Laura Torchio, Bike&Walk Montclair
I like to bike. I try to bike to work, shop, and play as much as I can – in regular clothes for regular trips – in all kinds of weather – because it really puts fun into my day and keeps me somewhat fit. I also like to put on my spandex and ride longer distances on occasion. While getting around on my own power is exhilarating for me, some folks (maybe you?) might need more of an incentive. The Electric Assist Bicycle (eBike) could be the answer.
Dave Adornato, owner of the Montclair Bikery, asked me to test drive their FELT Electric Bike and jot down my thoughts. My experience over the last 2 weeks has given me so much joy, I found myself grinning ear to ear – especially on some inclines where I’d normally be grimacing.
It’s like getting a gentle push as soon as you start pedaling. The battery gives a boost of power to the rear wheel but it’s still very much a bike ride. You pedal hard, you go fast. You don’t pedal, you coast. But the sweet spot is the gentle pedal, and the gentle glide of travelling 15mph without working too hard at all. Pure Joy!
Some of the things I liked the most:
- Cycle Chic – I can wear whatever I want due to the step-through and chain guard.
- No sweat – seriously.
- Speed – I do like to ride fast, but to do so in an upright position was just fun. And by fast, I don’t mean A-Ride Racer – I just mean faster than my normal, hybrid, 10mph.
- Hills and Head Winds – no prob.
- The Rack – Great carrying capacity! It can carry briefcase, or groceries, or yoga mat.
- The Lights – A white headlight and red taillight are built in so there was no fear removal while parked. And as long as the bike has charge, the lights work.
- The Lock – A key locking mechanism bolts the rear wheel in place.
- Quick Starts at Lights – commuting in traffic can be tricky, especially when waiting to turn left at a light. The eBike gives just the right boost to get through the intersection quickly enough not to annoy the car drivers.
The downside is that the bike is pretty heavy and clunky – hard to carry up stairs or load onto a car bike rack. You might also get sticker shock from the price. But if you’re seriously considering giving up your car, eBikes are a great alternative.
Want to know more about the Felt Electric Assist? Stop into the Montclair Bikery and tell Dave I sent you.
A Day of eBike
October 19, 2015
Once again, Bike&Walk Montclair partnered Jane Marcus, Organizer of the Hillside School Swap to match outgrown bikes to new owners. Since 2013, Bike&Walk Montclair has hosted 5 bike swaps at the Hillside School event and 2 at Bullock School – redistributing over 200 bikes in the community (and keeping them out of landfills!).
On Saturday, October 17, Bike&Walk Montclair matched 23 used bikes to new owners at the 2015 Fall Hillside Swap. Community members were asked to drop off gently used kid’s or adult’s bikes the night before when volunteers gave them a quick spit shine and pumped the tires so they’d be ready for their new homes in the morning. At the swap, the rules are simple. Bikes are given out “as is” and may not be in perfect condition, recipients/parents must sign a waiver, and just one bike per person.
Norma Tassy, Bike&Walk Montclair Executive Director, who organized the pop up bike lane at Edgemont on the 7th, recounted a great story about a mom who approached her that day. She is the mother of 3 daughters and was very interested in encouraging them to ride to school, and asked where she could get a low cost bike. Norma told her about the Swap and was excited to report, “She was there today-3rd in line and was able to get 2 bikes and a tag-a-long. She was so happy!!! And she assured me that as her kids grow out of those bikes she will re-swap. She had nothing but praise for Bike&Walk Montclair. Good job all!”
Stephane Mortier, longtime Bike&Walk Montclair Board Member and Swap Manager gave the following account:
We collected a total of 25 bikes, and distributed 23 of them.
Friday from 4 to 6:30, we had 5 volunteers (Norma, Raymond, Matt and Stephane Mortier, and Marc, a former Hillside Student who volunteered spontaneously and was very handy and helpful. He was in charge of pumping air into the tires and moving the bikes to the cafeteria for storage. You can see [in the photo] he acquitted himself of that task very eagerly.
We collected 20 bikes, the other 5 coming on Saturday morning.
Saturday, we had 7 volunteers meeting at 8:15 am (Norma, Nick, Jason and daughters Megan & Quinn (?), Matt and Stephane) who shared the task of setting up the tents and table, and rolling the bikes from the cafeteria to the tents, all downhill… We were ready to go well before the 9:00 opening time.
This year, maybe due to the dip in temperature reminding people that winter is not the typical season for biking, the line for the bike swap was not as long as usual, and by 9:23 am we had 5 or 6 mostly girls bikes left and no more line. Nevertheless, within the next 15 minutes, more participants stopped by and were paired with a set of wheels. We closed shop by 10.
As the activity had subsided, we were more receptive to participants request to keep an eye on a bike they had chosen, but only while they were going to get the car. We confirmed with them that the car wasn’t too far, and that they’d be back quickly, which they assured us… Only to walk right back into the school, going for a little more swapping!! For many reasons we didn’t mind; the weather, the company were nice and they returned within the 15 minutes it took us to take down the tents.
