Glastonbury steps toward bike-friendly community status

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Nov. 21, 2013
Bill Nesper, vice president of The League of American Bicyclists, traveled from Washington, D.C., to take a bike tour of Glastonbury, and discuss the town's 'bike-friendliness.' Photos by Steve Smith.
Bill Nesper, vice president of The League of American Bicyclists, traveled from Washington, D.C., to take a bike tour of Glastonbury, and discuss the town's 'bike-friendliness.' Photos by Steve Smith.

Glastonbury took a step toward becoming a more bicycle-friendly community on Nov. 20. Bill Nesper, vice president of programs with the League of American Bicyclists, met with town officials (including Town Manager Richard Johnson), members of Bike Walk Glastonbury, representatives from the Glastonbury Police Department, the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation, and other members of the community at Bicycles East.

Deb Dauphinais, co-owner of the bicycle and accessory store and board member of BikeWalk Glastonbury, said Nesper came as part of a program sponsored through the Trek Bicycle Corporation, and becomes a conduit for the town to partner with the League.

The League is a national bicycling advocacy organization that publishes a “blueprint” for communities to become bicycle-friendly, and works with towns to reach that goal. Nesper said the organization was founded in 1880 (in step with the advent of bicycles) and advocates for the 57 million bicycle riders in the United States. Currently, there are 291 bicycle-friendly communities in 48 states.

The League's program, called Bicycle Friendly America, would ask for Glastonbury to take part in an application process, which according to them is “cored in education and a real opportunity for benchmarking and a platform for collaboration.”

“Bicycling is a solution to all of the challenges we face,” Nesper said. “We think it's about helping people live better lives – helping people of all ages and abilities get to the places they want to go, be with the people they want to be with, and see their towns, on bikes.” He added that there has been a 60-percent increase in usage of bicycles in the country since the year 2000.

Nesper toured many areas of Glastonbury, both via car and by bicycle, that are frequented (or wish to be) by bicyclists. The application processs involves “grading” of a town in the areas of engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

A “complete street” approach, as an example of engineering, is a framework for building streets better and more able to accommodate many uses, including bicycles.

Nesper said some of the things Glastonbury could capitalize on are its number of roads with wide shoulders, established bicycle trails, and that it already has a master bike plan which identifies many of the town's gaps and needs.

“You have a great team here, and you have a lot of people who really know what needs to be done,” Nesper said. “There are some steps to get there, but you have a plan, so you are light-years ahead of many, many cities.”

Nesper said, after the meeting, that it was very positive that so many town officials and police were involved. He was also impressed with the ideas that came from the discussion and how they were well-received by others, whether they come to fruition or not.

Johnson said that he and other town officials will be attending the Bike Walk Glastonbury meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9, at Smith Middle School. The public is also invited to attend.

Nesper said that typically, towns will “fill in the gaps” over time, adding multi-use trails, wider shoulders and other ways to be more bike-friendly, but that the process is well under way.

Dauphinais said she was thrilled with the turnout. “I'm very pleased with the support and with the outlook for the future,” she said. “I think we're going to succeed. A lot of people support and participate in bicycling. This process allows us to objectively make improvements where they are needed. We're in a good place, but this helps us get from where we are to where we want to be.”

For more information, visit www.bikewalkglastonbury.com, or contact Deb Dauphinais at 860-659-0114.


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