Google "Bike There" Directions Live Up to the Hype
Old New Jersey Suburbs Prove VERY Bikeable
This past Friday I had the pleasure of leading Zoe, Ryan, Marie (all of Brick City Bike Collective) and Mike on the Biergarten ride. All had a blast on the ride and at the Biergarten itself. Zoe was particularly excited about the cake which she didn't expect.
Turnout was a little light, most likely due to the fact that the Tour of Newark was early the next day. This was probably not a bad thing since it got dark rather quickly this late in the year and I was barely comfortable keeping just the five of us together.
What was most remarkable about the trip was the quality of the route chosen by Google and of the beautiful neighborhood streets we rode through. Except for exiting Newark, which left little choice but to ride on busy streets through the old industrial section south of the city center on our way to Weequahic Park, most other streets chosen by the system were the most quite residential neighborhood streets. There were some exceptions and we had to ride on some busier secondary roads but even those were mostly wide in nature and had only moderate volumes of traffic (at least when we rode through around 7pm). I did make a small change in the route near our final destination because Google took us down Raritan Ave through Clark, which I know is no pleasure to ride on as it is four lanes, 35mph and no shoulders with high traffic volumes. A simple route modification to avoid this road was easy and made for a more perfect route.
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Approximate route from Newark to the Deutsche Club of Clark.
Note the route change denoted by the dot.
What was also remarkable was the beautiful nature of the neighborhoods we rode through. This ride was a bit of a venture in discovery for me and for the others that did the ride. So it was a pleasure for all to find that nearly every home was meticulously maintained through all the towns we rode through. The towns we rode through included Newark, Elizabeth (for 1000 feet), Hillside, Union, Roselle Park, Roselle (two different towns), Linden and finally Clark.
The fine quality of the ride only affirmed my belief that New Jersey's older suburban towns, which we have many, are by their very nature VERY bicycle friendly and are in many ways more superior to the towns we dream about in the Western states. All that needs to be done, for the most part, would be to formalize some routes and paint modest, in road lanes and other infrastructure. To make New Jersey the most bike friendly state in the nation really doesn't need to be a Herculean task as many believe it must.
Once there everyone had a blast at the Deutsche Club off Clark Biergarten which attracted over 800 people on a cool late summer's evening. When it was time to go home, I escorted everyone to the Rahway Train Station which Marie noted, "Was all down hill."
All who went along agreed that this ride must be held again next year and now that we know the route, we are hoping to attract many more riders. It will also help to do the trip earlier in the summer so we can avoid riding there in any darkness. Fortunately, the Deutsche Club holds several Biergarten events in the summer, usually one a month, so there are plenty of dates to choose from.