NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On May 4, many of New Brunswick's main streets including George Street, College Avenue, and Joyce Kilmer Avenue will be closed to automobiles beginning at 10am to encourage cycling and active living.
City leaders have also two future dates this season when 3.4 miles of city streets will be closed for the same reason: July 12 and October 12.
The events are modeled off of the "Ciclovia" tradition in Bogota, Colombia and are becoming popular in the United States. They reflect the effort by New Brunswick and Rutgers to make biking more accesible.
Starting in the summer of 2012, the New Brunswick Bike Exchange (NBBE) seeks to provide affordable biking and similar opportunities for Rutgers students and residents in New Brunswick.
"The mission of the New Brunswick Bike Exchange is basically to increase access for bikes in the community for people who can't afford them at retail prices," says Leighann Kimber, a Program Coordinator for NBBE.
Used bikes are donated to the bike exchange, fixed, refurbished, and then sold to New Brunswick residents at affordable rates.
For children's bikes, prices can generally range from $10 to $20.
Depending on the brand and condition of an adult bike, prices can range from $50 to $125.
Proceeds are donated to the bike exchange's umbrella organization, the Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB), which provides serivces for low-income residents of Central New Jersey.
"PRAB supported us at the beginning to get us started by buying our first set of tools, supplies, and equipment," Kimber mentioned.
With the re-opening of the NBBE in the March, the bike exchange has reported a steady flow of volunters, mainly from Rutgers University.
"We have roughly 5 volunteers [a night] helping out with a variety of tasks", Leighann added.
Similar biking intiatives have come into play recently on the university campus in town.
Bike RU, a pro-biking intiative led by the Rutgers University Department of Transportation Services (DOTS), recently released a series of bike maps covering the five Rutgers campuses in Piscataway and New Brunswick.
The maps include the location of bike racks, bicycle lanes, multi-usage pathways and bike-friendly roads.
Bike RU has approximatley 150 bikes available for rental by Rutgers students. The program also shares various safety tips and "do's and dont's" regarding biking.
According to Dorothy Le, a Senior Transportation Planner at DOTS, Bike RU and the New Brunswick Bike Exchange maintain a sort of informalized relationship.
"The NBBE does participate in some activities Bike RU organizes… such as the Bicycle Resource Fair."