August 30th is National Beach Day!

Everyone loves a trip to the beach, right? Watching the waves crashing, children playing in the sand, and feeling the warmth of the sun makes for the perfect beach day!

It’s such a great experience that we should always ensure the enjoyment it brings to everyone headed down the shore.

Every year, millions of aquatic/shore animals die from trash and debris left behind by beachgoers. It is important that everyone enjoying their day at the beach take the time to leave no trace of their fun once it’s over. Simply cleaning up after yourself and picking up waste reduces the risk of animals being trapped or tangled in trash. This also lessens the chance that their homes will be destroyed by garbage, allowing them to swim freely and live a longer healthier life.

Not only does cleaning up help protect the animals; it keeps the waters cleaner and safer for you to be in. Whether you swim, dive, or surf, being in the water with garbage floating around doesn’t make the experience a pleasant one. If you see trash laying in the sand, plastic bottles in the water or anything that could be dangerous, throw it out properly. You can do this by using a garbage can or recycle bin to dispose of the trash. Having cleaner waters doesn’t allow as many toxins to spread which overall makes swimming safer for everyone.

Celebrate your love for the shore this Thursday, August 30 on National Beach Day! This national holiday is meant to not only celebrate the beauty of the beach but also call attention to keeping the waters clean and safe for everyone. Be sure you do your part by keeping the beaches clean for the animals that live there and for all the generations of beachgoers to come!

August is National Family Fun Month

August is National Family Fun Month, which means it’s a great opportunity to seize the remainder of summer by spending time with family. Here are some cool activities to help you and your family finish out the summer!

Take a family bike ride. Make sure everyone is wearing properly fitted helmets and all bikes are in good riding condition. Following our A B C Bicycle Safety Checklist is a great way to make sure your bikes are ready to ride.

Going on a last minute family beach trip is not only exciting, but it is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and make sure you apply sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the suns UV rays.

Lace up your sneakers and take a walk with the family. Walking in the park, on the beach, or around your neighborhood is a great way to stay active together. Remember that cars do not always see pedestrians walking, so make sure you look both ways before crossing the street and always be aware of your surroundings.

After a long day at work, the thought of going out can be exhausting. To avoid this, consider having a family movie night.  Pick out your favorite family movie, get the popcorn ready, and enjoy the night together.

The month of August doesn’t have to mean back to school shopping and the thought of summer ending. Instead, spending time with your family is a great way to make the most of summer’s last days.  It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are safe and are having fun with your family!

Subway System – 25 Years in the Making

Recently, I visited my Mother in Isfahan, Iran.  Isfahan, my hometown, is a metropolitan city in the center of Iran with a regional population of 3.5 million.

The day before I was scheduled to return to the US, I decided to walk downtown and observe the changes that had occurred since I immigrated to the West 22 years ago.  I really wanted to check out the city’s subway system.

From 1982-1992, I was the Deputy Director of the State Transportation Department and Chairman of the Board of Isfahan Traffic Organization.  I was part of the team that worked on the feasibility study for the subway system.

It started with a group of volunteer professionals, including myself, willing to devote our personal time to the dream of a modern transportation system in our town.  We compiled data which documented the urgent need for a subway to supplement the existing but inadequate public transit system, the limited capacity of city streets, and increasing traffic congestion.  With enthusiastic community support, we believed it could happen.  In fact, the National Traffic Council and the Congress supported the project and allocated funding for its construction.

But then, the geopolitical landscape changed.  There was no money to move forward.

I had heard that the subway had finally been completed and opened in October 2015.  The subway system stretches along 7.5 miles of track with 10 stations.  Currently, there is a plan to add about 25 miles and 3 more lines.  Now, I was ready to see it for myself.

The train was on time, and the ride was so quiet and comfortable. The stations look clean and pleasant with beautiful designs of cultural artworks, escalators running to and from the street, good signage and guide maps, and other amenities for riders.  With a feeling of great accomplishment and a little pride, I bought a ticket and took a ride on the subway I never thought would be constructed.

