Where did you go on vacation this year? Was it a place you could relax, have a simpler day, enjoy the outdoors in some way? Happen to notice any bike riders while you were there?
Two recent articles show that at least two governors in New England, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Daniel P. Malloy of Connecticut have recently indicated their support of biking infrastructure, acknowledging the importance of the dollars cyclist bring to their states.
The Connecticut Mirror covered the new push by Connecticut’s Department of Transportation, CTDOT, to move forward on rail trail projects after many years of foot dragging. The Mirror reports that under the new governor, CTDOT has changed their funding approach for bike projects in a way that will allow for faster design and construction of rails to trails projects.
They report that trail supporters take the appearance of Governor Malloy at the recent opening of a short section of the trail as a positive sign of his support for this projects. [I wrote about this trail opening here. This section is a very important connection along the New Haven & Northampton Canal path which includes the Farmington River Trail in Connecticut and the Columbia Greenway Trail in Massachusetts.]
In South County, the Friends of the William C. O’Neill Bike Path had a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, complete with Governor Chafee arriving on a bicycle in his suit.
When public officials show up for something, take that as a sign that they want to be associated with it. Take for another example of the political support for cycling infrastructure the list of politicians who attended the opening of the bridge over Route 10 in Massachusetts finally connecting the Manhan Rail Trail in Northampton and Easthampton. The speeches that day came from U.S. Congressmen, State Senators, State Representatives, and Mayors.
Governor Chafee’s remarks at the William C. O’Neill Bike Path including acknowledgment of the dollars brought to Rhode Island by tourist looking to cycle.
Anyone driving on the Mass Pike, US I-91 towards the eastern part of the state will see people headed to vacation at beach towns with bikes strapped to the car. You will also see bikes on cars heading west to the Berkshires. [Housatonic Railroad’s plans to start passenger service from NYC to the Berkshires would mean fewer cars, but more bikes.] People want to ride their bikes on vacation.
Building cycling infrastructure brings tourists and their money. It’s taken a long time for some politicians to get that messages, but many more see these recreation projects for the economic boon they are.
[Thanks to the Mass Rail Trails google group run by Tom Connors for the link to the Rhode Island story.]