Steven Mitchell of Mitchell Auto Group will be there. So will First Selectman Mary Glassman and Simsbury’s Director of Public Works Tom Roy.
The three, along with all levels of other bicyclists and Greenway enthusiasts, are slated to take part in the non-competitive, 48-mile ride along the paved trails of Connecticut from New Haven to Simsbury on Friday, April 29.
The ride begins at noon in downtown New Haven and is sponsored by the East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA), a national, non-profit organization committed to creating a continuous, 3,000-mile network of bicycle trails from Maine to Florida.
The cyclists will include the ECGA trustees and board of directors (of which one is Mitchell), who will ride into Simsbury to hold their annual spring meeting the following day, Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Eno Hall on Hopmeadow Street.
The public is welcome to drop by this free, informational session to learn the latest about the multi-state trail project along the Eastern Seaboard, which is currently more than 25 percent complete.
This is the first time that the ECGA has met in a community the size of Simsbury, which has a population of approximately 23,000. Most meetings are held in large, metropolitan cities.
The ECGA selected Simsbury as a meeting site because of the town’s designation as a “Bicycle-Friendly Community” (BFC) by the League of American Bicyclists. Simsbury is the only BFC in Southern New England, and one of only 125 cities and towns in the country, to meet the criteria required for the designation.
“We’re honored that the ECGA is coming to town,” said Glassman. “Simsbury has shown a true commitment to the development of a safe, accessible network of paved trails because we believe that it’s an important quality-of-life issue.”
In order to receive the BFC designation, Simsbury had to complete a number of enhancements both on and off the bicycle trail. These include: the installation of bike racks around town; clearing branches along the bike path for better site line; improved signage marking the trail; and the widening of heavily travelled paths.
The Simsbury Department of Public Works is now in the process of painting more than two dozen “sharrows” (placards) with the image of a bicycle on the right side of roads that are often used by bicyclists, as a way to alert motorists.
The April 29 ride will begin at the statue on the New Haven Green called “Pierre Lallemant — Dawn of Cycling,” in honor of Lallemant, the French inventor who in 1870 created a two-wheel bicycle.
Riders will then travel along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, passing through Hamden, Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington and Avon, before ending at the green at the Simsbury Historical Society on Hopmeadow Street. About 60 percent of the ride will be along finished, off-road trails.
There will be three speed groups: “Photography Group” – 10-12 mph average; “Caffeinated Tourist” – 12-15 mph average; and “Rabbits” – 16-18 mph average.
Bicyclists are welcome to join in at any point along the ride.
“We want people to experience and understand the importance of the trail system in Connecticut and beyond,” said Mitchell. “There are many health, recreational and economic benefits to having a safe infrastructure in place, where friends and family can ride a bike, take a walk, or simply enjoy the outdoors.”
He added: “With the price of gas skyrocketing, people have to start thinking about alternative commuting options as well. Our society needs to become more multi-modal.”
On the morning of April 29, buses will depart from the Simsbury Historical Society to New Haven at 9:30 a.m. Registration will begin at 11 a.m.
The buses will make the same trip at 6:15 p.m. for riders who originated in New Haven.
There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Simsbury Historical Society on Hopmeadow Street, with brief remarks from local and state dignitaries and Greenway advocates.
Free tours will be offered of the Simsbury Historical Society grounds, home of the Phelps Tavern Museum, which houses period rooms and interactive galleries. The historic Capt. Elisha Phelps House was a tavern and inn from 1786 to 1849.
The April 30 ECGA spring meeting will consist of a series of presentations on the status of the Greenway from Maine to Florida.
There will be a $10 donation for the ride and $10 for the bus. There is no charge for East Coast Greenway members. Registration is required.
For more information, call the ECGA at 401-789-4625, on the web www.greenway.org or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit YouTube: East Cost Greenway CT Ride.