It is not every day you see a young child riding a tricycle down the centerline of a normally crowded street. Yet on Saturday, July 12, 2014, that was a common sight in New Brunswick. Residents are quickly becoming familiar with activities like these taking place on New Brunswick streets, including pickup soccer games, chalk art, and even a rock-climbing wall.
Last October, New Brunswick held its first Ciclovía, a free event that closes miles of local streets to cars for part of the day. While the name invokes bicycling, the streets are open to any kind of non-motorized activity, from dancing to skateboarding to just tossing around a ball. In the wake of the success of the initial event in October 2013, New Brunswick is sponsoring three more Ciclovías in 2014.
The July Ciclovía was the second of the year – following an April event – and the first to experiment with a new 3.2-mile route. This time, the city closed down most of George Street, the spine of the downtown business corridor. Also, rather than running through the Rutgers College Avenue campus, organizers extended Ciclovía into the Rutgers Douglass Campus, which offers significantly more open space and greenery. This was also the first Ciclovía held on a Saturday instead of a Sunday.
The new route also ran through neighborhoods that were not included in the first two events. Families in these neighborhoods only had to walk out their front door to find roads open for recreation. Remsen Avenue in particular, which has a mix of residential and
commercial properties, was filled with children. The route still included Joyce Kilmer Avenue, and children there were delighted b ya fire hydrant that was opened to relieve participants from the blistering July heat.
The organizers also diversified the types of activities held along the route. They brought back the popular rock climbing wall from the May event, and also opened up the route to organizations and companies that specialize in healthy communities. These organizations set up tables to inform passersby of ways to improve their health. As has been the case in the past, bike repair, dance stations, and a helmet giveaway were also on the route.
The third Ciclovía of the year will be held on
Sunday October 12, and the organizing team will
once again take the lessons learnt from the new route
to make the next event the best yet.