“It’s empowering to ride a bike,” says Aimee Jefferson, an avid cyclist and Rutgers graduate student. “Riding past the cars stuck in traffic is a great feeling.” Living seven blocks away from Rutgers’ downtown New Brunswick Campus, Aimee says her biggest concern some mornings is the potential for rain, as she grips her camouflage-styled helmet. Avoiding the battle of rush hour traffic is just one of the perks of choosing cycling as her primary form of campus transportation.
On a Mission
Aimee Jefferson and David Koch are not only candidates in the master of city and regional planning program at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, they are advocates for alternative transportation. Aimee and David are members of Walk Bloustein Bike Bloustein (WB3), a student organization that aims to increase the number of cyclists and improve infrastructure for bikers and pedestrians on and around the Rutgers–New Brunswick Campus.
“As planners, we see change everywhere,” says David. “We are always looking for ways to make things safer for cyclists and pedestrians.”
Biking on Campus is Easier than You Think
“People are often afraid to bike on campus because they don’t know what to expect,” says Aimee. But there are tools to help, including a bike route map [PDF] that details off-road paths, bike lanes, and shared roadways.
What guidance do Aimee and David give campus cycling enthusiasts?
- Be familiar with the terrain. Bike maps can help with that. Google Maps also offers cycling directions.
- Obey local laws.
- In heavy traffic areas, consider taking side streets.
- Riding on the sidewalk is not allowed in New Brunswick. Cyclists have a right to "take the lane," or ride in the roadway, when bike paths are not available. In New Jersey, cars are required to stay at a minimum distance of 3 feet from cyclists.
- Stay at least 3 feet from parked cars to avoid getting “doored”; it isn’t pleasant.
- Be sure to have working lights on the front and rear of your bike for night rides; it’s a state law. Reflectors aren’t enough. Removable, portable lights are available at most bike shops.
- Consider walking your bike in areas that are difficult to navigate or cross.
- Bikers can use the multiuse paths along Route 18, according to the City of New Brunswick’s website.
- Stay alert, avoid wearing headphones while riding.
- Always, always, always wear a helmet.
Taking the Road Less Traveled
Several other recent local initiatives aim to get more people on bikes and on foot.
In March 2012, Wansoo Im, an adjunct professor at the Bloustein School, and about 30 students used the cellphone application Mappler Mobile to collect images and map local roadway hazards.
In February, an annual BikeWalk Summit, held at Rutgers, drew advocates, planners, and business and municipal representatives to discuss strategies to support bicyclists and pedestrians.
Since September 2011, a bike rental program allows members of the Rutgers community to rent three-speed touring bikes for a semester or a month.
Enjoy the Ride
“Biking is really fun and a great way to commute,” says Aimee. “Not only does it help me wake up in the morning, there are people that I regularly see during my daily ride. In terms of practicality, between my backpack and the rack on the back of my bike, I can carry around most anything I'd need with me for the day.”