Greenwich Bicycle Task Force Suggests Areas for Funding in FY23 Budget

Community representatives on the First Selectman’s Bicycle Task Force Committee have recommended three critical projects that would require minimal incremental funding in the coming fiscal year.

In their Jan 7 memo to the First Selectman, the community representatives recommended bike safety training for children and teens and bike infrastructure at the new Eastern Greenwich Civic Center, as well as compatible connections to community amenities.

“We understand bike racks are budgeted, but a bike shelter and self-service bike maintenance station should be included as well,” they said, adding that they’d like to see striping and signage to complete bike connections from the civic center to area schools, village of Old Greenwich, Adams Garden, Binney Park and Perrot library, as well as safer links into Stamford.

Third, the committee members – Trish Clark, Bob DeAngelo, Stephanie Martin, Ernst Schirmer – advocated for a feasibility analysis of bicycle infrastructure to support access to Greenwich High School.

The memo described the situation with three upcoming projects – GHS entryway, the CT Dept of Transportation bridge replacement at Hillside, and the proposed multi-story 8-30g apartment building at the corner of Putnam Ave and Brookridge Drive – as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

With some funding they say it would be possible for Greenwich teenagers to bike to school, relieve congestion along East Putnam Ave, and kick off a transit friendly connection between the east and west sides of town.

The favored design for the new entryway at Greenwich High School includes some bike racks, but the memo said that with the new entryway project in the works, it was an ideal time to create a multi-use path so students can ride to school without having to negotiate East Putnam Avenue.

“We strongly urge that the Town explore the feasibility of creating an off-road, multi-use path along with these projects,” they wrote.

They noted the timing is ideal, given, last week Camillo issued an RFP for a bike sharing program starting with 30 bicycles.

The bike share would dovetail with the Greenwich Jr League’s effort to help teens travel to and from after school work and activities without relying on cars.

“Safe bike routes to GHS would be crucial to that initiative’s success,” they wrote, adding that not only would the costs of the three projects be modest and reach a broad segment of residents, but there might be federal and state funds available – possibly from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

The committee members also expressed their strong support for an East-West Bicycle Study, which is now under consideration for a grant from WEST COG. It requires a 20% local match if awarded.

Estimated costs for the three areas requested for funding:

• Bike safety training for children and teens ($5,000O

• Bike infrastrucure at the new Cohen EGCC and “compatible roadway” connections to key amenities ($10,000- $15,000)

• Feasibility analysis of bicycle infrastructure to support access to GHS ($20,000)

On Monday Pedal Greenwich, who were consulted by the Bike Task Force committee, published a piece outlining the areas recommended for funding.

At last week’s Board of Selectman meeting, First Selectman Fred Camillo brought up the topic of pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Camillo said he was putting together a pedestrian safety committee with representatives from all parts of town.

“This is to keep a campaign promise and we started with bumpouts at intersections, new sidewalks and crosswalks being put in or repainted, as well as bike issues. It all comes together, especially with the new norm with people working from home.”

The pedestrian safety committee meetings will be publicly noticed and Camillo expects them to begin in February or March.

He also talked about the Bicycle Task Force and a collaboration with Stamford to share ideas.

“We know our roads are not big enough. I think $100,000 (for a study) is a big waste of money because we know what that study’s going to tell us,” he said. “We’re working on what we can do.

He said DPW was looking into “sharrows” on the road to remind drivers they are sharing the road with bicyclists.

“We have to have some points on the board to show people when the weather is warmer weather is in place,” he said.

Also, at that meeting, Selectwoman Lauren Rabin announced that an email address had been established, [email protected] for residents to report issues of pedestrian safety.