Building A Bike-Friendly Community

Hoping to generate “some buzz” with a little paint, signs, and marketing, Trails Committee Chairman Scott Coleman proposed two bicycle routes for Newtown.

With Treadwell and Dickinson Parks as starting points, he suggested two- and four-mile routes through neighborhoods surrounding the parks.

He approached members of the Parks and Recreation Commission Tuesday evening, handing them maps of his proposed routes. Cyclists can leave Dickinson Park, take Point O’ Rocks Road to Deep Brook Road to Elm Street, and up brief side streets and back to Elm, and finishing at the park’s main entrance.

Why the bike routes? Mr Coleman was recently involved with a larger group of town staff and officials to discuss steps to making Newtown a bike-friendly community. The status is a designation approved through the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) based in Washington.

“It’s a way to introduce the concept,” he said.

He is hoping to place painted stencils on the road indicating the bike routes, and possibly place signs on the route.

Another, longer route would wind around Treadwell Park, turning on Philo Curtiss Road to Riverside Road, to Bancroft Road, to Pole Bridge, then back to the park via Philo Curtis Road — a four-mile loop. If riders wanted to extend their trip, they could stay on Riverside to Center Street, to Underhill Road, where they could turn right and follow Lake Zoar until they reach Alpine Drive and loop back to Riverside.

Mr Coleman also noted that from Treadwell Park, cyclists can also quickly reach Glen Road into Southbury, and connect with existing bicycle routes there.

Starting with the Parks and Recreation Commission, Mr Coleman plans to approach other town officials saying, “I am looking for top-down approval.” Commission Chairman Ed Marks wanted to “push forward” with the idea, and he and other recreation members advised Mr Coleman to speak with borough officials including selectmen and police commissioners.

Mr Marks then sought to endorse Mr Coleman’s proposal.

Member Jan Brookes moved that the commission give provisional approval, subject to review by other town officials, she said.

Earlier this year, Simsbury resident Steven Mitchell had approached Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold with the bike-friendly idea.

He told her at the time, “It’s the best thing Newtown can pursue right now. As neighbors we want to help.”

Ms Mangold said, “We are extremely interested in what he has to say, and we recognize that Newtown is not a bike-friendly town. We are willing to learn of anything we can do to try to make these healthy lifestyle changes.”

At a previous meeting that included Mr Coleman and Ms Mangold, Mr Mitchell advised “signs, paint, and attitude” were three key factors to success. “Get signs out,” he said, and paint arrows, or shared road bicycle markings.

Mr Mitchell is a board of trustees member of the East Coast Greenway, a multiuse — cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, equestrians, wheelchair users — trail that will go from Key West Florida to Canada, and is currently 28 percent done, he said. Visit GreenWay.org to learn more about that project.

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