The East Coast Greenway runs from Canada to Key West. One of its attractive features is that 25% of the route is on traffic-free paths; in Connecticut, 28% of it is separated from traffic.
Those who are bike commuters often have no choice but to use streets; having a piece of one’s route be separated from motor vehicle traffic is welcomed.
Most of the East Coast Greenway which runs through Hartford is on the city streets, with the exception of the segment which runs through Riverfront Plaza and Bushnell Park.
In conversations at iQuilt Plan sessions, it became immediately clear that planners had no idea that the East Coast Greenway already weaves through Bushnell Park. It is on the ECG cuesheets and there are painted markings on the path. Now, there is talk of adding bike lanes along what is being dubbed “Bushnell Park North,” showing no awareness that a more scenic option already exists.
Anyone who has ridden on the streets which run next to Bushnell Park can tell that they are not designed for bicycle usage. Improvements are welcome. Must the addition of bike lanes mean relocating part of an established route to do so?
Has it become a trend to take cyclists off of quieter, safer routes and steer them onto busier ones?
This short-sighted move is part of Hartford’s Intermodal Triangle Project, which also proposes other changes to infrastructure that seem without reason, like the plan to remove the median in this same “Bushnell Park North” area. Currently, the median serves as a place for pedestrians to wait while crossing the busy street. Not in the plan: chicanes, speed bumps, or any other type of infrastructure, beyond the narrowing of the street, which would slow traffic.
From a document provided by the City, here is an explanation of one costly piece of the project:
While there are plans to install bike lanes close to where a safe one already exists, there are no such plans to make other streets in Downtown, like Main, Pearl, or Asylum, more cyclist-friendly. The only other hint of better infrastructure for cyclists is the addition of long-term bike storage at Union Station.
Acceptance of a grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER program which would allow for this project is expected to be acted on this Monday at the City Council meeting. The grant would cover 64% of the project’s expected costs. The entire Intermodal Triangle Project is projected to cost $21.12 million. It includes pieces of the iQuilt Plan.