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Sharing Responsibility for our Roads

February 23, 2013 | Community News, New Brunswick

Picture from the Bike SummitDarrin Anderson, PhD, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids’ (NJPHK) deputy director, Fatimah Williams Castro, PhD, program manager for NJPHK-New Brunswick and several others, represented the Partnership at the annual NJ Bike & Walk Summit. The event was sponsored by the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition (NJBWC) and held February 23 in New Brunswick, in collaboration with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center.

The NJBWC is a state-wide advocacy group that promotes safe and accessible opportunities for bicyclists and walkers, who face an increasing threat from distracted drivers, as well as a shortage of streets that are adequately designed or signed for biking and walking. The Summit’s more than 20 panel sessions covered a myriad of issues focused on making New Jersey’s roadways safe for cyclists, pedestrians and all users – a goal that meshes well with the Partnership’s aim of improving the built environment in communities across the state to promote physical activity among youth.

Anderson encouraged attendees to use biking and walking as a catalyst for social change and to advocate for policies that support these activities in all communities. He discussed the importance of Complete Streets and other programs supported by the NJBWC and NJPHK, which aim to make it easier for families and kids to walk or bike to work, school, shops, and public transit. Such programs are especially needed in underserved areas, that often lack sidewalks, bike lanes, and safe, well-connected streets.

Fatimah Williams Castro and Glenn Patterson, director of Planning, Community & Economic Development for the city of New Brunswick, shared plans for “New Brunswick Ciclovía,” which will be hosted by the city, in partnership with New Brunswick Tomorrow, in fall 2013. Williams Castro suggested that the city host the Ciclovía after seeing such an event in Bogotá, Colombia, where she once lived. Ciclovia, which means “bicycle path” in Spanish, began several decades ago in Colombia invites residents to use the street as their playground instead of driving elsewhere for entertainment.

“Cities across the country have turned to the Ciclovía or “Open Streets” model to support community development, sustainable transportation and community-wide health and wellness goals,” said Williams Castro. “A Ciclovía is a fun and wonderful way for neighbors to get outdoors and come together to bike, walk, run, ride, skate and celebrate while enjoying each other and the city. The event aligns quite well with the Partnership’s goals for helping kids and families become active, so we see this as a great opportunity to promote our messages around health and wellness in an engaging way.”

There will be much more information to come about how area residents or businesses can be involved with the Ciclovía, or you can reach Ms. Williams Castro at

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