There’s a new avenue to taking in the scenery at Washington Lake Park.
On June 13, Washington Township introduced its new bike share program that will allow visitors of Washington Lake Park to rent bicycles free of charge, so long as they are returned to the kiosk.
Business administrator Jason Gonter said the township amended Gloucester Township’s model to fit its needs.
“Being we planned on putting $1 million into the park to expand paths and rejuvenate around Cedar Lake, we thought it would be great for residents to take advantage,” Gonter said.
The kiosk and bicycles came at no cost to taxpayers because of a wellness sponsorship from Jefferson Health. Jefferson Health donated $20,000 to complete the project.
The bicycles are only able to be rented during park hours. To access a bicycle, one must download an application to their phone and insert a credit card number. From there, the visitor will input the bicycle number and it will be unlocked. There is no charge to rent a bicycle so long as it is returned to the kiosk. The bicycle shelter is located by the concession stand and ranger station.
Helmets are not supplied by the township. According to state law, in New Jersey, anyone under 17 years of age who rides a bicycle, is a passenger on a bicycle, or is towed as a passenger by a bicycle must wear a safety helmet.
“When we thought of bringing the program there it was important to not spend taxpayer dollars on it. That’s why we partnered with Jefferson,” Gonter said. “We wanted to give something back to the residents, and that’s what attracted us to the program. We didn’t want it as a money-making vehicle, everybody should be able to enjoy it.”
The no-cost aspect to the program makes it a win-win in Gonter’s eyes because it brings residents out to the park, which he believes to be one of the premier aspects of the community.
“Washington Lake Park is the crown jewel of Washington Township,” he said. “I think it’s under utilized. It can be used more by visitors to the area.”
Park go-ers Demi Jenkowski, Nick Fewell and Max Fewell are a testament of Gonter’s statement. Jenkowski said she saw a post for the new program on Facebook and decided to take her child for a bike ride in the park.
“I liked how easy it was to download the app. It took maybe three minutes to get the bike out,” she described. “I think it’s awesome to get people people outside, more people at the park. It makes more people come here. I wouldn’t have came here otherwise.”
The Fewells agreed the process was easy to use. However they are at the park a few times a week walking the trails. They like the diversity the new bike program will provide their workout.
“It’s a really good idea,” Nick Fewell said, simply.
With a busier park comes additions to the park, like more sports programs, which in turn attract new residents to the area. By providing a new opportunity to soak in what the park has to offer, Gonter believes this to be the first domino in keeping Washington Township a premier community.