In Princeton, not many of us use cycling as our primary means of getting around. For some of us, the trip seems too far, or too dangerous. Others are not steady enough on a bike to head out on the roads. Even if you’re not ready to make cycling your regular means of commuting, there are plenty of ways you can participate in this year’s National Bike Week. Why not try one of the following ideas to increase your ‘cycle-power’:
1. Check your Bike is working – You can’t ride a bike if you don’t have a working bike! Use Bike Week as the time when you get your wheels out from the back of the garage and check that everything is working. Pump up the tires, check the brakes, oil the chain. Don’t know what you’re doing? Then get down to Kopp’s or Jay’s Cycles and get them to check it out! Don’t put it off any longer! This is what Bike Week is for!
2. Go online and check out different types of bike – If you don’t even own a bike, or your bike is just too broken-down to salvage, use Bike Week as a reason to check out a new bike online. Maybe start your research here. For extra advice, you will likely want to talk to an expert- and again, you can’t go far wrong with one of our local cycle shops (see #1!)
3. Use Google Maps to research a bike route to your work – Driving a car is the most common way of getting to work for people around Princeton. Many of us don’t think of cycling, because the roads are so crazy dangerous. But just because you drive to work along Rt 1 or some other busy road doesn’t mean you have to cycle that way! Go to Google Maps, and in the search bar type “your address to your place of work”. Then press ‘return’. It will automatically show you the quickest car route. Now press the little button in the left bar that looks like a person riding a bike. Now you will see a different view, with local bike trails and lanes marked, and Google Maps will map a new route, avoiding busy roads, big hills, and other obstacles for cyclists.
4. Take a trial run – Morning rush hour may not be the time when you want to explore a new bike route! Plan a ride at a quiet time of day, when you can test out road intersections, and make sure that your route is a good one. Maybe a Sunday afternoon?
5. Investigate available stuff at your workplace for cyclists – Go around your workplace and check if any of the following are available: bike rack (preferably covered), lockers, showers, changing area, hairdryer, bike pump. You can bike to work without these, but they make life easier. If you are a manager or union rep, check if these items are available for your employees. If not, make it an action item to put things in place to make it easier for people to cycle to work.
6. Help your kids learn to bike…or brush up on your own skills! – Take your kid to the local park with the training wheels or, alternatively, West Windsor Bike and Pedestrians Alliance are hosting a ‘Learn To Bike’ session at the West Windsor Community Farmers Market on Saturday, May 18 (find a map here). They have helped over 100 kids learn to ride, and they even made a video to show how it’s done:
7. Make it social – Join a cycling group to get some bike buddies! If you are a Princeton University student, consider joining Princeton Cycling or if you’re a Princeton resident, join the Princeton Freewheelers. Both groups bring cyclists of all abilities together and make cycling fun! Also, Greater Mercer TMA can help you find a bike buddy– find out more about the program by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Support Princeton Joint Pedestrian and Bicycling Action Committee, or attend one of their meetings! – We agree that Princeton is not the easiest place to ride a bike. Our cycling infrastructure is unfortunately pretty backward. But there is a committed team of volunteers who are working hard to try to make things better. These people form the Princeton Joint Pedestrian and Bicycling Action Committee. If you want to bring about meaningful change to pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure in Princeton, then you should get in touch with these guys. Bike Month is a great time to get involved. Probably the best is if you email them at email@example.com to ask about what’s going on, but you can check out their blog by clicking here or subcribe to the email list by going here. PJPBAC meetings take place in Township Hall on the third Thursday of every month.
9. Bring the kids with you on your bike! – Princeton on the weekend is full up of cars from people driving into town to go shopping / use the library / go to the pool etc etc. For many people, having kids means the car is the only option. But is that really true? There are many ways you can bring the kids with you on a bike! From ‘tag-along’ setups to bike trailers, you can bring the kids with you, and they’ll love it! Make this summer the year when you reduce your CO2 emissions by taking the kids with you on a bike! Again, our local cycle stores will be glad to assist you with questions and demonstrations for different ways of bringing kids with you on your bike!
10. Tell our Council Members that we want to make cycling easier! – When Princeton people get active, politicians often listen. Just see the recent uproar over redesigning Nassau St information kiosks to see how our Council Members can respond to community activism. But hardly anybody is making any noise about upgrading our cycle trails and bike infrastructure. In National Bike Week, insist that our elected representative stop finding excuses to put off making improvements to our bike trails and infrastructure. You can find contact details for all our Council members here, and it doesn’t take much to fire off an email asking that our elected representatives prioritize cycling and walking. Let’s make it easier for cyclists of all ages and abilities to get on two wheels, and realize the health and environmental benefits of cycling!