Jul 26, 2014
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North Haven Has No Designated Bike Lanes [with POLL]

16-year-old Connor Kusmit was riding his bicycle on Clintonville Road when he was struck by a car on Aug. 29.

North Haven Has No Designated Bike Lanes [with POLL] North Haven Has No Designated Bike Lanes [with POLL] North Haven Has No Designated Bike Lanes [with POLL] North Haven Has No Designated Bike Lanes [with POLL]

In the wake of the (Route 22) when he was struck by a car, .

It turns out there are none.

A check with Town Engineer Jonathan Bodwell confirmed that not only are there no demarcated bike lanes on any town or state road in North Haven, but he has not heard requests for any.

Three years ago, the state of Connecticut passed a Complete Streets law that requires that all state roads and state-funded transportation projects consider the needs of all users, with cyclists among them, according to Amanda Kennedy, the Connecticut director of the Regional Plan Association.  But, she noted, its implementation has been slow.   Still, that law still does not address the creation of bike lanes on established state roads. Route 22 is a state road.

Denise Maura of the Division of Highway Design in the Department of Transportation said any group wishing to see a bike lane created on a state road should contact Tom Maziarz, the DOT's bureau chief of policy and planning.  

Although rumors abound that more requests for bike lanes are making their way to the state,  Maura said that was a reality she could not confirm.  What Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, could confirm is that, "There are no roads designated for cyclists, only roads that are designated where cycling is prohibited.  This is because every road is accessible to cyclists, except limited-access highways, such as I-95, I-91, Route 2, Route 9." 

Nursick noted that many roads with bike lanes exist in Hartford, New Haven, Simsbury, and other municipalities throughout the state.  However, he conceded, at present none are located on state-owned roads. 

This week, a bike lane opened on Mountain Road in West Hartford.  So, Patch spoke with Dave Kraus, the town engineer, to get a sense of how the bike lane emerged.  Its edge line cost the town $6,000.

"They're just kind of evolving," said Kraus of the criteria for bike lanes in Connecticut.  "What we've been promoting is the use of off-the-road pathways where cycling can be done off the road entirely."

Kraus noted that, although each road must be looked at individually, his concern overall for the demarcated bike lane on a town road was safety.  

"It's a safety concern," he said.  "An edge line makes the people that are already cycling there more comfortable, and my concern is that less proficient cyclists will use the road and be in greater danger."

Kraus distinguished between the commuter cyclists, who are most likely to use West Hartford's Mountain Road, and the recreational cyclist, who may simply be taking a small child for a ride.  He also noted the low speeds of cars on Mountain Road as an element in the bike lane's favor.  Also, the minimum width for a travel lane is 11 feet.  Because Mountain Road had 15 feet, he was able to paint an edge line and create a bike lane that is four feet wide.  

Still, he noted that cyclists cannot use the four-foot bike lane to the exclusion of other vehicles.  For instance, in a residential neighborhood cars must be able to occupy those four feet when they park. 

"There's a lot to it," he said of the designations. 

He did advise proponents of bike groups to reach out to their local town hall and begin a conversation, as one group, the  West Hartford Bicycle Advisory Committee, did. 

In addition to the bike lane, another element of bike safety is, of course, the bike helmet.  There, the source for concerned cyclists is the website for the Bike Helmet Safety Institute.  On the site, residents can confirm the age of the Connecticut cyclist who must wear an helmet (it is 15 and under) and compare it with the age requirements of other states.

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