Among the many reasons it cites for making West Hartford more bike-friendly, a town bicycle advisory committee points out that Simsbury has made the "Best Places to Live" list in Money magazine and has seen tourism revenue increase since being named a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
"Time to give Simsbury some competition," the advisory committee said in recent press release.
Scott Franklin, the committee chairman, said the group has a number of ideas for improving cycling conditions around town. For one, it hopes to convince the town to "stripe" — or mark a bike lane — on Mountain Road to Still Road at a cost of $5,000.
"If you have ever biked around town, you have seen that there are very few bike lanes, particularly going north-south, and shoulders on the roads are either non-existent or very small," Franklin said.
Another idea is to launch a bike share program like those in Boston and Washington, D.C., Franklin said.
"Our goal is to link the University of Hartford, St. Joseph's, the UCONN branch, Bishops Corner, West Hartford Center (Blue Back Square) and the new busway," he said. "Our goals may be lofty, but we believe that we can accomplish this and more."
As part of its mission, the advisory committee is asking residents to take a survey on biking conditions. The results of the survey will be delivered to the town council in September when the committee reports on its progress.
The committee points out several other reasons that West Hartford should make better conditions for bikes a priority:
- A 10-year-old who grew up in West Hartford in the 1970s wandered 10 times further on his or her own than a 10-year-old today, a trend that has had a profound impact on not only the physical health of children, but also the social and cultural fabric of life in the town. One way to reclaim more free play for kids and a more lively physical life for all residents: make West Hartford a place where residents of all ages feel comfortable exploring by bicycle.
- Residents who live near safe bicycle lanes or trails are 25 percent more apt to exercise.
- In the 1970s 50 percent of children biked to school; today less than 1 percent do.
- Only 3 percent of adults stay in shape by playing organized sports, which makes integrating movement into their everyday life via biking and walking so important.
- Physically active people over 50 are 50 percent less likely to get dementia.
The results of the survey and a discussion on the topic will take place at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 10, at the town council meeting at .