As I rode, I thought of my colleagues, our work, our vision, and our determination all those years ago.  And, I remembered an old saying “Every Accomplishment Starts with the Decision to Try.”

 

Written by Morteza Ansari, KMM Transportation Planner

O Tannenbaum, How Lovely Are Your Branches

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Pinterest

In NJ and around the world, cutting down a Christmas tree has become a family tradition.  On a crisp December day, Mom and Dad bundle up the kids, pile into the car, and head out to a tree farm.  Hack saw in hand, they trek through the fields and over the hills inspecting, rejecting, and finally, finding the perfect tree.  Alternatively, the family stops at a nearby lot and selects a pre-cut tree.  Wherever the tree is purchased, it has to be brought home.  That’s when the trouble starts.

While this stately tree may fit perfectly in front of your picture window, it may be a bit oversized for your car.  How do you transport your Tannenbaum safely from field to foyer?

The folks at www.cars.com asked the experts at the National Christmas Tree Association for some tips on transporting your tree.

  • Get your Christmas tree netted before leaving the lot to make it more manageable. If it’s going on the roof, the trunk should be facing front.
  • Make sure to select a tree that will either fit inside your cargo area or on top of your roof. A roof rack is a good idea.
  • Have enough rope or cord to wrap around the tree and secure it to the roof rack or to cargo hooks.
  • Protect the cargo area or roof with a tarp or blanket.
  • Before leaving the lot, give the tree a good tug to make sure it’s secure.
  • Drive slowly and avoid the highway. Heavy objects affect your vehicle’s center of gravity and consequently emergency handling.

The NJ State Police emphasize that improperly secured trees can cause the tree to slide down the windshield and obstructing the driver’s view or falling off the roof and strike another vehicle.  They suggest planning ahead and arrive in a vehicle to support the size of tree you select.

Whether your holiday plans call for “rockin’ around the Christmas tree,” or sitting in quiet contemplation, make sure you and your tree arrive home safely.

“Waes Hael” and Be Safe

carolingLike many traditions, caroling harkens back to olden times.  On Twelfth Night, people in the apple growing regions of southern and western England gathered in orchards for wassailing. Because wages were often paid in apple cider, a bountiful harvest was necessary for the livelihood of the landowner and laborers.  Dancing and singing traditional songs, the people paraded through the orchards pouring apple cider on the trees and settling cider soaked bread on branches to chase away evil spirits.  They toasted the apple trees with a hearty “waes hael” (good health.)

Today, families and friends keep the tradition alive with a night of caroling.  Like the ancients, they walk through neighborhoods singing favorite carols and perhaps stopping for food and drink.

Unlike the ancients, carolers today may be walking on cold nights and icy sidewalks.  Keep these winter walking tips in mind.

  • Bundle up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarves.
  • Wear sensible, warm, waterproof boots for snowy or very cold nights.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Stay hydrated.  Carry a thermos with water or hot cocoa.
  • Carry a battery operated lantern or a flashlight to light the walk and to be seen by drivers. Be visible.

Have a great time!

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.

Lace up your Sneakers

roosevelt-park-middlesex-countyjpg-1f9815b2dbf4c121With the weather slowly (very slowly) warming up,  everyone is spending more and more time outside walking, playing or just enjoying the fresh air.

Here in New Jersey, we are very lucky to have some of the most beautiful parks to explore  and we also have many communities that boast hiking trails and fun parks.

But before you lace up your sneakers, here are some walking safety tips.