Thank you to all volunteers today and yesterday, and a big shout out to Jane for organizing the Hillside Community swap year after year. This was the 25th edition, and Bike&Walk Montclair is happy to be a partner.
Bike recipients geographical distribution:
Little Falls 1
West Orange 1
Left over 2 ( trail a bike, girl’s 16″ bike)
For more information about Bike Swaps, contact email@example.com.
October 12, 2015
Leaf peep and tour 8 of Montclair’s urban farms by bike this Saturday! Bike&Walk Montclair’s Fall Harvest Bike Tour is a bicycle tour of local gardens and farms right in our backyard. Join us in celebration of sustainable transportation and food systems as we visit Montclair’s dynamic and diverse farming community – by bike!
We’ll not only meet inspiring, engaged and committed urban farmers, but we’ll get a glimpse of fall harvesting, winterizing, beekeeping, raising chickens. Check out how Montclair’s urban farmers are building an edible, sustainable, and healthy food system right here at home.
Participating farmers include Montclair Community Farms Coalition, Montclair Public Library Friends of the Garden & Guerrilla Harvest, A Lot to Grow Community Garden at the Montclair Inn, Presby Memorial Iris Gardens Apiary and Farm, Montclair District Initiative for Gardens in Schools (DIGS), and Grace’s Organic Garden part of the Cornucopia Network
The ride will begin and end at Montclair Farmers’ Market at the Walnut Street Train Station in Montclair and follow a route through each of Montclair’s 4 wards. Riders are encouraged to bring backpacks to shop the market where five farmers and 15 food artisans offer fresh produce (often picked within 24 hours) and accept “double value” SNAP WIC, and Senior FMNP vouchers.
This ride is for adults and mature teens that are comfortable with “driving” their bikes as vehicles in the street. Come prepared with the basics: a fully-charged cell phone, a helmet that fits, a full water bottle, and a spare tube. Please have bikes tuned-up before the ride. And do an ABC Check (Air, Brakes, Chain) before you come. Ride is canceled if raining.
Start: Montclair Farmers’ Market, Walnut Street Train Station, Montclair, NJ
Begin time: 8:15 am
End time: 11:30 am (approximate)
RSVP HERE: http://goo.gl/forms/yg5h2F3DAk
Want more? Continue your ride to the many activities in the afternoon in Montclair including the 1st Annual Harvest Fest sponsored by the South End Business District or Montclair Mounties Homecoming Game.
Suggested donation is $10 per person to benefit Bike&Walk Montclair. It’s a great opportunity to learn how Bike&Walk Montclair is working to support policies, programs, and practices that make walking and biking a safe and appealing way to get around.
Bike&Walk Montclair’s Fall Harvest Bike Tour is part of the NJ Healthy Communities Network and the Eat. Play. Live… Better Coalition – building a culture of health where we live, learn, work and play. Funded in part by the Partners for Health Foundation.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 6, 2015 Bike&Walk Montclair Tommorrow, Wednesday, October 7, several blocks of roadway leading to Edgemont Elementary School will become the third “pop-up” protected bike lane in Montclair. In what is becoming a tradition on International Walk & Bike to School Day (the first Wednesday in October), the Montclair Police Department Traffic Bureau and Bike&Walk Montclair are collaborating to make temporary protected bike lanes “pop-up” near schools to show what “safe routes” for biking might actually feel like on Montclair streets. The protected lane will be usable from 7:30am to 9:00 am northbound and southbound on small sections of Valley Road, turning onto Parkway, around Edgemont Park, and then to Edgemont School. Volunteers will be on hand at dismissal time as well. Edgemont School was chosen partly because of the age of the children, and partly because of the parent community that supports active transportation to school with monthly walk and bike to school days. These events allow all kids, no matter how they arrive to get some physical activity before school starts. Download Edgemont’s Walk & Bike to School
Flyer HERE.“Our monthly walk, bike and bus to school days are important at Edgemont” , says Sharon Linietsky, one of Edgemont’s Health and Wellness Liaisons. “We are hoping the bike lane will encourage more kids to come to school on their bikes on this day and every day.” “It is great to see this program continue ,” says Sgt. Stephanie Egnezzo, of Montclair Police Dept. Traffic Bureau. Norma Tassy, Executive Director of Bike&Walk Montclair, represents the organization on the Pedestrian Safety Council, where the idea for the pilot bike lane was born (check out the inspiration for a pop-up bike lane here). “It is so great to keep this project moving forward. Anyone who has participated in the two previous projects can tell you how much fun it is to see kids doing something they love before school . The pop-up bike lanes would not be possible without the Police Department, the Township Engineering Department, the Pedestrian Safety Council, and numerous volunteers to work together for safer streets for our kids. This pop-up protected bike lane is a product of the momentum and collaborative spirit evidenced by the input of many Montclair stakeholders and funded by the Partners for Health Foundation. “We all agree that a lifetime of healthy habits can begin by walking or biking to school.” says Norma Tassy.
