Bike New Britain to Open Center Downtown

By at October 5, 2017 | 2:30 pm | Print

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The City and Bike New Britain are looking to reach an agreement allowing the group to rent the first floor of the Szczesny Parking Garage on 35 Bank St.

Bike New Britain is an advocacy group that has a goal of making New Britain a bike friendly community. This involves establishing safe bike routes between all the City’s parks, schools, CCSU, and also the CTFastrak bus line. The plan for Bike New Britain was developed through a joint effort between the City and local bike advocates. This initiative has many benefits from slowing traffic in the city’s streets to providing safer bicycling routes for children to the City’s schools.

“We offered the group a reduced rent for the space because it will help the city redevelopment,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “There is work going on there during phase 4 and no one is interested in renting it because the road is torn up. It’s been on the market for some time. We hope to increase the rent eventually.”

Among several ideas for the space, the group would like to make it a hub where it can put together programs and activities in connection with the NBHS satellite school to provide mentoring and training for the credit recovery program. They will mentor students in fixing bikes. Bike New Britain will do all the fundraising and volunteer their own time for the program.

There will also be classes for youth and adults who want to learn how to repair their own bikes. People can also donate bikes. These bikes will be offered to local schools who offer them as incentives for behavior. At Slade Middle School students can purchase a bike by making a deposit and earn the bike through great behavior and good grades.

“We see ourselves at the hub of a lot of opportunities,” said Cliff Parker of Bike New Britain. “We feel we can connect with kids at the Satellite of New Britain High School. We are going to do a curriculum that helps kids come to our place and learn how to enter the world of business at several different levels.”

The space will be a central clearinghouse for the schools to use as a reward mechanism.

“Instead of each of us in our own basement working on a bicycle here or there, we can begin to keep them at a central location for training and instruction and for rehabilitation of the bicycles,” said Parker. “We also feel like this will be a place where like minded cyclists can gather and provide instruction to peers and colleagues and build a bicycle friendly atmosphere in the City overall.”

The group will also be looking to offer reconditioned bikes to the Friendship Center, Salvation Army and social services agencies.

“They hope to be a clearinghouse for recreational bike riding,” said Mayor Stewart. “They want to introduce bike riding as physical activity in the school system and be the main hub for bike tours around the city.”

All of this is to be staffed from Bike New Britain volunteers. The public works has marked streets and worked with Bike New Britain for that purpose.

“The next step will be to adult educate the drivers about the rules and regulations and send our kids out as cycling ambassadors,” Parker added. “What do the seniors and public take by the markings on the road and how can they help the cyclists?”

The Commission for Community and Neighborhood Development approved an allocation of money to outfit the space. It needs to be done by licensed contractors. An air conditioning unit is needed and as well as other work. The hub hopes to be open in Jan. of 2018.

“It would be nice for them to have a destination,” said Stewart. “Overall, it is a great addition to downtown. We are really happy to partner with Bike New Britain and the school system for safety and how to keep a bike maintained and how to ride on the streets in a safe manner and to teach that to our youth who rely on bikes as their only form of transportation.”

Bike New Britain has about 12 members.

“We can now push our goal for expanding membership out to the community,” Parker said. “We do have a solid commitment from those who are engaged.”

For more info on Bike New Britain go to http://www.newbritainct.gov/services/public_works/bike.htm or on Facebook at Facebook www.facebook.com/BikeNewBrit.

.News Feature

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