A two-mile route beginning at Senior Street and ending at the corner of Joyce Kilmer and Juliet Street in New Brunswick, New Jersey was closed to traffic on Sunday, April 24th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm to make room for the first New Brunswick Ciclovia of 2016. The free, citywide event opened its streets to New Brunswick residents to promote healthy active living, with numerous activity stations along the route.
As part of the event, residents walked, ran, biked and skateboarded in the streets. Neighbors also engaged with one another through a variety of activities, including dance, yoga, and Zumba classes. In addition, participants were exposed to many of the city’s attractions, parks, and local businesses.
According to New Brunswick Tomorrow’s Monica Reyes, “This year’s event also included health screenings, obstacle courses, a live band and admission to HereNow, the Zimmerli Art Museum’s digital gallery and exhibition which celebrated Rutgers’ 250th anniversary year by looking at the present and ahead to the future.” Free parking was also available at the Robert Wood Johnson Fitness & Wellness Center garage for those attending from neighboring towns.
Ciclovia is a Spanish word that means “bikeway” and is described as a designated bike route or an event that opens the streets for use by pedestrians and cyclists. Ciclovia began in Bogota, Colombia in 1976, as a way to promote community engagement in public spaces that are free of vehicles.
The New Brunswick event is a community collaboration and partnership of the City of New Brunswick, New Brunswick Tomorrow, Johnson & Johnson and Rutgers University. New Brunswick Tomorrow serves as a co-director of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-New Brunswick. Additional 2016 Ciclovia events are scheduled for Saturday, June 25th, Saturday, August 6th and Sunday, October 2nd.
The first New Brunswick Ciclovia was held in October 2013. Last year, more than 10,000 residents and visitors participated in Ciclovia. Here are seven steps to planning a successful Ciclovia in your town:
Identify A Backbone Organization. The first step is to identify a founding partner or partners: Who or what group will take the lead to organize, advocate for and launch the Ciclovia?
Involve Your Local Government. If the local government isn’t already involved, elected leaders and municipal departments need to be educated about what the event is and how it benefits the community, including engaging residents of all ages in physical activity, creating opportunities to offer free health assessments, supporting local businesses and fostering a sense of community.
Create A Planning Committee. Identify and recruit additional community stakeholders and develop a planning committee. This should include a combination of individuals and groups from the public sector (local government), private sector (area businesses and hospitals) and nonprofits (social welfare, health, and other organizations). This committee will become the core group that is vital to making the Ciclovia event possible. The committee should meet monthly and organize the before, during and after logistical aspects of the event.
Identify a Preferred Route. Once a preferred route has been identified (usually a two- to three-mile distance), you’ll need to get your city’s approval for the event (New Brunswick gets a resolution passed for every Ciclovia event). You’ll also need to coordinate with the local police, traffic, and public works departments to assist with road closures, security and waste management.
Identify Activity Stops. You’ll need to line up activity stations, as well as sponsors, such as local businesses or vendors, who will take charge of supplying and staffing their respective stations along the Ciclovia route.
Create a Marketing Strategy. Make sure you use a variety of tools to promote your Ciclovia event. This can include flyers, website postings, door hangers, radio advertisements and social media promotion. Also, encourage organizations to promote the event through their respective websites and newsletters. Notify local media before and after the event and encourage them to cover the story.
Recruit Volunteers. Local community groups, college students, and youth groups are ideal volunteers who can serve as great event ambassadors along the route.
For information regarding New Brunswick’s Ciclovia contact Monica Reyes, communications manager, New Brunswick Tomorrow. You can also visit the Ciclovia website.