Visibility – Make sure that you can be seen.
  • Wear bright-colored or light-colored clothing such as a cap, hat, jacket, vest  to make you more visible to other ans drivers.
  • Attach a piece of high visibility fluorescent material to your purse, backpack, briefcase, or any item in plain view.
Awareness – Make sure someone knows of your plans if you are hiking.
  • Inform family or a friend if you are planning a hike or long walk.
  • Make sure to have a bottle of water and some fruit or nutrition bars.
  • Bring your charged cellphone and a back-up battery.
Community Walking – Walking in the city poses many risks.  Know what is expected of you as a pedestrian

  • Cross only at corners or designated crosswalks.
  • Stop at the curb and look left-right-left.
  • Before stepping off the curb, be sure all vehicles have stopped. Make sure drivers see you.
  • Walk in front of parked cars instead of behind them whenever possible.
  • Listen for engine noise
  • Look for back-up lights.
Walking can be an enjoyable way to not only explore your community but it’s a great way to exercise too!  Happy Walking!
Photo Credit: Roosevelt Park, Middlesex County, NJ

Lunch Time by Foot

walkingKMM is located in the heart of vibrant New Brunswick, NJ where banks, the post office, all sorts of stores, and even the State Theater are within walking distance. Our staff relishes all this convenience, especially at lunch time when the city is our oyster.

American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean, and Ethiopian cuisine as well as the Hyatt’s Glasswoods Tavern offer attractive eat in options. For something fast, New Brunswick boasts barbeque, burgers, soups, salads, hot dogs, subs, and sandwiches. And, if we just can’t decide, we head over to the new supermarket which has an abundant take out menu. We frequent delightful ice cream and yogurt shops guilt free because we are walking to and from the yummy establishments.

Admittedly, winter has curtailed our lunchtime outdoor activities somewhat. For now, we’re mostly brown bagging around our conference table.

Despite the cold, wind, snow, and ice, we do get out, waiting for the “perfect” day, defined loosely as one with temperatures above 20 degrees and no precipitation. Lacing up our boots, putting on our mittens, and wrapping up in scarves, and hats, we’re ready to brave the elements. Walking gingerly to avoid ice, we mince our way down the sidewalk to a nearby eatery for something hot to eat-in or take out.

Sadly, we’ve haven’t enjoyed too many of these excursions. When it comes to walking in winter, we use common sense. If it’s cold, if it’s slippery, if the snow is piled high at intersections, we stay in the office and look longingly at our sneakers sitting untouched in the corner waiting, like us, for Spring.

New Jersey Commuter’s Guide to Super Bowl XLVIII

super-bowl-48-broncos-vs.-seahawksWell, the week we have all been waiting for is finally here!

Super Bowl XLVIII is in full swing and in a few short days, the Seattle Seahawks will meet the Denver Broncos right here in Jersey!

For commuters, this week can be a little more hectic than normal.  But since we are #jerseystrong, we don’t mind the extra traffic or people on our commute.  In fact, the more the merrier!

Here is what you need to know:

Highways – Most of the Route 3, Route 17, Route 21, Route 120, NJ Turnpike area will see increased traffic up until game day.  Additionally, Route 80, Route 46 and the bridges and tunnels will see increases too! If you can, avoid driving through the area and try to find an alternate route.  Sign up for 511nj.org alerts (you can register for just this week too) and you will receive all the alerts you need.  Also, check with coworkers and neighbors and make the commute with a friend and carpool!

Mass Transit users – Expect company on the trains this week.  As the week progresses, consider telecommuting to avoid the crowds, if telecommuting is an option.  If not, accept that trains will be more crowded and show our new friends how great Jersey can be.  For those of you with the super saver passes, remember you can also show that pass to a host of eateries across NJ for discounts on your meals!  For complete info, visit the #njtransit website.

Game Day – If you are one of the lucky people with tickets, keep in mind fan screenings begin at 2pm on game day.  Expect various check points to ensure everyone’s safety.  For a complete list of do’s and don’ts, check out the NJ State Police’s informative post!

Jersey House Party – Yes, we Jersey folks know how to put on a party and since we encourage everyone to stay off the roads, check out theses terrific party ideas from New Jersey’s very own Party Bluprints.

Now let’s just hope the weather cooperates……