Federal Transportation Alternatives Program Needs Support

TCR recently signed on to a letter to Senator Toomey regarding the Transportation Alternatives Program.  Thankfully, the Senator decided not to offer his amendment striking Sec. 213 Transportation Alternatives Program from the U.S. Code.  He had filed it against the Senate Finance Committee bill extending and funding MAP-21 into next year, but took no further action on its behalf. The bill passed Committee, but has become embroiled in a larger Senate skirmish on how or if to extend MAP-21.  Many factors undoubtedly influenced Sen. Toomey’s decision not to pursue his anti-TAP amendment, but most certainly the incredible outpouring of support for TAP from Pennsylvanians, and groups like ours was among them.

In the past few weeks, bike/ped/trail supporters have fought and prevailed in three congressional battles over continued federal funding for active transportation, Safe Routes to School, and the Recreational Trails Program. It seems our Congressional leadership needs to hear from us even more to better understand the importance of increasing funding for valuable active transportation programs.

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Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire – Jackson Response

2014 Trenton Mayoral Candidates

On February 24, TCR emailed a list of 8 questions to the mayoral candidates requesting their responses by March 28.

On April 16, the Eric Jackson campaign submitted the second set of responses to the TCR mayoral candidate questionnaire. Please click here to read the full text of Mr. Jackson’s responses.

We were especially thrilled by this response regarding the connectivity of streets and trails in Trenton:

If elected, I would be interested in having a member of my administration assigned to working with neighboring municipalities to increase trail and street connectivity as well as promote regional use of the D&R Canal, a potentially great asset to our City. My Administration would participate in any existing regional coordinating efforts, and if none exist, would help to foster creation of such a collaboration. We would also work through our existing Green Team to make this happen.

A regional approach is correct and Trenton could certainly provide more vocal leadership. There are several existing initiatives in which Trenton has previously and still does participate, and a new mayor’s insights and support would be most welcome.

Mr. Jackson’s definition of a complete street was very technically correct, so we know someone can google, but the implementation plan definitely got our attention for being specific, supportive and smart:

I would do a review of the policy upon being elected to Office to determine if there are retrofits that could be initiated. I would also look to make sure the policy is integrated with existing city ordinances as well as relevant county laws and regulations that affect our City. The policy should not be a stand alone policy, but rather should be integrated across City Departments. I would also look for opportunities to increase safety of pedestrians and cyclists throughout the City and marketing events and opportunities to promote walking and cycling, including working with the public health community.

The response regarding the D&R Canal is also worth noting:

I would encourage collaborations with the non-profit sector, including TCR, Isles, D&R Greenway, and others, all relevant levels of government, and neighboring municipalities. I would prioritize the clean-up and safety of the Canal Greenway, and work to promote events and activities centered upon the D&R Canal Greenway. I would also advocate for the State to lease out the canal houses in Trenton.

This is another smart approach, and while this answer is technically correct and we are supportive of the broad based solution, ultimately, the responsibility for park and trail maintenance (not just the canal houses) lies with the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Superintendent.

Overall, thoughtful replies from Mr. Jackson with some very good ideas, and we appreciate the response!

Still no responses from Ms. McBride, Mr. Perez nor Mr. Worthy. If anyone has contact information for Mr. Leggett, we want to ask him as well! Here again is the link to the full text of the TCR questionnaire from Mr. Jim Golden.

*UPDATE: For the synopsis of responses from Mr. Perez, the other run-off candidate, please click here.

Trenton Cycling Revolution is non-partisan and will not be making an endorsement in the 2014 Trenton mayoral election. However, as concerned citizens and residents, we want to understand the positions of the candidates. We are especially interested in how each candidate might build upon our success developing a bicycle and pedestrian culture in Trenton and which candidates might disrupt our progress.

