With weekly rides to points near and far, Tour de Newark breeds cycling culture here in town

For some, Sundays are a lazy day, perfect for recuperating from the weekend and preparing for the impending week.

But for the members of Tour De Newark, a local cycling group, there is no better way to spend the better part of a Sunday than by riding.

You might have seen the community-organized cycling crew on your Sunday morning stroll, dressed in enthusiastic cycling gear, helmets to match, as they zip through the empty Sunday streets. Sometimes the rides are intra-city, as with a recent “park to park” ride through Newark. But many others end at points further out, including Turtleback Zoo, MetLife Stadium, the George Washington Bridge, and Harlem.

An offshoot of United Cycle, Tour De Newark works to promote the healthy benefits of bike riding as a recreational activity and a transportation alternative, while also cultivating a cycling community here in Newark. The group is comprised of a diverse array of cyclists, many of them private-sector professionals, entrepreneurs, and city officials working across a wide array of disciplines in the area.

And although the name might suggest otherwise, members of Tour De Newark aren’t exclusively Newark residents. Co-founders Dilettante Bass and Alturrick Kenney, who are both Newark residents and natives, have extended the cycling community’s reach beyond the city’s five wards, welcoming residents from neighboring towns like Roselle and Elizabeth.

“We called it Tour De Newark to get people from Newark involved. The reason we began cycling as United Cycle is because everyone is not from Newark. Some riders come from Elizabeth, Union, Linden. We just all meet up in Newark,” said Bass.

As the Tour De Newark community grows with residents from Newark and beyond, Kenney and Bass are keen on using this community to promote a Newark-based lifestyle activity, and to show residents and visitors what Newark has to offer beyond the downtown district.

“Biking allows people to see and experience the city in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to from a car,” said Bass. “For a lot of people who are new to the city, they think that Newark is just the downtown area or the Central Ward or the East Ward. People only stay in this small radius, and they don’t see the rich culture that’s in some of the other neighborhoods,” he continued.

Both Kenney and Bass hope that Tour De Newark will help promote the cycling culture in Newark and, in turn, push the city to recognize traffic legislation that will keep bikers safe on the road.

“We have to make sure the city keeps installing bike lanes and bike-conscious signs so people can see that biking is a part of the city’s growth and overall development,” noted Kenney. “As we evolve, advocacy is going to become more apparent, because we want to make sure that our rights as bikers are included in the city’s overall concept,” he continued.

As the members of Tour De Newark who religiously meet every Sunday show, Newark’s cycling community is one that is growing and welcoming to bikers of different ages and stages. With plans for a ward-by-ward tour of Newark, this growing community is only on the cusp of executing their plans for the city’s cycling culture.

For more information about Tour De Newark, routes, meetup times and locations, find the group on Facebook. New to riding? The crew’s motto is “No man or woman left behind.”

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