Morristown -- The third annual Sustainability Challenge was held Thursday, May 23, amid the morning rush hour, slight rainfall and overcast skies. The challenge was to see which form(s) of sustainable transportation could easily take a commuter from the Madison train station to the Hyatt Hotel in Morristown, during rush hour, and if there would be significant differences in the amount of time needed to cover the 5.5-mile course.
This year there was a wide variety in the vehicles and riders that chose to accept the challenge. At exactly 8:40 AM the starting signal was given and the seven participants sprang into action.
Matt Vance, an attorney in private practice in Morristown, took his folding bike in hand and got on the NJTransit train heading for the Morristown Rail Station before reassembling the bike and riding the last mile to the Hyatt. Marty Epstein of Marty’s Reliable Cycles and Bill Riddick the Executive Director of the Grand Fondo took off on road bikes using public streets all of the way.
Eric Noonan manager of the Repair Department at Marty’s Reliable Cycles followed the same route but rode a cycle on which he had added an electric assist motor. Kevin Coughlin, a reporter, and Laura Lannin, the CFO of Homeless Solutions, also rode road-equipped cycles but they rode on the Traction Line an off the road path, which is a Morris County Park that runs parallel to the train tracks, for most of the journey. Because of this, they did not have to deal with much of the traffic or any red lights along the route. Finally Don Watt of TransOptions drove the route in a fuel efficient car.
The Challenge that had started at 8:40 AM was first completed by Eric Noonan riding the electric assist Bicycle who finished the course in only 17 minutes by arriving at the Hyatt at 8:57 AM. Two minutes later, Epstein and Riddick, the road cyclists arrived. They were ahead of the car, which arrived another minute later. It was now 9:04 AM and Matt Vance, a defending Champion from the first event, arrived on the folding bike.
The “off the road” cyclists arrived just a few minutes later after having enjoyed the slightly more scenic route. All were treated to coffee and snacks by the Manager of the Hyatt and his staff who were great hosts and supporters.
Asked why this event is important, Epstein said that he wanted to draw people’s attention to “the sustainable options that are available to people and to point out that people in cars don’t necessarily arrive at the destination any sooner.”
Bill Riddick then added that those in cars often have to deal with traffic and delay while the people that cycle and use other active forms of transportation “burn calories, improve their fitness levels and avoid polluting the atmosphere.”
All of the participants said that they were glad that they had participated and hoped that this event had inspired some more people to try a sustainable alternate form of transportation.