Bike JC: Making Jersey City Bike-Friendly Since 2009

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Since the onset of COVID-19, the streets of Jersey City and the Mile Square may have been emptier without cars, but abundant with bicycles {think fresh air and exercise in one go}.

As a method of staying active, an opportunity to explore our amazing cities, and a way to connect with friends and family, biking has become a go-to activity for many residents, particularly during a pandemic. According to reports from the NPD, sales of bicycles and bike accessories in April 2020 grew a combined 75% to one billion in comparison to 2019.

Jersey City has been an enticing area for bikers for many years thanks to its historic routes and bike rental services. In an effort to continue encouraging biking and welcoming new cyclists, one local organization is actively advocating for Jersey City to be the most bike-friendly city in the state — Bike JC. Hoboken Girl had the chance to speak with Patrick Conlon, president of Bike JC, about the purpose of the organization, the bike-friendly accomplishments Jersey City has seen, and how our community can get involved.

bike jc interview

{Photo credit: @bikejcgram}

HG: Patrick,  it’s nice to virtually meet you. For readers unfamiliar with Bike JC, can you tell us what your organization strives to do?

Patrick: Bike JC’s mission is to help make Jersey City a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city through complete street design and by promoting the implementation of bicycle infrastructure including public bike racks and protected bicycle lanes. Bike JC believes that residents in every ward of the city can benefit from equitable distribution of these facilities especially for people who do not have the option to drive.

HG: How long have you been a biker and what has inspired you to take on your role at Bike JC?

Patrick: I’ve ridden bicycles since I was a child, but cycling as transportation has become more of a focus in my life over the last five or six years. I was inspired by visits to other cities and countries where cycling is more part of everyday life and the built environment is designed with cycling as equal to other modes of urban transportation.

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HG: Bike JC focuses on creating lasting improvements through various initiatives. Can you tell us about a few of the projects the organization has done in the past and will work on for the future?

Patrick: Bike JC did a crowdfunded project to design and build more bike racks for the city. We also played a key role in moving Mayor Fulop to put out an executive order commitment to Vision Zero. This commitment has led to the Bike Master Plan which has produced some first-class protected bike lanes in the city. The next step is to continue to build out the bike lane network to the rest of the city for the benefit of all of Jersey City’s residents who cycle or would like to but presently fear for their safety.

HG: What have been some of the organization’s biggest accomplishments to date?

Patrick: I think the biggest accomplishment has been to help grow the cycling culture in the city. Helping people to see that Jersey City is a bikeable city and how oftentimes, riding a bicycle somewhere is just as quick as driving. Plus, you get the added benefits of doing something good for the climate and your personal health, and you don’t have to worry about where you are going to park when you get there or when you arrive back home. By working with the city officials and especially the Fulop administration, we have made some great strides but we certainly have more work to do.

HG: In addition to projects, Bike JC hosts several events, including the Jersey City Ward Tour. How can bikers get involved in joining Bike JC and your events?

Patrick: The easiest way for bikers to get involved is to just come out and ride with us. Be a part of this movement. It’s also very very important for people to take five minutes and send an email to their councilperson and tell them that you cycle and vote and that you want to see Jersey City continue to move in the direction of making cycling an appealing mode of inner-city transit.

HG: The pandemic has affected many local businesses and organizations. What impact has it had on Bike JC? 

Patrick: You mentioned our signature event, the Ward Tour, which has been taking place on the first Sunday of June each year for the last 10 years and has grown in numbers to nearly 2,000 riders. Due to COVID-19, we have had to skip it this year. We also had a few other events in the works that were going to be indoors, such as some films we wanted to screen, but those had to be put on hold as well. Fortunately, we have started up our “Light UP Rides” every other Friday evening at sundown and those have been well attended. There is more info about those rides on our Instagram page.

HG: During the quarantine, biking has been a form of activity many communities have turned to for exercise and spending time outdoors. What do you look forward to most for the biking community in the future?

Patrick: Many communities around the world have turned to cycling for exercise, spending time outdoors, and transportation that avoids getting on a crowded bus or train. We, of course, look forward to a post-pandemic time when we can once again stage events like the Ward Tour. We also look forward to the Morris Canal Greenway and the Essex-Hudson Greenway being completed, which will link Jersey City to many other communities in the state. 

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HG: How can readers get involved with supporting Bike JC? Are there volunteer opportunities and services?

Patrick: Readers can stay abreast of our activities and campaigns by signing up for our email list on our website. There are volunteer opportunities and we are in the process of setting up a yearly membership opportunity for the public to join; more on that at our website in the near future. 

HG: Last but not least, what are some of your favorite biking routes in the city? 

Patrick: I enjoy riding most everywhere in Jersey City, but when I’m on a route that includes protected bike lanes, I prefer that the most. Happy and safe cycling to all!

Bike JC is a citizen-based, non-profit organization led by Patrick Conlon. You can find the organization’s current projects and events, list of board members, and ways to help support here. You can also follow Bike JC’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

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