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Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire – Golden Response

Trenton Cycling Revolution is non-partisan and will not be making an endorsement in the 2014 Trenton mayoral election. However, as concerned citizens and residents, we want to understand the positions of the candidates. We are especially interested in how each candidate might build upon our success developing a bicycle and pedestrian culture in Trenton and which candidates might disrupt our progress.

2014 Trenton Mayoral Candidates

On February 24, TCR emailed a list of 8 questions to the mayoral candidates requesting their responses by March 28.

On March 29, Jim Golden was the first to respond with answers to our questions. For the full document, please see Responses to TCR questionnaire from Jim Golden. We greatly appreciate the reply, and especially this opening sentiment:

I share your fundamental desire to make Trenton a healthier, more environmentally friendly and fun place to live.

Yet, some of Mr. Golden’s responses make us a little nervous. Although he appears to understand the concept of a complete street, Mr. Golden doesn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement for the comprehensive complete streets policy Trenton adopted in 2012, which was ranked number 8 in the nation:

Our budget priorities will be largely influenced by the Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) approach we plan to implement.   Department directors will be responsible for crafting spending proposals and presenting them in public forums.  They will explain costs and expected measurable benefits and the public will actually vote on their priorities.   These priorities will be submitted to City Council and will inform each budget we present.

We will ask that as one of the Public Works Department’s proposals they submit a plan to implement the “Compete Streets” policy as part of PBB.

While we understand the hesitation to over commit during the campaign, asking one department to submit a proposal isn’t exactly what we had in mind for “implementing” the city’s nationally recognized complete streets policy. We think Priority Based Budgeting would likely be positive for the city, but there are many follow-up questions about the specifics of such an exercise.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of Mr. Golden’s response proposes a Trenton trolley system:

One specific tactic that we intend to pursue in order to make the city more walkable is to develop a user friendly trolley system in Trenton that replaces most bus routes and links downtown and the Trenton Transit Center to all wards.   We expect such a system to increase Trenton’s walkability by allowing residents to not need a car when taking the short trip to downtown or to other markets.  It will be part of a hub and spoke system connecting the transit center to the rest of the city.

We’re intrigued, and curious to hear how  replacing downtown bus routes might work. We completely agree about the need to link the Trenton Transit Center with the downtown and all wards, but we tend to think better bike lanes and marked crosswalks would do more to improve accessibility, at a far lower cost.

Mr. Golden does know how to ride a bike:

I learned to ride a bike in the inner city of Philadelphia when I was eight years old.  Although we own two bikes, my wife and I typically go bike riding whenever we travel on family vacations.  It’s been a couple of years since I last rode, but riding a bike is always a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

At another point, Mr. Golden has a good suggestion for us:

One suggestion that I’ll make to TCR is to create a bike tour event that retraces the routes General Washington and his troops took into and out of Trenton.   You might see me on a bike for that.

Regardless of what happens in the election, we will have to take Mr. Golden up on that concept!

 

On March 30, we emailed a reminder to the other candidates. None of the candidates had yet responded.

On March 31, Paul Perez responded and said, “Our reply is forth coming. Sorry for the delay.” We have not yet received the full responses.

On April 5, a surrogate for the Jackson campaign responded saying they would look into it and ask Eric Jackson about it personally.

Kathy McBride did not respond to either email.

Walker Worthy did not respond to either email.

We have not been able to find an email address for Oliver “Bucky” Leggett.

If any additional candidates submits responses to our questions, we will post them promptly. In the meantime, we’re grateful for the thoughtful responses from Jim Golden.

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Celebrating ‘Pedal-Power’ in Trenton on Bike to Work Day

The Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA) and Trenton Cycling Revolution (TCR) hosted a “Brunch for Bikers” on Bike to Work Day, Friday, May 17 to celebrate bicycling and call for more designated bicycle lanes in Trenton.

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The organizations offered free food and drinks to anyone riding a bike at the corner of Market Street and South Warren Street in Trenton. GMTMA and TCR also used the occasion to join with other bicycling advocates and organizations to commemorate the recent establishment of designated bicycle lanes in Trenton and advocate for further bicycle-friendly facilities and projects in New Jersey’s capital city.

