Connecticut Cities Join — and Climb — the Ranks of Bicycle Friendly Communities

Image: simsbury-ct.gov

Simsbury moved up from Bronze to Silver in 2014’s rankings. | Image: simsbury-ct.gov

Two Connecticut cities were named Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists this week. Both New Haven and New Britain received Bronze-level designations, joining Farmington, South Windsor and West Hartford.

The Bicycle Friendly Communities program evaluates communities based on how welcoming they are to cycling from the entry level (Bronze) to all-star (Diamond). Bicycle Friendly Communities often have Complete Streets policies, active cyclists groups, bike lanes, relatively low crash rates, and higher than average percentages of people who regularly bike to work.

New Haven‘s selection as a Bicycle Friendly Community is an obvious one: the Elm City has strong local bike advocates, adopted the state’s first local Complete Streets policy, published its own Complete Streets design manual, and has had visionary leadership in its Department of Transportation for the last several years. Former Director of Transportation Jim Travers launched the City’s Street Smarts campaign and oversaw a tenfold increase in marked bike routes, while his successor, Doug Hausladen, is seeking to speed up the implementation of traffic calming projects and separated bicycle facilities.

New Britain launched a bike connectivity study in 2013 and has been working on promoting its bicycle-friendliness in recent months. With CTfastrak — the region’s first true bus rapid transit system — set to open in 2015, local leaders see the benefit of an improved cycling network in becoming a more multi-modal — and less car-oriented — community.

The Town of Simsbury, which became a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community in 2010, was the only Connecticut town that advanced in the rankings this year, becoming the first in the state to receive the League’s Silver designation.

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Election 2014: It’s Not All Bad News

Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut won a close race for reelection. | Image: ctnews.com

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, a proponent of transit-oriented development and improved rail service, won a close race for reelection. | blog.ctnews.com

Now that the votes have been counted, it’s safe to say there’s plenty of bad news for sustainable transportation policy across the nation: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a known climate change denier, is poised to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee, Wisconsin Governor (and avid highway expander) Scott Walker won reelection, and Massachusetts failed to defeat a ballot measure which ends gas tax indexing.

But if you look hard enough, you’ll find there’s some good news too.

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Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announcing the installation of Queens slow zones. | Photo: Twitter @JimmyVanBramer

NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announcing the installation of Queens slow zones. | Photo: Twitter

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

WINNERS

New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer – Sunnyside Gardens, Woodside and Sunnyside will be included in two new slow zones coming to Queens.

Linden, NJ – Linden’s City Council passed a unanimous resolution in support of “the renewal of the red light camera program in the interest of public safety” – a powerful statement in the face of increasingly vocal opposition.

Connecticut – ConnDOT adopted a departmental Complete Streets policy which “enables the alignment of transportation funds to encourage improvements for non-motorized users,” such as the road diet planned for East Hartford and the addition of bike racks to 50 train cars.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals – New Haven, CT’s Gateway Community College has received a $250,000 subsidy from the company to halve bus fares for college students over the next five years.

Retirees – Americans are outliving their ability to drive safely, and nonprofits are stepping in to connect housing choice and transportation options for the aging.

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All Aboard the “Hartford Line”

Central Connecticut’s forthcoming commuter rail system, until today known as the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Program, is being branded as the “Hartford Line” according to a press release from Governor Malloy’s office today.

This is the second time Connecticut officials have rebranded a transportation service in the years prior to launching. In 2012, the State officially renamed […]

With Investments in Traffic Calming and Street Redesigns, Bridgeport’s Safety Campaign Shows Promise

Enforcement is a key tool in boosting safety, but should be combined with physical street improvements to have a lasting impact. | Photo: Brian A. Pounds/ CTPost.com

Enforcement is crucial for boosting safety, but should be combined with traffic calming to have a lasting impact. | Photo: Brian A. Pounds/ Connecticut Post

Bridgeport will make infrastructure changes, including curb extensions. | Image: NACTO

Bridgeport officials are considering infrastructure changes, such as roundabouts and curb extensions, like the one seen here. | Image: NACTO

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch announced this week that the city is launching a comprehensive safe streets initiative. Seven pedestrians have been killed by drivers in Bridgeport since 2010. Bridgeport is the second Connecticut city to announce a street safety campaign in as many months. In September, Stamford Mayor David Martin unveiled the Stamford Street Smart campaign.

