Walk & Wheel Ways group has big goals
By Kyle Kernan - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Thu., Feb. 2, 2012
In a perfect world, according to members of the Walk and Wheel Ways of South Windsor, the town would be connected with a series of walking paths and bicycle routes. In their vision, South Windsor would become an official Bicycle-Friendly Community, which would make it the first town east of the Connecticut River to receive that honor.
"Hopefully, we can show the benefits of bringing South Windsor to a national standard of infrastructure used in many metro programs nationwide - meaning we need more sidewalks, park renovations and trails to connect our town together with the 'complete streets program,'" said committee member Skip Bourke.
Clearly, the group has its work cut out for it, but progress has been made along the way. Co-chair Ginny Hole formed the Walk and Wheel Ways on Oct. 10, 2007, as a sub-committee of the South Windsor Parks and Recreation department, to develop multi-use trails and sidewalks (representing the "walk") and bike routes development (representing the "wheel"); and the committee hopes its plans will benefit the community (representing the "way.") Rob O'Connor is the other co-chair, and committee advisors are Parks & Rec Director Ray Favreau, Roy Norman and Chris Squires.
As her goal, “The town of South Windsor will be a walking- and bicycling-friendly community in which residents will enjoy safe, affordable and economically friendly transportation,” said Hole.
The committee has already encouraged South Windsor Schools to develop PE bike classes into their curriculum, and members have cleaned and restored many trail systems in Donnelly’s Nature preserve and Nevers Park, in addition to sponsoring various community bike events to help spread awareness.
Educating the public on the benefits of bicycling is one of the committee’s chief concerns. “It will be nice to reach the point where people feel comfortable riding their bikes. It’s important to educate people about the responsibility we have to share the road,” said committee member Ken Sek.
To that end, the committee is proposing a family bicycle safety class, which would be the first of its kind in the state, to teach parents and their children (8 years or older) how to be a safe and confident cyclist on the road. The class’s content is drawn from the League of American Bicyclist's (LAB), comprehensive Bicycling Education Curriculum. All instructors in the class would be LAB certified. The class is scheduled for May 12, a day before Mother’s Day. The committee would like to offer the class free to mothers and $60 per an additional person.
Other upcoming efforts will include putting into place more bicycle racks at town buildings, schools and libraries, which the committee believes would encourage more citizens to bike, and encouraging local businesses to participate in their goals.
Putting up more “Share the road signs” and “Sharrows” on streets is another idea the committee has to assimilate bicycle traffic into other road traffic. Member Lia Huang originally proposed the idea of printing Sharrows, which usually come in the shape of a white bicycle, near the road’s right side to show drivers that bikes do use the road. The town of Glastonbury is already using the “Sharrows” markings. These signs might also be included in a proposed bike path which goes from Main Street to Strong Road and then to Rye Street.
Ongoing work of the WWW is to improve the nature walks and trails, in an effort to encourage those who live in the community to be active, with the ultimate goal of connecting the town with a series of walking paths. One of these proposed trails is a south-to-north cross town trail which would go from Clark Street up to Wapping Park. The trail would begin at Jacques Trail, where an Eagle Scout has put into motion a walking bridge over Quarry Brook that is currently under development, according to Town Engineer Jeff Doolittle.
A park is also being developed by the WWW at the end of Avery Street, and a large plot of land adjacent to Spinner’s Run is being paved into trailways.