips to put the spring in your step.

  • Be role model apoteketgenerisk.com/! If winter walking is normal to you, it’ll be normal to your children.
  • Being warm is not just about clothing.  Start out with a good breakfast and drink fluids to stay well-hydrated.
  • Dress appropriately. Bundle up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarves, of course. But also consider warm, waterproof boots (snow boots) and snow pants for snowy or very cold days.  Dress in layers.
  • Walking is more fun with friends! Recruit friends and neighbors to join you.
  •  Short winter days means dusk comes earlier.  Be visible.  Consider carrying a flashlight or clipping reflective tags to coats and backpacks.

Spring will be here before you know it, and April is New Jersey Walk and Bike to School Month. Now is a great time to bring in KMM for a school Walking Safety Assembly and to start planning a Spring Walk to School Day. Contact Safe Routes to School Coordinator Peter Bilton at (732) 745-3996 to find out more.

iCarpoolNJ ~ Do you?

icarpoolnjpage KMMCommuters who visit www.iCarpoolNJ.com are eligible for gift card incentives in two ways.  Those who take a brief online survey will be entered to win a $25 gift card. Once the survey is completed, participants can refer their friends to register with KMM for ridesharing.

If a NEW, previously unregistered, referral completes a rideshare application, KMM will send the person who made the referral a gift card. Gift cards will be awarded for referral of NEW applicants only. Participants can receive up to 4 gift cards*.  In addition, the new rideshare applicants will also receive a thank you gift.

This program is KMM’s way of thanking commuters for recommending our rideshare service to their friends and family. For more information, log on to www.icarpoolnj.com.

*While supplies last

Be Social for the Holidays with KMM

week1overtheriverBe Social for the Holidays  by snapping a picture and sharing it with KMM.  Each week, KMM will post a theme and encourage everyone to capture a picture that embodies the theme.  And because it is the jolliest season of all, each week’s theme pertains to the Holiday Season.

This week’s theme is: Over the river and through the woods to…

It’s easy to participate.  Take a picture using the selected theme and share it on either Google +  Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and make sure to tag your photo ‪#‎kmmwintercommuter‬.

A winning photo will be selected each week and receive a $5 gift card to Dunkin Donuts. All entries this week must be submitted by Friday at 4pm and a winner will be announced each Monday at 11am on KMM’s Facebook page.

Good Luck & Happy Holidays!

Dreaming of a Mall Holiday?

Photo Credit: USA Today
Photo Credit: USA Today

Ah the holidays, “the most wonderful time of the year.”  You’ve made your list.  You’ve checked it twice.  Sure, you’ve ordered some gifts online but it just not the same as shopping at a brick and mortar store.  You love the carols and decorated windows.  You enjoy sharing smiles and warm greetings with other shoppers, indulging in a hot cocoa and cookie, and carrying festive bags to your car.  So, you’re off to the mall.

That’s when the dream begins to unravel.  Before you can hear the jingle bells, see the glittery displays, and drink your hot cocoa, you have to park your car.  Can there be a worse place than a retail parking lot in December?

It’s mayhem from the moment you enter the lot until the moment you leave.  AAA Mid-Atlantic offers some great tips for navigating the mall parking lot:

Play the outfield.  Everyone wants a space near the door and many will fight for the right to park upfront.  Head to the back of the lot.  Usually, the outlying area has more open spaces, lighter traffic, and a lower risk of collision.  But, remote spaces may be less secure, so be mindful of the risks particularly returning to your car at night.  If you’re shopping alone and have a number of packages, ask a mall security guard to accompany you to your car.

See and be seen.  Use your headlights when searching for a space in a parking garage. Avoid parking between a pair of SUVs or minivans as it might be hard to back out of the space.

Remember where you’ve parked.   Choose a well-lit area to park during early morning hours and at night.  Pay attention to where you’ve parked, noting signs and markers.  Take a picture with your smartphone.  When returning to your car, have your keys in hand and check the car’s interior before entering the vehicle.  Use a penlight at night.

Stay on track and be alert.  When behind the wheel always watch for pedestrians, especially small children.  Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available.  If pedestrians must walk in traffic lanes, they should watch for exhaust or reverse lights – a sure sign that the vehicle is about to pull out.

