What to Expect at our Parks and Trails

Our parks are for everyone. Our state, counties, and municipalities offer wonderful places for us to experience physical activity outdoors. These are spaces where children can play, wander, and imagine. Here are some tips on how you and your family can enjoy the outdoors and stay safe.

Senses make memories.

  • Sight
  • Sound
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Taste

Our senses allow us to experience and connect to places in ways that are personal and unique. When people imagine their own neighborhood, the distinctive features that remind them of home, can be different from their neighbors. One person thinks of the aroma of a restaurant around the corner, while a neighbor may be reminded of the sounds of children playing at the local playground.

Trails vary in size.  While enjoying the parks, trails, boardwalks, remember not to crowd each other. Give everyone enough space so they feel comfortable, and the only people within 6-feet from you are people that are in your household. Trails can have sections that are just narrow enough for a single person, and a variety of plants can cause discomfort, i.e. poison ivy. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Take advantage of a clearing if someone is approaching on a narrow trail.

Biking in Face Masks.  Masks and physical distancing has been effective in decreasing the spread of COVID-19. As the temperatures and humidity rise, wearing masks can become uncomfortable. When stopped, your breath will create a warmer environment within the mask. Thankfully, when riding a bike, you may find relief as the air is forced into the mask as you breathe and move forward. Bring a backup mask on humid days. In the coming weeks, as the humidity rises, it can become more challenging for moisture to evaporate and make it challenging to get enough oxygen.

Share the Trail. Our parks are for everyone and trail etiquette is essential. Everyone should feel welcome, comfortable, and not crowded. Imagine that our trails can be used similarly to roads. When traveling, keep to the right. Oncoming trail users would have space to move in the opposite direction, and people and bikes who are moving more quickly can pass on your left side. When passing other trail users, give them  warning by ringing your bike bell or by calling out, “Passing on the left.”

Masks, gloves, pet waste and other litter should not be left behind. If you are bringing food, or drinks to the park, pack up all of your garbage and dispose of them when you leave. This is what it means to “Carry in. Carry out.” Plastics are carried by stormwater and storm drains and can travel to other bodies of water.

Lastly, always check yourself, your children, and pets for ticks when you get home.

Be safe and enjoy your time outdoors.

ABC Bike Check

Biking is a great way to get exercise, to commute, run errands, and even to explore.  But it’s important to so do safely. Before you take that ride in your neighborhood or to the park, make sure that your bicycles work properly before riding them.  For example, your brakes should effectively help you stop in any situation.  This video demonstrates how to perform an ABC Quick Check before each ride.  Happy and Safe Riding!

Bike Shops Are Essential

It’s important for all members of the family to stay physically active. With the freedom to exercise in our neighborhoods, we can still enjoy the outdoors by walking, running, and riding bicycles. With fewer cars on the road, this could be the safest time to ride. In New York and other cities, people are choosing bicycles over buses and subway cars to maintain safe physical distance from other commuters. New Jersey recognizes bicycles as a healthy transportation option and has declared bicycle shops are an essential resource during this public health crisis.

Keep Middlesex Moving has reached out to the bike shops in, and around, Middlesex County to learn how they are continuing to serve their communities. Like the restaurants, supermarkets, and other establishments, local bike shops have tailored their operations to safely provide services while maintaining the precautions of 6 feet between their staff and their customers.

Bicycle repair and maintenance services are offered at each of our local shops. You can expect a shop to have curbside dropoff and pickup. Most stores are operating on an adjusted schedule, and business continues to ramp up as the weather continues to improve. Each store’s volume varies. Depending on the type of service you need on your bike, the wait can range from 1 to 14 days.

All of the shops offer retail sales online and over the phone. Customers can still purchase a bicycle, components, and accessories and arrange curbside pickup, however, many have closed their showrooms and are not offering test rides. It’s a good idea to see what’s offered at the shop via their website and to contact the shop directly with any questions.

To assist you and all of our local bike shops, KMM has compiled a Database of the shops in and around  Middlesex County. This resource provides each store’s modified hours, contact information, and retail operations.

Click here for the shops mapped.

 

Armchair Traveler- A bucket list railroad trip from Vancouver to Banff

The invention of the railroad in 1804 brought forth innovation, human expansion, and a new method of travel. Train travel helped change the course of human history in ways we couldn’t have imagined. From the B&O Railroad which was the first American company to be granted a charter to transport both freight and passengers, to the NYC subway system which has the most stations in the world, our nation is deeply dependent on this method of travel.

When we think of taking a bucket list vacation, train travel doesn’t usually come to mind. However, a rail company in Vancouver, BC has been offering bucket list-worthy trips of a lifetime across the Canadian Rockies since 1990. The Rocky Mountaineer Rail Company offers trips with breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies, a mountain range between British Columbia and Alberta, that is home to five National Parks that were declared a UNSECO World Heritage Site-  Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho.

With full glass dome windows and gourmet meals worthy of world-class restaurants, this train trip will take your breath away. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this amazing trip from the comfort of your armchair!

Armchair Travels – The Netherlands

From mid-March to mid-May, it’s Tulip Time in The Netherlands.  And the best place to see tulips is at Keukenhof Gardens.  The Keukenhof estate dates back to the 11th century.   The idea for using the English style gardens as a palette for spring-flowering bulbs was proposed flower merchants in 1949.  Keukenhof opened as a spring park the following year and attracted over 200,000 visitors. Now, each year millions of visitors from around the world tour Keukenhof.

In 2020, the 71st anniversary year, the Gardens are closed but the staff has prepared a series of videos so that all can still enjoy Keukenhof – A World of Colours.

