In February I met up with Andy Strauss and we biked over to the NJ Bike Walk Summit. Cyndi Steiner and her team who put on the Bike/Walk NJ Summit had a good collection of speakers. I had wanted to write much more about this, but that opportunity has passed.
Supporting efforts of Adventure Cycling Association
Adventure Cycling, with a membership of about 56,000, is an important voice for introducing people to cycling. A staff person from Pennsylvania Environmental Council had previously been awarded Adventure Cycling’s Greg Siple scholarship and spoke well of the experience.
Dan, a conference attendee, came up to me and asked about being a life member. He was considering doing a week-long trip with Adventure Cycling. I said that I’ve gotten a lot out of Adventure Cycling, I support its mission, and being a life member is a way to demonstrate this. One could say, “I could just pay once for the rest of my life by becoming a member.” And this is perfectly reasonable.
In reality, I became a member and continue to contribute annually. I would rather donate than pay “dues”. When WikiMapping hits a weekly benchmark for sales, I’ve committed to make a bigger contribution. Adventure Cycling has a great mission, great staff, great community, and great results.
No Turn-away camping policies
Ginny Sullivan, from Adventure Cycling, gave a keynote presentation at the NJ Bike Walk Summit. As she spoke, I listed questions. And she had exactly what I needed, a how-to guide with policies for “No Turn-away” policies for cyclists at park campgrounds.“State No Turn-away Policies”
Guaranteed hiker/biker campsites at state parks – my perspective
For bicycle touring, having a place to sleep is essential. Last month, I was frustrated in my attempt to do a bike overnight trip to the Pine Barrens. Park policy that requires that everyone using the campground check in about 20 miles away. Well, who is going to bike an extra 40 miles to check in?
I wanted to promote Batona campground as a great bike overnight destination. But I am less willing to do this if I have to encourage people to break the law and have a bad experience. “You can print out your online reservation and take your chances,” was the gist of what I was told by the person at Batsto. Well, that sucks. Frankly.
I wrote an email to the NJ State Parks and Forestry Director. She’s trying to make parks more friendly. I didn’t get a response back. A friend said, “You should contact the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. They have political clout.” I think an organization like this is valuable, but I don’t think it’s the right solution to the problem I’m trying to solve.
Whether it’s Pennsylvania or New Jersey or Delaware, I think that cyclists need guaranteed hiker/biker campsites.
Ginny talked about roll-on bike access on Amtrak
And I appreciated what Ginny had to say about her work with Amtrak bike access. This is something I was involved in during the 1990’s. Even today, I realize that you need more than a policy and accommodation to make bike access work. You need to remove the fear of unknowns. Unknowns are a barrier if bringing your bike on the train isn’t routine.
In fact, I took my bike on SEPTA to Yardley and biked to the conference from there. When I got on the train, the conductor felt he needed to tell me where to put my bike (which involved waking a dozing commuter). An experience with a bike on a train can be great or just OK. Other passengers notice.
I think that what Ginny and others are doing with Amtrak is so important because policies make great adventures possible. It’s wonderful to be able to roll your bike onto the train and secure it. And if you can disembark at a non-major train station to start a bike ride, this is really useful.
When I biked the Erie Canal in New York years ago on Amtrak, I brought my bike to 30th Street Station the night before my trip so that I could take my bike to Buffalo. Another bike-on-Amtrak trip I took was to Richmond, VA for Adventure Cycling’s Leadership Training Program. The conductor was really pleasant and helpful. I loaded my bike, found a seat, and settled down with a good book – Blue Ocean Strategy.
Pedestrians aren’t to blame when they are killed
Steve Viccaro, a lawyer from New York, referenced Charles Dickens’ book, A Tale of Two Cities. A key moment is when the Marqui St Evrémonde’s carriage ran over Gaspar’s son. One person terrorizing people becomes the focus of hatred in the story that sparks a revolution. Similarly today, about 6000 pedestrians are killed in a single year by drivers.
This is a political issue, and he founded Streets PAC. And said that people should call him if they want information about starting a PAC. I’m discussing the idea of a PAC with a couple of people in Jenkintown.
“I’m not scared of guns. I’m scared of drivers”
Terror is terror, and people fear for their safety.
For about 75 years after the Reconstruction Act, there were 6000 terror lynchings, not to mention ongoing brutality and discrimination. That number, 6000, caused me to make a correlation between racism and pedestrian deaths. I’m not saying one is worse than the other.
Our government policies are quick to address “terrorism” and force people to take off their shoes at the airport. But on the whole, many of my neighbors live in fear that their kids are going to get killed by a car if they ride a bike. Many people just assume mobility by car is the only logical option today.
I heard someone say yesterday, “You know you’re a cyclist when you’ve been hit at least once.” This isn’t just an issue about bicyclists. If you’re a pedestrian and a driver turns right into the crosswalk with you in it, you’re aware of the terror. The fact that someone hits you is not an accident.
We need to keep asking why we have prioritized cars over reasonable land use and pedestrian mobility. And why do laws prioritize protecting drivers who hurt or kill pedestrians?
It was great to hear the NJ Commissioner for Transportation, Diane Gutierrez- Scaccetti, talk about diverse mobility solutions and New Jersey’s Complete Streets Initiative which if funded by the gas tax.
This is where I stopped writing. I am looking forward to getting a copy of this, but I can’t find it anywhere on the web yet:
Image source: https://njbwc.org/summit-2019/