Put it down.  Mobile devices distract pedestrians and can lead to unfortunate encounters with vehicles, other pedestrians, or even thieves.  Drivers, too, should stow the mobile device and pay attention to the activity around them.

Use the trunk.  It takes a thief only a few seconds to smash a car window.  Lock you purchases in the trunk, away from prying eyes.

Take transit.  Check out the bus schedules on njtransit.com.  NJ Transit is offering extended service on many popular bus routes to major malls until December 27.

If your holiday experience includes a trip to the mall, be bright, be merry, and be safe.

New Brunswick Ciclovia Did it Again!

Our super nurse volunteers (courtesy Diana Starace, Safe Kids  Middlesex County)
Our super nurse volunteers                                                       (courtesy Diana Starace, Safe Kids Middlesex County)

KMM and Safe Kids Middlesex County (based at the Level 1 Trauma Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital) teamed up again to distribute free bicycle helmets and challenge kid’s bike safety skills at New Brunswick Ciclovia.

The third city-wide open streets event of this year took place on Sunday, October 12th. Four volunteers from the nursing program at New Jersey City University helped us fit helmets on heads, explain the importance of helmet use to kids and parents, and guide children through a short skill course.

Riding the course (courtesy Veronica Torres)
Riding the course (courtesy Veronica Torres)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to all the families that came out on this beautiful day!

Before and After: KMM’s Field Work Yields Results

Often, things don’t happen quickly in the field of transportation demand management.  Projects can take years to go from conception to design to implementation.  So, I was a little self-satisfied when I saw the new blinking yellow traffic signal and Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk signs on New Brunswick’s Paterson Street near Robert Wood Johnson (RWH) Medical Center.

My colleague drives the route everyday and noticed that the crosswalk traffic light was always green, indicating drivers had the right of way.  Yet, pedestrians would cross the street boldly in front of oncoming cars.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” she exclaimed.

Late last year, I investigated.  My field observations confirmed her concerns.  The light remained green because pedestrians didn’t push the button for the pedestrian crossing signal.  They didn’t use the button because it took 30 seconds for the light to change.DSC00857

Sometimes the motorist would stop; sometimes not.  Sometimes a pedestrian would look left-right-left, sometimes the pedestrian would step into the street without a glance.  Lacking clear directions, pedestrians and motorists had established an uneasy truce.

My report contained a number of recommendations to improve the conditions.  It was presented to various stakeholders.  I thought it might end up on the shelf like other reports.  But, I was wrong.

Recently, my colleague urged me to return to Paterson Street.  I was happily surprised to see that the red and green phases of the traffic light have been replaced with a flashing yellow light.  Two pedestrian crossing signs have been placed in the roadway.  These economical, simple, quick fixes have reduced confusion and created a safer environment in which pedestrians and motorists can co-exist.

I congratulate the stakeholders who made this happen.DSC01005

The World Gathers to Demand Climate Change Action Plan

mombabyclimatemarchUN Secretary General Ban K-Moon was there.  So were NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Leonardo DeCaprio.  So was an unnamed baby resting on his Mother’s chest.   My wife and I were there, too.  We were among the 310,000 marchers who gathered in Central Park on Sunday for the People’s Climate March just 2 days before the UN Climate Conference on September 23.

New York City was not alone.  Hundreds of thousands like-minded people came together in cities around the world to support climate change action now.

The purpose of the UN Conference is to catalyze “action by governments, business, finance, industry, and civil society … for new commitments and substantial, scalable and replicable contributions …that will help the world shift toward a low-carbon economy.”  The Secretary General called for UN members to “innovate, scale-up, cooperate and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap.”

March organizers said it was time to “demand action not words.”  Yet, it was through the words in chants and on banners that participants got their message across.

“There is no planet B”

“Don’t nuke the climate”

“Don’t frack with us”

Fracking= Climate change

“Treat your mama (Earth) with respect.”

 climatemarchkmmMy wife and I were fascinated that people of all ages, nationalities, religions and political perspectives marched peacefully and energetically united in a common cause.  As concerned citizens who worry about the future of our planet for our grandchildren and yours, we were proud to be part of the Climate March and left NYC feeling hopeful about the “day after tomorrow. “