Monday, October 5, 2015
This is a photo from today. It was a chilly Monday morning in October. School started at 7:50 so it was still sleepy time for many. But Montclair high schoolers were two-wheeling it to school in 45F degree weather – and in impressive numbers, at that. Forty-four bikes were securely parked and monitored at both the Montclair High School Main Building as well as the Freshman Annex bike lots. And it’s been like this every day since school started. What a change from the empty bike racks of high school years gone by.
But why? Could biking have become a hip display of swagger? Of course. But also, hasn’t this crop of high school seniors been encouraged to ride bikes to school from such an early age that biking to school is simply routine?
Turns out, Montclair High Seniors were in 2nd grade when Montclair Township embarked on a Safe Routes to School Pilot Program with NJDOT in 2005. And every year since, Bike&Walk Montclair has worked closely with Montclair Township and Montclair Public Schools to establish a Safe Routes to School Task Force and institute Walk & Bike to School Day each October and May. We were instrumental in securing two significant Safe Routes to School grants for education, engineering, and enforcement as well as funding a Township Safe Routes Coordinator. By 2014, every elementary and middle school, as well as the district as a whole, were recognized at the GOLD SRTS Level by the NJ Safe Routes to School Resource Center due to the school community cultures, policies, and infrastructure that support and promote walking and biking to school.
But there are always some who need a little extra incentive. For them, Montclair High School Senior Option students did their internship with Bike&Walk Montclair last May and organized a Bike to School Day because they believed the streets would be safer and students would have much more freedom if they chose to get around by bike. They worked with Bike&Walk Montclair to plan the event and as an incentive, encouraged their fellow students with donuts.
Traditionally, SRTS programs (and federal funding for them) is limited to elementary and middle schools. But today’s sighting of full bike racks at Montclair High School is testament to a biking and walking culture that was born from a commitment to making streets safer and kids healthier 10 years ago. Bike&Walk Montclair is proud of the impact we’re having on the Montclair community. And we’re excited to learn these high schoolers have established healthy habits in elementary school that will offer them healthy independence through high school and beyond!
Who knows if Montclair High School students will participate in International Walk & Bike to School Day this Wednesday or if it’s even on their radar. It’s only Monday, for goodness sake.
For more information about Bike&Walk Montclair’s involvement in the Safe Routes to School Program, contact email@example.com.
Bike&Walk Montclair is a partner in the Eat. Play. Live… Better coalition to make healthy choices easier where we live, learn, work, and play. Funded in part by the Partners for Health Foundation.
Open Streets MTC — a free, public, recreational event — will take place on Sunday, September 27th, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Montclair Center. Sponsored by a partnership between Bike&Walk Montclair, the Montclair Center BID, the Montclair Police Dept. Traffic Bureau, and Montclair Township, this traffic-free event will open a mile of downtown streets to all kinds of family-friendly fun: strolling, biking, hula-hooping, yoga, skateboarding, dog-walking, etc., along a route filled with shopping and dining options.
Open Streets is an international initiative that originated in Latin America (as Ciclovia) and now takes place in over 100 cities in North America as well as hundreds worldwide. On September 27th, it’s Montclair debut will transform South Park Street, Church Street and part of Glenridge Avenue into public spaces for play. Participants making their way along the route can enjoy free activities such as dance and exercise classes, live music, art projects, bicycle workshops, and more. Moving, shopping and eating at businesses along the streets will be fun in the re-invented space.
Through the Open Streets MTC event, Bike&Walk Montclair hopes to foster community well- being and active lifestyles.
“Having people interact with public space in this way is new in Montclair. Emphasizing the use of the streets for walking and biking is something Bike&Walk Montclair is passionate about. We hope that this event will illustrate how easy and fun it can be to access dining and retail while leaving the car at home,” said Norma Tassy, Executive Director of Bike&Walk Montclair.
The event takes place in Montclair Center, which this year won the award for being one of three Great American Main Streets.
In coming years, the organizers hope to expand Open Streets MTC to other parts of Montclair, creating a longer car-free route where people can move freely between different parts of town.
For more information on Open Streets events and resources, visit the national clearinghouse website: http://openstreetsproject.org/.
Check out our plans at openstreetsmtc.com!!!!
Open Streets MTC is an exciting and inclusive event focused on promoting physical activity and exploring Montclair’s downtown in healthy and fun ways. Currently in over 100 cities across North America, Open Streets events temporarily close streets to car traffic and open them up to people to socialize, play and shop, while promoting active lifestyles, recreation and transportation.
DeCamp Bus Line, a family-owned bus line based in Montclair, signed up to be the first contributing sponsor to Bike&Walk Montclair’s Open Streets event, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27, 11-3, in downtown Montclair. Thanks, DeCamp, and hats off to you for playing a part in our inaugural event!