LIVINGSTON, NJ - “See Livingston in a new way—from a bicycle seat” was the motto Sunday afternoon at Livingston’s first annual Bike Tour. An estimated 60 to 70 town residents made their way out to town hall with their bicycles in toe.

Hosted by the West Essex YMCA, the Bike Livingston Tour traveled the back roadways of Livingston. Two routes were mapped out for the event. A four mile child-friendly route covered flat terrain, and a more difficult seven mile trek journeyed through Littell People’s Park.

Arlene Johnson, former Mayor of Livingston, said the main priority of the Bike Tour was to promote a more bicycle friendly Livingston. After Johnson and the other bikers returned from the tour, she remarked how nice it was to see everyone riding bicycles along the roadways of Livingston. “It was a beautiful sight to see – 50 bikers stretched out across a stretch of roadway.”

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Cheryl Francione, Chair of the West Essex YMCA shared similar sentiments when she stated her hope regarding the Bike Tour.  “We hope to show people that Livingston is a bikeable town and that they can ride bikes here very often.”

Art Altman, a volunteer from the YMCA, spoke about how a more bike friendly Livingston can help the environment. “Bike riding saves fuel, saves the environment, and, besides that, it’s just great fun.”

Prior to the tour, three promotional stations were set up around town hall’s parking lot to help prepare participants for the upcoming bike ride.

Transoptions, a non-profit organization that promotes bicycle safety, hosted a Bike Rodeo course. The Bike Rodeo is designed to teach kids and adults alike a number of bike safety rules, including how to control ones’ bicycle, the proper hand signals on the roadway, how to enter a street from a drive way, and how to cross rail road tracks. Bill Feeney, Bicycle Safety Specialist, said, “We teach everyone—kids and adults, too—to understand the rules of bike riding on streets and sidewalks.”

The Transoptions group also set up a Helmet Check tent where a Transoptions employee would teach individuals how to properly fit a bicycle helmet onto their head.

Cycle Craft, a bicycle supply store based in Parsippany, also set up a bike check tent. There, service manager Eric Paulson would repair any bike related concerns for those participating in the event. Paulson said he was happy to help out and support the Bike Livingston Tour. “We come out to the event for, more than anything else, to support the community.” Cycle Craft also donated to the event eight $$50 gift cards valid at Cycle Craft stores. The gift cards were raffled off following the Bike Livingston Tour.

Just before the bikers took off, Mayor Fernandez made a brief appearance, standing before the assembly of cyclists and giving a short speech. “We have to thank all our sponsors,” he said. “They did great job setting all this up. Unfortunately I can’t go with you – I’m not dressed in proper attire – but be safe, and have a great time.” Mayor Fernandez then stepped aside to let Cheryl Francione direct riders on how to proceed onto the roadways.

Following the tour, a bicycle stunt show presented by Dell was held. Chris Clark, a professional mountain bike rider and a former Livingston resident, explained that his shows are all about “encouraging everyone to find something they like to do, not necessarily mountain biking.” 

Clark made a joke to the audience regarding his relatively accident free history as a professional bike rider. “I’ve been at this for 15 years and haven’t broken any bones yet.” He continued on to say that his good fortune wasn’t all just sheer luck, though. “Part of it is being safe and wearing the right gear.”

In association with the YMCA, the Livingston Bike Tour and Bike Collection was sponsored by the Bicentennial Committee, Barnabas Health, Eastman Companies, CPG Interactive, and the Rotary club of Livingston.

“We have a great variety of sponsors that believe in Livingston as a bike-able community. We’re very thankful to them,” said Arlene Johnson.