Town Seeks State Funds To Create Formal Bicycle Route


South Avenue in New Canaan, outside the entrance to Waveny. Credit: Michael Dinan

Town officials say New Canaan is partnering with Darien to apply for state funds that would create a new bike route along South Avenue.

Administered by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Community Connectivity Grant program awards funds ranging from $125,000 to $600,000. 

According to Public Works Director Tiger Mann, the joint application from New Canaan and Darien is “combination of bike route and pedestrian improvements.”

“So basically a bike route down South Avenue, 124, into Darien and then in and around the downtown of Darien, and then it would come in and around our downtown, and then an outlying loop into the northern end of town,” Mann told members of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure during their regular meeting Monday, held via videoconference.

“It is substantially used by cyclists, the majority for recreation, but the pedestrian improvements in the downtown are include pedestrian bump-outs at Elm Street and South Avenue, Main Street and Elm Street, things of that nature, to try to reduce the crossing distances, reduce the conflicts you have with pedestrians and motor vehicles. And then the bike route itself would try to enhance ridership or usage in and around Waveny. Bring people from Darien to Waveny and from the downtown to  Waveny. Waveny being kind of the midpoint of that plan.”

The comments came during a general update on future capital improvements in New Canaan.

Cyclists in New Canaan have advocated for years for formal bike routes and signage spelling out rules for motorists sharing the road. The document that guides planning for New Canaan calls for the town to “enhance bicycle circulation” (see page 74) and includes a proposed Bicycle Map (page 75).

The grant that New Canaan is applying for is “competitive,” Mann said.

“So it has to be substantial,” he said. “You have to prove on a point-for-point basis the need or the want for it. So we are I competition with surrounding towns and towns throughout the state. We have a good shot at it, especially since the plan itself was initially proposed by WestCOG.”

He referred to the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, a membership organization of 18 towns that helps municipalities collaborate in areas such as transportation, housing and open space.

“We have the weight of that Council of Governments behind us, so we stand in a little bit greater stead to receive those monies,” Mann said. “It would be our first bike route in town.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *