Save the Date: On June 4, Bike JC’s Annual Ward Tour returns for the 8th year, and as of yesterday, registration is officially open. Leaving from City Hall at 11 am, the ride is 15 miles long and takes about two/two and a half hours.
“It’s essentially a big clockwise loop,” Tony Borelli, Vice President of Bike JC told me. “We go through each of the city’s political wards to keep it inclusive. The route starts at City Hall, ducks into Greenville, cuts across Danforth, goes up West Side to Lincoln Park, up to JFK, to Journal Square, around Summit through the Heights, back down Palisade at North, and cruises down the hill (Newark Ave.) into the Pedestrian Plaza.”
“We started in 2010 with about 500 people,” Borelli continued. “Last year we registered with about 2200 people, but there was a terrible rain at the beginning which curbed the numbers. This year, for the first time, the ride is officially rain or shine. Unless it’s dangerous, we roll.
“One big change this year is that the finish festival is going to be on the Pedestrian Plaza. We really wanted to bring people to a place where food and entertainment are already happening so we could focus more on the ride itself. It’ll be a great time – we’ll be setting up a stage and a few bands.
“We’re hoping for over 2000 cyclists this year. We try to keep the pace easy to moderate. Other than small children, most people can handle it. The front moves at 10 miles an hour, but we also take quite a few breaks. You’re definitely riding a bike, and you have to cover about 15 miles in about 2 ½ hours, but it’s slow enough that people can talk to their friends and get a sense of the city.
“The ride is free – that’s important to us. We encourage a $5 donation but we don’t pester people for it. We get a lot of help from local businesses and the city has been an amazing partner to us – from the City Council, to the Mayor’s Office, to Cultural Affairs. We also get an escort from the Jersey City Police Department; they implement rolling street closures. For the duration of the ride we’re in a rolling bubble of security.
“Everyone has to wear a helmet. People have to ride in a respectful and friendly manner. Keep in mind that it’s not a race – it’s just one big fun group riding along together. We do have course marshalls keeping orderly flow, helping people with minor bike repairs and coordinating with police.
“And you do have to bring your own bike – although Grove Street Bikes (another one of our big sponsors) rents bikes for the tour, and CitiBike extends their time limit to three hours to accommodate the ride.
“Kids are allowed on the back of the bike. You do have to be 12 and up to ride your own bike, but people do pull trailers and kids sit on the back of bikes. We believe this is the largest single city biking event in NJ. And I’ve been told that if you’re at a given point, you’re going to be watching us go by for 15-20 minutes.”
The Jersey City Ward Tour will take place on Sunday June 4. Register here.
Learn more about Bike JC, their advocacy, and how you can contribute on their website, bikejc.org.