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New Website & FB Page for WWCOG

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) consists of 18 member towns. It is dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of life and economic vitality in western Connecticut.  While they do many things, they are responsible for transportation programs.  The members of WWCOG are Mayors and First Selectman from the 18 member towns.  To keep up with events and learn more about this important group you can to to their website https://westcog.org/ or FB page https://www.facebook.com/westcog/?fref=nf .  If you want to get on their newsletter, go to the website and sign up.
 
 Bicycle everywhere! Seeing you bike gives permission to others
  • Write all political leaders expressing your love for bicycling and your desire for safer facilities.  Mention the Bicycle Friendly Community program.  

  • Encourage your company to send a similar letter.  Draft it for the President or the appropriate company leader.  Your company will want to emphasize the health benefits and productivity enhancement for their employees.  

  • Invite ‘infrequent’  bicycling friends to organized rides (eg CycleFest) or just for a nice ‘Sunday ride’ so they get used to riding on the roads with traffic

  • Encourage club riders to go through different towns, ride through high population area, select stops (eg restaurants) in parts of town where their parked bikes will be  visible, change the route so more people see the bike riders, etc.   For example, it would be great if the HCC ride ended up in Downtown Danbury at least once per month, bikes locked to the new bike racks and local merchants call the Mayor informing him how the bicycling revenue is helping his business.  Suggest to the merchant to make the call.  He will to keep your business

  • Ride to work.  Encourage fellow employees to  ride with you.  Start a bike club or go for occasional rides during/after work.  Ride home from work.  Live far from work?  Drive or bus part of the way, ride the rest

  • Suggest your employer become a Bicycle Friendly Business per the LAB

  • Ride for errands.  Ride in street clothes so observers realize cycling clothes are not absolutely necessary

  • Ask your employer, grocery store, favorite restaurants, doctor, dentist, etc. to put up bike racks and to list bicycling directions on their website

  • At work during lunch, request time to discuss biking with interested employees.  Be sure you are educated in bicycle safety, etc.  Answer their questions and give them the encouragement and feeling of safety that is required by most people

  • Ask friends and co-workers to join the National Bike Challenge especially those that could use some encouragment http://www.bikeleague.org/content/national-bike-challenge  It’s a spare time, fun program in which to participate

  • Ask an active PTA member with an interest in biking and/or children’s health to take a look at Safe Routes to School.  Have enough background to be able to provide them guidance. Do it over a beverage so it does not feel like advocacy work.  

  • Talk-up the need for safer biking facilities to friends and know the facts by taking some time searching around online so when someone says “biking around here is dangerous”, you have an answer for them.  And, if all your friends are already cyclists, get them organized to at least do the things suggested here.

  • Write letters to the editor and/or respond in the comment section.  Politicians and others will see this as significant

  • Start posting bicycle advocacy information on your FB, Google+, etc.  and/or Bicycle Advocacy of Greater Danbury  https://www.facebook.com/bikedanbury

Advocating for Safety & Health

Bicycle Friendly America and Safe Routes To School and Complete Streets

HCC wants to work with its members to make the towns in the Housatonic Valley some of the best  for bicycling in all of Connecticut.  With your support, we will make it happen.  The Bicycle Friendly America Program from the League of American Bicyclists  https://www.bikeleague.org/bfa and the Safe Routes To School program http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/ from the US Department of Transportation are proven tools for change.  Finally, Complete Streets is a program that is supported by CTDOT to make our streets Complete Streets are safe, comfortable and convenient transportation systems that serve everyone, regardless of how they choose to travel,  whether that is by walking, bicycling, riding transit or driving http://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/plng_plans/bikepedplan/cs-exo31-signed.pdf. These approaches have been introduced to the leaders of the Housatonic Valley.  Now, we need to encourage them to implement the BFA/SRTS/Complete Streets programs in our towns.   


HCC is anxious to help you  make your town, place of work, elementary/middle school, or  university Bicycle Friendly.  It’s as easy as following the 5 ‘Es’:

  • Engineering: Creating safe and convenient places to ride and park
  • Education: Giving people of all ages and abilities the skills and confidence to ride
  • Encouragement: Creating a strong bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling
  • Enforcement: Ensuring safe roads for all users
  • Evaluation & Planning: Planning for bicycling as a safe and viable transportation option

Email Dave dave@finetastic.com or Marti martifine@gmail.com  of the HCC Advocacy Committee to get started!



Advocacy efforts you can do just by living your life


Bike Racks & Directions


One of the key reasons that your dentist, favorite restaurant, grocery store, etc. does not have a bike rack or bicycling directions to their location shown on their website  is because no one has asked them.  So, next time you see them, request they put directions for cycling on their website and install a bike rack in an easy-to-use/-see location. Even if you do not plan to use it, other people might be encouraged.   It only takes a few minutes without going out of your way.  It has been demonstrated that  bike racks indicate that biking is acceptable and it gives ‘permission’ to cyclists that they can bicycle to that location.  More people on bikes means safer biking for us all.


National Bike Challenge and Bike To Work Week


Get everyone you know who rides to participate in either  the National Bike Challenge http://www.bikeleague.org/content/national-bike-challenge and/or Bike to Work Week.  http://www.bikeleague.org/content/national-bike-challenge  Two great activities you can do with friends and co-workers.  The National Bike Challenge is an individual or group activity; you decide.  Simply sign up as a team or individual, keep track of your miles on-line which can be done manually or with a GPS, and become part of the NBC.


