May 16, 2012

“Random Acts of Community” Program Rewarding Princeton Cyclists a Success

The organizers of Random Acts of Community, a rewards program for bicyclists during May (National Bike Month), have had a growing (but nice) problem on their hands. During the seven years since the program’s inception, more and more area sponsors are participating, making the booty too much of a good thing.

“The value just got so high that we’re now giving packets to three bicyclists a week, instead of just one,” said organizer Fran McManus of the Whole Earth Center.

“Random Acts is an example of how our local businesses enjoy working together on community projects, which is a very positive aspect of doing business in Princeton,” she added.

Don’t ask for a map or a schedule; for the next two weeks Ms. McManus will be stationing herself at various street corners (safer for stopping a bicycle than mid-block) around Princeton. From those vantage points, she will stop random cyclists who will receive a “reward packet” of discount coupons for goods and services from local businesses.

In addition to The Whole Earth Center (which originated the event), this year’s sponsors include small world coffee, bent spoon, Princeton Record Exchange, JaZam’s, Cafe 44, McCarter Theatre, Princeton Tour Company, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, and the Borough of Princeton.

Lucky riders may not say “thanks” right away. “Everyone’s in a hurry, of course,” said Ms. McManus. They don’t forget the experience though; Ms. McManus recalled meeting a bicyclist several years after she had won. “That was amazing; it made me so happy,” she told Ms. McManus.

Whole Earth encourages biking all year round by offering $1 off to customers who cycle to the store. Another option is a punch card, where ten punches entitles bicycle owners to $10 off of bike accessories at Kopp’s Cycle Shop.

Other ways for area resident to celebrate National Bike Month include trying out the bike paths on Sustainable Princeton’s new online Green Map, or signing up for Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association’s Bike to Work Week at The first 150 registrants get a free tee-shirt. GMTMA is also presenting a free lunch and learn on “Complete Streets” this Friday, May 18, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library.

For other May bike events see

“A lot of people ride their bikes in this town,” observed Ms. McManus, who will be on her own bicycle when she flags down this month’s winners.