Trenton recently completed a multi-faceted “Trenton Gateway Project” that made a series of roadway, sidewalk, transportation-safety and streetscape improvements along portions of Market Street, South Warren Street, New Warren Street, and Lincoln Highway.  The project included the establishment of designated bicycle lanes in downtown Trenton, as well as bicycle rack installations in a new pocket park across from the newly opened Mercer County Courthouse.

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The project was carried out by the city with a grant from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC).  To commemorate the inaugural network of bicycle lanes, Bridge Commission representatives officially conveyed project-designation signs to Trenton City Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson.

Yuki Moore Laurenti, DRJTBC Commissioner, noted the special occasion,

When the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission launched its Compact-Authorized Investment program in 2005, it made its largest grant, and one of its earliest, to Trenton – for $5 million in improvements to the approach leading to the Commission’s iconic “Trenton Makes” bridge.

Scripture says, “The first shall be last,” and that certainly seems to have been the case with the Trenton project, but here it is—with completed streets.

It provides a gateway to Trenton’s historic center.

Yet, passing these acres of State parking lots, it is a reminder that we have yet to realize the ambitious hopes of urban renewal.  This area teemed with fading tenements and factories when the Great Depression hit, along Bloomsbury Street and Fair Street and Decatur Street.  They were all swept away in the clearance phase of renewal.

This project creates a suitable entry way to the capital.  We now have to work on filling in the streetscape.

Most important in this project is the inclusion of bike lanes, a first for Trenton’s historic core.  I commend the city administration for having them in the project design.

This city is blessed with unusual access to transportation corridors, and not only rail and road.  We have off-road cycling trails on the Delaware and Raritan Canal to Princeton and New Brunswick, to Lambertville and Frenchtown, and—with a gap that this project starts to fill in—to Bordentown.

Cross our bridges, and you arrive at Pennsylvania’s Delaware Canal, running south to Bristol and north to Easton.

The Bridge Commission has provided the first installment in tying together these long-distance biking and walking trails.

What “Trenton Makes” unites, let no indifference put asunder.

“Bike to Work Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle, the many reasons we love to ride, and highlight why bike riding is so great for your health, your community, and the environment,” said Rebecca Hersh, GMTMA’s Transportation Program Coordinator.

“Trenton is slowly but surely becoming a bike-friendly city,” said Dan Fatton, Chair of the Trenton Cycling Revolution. “With the city’s Complete Streets policy recently being ranked 8th best in the country, there is a real opportunity for Trenton to showcase proper implementation and create streets that work for everyone.”

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Bad Bill for Biking

New Jersey transportation groups issue Federal Transportation Bill Statement after conference bill details released.

“Despite a dramatic increase in bicycle and pedestrian commuters in Trenton and other New Jersey communities, the federal transportation bill heads in the wrong direction on bicycle and pedestrian funding. We should be replicating Safe Routes to School programs at almost every school in the country, and increasing the amount of money dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian projects. Unfortunately, despite widespread grassroots support for such policies, Congress has offered a bad bill that takes us in the opposite direction.”
Dan Fatton, Chairperson, Trenton Cycling Revolution

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Complete Streets SUCCESS!

Thank you to coalition partners and the administration for supporting, and special gratitude to City Council for unanimously approving a Complete Streets policy for the City of Trenton! We are elated by this great development, yet cognizant of the hard work yet to be done. We look forward to working with the city to make Trenton streets safer for all users.

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Complete Streets for Trenton

Trenton Cycling Revolution was proud to sign on to this community letter of support, urging the Mayor and City Council to enact a Complete Streets policy here in our city.