National Bike To Work Week is May 16 to 20, 2016.  National Bike To Work Day is Friday May 20th.  HART, our bus company, will be encouraging riders.  Plans are still being formed. As in past years, the HART pulse point in downtown Danbury and the Bethel train station will likely be key gathering places. But watch this site to learn the final locations as there may be more this year. Getting it going at your place of work/town starts with you!  Gaining management support should be easy since people who ride their bike are healthier, lowering healthcare costs and these same healthier people are more productive.   If you want to take the initiative to get rolling on this opportunity and you want to discuss next steps, email Dave dave@finetastic.com or Marti martifine@gmail.com  of the HCC Advocacy Committee and we can discuss how to move this forward. But it might be easier to check out http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth. Great information and promotional material.

Education & Inspiration


Improve your urban cycling knowledge in just minutes

Practice your urban riding skills with Hat City Cyclists In-Town Ride

Have you ever wanted to ride to your local restaurant or to visit a friend  that lives a couple miles away but you’re concerned about riding in too much traffic?  Then join us for a short,  easy- paced ride that will give you the confidence to ride on urban streets with traffic.  We’ll start with a brief discussion about group riding safety and etiquette as well as a review of urban riding skills.  You’ll finish the ride as a more confident rider.  If you are interested, send an email to Dave dave@finetastic.com or Marti martifine@gmail.com  of the HCC Advocacy Committee and we’ll notify you when the rides are organized.  By the way, if you have a special request in terms of date  or location, let us know and we will see if we can accommodate you.
 

Ride of Silence

The Ride of Silence is to “Honor those who have been injured or killed while cycling.  To Raise Awareness that we are here.  To ask that we all Share The Road.”   For more than one reason, every town of every HCC member should be participating in/hosting a Ride of Silence.  Check out the website http://www.rideofsilence.org/main.php and if you have any questions or want to host a ride in your town, contact Marti at Martifine@gmail.com  

 

Cyclovia & Bike Rodeo

It would be very good for our community if we could encourage a Cyclovia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciclov%C3%ADa and/or a Bicycle Rodeo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_rodeo for the summer of 2016.  If you want to discuss, contact Dave dave@finetastic.com

Trails encourage everyone to get back on their bike

Trails are one of the best ways to get people back on their bikes since they offer a beautiful off- road experience that everyone loves.  We are lucky that lots of great things are happening with trails in our towns but there is even a greater need for people to participate in the grass root efforts.  The good news is that the vision has been set which is often the most difficult part.  Now these early adopters need the support of their fellow cyclists to maintain the momentum.  Here are a couple of the trail projects.  Take a look at the website if you want to get involved.

  • New Milford River Trail - Leadership for this trail is by HCC member Tom O’Brien who wants to say “we’re riding”  in New Milford.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Milford-River-Trail/224204190940677 . Send Tom a message on FB if you would like to get involved or learn more.
  • Norwalk River Valley Trail - Five Towns (Danbury, Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton, Norwalk) One Vision is the positioning for the Norwalk River Trail.  They are making great progress but some towns are more active than others.  Take a look at their website and reach out to them if you want to see the NRVT come to your town. http://www.nrvt-trail.com/
  • Merritt Parkway Trail - The MPT “was organized in 2000 to advocate for a trail along the Merritt Parkway right-of-way.  It is  a 37.5-mile shared-use path, parallel to the Merritt Parkway from the New York border to the Housatonic River, for walkers, bicyclists, equestrians, cross-country skiers, and other non-motorized users”  Want to get involved, here is a link .http://www.merrittparkwaytrail.org/

Check out organizations and websites that are making biking better

Here are a few organizations that provide great support for bicycling and bicycling advocacy.  If you think we should have other organizations listed, let us know.  

  • Bike Walk Connecticut is Connecticut’s statewide advocacy group that works “to make Connecticut a better, safer place to bike and walk http://www.bikewalkct.org/
  • PeopleForBikes says “(their) goal is to make every bike ride better, whether that ride takes you on trails, down to the grocery store, or all the way across town. Why? Because when people ride bikes, great things happen for our bodies and our minds, and our communities and our nation.­­”  They offer lots of great research about bicycling and will keep you informed of events around the world.  http://www.peopleforbikes.org/
  • The League of American Bicyclists  “represents bicyclists in the movement to create? safer roads, stronger communities, and a bicycle- friendly America. Through information, advocacy and promotion, we work to celebrate and preserve the freedom cycling brings to our members everywhere.”  http://www.bikeleague.org/
  • Bicycle Advocacy of Greater Danbury is a FB page where fun and interesting information is shared.  ‘Like us’ on FB https://www.facebook.com/bikedanbury?fref=nf
  • As an HCC member you can share information on your webpage and see what other members are discussing.  Here is the link https://www.facebook.com/hatcitycyclists and remember to Like-Us when you get there

Zoning & Legislation For Our Towns

Danbury - 3.G.10. Bicycle Racks. - Does Your Town Have A Bike Rack Ordinance?

Bicycle racks designed for the temporary storage of bicycles are permitted as an accessory use for all principal uses, provided racks (1) are not placed within or prevent use of and access to required off-street parking or loading spaces, (2) do not impede or present a safety hazard for pedestrian or vehicular travel, and (3) are not located in the front yard.  A zoning permit, including notation on the required plot plan of the location of the proposed bicycle rack(s), must be submitted and approved by the Zoning Enforcement Officer.