Monday, October 12, 2009

Report - Montclair Ride and Lunch

Thanks to everyone who attended the bike and lunch on Saturday, October 3rd in Montclair, organized by WalkBikeJersey and Bike and Walk Montclair. A handful of riders met on at Edgemont Park on a cool drizzly morning to ride around town with Mayor Jerry Fried on newly striped shoulders and talk about the trade-offs between shoulders and bike lanes, the proposed municipal complete streets policy (which was unfortunately rejected last week update: which passed on October 13th!), and the challenges of making cycling safer in a fully developed town.

After the ride we met up at Nauna's Bella Casa for some lunch and discussion, and were joined by some more people who arrived after the ride. Our far-ranging discussion covered issues such as driver education, bike access on transit, bike and pedestrian access on bridges, bike parking and municipal bike parking policies, and youth bike skills education. We also identified needs relating to local advocacy:
  • helping local advocates organize and apply for grants
  • helping local advocates share information with each other on what works
  • bringing greater racial and cultural diversity to the community
  • engaging and gaining the support of bike shop owners
  • fundraising
To my mind, we came up with two big questions:
  1. Is there a way for a statewide group to act as an umbrella organization for local groups, to apply for grants to fund local groups, or to hire a paid staff person to assist multiple advocacy groups?
  2. How can we facilitate communication between people working on bicycle and pedestrian issues across the state (listserv, directory, wiki, bike summit)?
There was no definitive answer to these questions. We'd like to continue having this conversation with advocates in the Central, South and Shore regions, as well as with the NJ Bicycle Coalition, which is probably talking about many of the same issues. A Shore meet up may be next - if so, we'll announce it here.

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