In New Brunswick, September means the arrival of thousands of new and returning students beginning a new year of their college education. However, before the Labor Day weekend, when SUVs and minivans congregate on New Brunswick streets, international students are asked to arrive early and take part in a weeklong orientation. Last Thursday (August 28), The Center for Global Services invited the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center (NJBPRC) to host an orientation session on bicycling at Rutgers and in New Jersey as part of this orientation week.

Forty-five students from a variety of countries, including India, China, the Netherlands, Spain, and Chile, joined the NJBPRC team in a large classroom at the heart of the College Avenue campus. With a stylish cruiser bicycle as a prop, and dozens of slides at the ready, the team went through the most important tips about bicycling in New Jersey.

After a brief introduction of the Resource Center, the program began with information on how to pick the right bicycle, which essential equipment to purchase (such as lights!), and tips on where the local shops and repair locations are located. From there, the team moved onto critical safety information, such as how to wear a helmet, what hazards to look out for in the roadway, and ways to prevent collisions with automobiles.

Because laws and infrastructure vary so wildly around the world, the Bicycle Ambassadors who gave the meat of the presentation made sure to talk about the legal – and safest – ways to bicycle in New Jersey. That included going over typical signage, ways to signal turns, and the best place to ride in the roadway. Although many New Jersey communities including New Brunswick are taking steps to add bicycle infrastructure, most area streets still lack bike lanes, so time was spent discussing the safest ways to bicycle away from parked cars and avoid being “doored”.

The ambassadors also gave tips on caring for bicycles, including checking the air in tires, and a demonstration on how to lock a bike. While most people know that locking up a bike is important, many bikes are locked in ways that are easy for thieves to circumvent. The team made sure to point out why locking only to a tire is a bad idea (they can be detached easily), and demonstrated how to lock the frame and tire together to ensure the upmost security.

The presentation also had a section on taking the bicycle beyond New Brunswick, including the rules for taking bikes on trains, and a video demonstration on using the racks located on the front of a bus.

Finally, the team held a Q&A session, which included going into specific details on specific area bike paths, available resources, and local ordinances. The team also reminded attendees that the Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center is available to answer additional questions, and many resources are available to them on how to bike safely in New Jersey.