Indoor and outdoor physical activity will keep us healthy during this stressful time. Listed below are ideas for staying active, healthy, and safe in New Jersey even as we maintain our responsibility to our communities to socially distance ourselves from those around us.
Contact your Safe Routes to School Regional Coordinator
Every community in New Jersey is serviced by a non-profit Transportation Management Association (TMA) who can offer free assistance with information on safe walking and bicycling practices. TMAs are working remotely, and you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out your local TMA during this challenging time. They are available and able to assist you! Contact your Safe Routes to School Regional Coordinator.
Safety is Important
When walking or bicycling outside or in public areas, remember to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from everyone. A useful way to visualize this is to imagine the length of a bicycle, which is about 6 feet.
- Avoid touching shared surfaces such as benches and do not use playground equipment. If a public space is too crowded, try another location or come back another time.
- Three simple steps can lower your risk of getting infected and passing it on to others and people in your family: social distancing, wearing a mask in public, and washing your hands after being outside your home.
- While outdoors, try employing mindfulness practices as a way to reduce stress and connect with nature.
- As always, if you are not feeling well, stay home!
Safety in Our Neighborhoods
Fewer people are driving, and that’s a good thing. With fewer vehicles on the road there are opportunities for creating safe spaces in our communities for people to walk and bike, especially as people travel by foot for essential jobs and to get food and supply items.
- Since there are fewer cars on the roads, driver speeding can increase. To reduce speeds and give more room for people walking and bicycling to maintain a safe distance, consider redistributing street width to expand walking areas and narrow travel lanes. Use cones, barrels and bollards to temporarily widen walking and/or bicycling areas. This has the added benefit of also slowing motor vehicle speeds which has multiple safety and health benefits.
- Ask local leaders to close streets to motor vehicles so people can walk and bicycle while maintaining a safe distance of at least 6 feet. A successful petition in Philadelphia closed MLK Drive to cars, allowing cyclists to travel safely in their city.
- Streets with no sidewalks and/or shoulders or low traffic volumes can be temporarily designated for local traffic only, and thereby create safer areas for residents to walk or bike.
- Work with local leaders to install temporary bike lanes, which provide increased safety for cyclists and can demonstrate the potential for permanent bikeways in your community.
- As of 5/2/20, New Jersey state parks are open at 50% capacity for passive recreation. This means hiking, fishing, horseback riding, boating, or kayaking are allowed. Be aware that restrooms, park buildings, camping facilities, playgrounds, pavilions, and food concessions are closed at this time. Swimming, camping, and picnicking are prohibited. Social distancing practices should be followed by all park visitors including wearing cloth face coverings.
- County parks and golf courses are allowed to reopen. Before going to a park, check with your county to make sure it’s open and be sure to follow social distancing guidelines when visiting.
- Many NJ municipalities have also closed parks and beaches. Please check municipal websites for more information.
- When in your home, take advantage of online resources to keep yourself engaged. There are many websites providing virtual tours of museums in New Jersey and throughout the world. Check out this article to get started.
Walk and Bike Safely
Teaching children how to walk and bike safely is an ongoing activity. The Safety Snippets below are short, engaging videos that provide instruction on safe walking and bicycling:
- How to fit a bike helmet (courtesy of Keep Middlesex Moving TMA)
- Crossing at Signalized Intersections
- Crosswalk Safety
- Check out all of our videos!
Physical Activity for Kids of all abilities…and Adults!
With schools closed for an unknown period of time and daily and regular physical education not available, it is important to keep kids of all ages and abilities active. Our friends at the Safe Routes Partnership compiled a list of excellent resources to continue physical education and activity at home.
- Facebook Live workouts, prerecorded videos, and activity packs for kids at home (BOKS)
- Monday-Friday recess live on Facebook (Playworks)
- Mind and Body Calendars and other resources (Shape America)
- Resources to support the physical, social, and emotional health of children and caregivers (Alliance for a Healthier Generation)
- Fitness Breaks with Pro Athletes (Alliance for a Healthier Generation)
- Special Olympics challenges
We would like to give a special “thank you” to Emily and Erin, two students from New Jersey who contacted us to share additional resources. Have a great summer Emily and Erin and keep up the good work staying active!
New Jersey is home to an abundance of wildlife. iNaturalist provides a platform for you to record and share your observations of plants and animals that you see during your walking and bicycling excursions. iNaturalist can be accessed online or downloaded as an app for your phone.
Info on COVID-19:
For the most up to date status regarding COVID-19 for the State of New Jersey, please click here.
Specific Coronavirus (COVID-19) questions are being handled by health experts 24/7 at the NJ Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.