If you have been following Together North Jersey, you probably have read one of our many articles about this weekend’s Ciclovia – New Jersey’s largest ever open-streets, or “bikeways” event. This Sunday, October 6 from 10am to 3pm, New Brunswick will open a 3.4 mile route for walking, skating, cycling, and other types of non-motorized activities.
The event is inspired by a concept started in Bogotá, Colombia. Guillermo Peñalosa, who as the Parks Commissioner of Bogotá helped popularize the event, will be speaking today at Rutgers about his experience, along with other bicycle and pedestrian experts. More information on the lecture, including a link to a web broadcast, can be found here.
New Brunswick (less than an hour from Manhattan) is the home of Rutgers University’s main campus, and Johnson & Johnson’s global headquarters. While “meds and eds” anchor the town, residents of the city come from a wide range of racial and economic backgrounds. The Ciclovia will link those neighborhoods and provide an opportunity for residents to explore new areas of the city. By closing the road to vehicles and filling them with thousands of people, everyone can feel safe getting exercise, socializing, and enjoying the sights.
New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT), an organization set up in 1975 by Johnson & Johnson to help revitalize the city, is the host organization for the Ciclovia. Together with the Ciclovia Advisory Committee, NBT has helped coordinate street closures and logistics and spread the word to major employers, local houses of worship, community organizations, schools, and government agencies. They have followed their mission of “bringing people and resources together” to organize a successful event.
Together North Jersey is funding a community outreach initiative conducted by New Brunswick Tomorrow, and conducting an evaluation of the pre-planning and implementation of the event. The evaluation will assist in optimizing future events by analyzing what has worked well and what needs to be improved. Using modern video technology, accurate crowd counts will be collected. There will also be plenty of interaction with participants, to find out what they like or do not like about the event. Volunteers will be stationed at three sites, handing out surveys that will help organizers get a better idea of who is enjoying the Ciclovia. Individual interviews with committee members will also be conducted.
What should attendees expect this weekend for the free event? Here is a look at the parts of town that people will be able to explore. Ciclovia is not a race, but a celebration of open streets, so there is no beginning and no end.
The northern end of the route begins at Buccleuch Park, which already offers many options for physical activities, such as soccer fields and fitness stations.
The route continues south onto College Avenue, through the center of Rutgers University’s College Avenue Campus. Attendees will find the first of three activity centers: Rutgers Recreation will be hosting “Energy Burst Fitness” sessions.
Further south, the route enters the heart of downtown, passing under the Northeast Corridor railroad tracks along George Street. This busy commercial stretch with active shops on each side is usually congested with traffic. However, on Sunday, walkers and riders will be able to explore the retail corridor without vehicles.
As the route turns onto Bayard Street, space will be set aside for the second activity center: yoga, zumba and “BODYCOMBAT” are some of the activities that will be held here through the day. Check The Ciclovia website for the times of each session.
As participants make their way down Bayard Street, they will enter the civic center of the city. Here attendees will pass by the site of the “pop-up parklet” that we highlighted a couple of weeks ago. In addition, some may note the pylons used for daylighting we wrote about over the summer.
Continuing onto Joyce Kilmer Avenue, the route heads straight towards the HUB Teen Center and Youth Sports Complex. That organization will host the third activity center, which will have Capoeira, Tae Bo, and other activities. A bike repair station will be located at Joyce Kilmer Park providing some quick maintenance to cyclists.
Over all, the route will take attendees past multiple parks, City Hall, the train station, the Zimmerli Museum, the New Brunswick Senior Citizen Resource Center, St. Peter’s University Hospital, and other community resources. The event will be a fantastic way to explore the city, interact with others, and get some exercise.
The weather should be fully cooperating for the event. The forecast shows partial cloud cover, a high of 81, and a minimal chance of rain. It may be October, but Ciclovia will be the perfect place to wear that summer outfit one more time.