 

Other links to sights in The Netherlands

Geithorne – The Venice of the North

 

Delft

 

Windmills of Zaanse Schans

 

Closer to Home   Holland Ridge Farms, Cream Ridge, NJ

Learning How to Ride a Bike

Learning how to ride a bike is a rite of passage. Teaching someone to ride a bike is another.  The event is ingrained in our memory and in some cases documented on video or photo for prosperity.  If you are planning to teach your child how to ride a bike, here are tips to help make the milestone safe, memorable, and hopefully successful!

  1. Find a space to practice – The best place to teach a child to learn to ride a bike is a flat, paved surface with limited traffic and few obstructions. The child won’t be able to balance when moving at a snail’s pace, so encourage them to move speedily. A long driveway, empty parking lot, cul de sac, or street with limited traffic may work well.
  2. Equipment Check – Start by checking and adjusting your child’s equipment. Make sure bike helmets fit properly and inspect the bike.  Remove the training wheels AND  remove the pedals. (Pedals do not follow “righty-tighty/lefty-loosey.”) Adjust the saddle (bike seat) height so that it is level and low enough for the child to place his/her heels firmly on the ground with knees slightly bent.  It’s helpful if your child is wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes.
  3. Practice without Pedals – With these adjustments, the child can scoot and push him/herself around the space until they can glide for a distance without placing their feet on the ground. Make a game of it. Place cones or toys on the ground so your child knows where to turn. Once the child is confidently scooting and balancing through turns, they are ready to reattach the pedals.
  4. Practice with pedals – This will take many tries and athletic shoes are recommended. With pedals attached, children need assistance with the starting. Without over stabilizing the child, parents may have to hold the center of the handlebars, or underneath the rear of the saddle and walk or jog as the child begins to pedal. At the moment the child reaches the speed to balance on their own, let go!
  5. Power Position -When the child practices to start the bike, it’s a good idea to prepare them for real-world conditions. Imagine you’re going to cross an intersection, the child should be ready to pedal across when conditions are safe. Set the cranks for the power position with one pedal up and forward at a One-O’Clock position. From a stop, the child can push the pedal down and begin to pedal across the intersection. Children’s bikes are often equipped with with a coaster brake, so the rear wheel must roll forward or be lifted to reset the pedal position
  6. Braking – Before taking them on the sidewalk, road or path, play a few games to help them practice using their brakes. Begin with the child pedaling as you walk or jog next to them. Narrate a story, “Let’s imagine you’re riding in the park and a squirrel jumps into your path!” As they understand how their brakes work and feel, they also get an idea of when to use them. Another game/exercise is to place an object, toy or line with sidewalk chalk on the pavement and encourage them to stop with their front tire on the line.

Most importantly, Smile and Breathe.  Consider that new learners will hold incredibly tightly to their handlebars, so their hands might even hurt after a few minutes. Children’s bike saddles often do not offer great support for sensitive areas. Limit your sessions to 2 hours max with short breaks off the bike to stretch and to gather themselves to begin again. It can take more than several attempts until they get it. Their minds need time to digest all of this in the background. With this, you’ll know when is a good time to stop for the day.

Oh and don’t forget to have someone grab a camera…

Armchair Travels – Botanical Gardens

With the click of a button, you can experience travel, all from the comfort of your home.

KMM’s Armchair Travel is a weekly blog series that takes readers to all corners of the world with virtual tours and videos. For this week’s blog, we present Botanical Gardens – Orchid Show.

One of the oldest botanical gardens in North America, the United States Botanic Garden was established by Congress in 1820. We share with you a snip-it of their 2020 Orchid Show.

The New York Botanical Garden is a 250-acre oasis in the middle of the Big Apple. The historic, Victorian-style glasshouse provides a world tour of 11 distinct plant habitats, including tropical rain forest and desert environments of the Americas and Africa. We share with you a 25-minute video of the 2020 spring orchid exhibit.

Both gardens are expected to open to on May 1, 2020.

 

 

 

Outside in Open! Bicycle Helmet Safety Tips

Outside is Open! With so many of us practicing #Socialdistancing to #FlattenTheCurve, many of us are looking for ways to stay active. If bike riding is one of them, we share with you two quick videos on how to fit your #bikehelmet. Be safe and have fun!

Whether you’re riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, if there are wheels under your feet, NJ requires a helmet on your head up to the age of 17. Biking to school and around town can be a safe activity, though if you happen to fall, it’s smart to protect your head. Here are a few tips on how to wear a bicycle helmet safely:

For Adults:

For Children:

My Town – 3rd Grade Bookmark Contest

UPDATE: The deadline for submission is May 1, 2020.  You may also scan and email the bookmark to programs@kmm.org. We ask that you mail the original copy at a later date.

Open to all third graders in Middlesex County, KMM is tasking children to create a bookmark showing themselves walking or biking at a place that makes their town such an amazing place to grow up.

Bookmark Entry Rules:

  • The design must include original artwork in color.
  • The design must be submitted using this entry form.
  • One entry per student.
  • The winner will receive a $100 gift card from Provident Bank. The winning bookmark will be printed and distributed to schools in Middlesex County.
  • Entries become the property of Keep Middlesex Moving.
  • Entries must be submitted by April 15, 2020

3rd grade Bookmark Entry 2020

Armchair Travels – Museums

With the click of a button, you can experience travel, all from the comfort of your home.

KMM’s Armchair Travel is a weekly blog series that takes readers to all corners of the world with virtual tours and videos.  This week, we bring you three tours of the most popular museums in the world.  So sit back and enjoy tours of  Versailles, The Louvre, and The Smithsonian.

 

 

 

Have you visited these museums in person?  Please share your photos and memories with us at programs@kmm.org.