The next business meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held Thursday, April 14, 2016, 7:30pm – location pending. We generally meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month but please check our Events Calendar for details. Members welcome.
Meet Our New Pres!
My introduction to Bike&Walk Montclair in 2006 came in the form of a request for help. An invitation to a planning meeting to listen, offer advice and or assistance for the project. I immediately found myself among kindred spirits! A splendid group with a variety of talent, temperament and passion to create something really good for the community. In my ten years, I’ve seen the organization transition from a handful of volunteers to having paid staff and back to being an all-volunteer organization with even more initiatives and opportunities for people to get involved. With this expanded scope of work, we have a growing need to seek financial support in the form of grants, donations and membership. The most fundamental way you can support the organization is to go online and become a member! Please join us. The quality of life benefits from biking and walking as safe, enjoyable choices for getting around town are many and should not be underestimated. Let’s not forget that bikes and feet are a necessity for many, not a choice and even drivers have to get out of the car at some point and cross the road. The physical exercise, mental clarity, joy and connection with the people and neighborhoods we travel through are unique to this form of active transportation. The simplicity of this environmentally friendly solution is sustainable, socially responsible and even more attractive
in contrast to the ever more complicated, high tech, fast paced world we live in. More parking and car lanes are not the answer. As I now take a turn at leading the Bike&Walk Montclair organization, I am proud and honored to work with a great group of volunteers, doing a lot of great things to make the community a better place for everyone. With the momentum building across the country as more communities recognize the value of supporting bike and walk friendly initiatives and infrastructure, it is clear we are moving in the right direction. Bike&Walk Montclair advocates for a community that embraces safe biking and walking for all. Please join us and be part of the solution.
Bike&Walk Montclair’s mission is simple yet powerful: we advocate for policies, programs, and street designs that support SAFE biking and walking – because Streets Are For Everyone. Bike&Walk Montclair was founded in 2002 on the vision that Montclair and neighboring communities could one day become a safe haven for walking and bicycling. Today, 14 years later, we have helped to bring $1M in funding for programming and infrastructure that supports that mission so kids, seniors, and everyone in between can benefit. Our vision is for bicycling and walking to be safe, appealing and feasible for all users and all trips, building a strong community fabric on a more human scale. We eagerly seek new members from Montclair and surrounding communities. Bike&Walk Montclair is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization. All memberships and contributions are tax-deductible.
Looking Back: Highlights from 2015
Kids and Adults Learn Smart Cycling
Seeing the face of children light up with excitement and exhilaration when they first manage to pedal their bike is amazing! It feels good to see the thrill, pride and sometimes –relief — that parents experience, as well.
Adults get the same big eyes, huge grins and sense of accomplishment when they learn how to ride a bike. Same techniques, same results. Our League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors share this joy vicariously through our students in every class.
Of course if this were easy, it would not be as meaningful. Our “balance-first” method (where we remove pedals to start) takes lots of hard work, patience, short rest breaks and maybe a little saddle soreness or a scraped shin. But when the pedals go back on the bikes, the pride of first-time riders is palpable! Parents may learn as much as the child does by working through this process. Learn to Ride class is experiential learning at it’s best! Bike&Walk Montclair makes this happen for up to a dozen kids, teens and adults just about every weekend from April through October.
The Smart Cycling Program does more than teach people how to ride a bike. The instructors teach people how to ride right. Riders develop bike handling skills and street savvy awareness as they gain confidence riding on the road and navigating in traffic. The whole point of the program is to help people enjoy riding their bikes, for fun, exercise and transportation.
If you know how to ride a bike, but don’t feel comfortable on the road, Bike&Walk Montclair can help. From Learn To Ride, to Skill Building Ride Rodeo to Street Savvy Ride classes, instructors meet students at their own level. The Smart Cycling program has also helped Montclair schools by tailoring events for specific schools’ interests.
The Smart Cycling program wants to help people enjoy getting around by bike. If you can spare a couple hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning to be a Bike&Walk Montclair Bike Ed volunteer, please contact Paul Mickiewicz, at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a LOT of fun and very rewarding!
“Pop-Up” Protected Bike Lanes
Bike&Walk Montclair worked with the Montclair Police Department Traffic Bureau this year to make temporary protected bike lanes “pop-up” near three schools. Edgemont, Charles H. Bullock and Renaissance Schools all participated in 2015 so parents and students would know what “safe routes” for biking might actually feel like in Montclair and to show how good it feels to start the day actively! BWM Board Member, Norma Tassy, spoke for all of us when she said “we all agree that a lifetime of healthy habits can begin by walking or biking to school. “ Parent Volunteers at the three schools were instrumental in making these “pop-up” events a success. If you’re a parent who would like to make pop-up lanes a reality at your child’s school, please volunteer with us!
