Bicyclists hail funding bill for improvements
By Martin B. Cassidy STAFF WRITER
Updated: 06/21/2009 10:28:13 PM EDT
Gerard Krokus rides his bike to work every day in Norwalk, a sometimes nerve-wracking trip in heavy traffic.
The 23-year-old Norwalk man favors a bill that would require the state to spend more money on bicycle and pedestrian improvements next year. This month the General Assembly voted 143-72 to approve the bill, which Gov. M. Jodi Rell now must sign.
"It is really tough getting around here by bicycle," Krokus said. "You really need to pick and choose your routes to get around safely."
Cyclists and legislators said it is a major step toward funding bike lanes and multi-paths, extending sidewalks, installing curb cuts and otherwise enhancing safety for cyclists and walkers. The bill requires municipalities and the state to set aside at least 1 percent of state and federal road money to improve pedestrian or bicycle facilities.
The bill has a provision that allows municipalities and the Department of Transportation to avoid the 1 percent requirement if they conclude there is no demand for such facilities, or if the work is excessively expensive.
It also calls for the formation of a Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board to be appointed by legislators and the governor to identify and lobby for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
In the last decade, the state spent more than $60 million on bicycle and pedestrian safety projects, and state engineers incorporate improvements into road projects where possible, DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said.