At first blush, the two efforts appear to have a lot in common. Mayor Finch — who participated in a walking audit with Tri-State in 2013 — described Bridgeport’s campaign as a “multipronged approach” focused on education, enforcement and investment, while Mayor Martin called Stamford Street Smart a “multi-faceted approach” that focuses on education, enforcement and engineering. Both campaigns began with crackdowns on distracted driving, and both include efforts to curb so-called “jaywalking.”

Both Bridgeport and Stamford also plan to address the physical condition of their streets, but how they’ll go about doing so is where there’s a more distinct difference between the two initiatives.

The engineering component of Stamford Street Smart is somewhat limited. Making sure signs are visible at intersections, re-painting crosswalks and synchronizing traffic signals are certainly good ideas, but not something to brag about. In other cities, these measures would be considered part of regular maintenance.

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Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch | Photo: bridgeportct.gov

Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch | Photo: bridgeportct.gov

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

WINNERS

Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch – The mayor unveiled a comprehensive safe streets campaign in the city which include short and long-term infrastructure improvements and increased enforcement.

NYPD 78th Precinct – The Park Slope precinct replaced a parking spot in front of the building’s entrance with a bike corral.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – After seven years with Tri-State, our Associate Director Ryan Lynch will now serve as Policy Director to Borough President Adams.

New York City Department of City Planning – After three years with Tri-State, our Staff Analyst Kathi Ko will now serve as a planner for the Queens Department of Planning.

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Save the Dates: Shaping Our Region’s Future

Regional Plan Association is in the process of developing its Fourth Regional Plan, which is a “multiyear initiative to create a blueprint for our region’s growth, sustainability, good governance and economic opportunity for the next 25 years.” As part of this process, RPA has partnered with Partnership for Strong Communities, Siemens and the Connecticut Chapter of […]

Stadium or No Stadium, Hartford Must Prioritize Connectivity and Walkability in Downtown North

Downtown North's wide streets funnel fast-moving traffic to and from Interstates 84 and 91, and will certainly need to be reconfigured if this area is to be transformed into a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood. | Photo: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

Downtown North’s wide streets must be reconfigured if this area is going to be transformed into a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood. | Photo: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

Hartford’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted earlier this week to amend the City’s zoning so that a stadium would be a permissible use in the “B-1 zone,” which covers most of downtown. But then, citing concerns that building a stadium in the Downtown North area — as it has been proposed — may be inconsistent with the City’s plan of conservation and development, the Commission voted against giving the project a favorable recommendation to the city council.

Before the vote on whether to amend the City’s zoning, commissioners debated the pros and cons of having a stadium in the Downtown North area. Some expressed concern about foot traffic around the stadium area. Because of their size, stadiums can create “superblock” conditions, which limit permeability and pedestrian circulation. And although they attract a lot of people on game days, they sit mostly empty outside of events.

Trumbull-looking-north

Old-fashioned lighting is a nice touch in this section of Trumbull Street where Downtown transitions to Downtown North, but it doesn’t make up for Trumbull Street’s excessive width or lack of buildings. | Photo: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

On the other hand, it’s probably a better idea to stick with putting the ballpark downtown, where fans have multiple transportation options, rather than, as Commissioner David Blatt put it, having a stadium “plopped in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by asphalt.”  After all, by the time the Rock Cats take the field in Hartford, the CTfastrak bus rapid transit system will be up and running; by the time the team’s second season begins, fans will be able to ride commuter rail to Union Station and walk to the game, “no parking required — just like a real city.”

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Connecticut Gubernatorial Candidates Address State’s Transportation Issues

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and challenger Tom Foley joined a crowd of over 200 in North Haven on Monday to discuss transportation challenges in the Nutmeg State and take questions from the audience.

The forum was hosted by a broad-based coalition of transportation and environmental advocates, including Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Transit for Connecticut, Connecticut Construction Industries Association, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Regional Plan Association, Connecticut Association for Community Transportation, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and Capitol Region Council of Governments.

Tri-State live-tweeted the event:

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RSVP Now for a Forum on Transportation with Connecticut’s Candidates for Governor

Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley (left) and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (right) will talk about transportation issues this Monday in North Haven. | Photo: Hartford Courant

Seats for this Monday’s Gubernatorial Forum on Transportation are filling up fast. Don’t miss this chance to hear Governor Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley explain their positions […]