A newly-signed bill boosts funds for alternatives to car use.
It requires that a minimum of one percent of total funds received in a fiscal year – by the DOT or a Connecticut municipality – for highway and street projects is used for bicycle and pedestrian-friendly design.
Senate Bill 735, An Act Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Access, also establishes an 11-member advisory board to work with the governor, the Department of Transportation and the Legislature on this and other incentives.
The funding requirement of the bill kicks in on Oct. 1, 2010 and is linked to projects such as street and highway construction, restoration, rehabilitation or relocation.
Specifically, the bill states that one percent of a project’s funds must be spent to provide access for “all users,” which includes bikeways, and sidewalks with curb cuts or ramps.
Exceptions to this requirement include resurfacing and emergency repairs, and other special situations such as roads where bicycles aren’t allowed, or the familiar loophole – when the costs of “all-user” accommodations would be “prohibitive.”
After signing this new bill, Gov. Rell said, “Walking and bicycling are more than healthy lifestyle choices – for many Connecticut commuters, they are the way to get to work… We want to encourage that, not only because it’s good for personal fitness, but because it removes congestion from our highways and pollutants – including greenhouse gases – from our skies.”
“The bill also dovetails neatly with my administration’s emphasis on smart growth and transit-oriented development, which calls for communities that make it easier for people to get to work, home and shopping without having to drive,” Rell said.
The bill also requires the DOT to report – first by Oct. 1, 2009 and again by Oct. 1, 2010 – an accounting of state-funded or federally-funded projects undertaken that included bicycle and pedestrian access.
Posted July 5, 2009
While living in West Hartford several years ago, I worked for a company based in Bloomfield. I invested in a Fuji touring bike and cycled to work everyday, except during pouring rain or very icy conditions.
I also took a course on “defensive” cycling, which included instruction (on the road) on how to avoid drainage grates and broken glass that suddenly appear as you’re zipping along, what to do if someone in a parked car opens the door into your path, how to be assertive when making a turn, how to ride over railroad tracks and other weird surfaces, and other useful information.
If this kind of course was offered in more towns, more people might be motivated to use their bicycles for commuting, or at least for trips to the local library or grocery store.
Unfortunately, there’s often a certain amount of hostility – or disrespect or lack of understanding or just plain
obliviousness – on the part of drivers toward people on bicycles (I once had a cup of crushed ice from a fast-food drink thrown at me from a passing car while cycling on Hunting Lodge Road), so it’s a good idea for those new to cycling to have “survival tips.” And yes, there are reckless cyclists who would benefit from learning the rules of the road.
Cycling to work five days a week – and for errands on the weekends – seriously reduced my gas and car maintenance costs. I also cruised right past the commuter traffic on my bike. And I was in the best physical condition of my life.
I continued to use my bike when I moved to Mansfield, but must say that the hills on Route 195 and Route 32 were killers – which partly contributed to my resorting more and more to driving.
I recently moved to Willimantic, where you will see a lot more people getting around on bicycles, and I recently received a mountain bike from a Freecycle (recycling) member, so I am getting back into the saddle. I have no excuse for not bicycling now – I live right next to the Eastcoast Greenway!
Editor’s related links:
Problems and solutions to riding a bike to work – http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/commute/solution.htm
Bicycle safety resource center for employers: (also compares states in terms of bicycle use, and other interesting statistics) http://www.trafficsafety.org/worklife/bike/web/towork.html
The Bicycle to Work Web site (tips, news stories, message board, database, resource, book reviews and more) http://www.bikecommute.com/
Environmental Defense Fund (real stories from bike-commuters) http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=5480