Today marks the release of the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center final report for the “New Brunswick Ciclovia Evaluation,” a project funded under the Together North Jersey Local Government Capacity Grant Program.
The report documents and evaluates the overall success and effectiveness of New Brunswick’s first Ciclovia, held on October 6, 2013. A Ciclovia is an event where roads are closed to motorized vehicle to create a free-form event that welcomes participants of all ages and abilities to enjoy physical activity and recreation in a safe and inclusive environment. Participants are invited to walk, run, bike, dance, and plan on public streets.
The central objectives of the report are two-fold: to understand changes in perception before and after the Ciclovia, and to document lessons learned to make future Ciclovias in New Brunswick and elsewhere in New Jersey more effective. The report also looks to see if the Ciclovia functioned as an effective tool for changing attitudes and perceptions surrounding New Brunswick and its neighborhoods, and examines how well the Ciclovia accomplished its goals. Those goals included increasing physical activity, strengthening community engagement, encouraging active transportation, reducing environmental impacts, promoting public spaces and resources, and supporting local businesses.
Researchers from the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) at Rutgers were out in force during the inaugural Ciclovia, surveying participants and analyzing interactions. Feedback from hundreds of attendees was obtained to understand the impact of the Ciclovia and gauge support for future events.
However, work started long before the event, as the research team was embedded with the planning committee to understand the discussions, priorities, hurdles and challenges that arose when putting together an innovative event with a tight timeline and a small budget. After the event, the team also discussed their preliminary findings with the committee, and scheduled interviews with key members to understand the event from multiple viewpoints.
The report made several key findings, including that the New Brunswick Ciclovia was an overall success. Other findings included:
- The Ciclovia met that the goal of increasing the health and wellness of attendees on the day of the event;
- It successfully promoted active transportation, with 92% of survey respondents stating that they would consider walking or bicycling more after they experienced the event;
- The Ciclovia promoted social interaction and engagement to build a strong community by providing a safe and welcoming environment for people of diverse ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds; and
- The event strengthened the appreciation of New Brunswick as a great place to live and work.
A key portion of the evaluation is a series of recommendations that address every phase of the Ciclovia, from the beginning of the planning stage, to outreach and marketing, on to how the event itself was held. Recommendations include increasing attendance with improved Spanish-language outreach, holding multiple Ciclovias a year, adding additional activity stations, and coordinating with more businesses and organizations prior to the event.
The recommendations and analysis can be valuable to other municipalities in New Jersey and around the country that are interested in forming their own Ciclovias. Many of those recommendations have already been carried out, as the Ciclovia organizing committee was advised of the recommendations as the report was being written. One recommendation, to hold multiple Ciclovias a year, was quickly adopted. In 2014, New Brunswick held three additional Ciclovias, which each event featuring many of the improvements highlighted in the report, ensuring that they ran smoothly. New Brunswick currently has plans to continue hosting Ciclovias into 2015 and beyond.
Just two weeks ago, New Brunswick celebrated the third Ciclovia of 2014, on October 12. The Ciclovia saw a slightly altered route from the original event, more activity stations, and greater engagement from community organizations. These recommendations were adopted from the evaluation, and resulted in more smiles than ever before.
Be sure to check out the image slider below for some images from the latest Ciclovia.