Our Pilot “Open Streets” Event
Open Streets MTC was an exciting first-time event for Bike&Walk Montclair. Our focus was to foster community and encourage healthy, active lifestyles in a setting that encouraged exploring Montclair’s vibrant downtown. This free, public, traffic-free event was sponsored jointly by Bike&Walk Montclair, the Montclair Center BID, the Montclair Police Dept. Traffic Bureau and Montclair Township. This powerful partnership allowed us to open a mile of downtown streets to all kinds of family-friendly fun: strolling, biking, hula-hooping, yoga, skateboarding and dog-walking. All took place along a route filled with shopping and dining options. The debut of Open Streets MTC in September 2015 transformed South Park Street, Church Street and part of Glenridge Avenue into a public space for play. Participants made their way along the route enjoying such free activities as art projects, bicycle workshops, yoga classes and more.
Ready to “Bike Montclair” and Beyond?
For the past two years, Bike&Walk Montclair has teamed with The Montclair Bikery to host mini bicycle eco-tours of Montclair and neighboring communities each Saturday from April through October. A Bike&Walk Montclair League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor led participants on casual 10 – 12 mile jaunts through Glen Ridge and Montclair – visiting some historic sites, hidden gems, favorite coffee spots and usually ending at the Montclair Farmers Market for some great shopping. For the 2016 season, Bike&Walk Montclair will partner with great groups like the Montclair Historical Society, Friends of Anderson and Brookdale Parks, Presby and Van Vleck Gardens, Montclair Public Library and more. Monthly themed rides throughout the season will include narrated tours of suburban farms, historical sites, secret alleys and, of course, shopping and coffee. Come bike with us! You will relish the flats, find that uphills require some work and downhills can be pure joy. These rides are for adults who are comfortable with street riding but are ready to learn some savvy bike “driving” skills. Dates, times and locations are on the Bike&Walk Montclair Events Calendar.
Bike-Friendly Businesses Make Bike-Friendly Communities
The Bike-Friendly Business (BFB) program represents a partnership between Bike&Walk Montclair and Montclair-area merchants. The overall goal of the partnership is to encourage residents to do their shopping via bike. We accomplish that goal in several ways: Bike&Walk Montclair promotes participating businesses on its website and Facebook page, and we talk up our BFB’s wherever possible. We also provide Bike-Friendly Businesses with a special sticker they can display on their storefront indicating that they are a BFB. Finally, as part of the program guidelines, the business itself provides some form of reward for shoppers coming to their store by bike (proven by a bike helmet, typically). The reward for bike-shoppers can come in the form of a small discount or gift, for example. There is a small yearly fee for merchants to participate in the BFB program, which is usually more than offset by the additional influx of customers. Please consider running your errands by bike for the health benefits AND the incentives offered by our BFB’s!
In 2015, Bike&Walk Montclair partnered with Hillside School to match outgrown bikes to new owners. Since 2013, Bike&Walk Montclair has hosted 6 bike swaps at the Hillside School event and 2 at the Bullock School – redistributing over 200 gently used bikes to both kids and adults in the community!
Looking Forward: What’s Ahead in 2016
We planned events and programs for 2016 based on community feedback and we need you to help make things happen!
- We’re bringing back the Tour de Montclair! Planning has already begun for this family favorite bike ride through all four wards of Montclair. We’ll need lots of volunteer support to coordinate and run this event so please lend a hand if you like being outdoors, meeting new people and getting involved in community events.
- No Ridiculous Car Trips Campaign. We’re taking our cues for this one from Sweden. A public health campaign in Malmo used humor to help people recognize how silly it can be to drive short distances. Our goal will be similar and rewards like water bottles and seat covers will be offered when people use bikes for short trips.
- Placemaking. We’ll aim to match the impact of that beautiful street art on the corner of Forest and Chestnut Streets. Look for Pavement Murals, Playful Crosswalks, Parklets and more!
- Making our Streets Complete. We’ll be supporting Montclair’s Complete Streets implementation and driving home the message that policy and environmental change must always make walking and biking easier. We’ll have a presence at council meetings, ward meetings, advisory committee meetings, etc.
- Fourth of July Parade. We’ll lobby to be in front of the antique cars this year to show that biking and walking should ALWAYS be front-of-mind over driving.
AND SO MUCH MORE!!!!! STAY TUNED…
Join us! Have Fun!! Volunteer!!!
Bike&Walk Montclair is a friendly, grass-roots, all-volunteer organization that relies on people like you to help reach the goals of becoming a safer, walkable and bicycle-friendly community. Interested in safety, education, the environment, or health & fitness? Our volunteers make all the difference for our organization. WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU – Get Involved Today! *****end*****