LIVINGSTON, NJ - The West Essex YMCA and the Bike Livingston Committee held the third annual Bike Livingston event Sunday, a free, family-oriented bike tour that took nearly 300 cyclists of all ages and abilities through some of Livingston’s bike- and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

According to Bike Livingston Committee Member Shari Clark, three routes were strategically planned out with the purpose of combining a fun, family day of outdoor activity, while exploring the many bike-able neighborhoods Livingston has to offer. 

The Livingston Police Department helped plan the routes, with an eye to safety and traffic patterns. According to West Essex YMCA Health Enhancement Director Barbara Santola, the LPD and many volunteers were made available for full bike-safety checks, food and water pit stops and traffic direction throughout the ride. 

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Local families and individuals biked over routes that included a four-mile loop through the Collins and Mt. Pleasant School areas for younger or more leisurely riders; an approximately seven-mile loop that also included the area around Hillside Elementary School, by the mall and back to Town Hall; or a longer, self-guided route planned for those who wanted more of a challenge. 

“The Livingston bike event encouraged participants to partake in a healthier and environmentally conscious activity and the opportunity to view other unfamiliar areas of Livingston,” said Gary Schwartz, who helped plan some of these routes.

West Essex YMCA Executive Director Helen Flores and the Bike Livingston Committee said they would not have been able to hold an event for so many participants free of charge without the support of local organizations like Saint Barnabas, ShopRite, HCHY, the YMCA, Regal Bank and several other sponsors. Members of the town council, Livingston Mayor Michael Silverman and more than 30 volunteers attended the event in support of the Bike Livingston Committee and its annual event. 

Flores said they were extremely pleased to see so many people embrace the event for an extraordinarily successful third year. 

“The purpose of the committee is to make sure that people understand that Livingston is bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly,” Flores said. “We encourage people to save the environment and get exercise while they’re doing it, so that we have some good healthy living in Livingston.”

Following the bike tour, professional mountain biker Chris Clark entertained the families with his world-renowned stunt show, during which time he displayed balance and agility as he maneuvered his bike over custom-built ramps and obstacles. Clark inspired the kids with a story about his own experiences and encouraged them to follow their dreams by practicing and playing to the best of their ability at any activity they choose. 

Clark told the younger audience that an essential part of healthy living is being able to say no to drugs and any other physically- or mentally-harmful situations. A massive advocate for helmets, Clark promoted personal safety both on and off the bike.

 “It was nice to see so many families come to enjoy the tour of Livingston and the beautiful weather we’ve had,” Santola said. “The courses were all safe and well-planned and with the Police Department’s support we were able to facilitate a town-wide, community-supported event.”

According to the website, the YMCA’s mission is to encourage Livingston’s youth to be active and appreciate the outdoors in a safe and responsible manner. The event committee said the bikers walked away with a better understanding of Livingston’s many beautiful, safe, bike-able neighborhoods.