Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes

A coalition of local organizations promoting off-road recreational trails and safe on-road bike routes is launching a campaign to gather citizen support for several exciting projects in Portland and Middletown. Descriptions and maps of these multi-use trails and routes may be viewed at www.thejonahcenter.org.

If you want to see these bike- and pedestrian-friendly improvements carried out and are willing to advocate for them, please sign the web-based “petition” (see below) indicating that you are prepared to “speak out” via email or attend hearings when critical community support is most needed. 

One major goal of “Speak Out For Trails and Bike Routes” is to implement the Bike Route Master Plan for Middletown. This plan was recently developed and released by Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee, identifying major bike routes throughout the City. This plan recommends designated bike lanes or share-the-road signage and pavement stencils to enable safer travel by bicycle, for both transportation and recreation purposes. At a recent meeting, Middletown’s Public Works Department agreed to begin implementation of the master plan by designing a bicycle route from the intersection of Main St. and Rapallo Avenue, along deKoven Drive and East Main Street to Millbrook Road, and from there to Durham, and Haddam. Such proposed improvements will make a big difference in terms of safe cycling in Middletown, but they will require strong community support to become a reality.

Another long-term goal of “Speak Out For Trails And Bike Routes” is to build a connection between the Air Line Trail (which will soon reach the YMCA’s Camp Ingersoll in Portland) to the Arrigoni Bridge, across the river, and further to Middletown’s Mattabesset Bike Trail in the city’s Westfield area. From there, another section of the proposed connector trail will provide a safe bike route through the center of Meriden to the Quinnipiac Gorge Trail and to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire. Because the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is a section of the East Coast Greenway (a project to build a bike route from Key West, Florida to Eastport, Maine), the Air Line Trail to Farmington Canal Connector Trail would become part of a 125-mile loop encircling the greater Hartford area, with the likelihood of bringing long-distance bicyclists through our area.
While some of the links in this 18-mile connection from Portland to Cheshire already exist or are planned, other sections will need some study for precise route identification. The whole project will require active citizen support in multiple towns, guided by the partner organizations. 

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art initiated the campaign, along with Portland’s Air Line Trail Steering Committee and Complete Streets Group, and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee and Environmental Collective Impact Network (Ecoin). The initiative has received strong support from the Lower Connecticut Valley Council of Governments. The municipalities of Middletown, Portland, Meriden, and Cheshire have shown initial interest.

Many studies have shown that improved conditions for bicycling and walking bring significant benefits for health, education, economic development, property values, public safety, reduced health care costs, and prolonged independence and quality of life for the elderly. 

Maps for these projects and others (the Long Lane Multi-use Trail and the Landfill Trail in Middletown) can be found on the Jonah Center’s website, at www.thejonahcenter.org. There you can sign the “Speak Out For Trails and Bike Routes” petition. Providing your contact information will allow the partner organizations to alert you when letters, emails, or attendance at hearings will be most helpful.


Anonymous said...

Strict enforcement of posted speed limits will make biking and walking much safer.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I have found that the Middletown Police are very indifferent to enforcing speed limits. They seldom obey the posted speeds themselves.

Anonymous said...

The only thing stopping the trails is funding. Jonah Center should fundraise.