More than 30% of our city’s households do not own a car at all. Trenton has an active bicycling and pedestrian culture, with many residents biking or walking to work, to school or simply for leisure. Unfortunately, the road conditions in Trenton are not always ideal for walking and bicycling: crosswalks are poorly marked, the bike lane system is fragmented, and maintenance is spotty, but the city is well-positioned to capitalize on its traditional grid network.

Particularly as a group of residents dedicated to creating a safe and healthy environment for bicyclists in Trenton, we urge swift action!

Bicycle and pedestrian improvements can improve the economy of Trenton by making the city safer and more accommodating for residents, as well as tourists. These improvements will help make it easier for Trenton’s kids to get active. Nearly 1 in 2 Trenton children is overweight or obese!

Please help enact a Complete Streets now! Make our streets safer for everyone and let’s get more residents using bicycles for transportation.

 

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Federal Funding for Bike and Pedestrian Projects

With dedicated federal funding under attack this fall, Trenton Cycling Revolution sent a letter to Senator Lautenberg regarding the importance of transportation enhancements.

Here is one piece of the letter:

“Bicycle and pedestrian improvements can improve the economy of Trenton by making the city safer and more accommodating for tourists, as well as residents. Building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates 46 percent more jobs than building road only projects, per million dollars spent. But these improvements will also help make it easier for Trenton’s kids to get active. Nearly 1 in 2 Trenton children is overweight or obese! These transportation enhancement programs are not inconsequential. The importance of their preservation cannot be understated.”

 

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Greening Trenton

Trenton Cycling Revolution was happy to submit a letter of support to accompany the city’s application for Greening America’s Capitals technical assistance program.

“As avid users of the bicycle network in our area, we know there is a pressing need for signage and infrastructure improvements. Upgrades to the bike network, and pedestrian crossings are urgently needed.  Clearly marking the roads with better signage for all users, particularly visitors, could help riders better recognize and take advantage of places of interest in close proximity to the train station. Trenton Cycling Revolution supports any programs that will improve the street system in Trenton.”

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Bike friendly cities are less obese

by A.K. Streeter, Portland, Oregon on 08.23.10 GRIST

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Photo credit  Kiwi Flickr.

Cars make you fat. That’s more or less the message noted researcher John Pucher has tirelessly delivered, making the case for cycling and walking – “active transportation” – as a way for cities to deal with creeping obesity rates and climbing health costs. Now, in a new analysis of U.S., European, and Australian cities, Pucher and his colleagues press the point home even a little further by showing that cities with the highest percentage of trips by foot and by bike have the lowest levels of obese (and even diabetic) adults.

“Among the 14 countries in our international comparison, those with higher levels of walking and cycling tended to have lower levels of adult obesity, whether self reported or clinically measured.” – John Pucher, PhD, Ralph Buehler, PhD, David R. Bassett, PhD, and Andrew L. Dannenberg, MD, MPH

The same relationship held true in the U.S.

In our comparison of all 50 US states and 47 of the largest 50 US cities, we found that higher rates of walking and cycling to work were associated with a higher percentage of adults who achieved recommended levels of physical activity, a lower percentage of adults with obesity, and a lower percentage of adults with diabetes.

Pucher and his colleagues note that the results of their study are not enough to prove active transportation can cause improved health, but should be viewed along with the other evidence piling up that show the health benefits of active travel.

This may all seem somewhat self evident, and yet, the bicycle is not viewed by the majority of Americans as a transportation tool. This is due to decades of considering the cycling as a pastime or a sport, and not as the handy (and healthier) city transportation device it can truly be.

Pucher et al do say that encouraging both walking and cycling will require a bigger build out of the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure than has thus far occurred in the U.S., as well as further restrictions on car use and other traffic calming measures.

While that is already happening in some cities, most notably New York, there are still giant hurdles, including the fact that transportation planners depend on federal money which is still skewed towards car-based infrastructure projects, and inexpensive but vital bike and ped projects are unable to be financed from federal pots.

Let’s work to make Trenton more bike friendly and decrease obesity at the same time!

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