CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Dan Esty will join bicyclists from the East Coast Greenway, Farmington Valley Trails Council and the Farmington Canal Rail-to-Trail Association on Saturday, June 29 for a 56-mile bike ride from New Haven, CT to Southwick, MA ---- majority of which is on an extensive trail system with only a few sections on local roads.
The bike ride will begin:
8:00 am -- at the southwest corner of New Haven Green near the bicycle inventor Pierre Allemande’s commemorative plaque at Chapel & Church Streets.
2:00 pm end time in Southwick, MA.
Press conferences will take place along the way:
Cheshire 9:30 am, Cornwall Avenue trailhead
Plainville 11:00 am, Town Hall, One Central Square, Plainville
CT DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty says, “This bike ride showcases the great progress that has been made over the past twenty years in building Connecticut’s extensive trail system. It is incredible to be able to ride across our state almost entirely on bike trails. Cities and towns have embraced the concept of providing safe, walkable, bikeable pathways that encourage people to get outside for exercise and time with their family and friends. Strong partnerships formed between the state, towns, and non-profit organizations have made this possible to the benefit of our communities, the environment and the economy.
Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said, “Opportunities and infrastructure for biking, whether for commuting or recreation, are improving with virtually every passing day in Connecticut. Our roadway network is becoming more and more bicycle friendly and our dedicated trail system offers hours of enjoyment for bikers of all experience levels. The CT DOT is proud to partner with the CT DEEP and towns and cities throughout the state to continue to advance the needs of our cycling communities.”
Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director of Bike Walk Connecticut said, "Well-connected multiuse trails are so important for so many reasons - they're good for fitness and recreation year round, they offer transportation options beyond the car, and they're also huge economic development tools. A lot of towns and businesses have embraced trails as part of the local economy and tourism industry, and to good effect. Bike Walk Connecticut would love to see more of that in our state."
“Robert Moses, Father of the New York Parkway system, advocated the parkway system by saying ‘Build it, they will come.’ ‘Build it, they are here,’ is the motto of The East Coast Greenway,” said Bill O’Neill, of the East Coast Greenway.
“We’re very excited to have Commissioner Esty experiencing first-hand what hundreds of thousands of local users, tourists and bicycle commuters have made their own: the 56 miles of the multi-use Farmington Canal Heritage Trail that bisects Connecticut. With two major gaps remaining in Cheshire and Plainville, it is our hope that after 20 years of hard work to complete the trail system, we’ll soon be able to celebrate one of the finest, contiguous off-road trails in the Northeast,” said R. Bruce Donald, President, Farmington Valley Trails Council.
Lisa Fernandez, President of the Farmington Canal Rail-to-Trail Association said, “A quarter century ago my group was formed by dedicated citizens who fought to keep the abandoned rail and canal line in the public domain and turn it into a linear park. An entire generation has gone by since then and we're almost there. Now it's time to finally close the remaining gaps to transform a fractured route into a complete crown jewel carbon-free parkway for the people of CT. Let's finish this!”
Background on the Ride and Bike Trail
The ride begins in at the New Haven Green and passes through 11 Connecticut towns before it reaches Southwick, MA. Most of the trail provides off-road travel providing a safe system of linear parks that can be accessed at multiple points. The trails serve multiple positive purposes for their communities and the surrounding region. Only two gaps remain – in Cheshire and the Plainville area.
The trail passes through the following towns: New Haven, Hamden, Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, East Granby, Granby, and Suffield. Connecticut DEEP and Connecticut Department of Transportation are working together to expand the trail system making use of trails more attractive for residents and visitors to Connecticut.
DEEP’s National Recreational Trails Program has provided funding for the following sections of the East Coast Greenway- Farmington Valley Heritage Greenway including:
New Haven – $50,000.00 in 2007
Hamden - $20,300.00 in 2006
Cheshire - $250,000.00 in 2010
Southington - $65,818.76 in 2009
Farmington - $52,000.00 in 2001
Avon - $43,200.00 in 2008 and $24,000.00 in 2004
Simsbury - $132,000.00 in 2009 and $17,517.00 for HC improvements in 1999.
Connecticut has been a leader in biking and in a few years has gone from 43rd on the League of American Bicyclists National Bicycle Friendly State Rankings to 18th in 2013. This past winter, the CT DEEP received a “Bicycle Friendly Business” award from the League of American Bicyclists. The award is for businesses or workplaces that promote a bicycle-friendly culture. DEEP won the award for making bike racks available for its employees, bicycle education programs for staff and for co-sponsorship of bike events including Capitol Bike to Work Day and Discover Hartford Bicycling Tour. DEEP is the third bicycle-friendly business in Connecticut, following REI in West Hartford and Whitcraft LLC in Eastford.