Bicycling in Jersey City is a risk-taking endeavor that can be hazardous to one’s health.
It starts with a lack of bike lanes throughout the city, coupled with over 200 signs that read BIKE ROUTE and SHARE THE ROAD direction riders to what are really car-friendly thoroughfares.
But a group called “Bike JC” is aiming to make things safer for bike riders in town with its inaugural Jersey City Ward Tour, a 10-mile bike ride through five of Jersey City’s six wards, which will be held on Sunday, May 23.
The tour starts and finishes at Exchange Place in downtown Jersey City, leaving at 11 a.m. sharp.
“It is a long time overdue but it just took the right genesis.” – Dan Levin
Bike JC is a citizen-based advocacy organization started in December, whose focus is to make Jersey City streets welcoming for bicyclists by promoting bike-friendly policies, bicycle education, and traffic law enforcement. The group has 60 members and is growing.
The Tour starts downtown and heads up Grand Street to Ocean Avenue in Greenville, where it hooks back through Lincoln Park and north along Kennedy Blvd to Summit and Palisade avenues in the Heights, eventually coming down Newark Avenue to end up back downtown at Exchange Place.
After the tour ends, there will be a festival at Exchange Place that features a bike rodeo hosted by the Jersey City Police Department; a BMX demonstration hosted by Grove Street Bicycles; food from Made with Love Café, music, and more.
In case of rain, the tour will be held on June 6.
Rodney Morheiser, co-owner of Grove Street Bicycles, will not be doing the ride since his store on Grove Street will be open that day. But he supports the event as a long-time bike rider and member of Bike JC.
“I think it’s great if anything can be done to get more people on bikes, and supporting the cycling community,” Morheiser said.
A bike hike to like
Dan Levin, longtime bicyclist and community activist, is taking part in the tour along with his wife and son. Levin, also a member of Bike JC, said the event was organized by the bike rental company Easy Riders JC along with Bike JC founder Carly Berwick and other volunteers.
Levin said it was “hard work” putting together the tour since it called for coordinating with the Jersey City police, who will be accompanying the bike riders, getting insurance, and testing out the route several times before it will be traveled. But he said Bike JC’s effort is worth it.
“They felt it is an important statement to make, that it is a citywide organization and that there should be a bike-friendly city,” Levin said.
Levin, who has lived in Hudson County for over 20 years, remembers about 10 years ago when another group formed to promote biking as an alternative, but dissolved. He thinks it will be different this time with Bike JC.
“It is a long time overdue but it just took the right genesis,” Levin said. “That meant people involved with open space and recreation coming together with those who see biking as a viable mode of transportation.”
Levin said the tour is modeled to some extent on New York’s annual Five Boro Bike Tour, which happened this year on May 2 with over 32,000 cyclists taking part. However, for Jersey City’s first bike tour of this kind, about 60 bicyclists have signed up so far with more to come.
Registration is free online at bikejc.org. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com.