More than seventy students, teachers, elected officials and Stamford residents gathered Saturday afternoon at Stamford’s Rippowam Middle School to ask City of Stamford officials to fast track the construction of bike lanes on High Ridge Road- improvements that would improve bicycling and pedestrian safety in the area. The rally was organized by the People Friendly Stamford coalition, a group that has worked over the last three years to advocate for improved bicycling and walking conditions and to build a network of supporters for bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects in Stamford. Bike lanes are currently under consideration by the City of Stamford as a component of the Long Ridge/High Ridge Corridors study being carried out by the City in partnership with the South Western Regional Planning Agency and Connecticut Department of Transportation. Drafts of the report from that study have included bike lanes as recommended medium-term and long-term improvements (www.vhb.com/lrhrstudy).
Speakers at the rally included People Friendly Stamford’s Jerry Silber; Michael Norris, Stamford member of the State of Connecticut’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and blogger at DIYBiking.com; Cynthia Lupo, a high school freshman at Stamford’s Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE) located on High Ridge Road; Marty Levine, Special Assistant to Mayor David Martin; and State Representative Mike Molgano.
Mike Norris said, “Bike lanes on High Ridge Road are not expensive, contentious or abstract. It's just a good idea that will help every user of that road and every business that is found on it. It also fits into the mission and purpose of Complete Streets by giving Stamford residents more options for getting around." Connecticut passed a Complete Streets Law in 2009 which requires that design of state roads and state-funded road projects consider accommodations for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders in addition to vehicles. High Ridge Road is a state road. Jerry Silber said, “Support has been building for improvements to Stamford’s bicycling infrastructure. Installing bike lanes on High Ridge Road would be a visible and important step towards creating a Stamford that is comfortable, safe, and attractive for its residents.”
Amanda Kennedy, Director of the Stamford, Conn. office of independent planning organization Regional Plan Association, said, “The purpose of this rally is to demonstrate that there is strong support by Stamford residents for bike lanes on High Ridge- a stretch of road that is difficult to access now without a car. All Stamford residents should be able to get to work, school, and home safely whether they walk, bike, drive, or use transit.”
Students and staff at Stamford’s Academy of Information Technology and Engineering, also located on High Ridge Road, were enthusiastic about encouraging cycling and collected signatures in support of bike lanes in advance of the rally. “How wonderful it would be to create a bike culture in Stamford,” said Christine Bisceglie, an AITE guidance counselor. “Bike Lanes on High Ridge Road, would be a great start, so both children and adults could safely ride their bicycles to work and school. The less cars on the road, the safer and healthier we all are. Student Cynthia Lupo added, “This bike rally is important to Stamford, as these bike paths could really help improve both the culture, and the sense of community, in our city."
The rally was also attended by members by local cycling group BikeStamford and by members of the Board of Representatives Gabe Deluca and Steve Kolenberg.