Like the button says, I'm participating in the Let's Go Ride a Bike Summer Games! That means six bike-related activities documented in blog posts for your reading enjoyment. Let me note at the get-go that I'm not worried about fulfilling the biking tasks... for me, it's keeping up the pace of blogging that's the real challenge.
Anywho, 'way back on May 23 I rode in a group ride, the first annual Jersey City Ward Tour. Getting there was easy – I rolled the bike onto Newark Light Rail, connected to PATH at Newark Penn Station, and popped out at Exchange Place in JC – no heavy lifting required (yay!). It was raining lightly when I left casa Jersey Knitter, which made me worry about turnout. When I arrived, this somewhat unpromising vision met my eyes. Where was everybody?
But in the twinkling of an eye, scarcely enough time to take in the Katyn massacre memorial (freshly decorated in memory of April's tragic Polish plane crash) or the magnificent view of NYC, the Exchange Place plaza was full of bikers. Tour organizers had planned for 100 riders – they closed online registration early at 600.
Overall, I had a great time. Publicity, registration, check in, the post-ride festival, and the follow up survey were all excellent. The ride itself showcased parts of Jersey City that I'd never visited before – some grand, some scabby, some renewed. For me, the high point was stately Lincoln Park, designed by Daniel W. Langton and Charles N. Lowrie, proponents of the City Beautiful movement.
Security can be an issue on an urban ride, but I always felt perfectly safe. JCPD led the way at an easy 6 mph (10 kph), stopped traffic to create an excellent car-free security cell, and provided bike patrol officers to ride along. There were plenty of volunteer ride marshals, not to mention the most adorable sweep riders ever seen. If these sweepers catch you, it's time to withdraw.
I did hear some grumbling along the way, mostly about the slow, family-friendly pace set by JCPD and the congestion at the pinch points. By my observation, the people whinging the loudest tended to have racing turnouts and surprisingly poor group riding skills. People biking in street clothes tended not only to be calmer, but also to be better riders. Hm....
As I've experienced far worse congestion, notably walking Bike NY, and have worked on the Tour de Montclair, I was and am more inclined to praise and encourage than to criticize. I'd hate to see an outstanding tour killed off its first year because of its success in attracting riders.
Ride's end was Exchange Place, where there were vendors, a hot band, community groups, safety demonstrations, and a random fireboat doing maneuvers in the Hudson River.
I'm looking forward to next year's tour. Go Bike JC!