(The following letter to First Selectman Pat Llodra has been received for publication.)
Dear First Selectman:
I enjoy riding my bike in and around Newtown; riding a bike is an excellent physical exercise, allowing yourself to breathe fresh air and let you mind wander. The problem is that Newtown is not a heaven for cyclists.
I live on Key Rock Road. When I exit my driveway, I may turn right and head for Hattertown/Poverty Hollow roads or turn left towards Route 302. The decision is not easy as I feel I am caught between a rock and a hard place. Let me explain.
If I turn right, I have to ride on a portion of Key Rock Road where the pavement is in terrible shape, crisscrossed with gullies making the ride a dangerous proposition. Even if you drive your car across that section, I guarantee that you will feel the bumpy profile of the road surface.
The other way for me to start my morning ride is to head towards Route 302. Any time I ride on a road, I try my best to stay within a four-foot wide band on the right side of the road. While riding a bike on Route 302 is doable, it is fraught with danger including car traffic, and the often poor condition of the imaginary four-foot wide band.
So, what should start as a very enjoyable and relaxing ride provides immediately a good deal of anxieties. My preference is to make a left turn when exiting my driveway and another left turn on Route 302, then head towards Hattertown or Flat Swamp Roads.
A year ago, various sections of Poverty Road were resurfaced creating a real hazard for bicycle riders. Typically you can ride 200 yards on a smooth pavement then for no reason it switches to a rough, uneven pavement that forces you to slow down considerably and watch for potholes; it is frequent to have patches covering only half of the width of the road. So, there I was on my first Spring 2013 ride, when I broke a spoke; what a lousy start to my riding season!.
As a senior citizen, I question how much do I get in return for the real estate taxes I have paid in Newtown for the past 33 years. No questions that younger folks get their money worth in terms of school and recreation funding. Newtown is covered with soccer fields, but you will not see too many senior citizens trotting those fields. So, next time you and the Newtown managers develop a budget, be sure to consider the needs of seniors.
My suggestions for remediation for a happy riding in Newtown follow;
Make sure that local road surfaces are well maintained across the full width of the roads, not just in the middle sections,
Create a friendly environment for bicycle riders with a lane delimited by a painted line placed 4 feet from the right side of the road. Bikers will be expected to stay in those lanes while car/truck drivers will be watching for riders in those lanes.
Let us keep Newtown people friendly and bucolic.
36 Key Rock Road, Newtown October 7, 2013