Dozens Meet the East Hartford “Bike to Work” Challenge
EAST HARTFORD—A steady stream of cyclists marked a successful effort of encouraging workers to commute to work by bike on Thursday, July 19.
The town of East Hartford joined with Goodwin College, Pratt & Whitney, and a host of vendors and other volunteers to promote the “Bike-to-Work” event. The College’s Community Garden on Main Street played host to the festivities, allowing cyclists to stop by for a bagel and coffee before completing their trip to work.
“We are really happy that East Hartford is hosting it this year,” said Mayor Marcia Leclerc, who stopped by during the morning to thank the participants.
Cyclists began arriving at the Garden, located across the street from Pratt & Whitney’s East Hartford headquarters, at 6:30 a.m. by the end of the morning commute, about 50 riders had taken up the challenge.
Tony Sherolis, a Pratt & Whitney engineer and a Bike Walk Connecticut volunteer, encouraged the participants to spread the word about the benefits of biking to work.
“The more voices we have, the more we can do,” Sherolis said.
Goodwin College’s Community Garden was a fitting site for the breakfast. The Garden is located at the site of a former adult bookstore, which was closed upon Goodwin’s acquisition of the property. The site was revitalized as a place for local residents and employees to gather in the spirit of healthy living as now dozens of garden plots are blooming with flowers and vegetables.
“Goodwin is taking steps to create a healthier community,” said Sandy Pearce, the College’s webmaster and the organizer of the Community Garden. “The idea of biking to work really ties into that philosophy.”
The event came on the heels of news that the State Department of Transportation was working with East Hartford on a major project to benefit cyclists. About 2.75 miles of Burnside Avenue, stretching from its intersection with Main Street to well past the former Goodwin College campus (now Stone Academy), is set to go on a “road diet.”
The DOT is planning to reduce the road to two lanes as opposed to four. On each side, bike lanes will be added and painted to allow riders to travel safely along Burnside Avenue. There have been three recent fatal accidents on Burnside where cyclists have been killed in collisions with motor vehicles.
At the Bike-to-Work breakfast, Mayor Leclerc said the town was very excited about the project and planned to work with the DOT to expand it down through Main Street and Pitkin Street, ultimately providing bike lanes for safe travel over the Connecticut River into Hartford.