Connecticut was ranked 44 out of 50 for bike friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists in 2010; now, the state has moved to 20. South Windsor was the only new “Bicycle Friendly Community” in the state, receiving a bronze award.
Given the United States’ abysmal cultural attitudes toward people-powered transit, this move up the list may mean little.
The League of American Bicyclists asked 50 questions in several categories to each state’s Department of Transportation, along with state bicycling advocates. Sample items from the questionnaire:
Having laws and policies is only half the battle.
A recent letter to the editor demonstrates the sense of entitlement some motorists believe they have, which manifests in some as a callous and careless attitude toward those whom they are legally obligated to share the roadways. While the author of that letter expressed fear of hitting a cyclist, there are others with the same ignorance of the law (along with ignorance for why roads were created and a limited understanding of why people may use non-motorized transportation) who, it would be no exaggeration to say, only fear getting nabbed for striking cyclists.
Then, there is the matter of conveying policies to those creating and revising infrastructure. The Connecticut DOT has a Complete Streets policy, which states that “accommodations for all users shall be a routine part of the planning, design, construction and operating activities.” But, as demonstrated recently in meetings with representatives of the CT DOT, not all were willing to budge on the plans they devised which did not factor in all users of the streets. Only after intense pressure from local businesses, neighborhood groups, and alternative transportation advocates did the department slow down to reconsider the absence of wisdom in redirecting cyclists to more dangerous streets. Still, no decision has yet been made regarding the Flower Street closure, though there was a hearing last week during which the DOT was asked to explain its rush to shut down the street running from Capitol to Farmington, between the Aetna and the Courant compounds. How bicycle friendly is a state, really, when this little regard is given to those commuting just outside of downtown in the capital city?
The Complete Streets Policy was noted by the League of American Bicyclists as one of Connecticut’s successes.
Another so-called success is the safe passing law. In Connecticut, motorists are legally obligated to pass cyclists with a buffer of at least three feet. It has received ample promotion, like on bus wraps, but it is unclear if it is enforced except for after accidents occur.
Meanwhile, it seems that every week another serious or fatal accident is reported, and for there to be any real consequences, the circumstances have to demonstrate a combination of egregiously reckless behaviors.
#20? Connecticut need not be proud of its mediocrity.