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Vehicles are CT's biggest air polluters. These cyclists say biking to work could help

With relevant signage attached to his bike, Jay Stange (right) jokes with DEEP’s Kevin Sullivan before commuting to the Capitol from West Hartford's BiCi Co. with a group of cyclists recognizing “Happy Bike to Work Day.”
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
With relevant signage attached to his bike, Jay Stange (right) jokes with DEEP’s Kevin Sullivan before commuting to the Capitol from West Hartford's BiCi Co. with a group of cyclists recognizing “Happy Bike to Work Day.”

Dozens of cyclists traveled to work together to mark national Bike to Work Day and raise awareness about transportation equity in Connecticut on Friday.

“It’s hard to get people to ride bicycles when they don’t feel safe and they don’t have a safe place to do it,” said Jay Stange, who organized the cycling event through Center for Latino Progress’s Transport Hartford Academy. “So today’s Bike to Work was a chance to ride together in a group to feel safe, and it’s also good for the air, but it’s also fun!”

Stange’s group runs two community bike shops in Hartford and West Hartford, called BiCi Co (pronounced BEE-cee KOH). The ride started at the year-old West Hartford location, which focuses not on selling new bikes, but on education and access to affordable and reliable transportation. The cyclists traveled about 4.5 miles to the Old State House – a 25 minute trip.

“The reason we do this work is for the neighbors we serve – primarily in neighborhoods that include Parkville, South Green and Frog Hollow – only about a third of families own one car and another third of families own no cars,” Stange said, citing statistics from the City of Hartford.

BiCi Co’s original location on Park Street has been open for seven years. They provide high-quality up-cycled bikes that are about 20 years old.

“We have a program called Bikes for Jobs where we put bikes in the hands of people who are trying to get to work, who maybe work later than the buses run, and we supply bikes for free to people,” he said.

They also teach people to work on bicycles through a DIY program, and host a youth program to educate kids to work on bikes and how to ride safely.

In Connecticut, Stange said about a third of the car trips that people make are less than 10 miles, and half of those trips are less than 5 miles.

“Things are close together in Connecticut and we really have an opportunity to trade in short car trips for walking and using CTtransit,” Stange said. “But unfortunately a lot of our roadways have excessive speeding and no protected bike infrastructure.”

Stange said he hopes that state legislation like theVision Zero Bill H.B. 5917 gets more attention before the end of the legislative session next month.

“The bill would create automated enforcement for places with excessive speeding or red light running. That could be one interim thing they could do before we start building more infrastructure for walking and biking in Connecticut,” he said. “We really need to make some safer ways for people to travel for older people, younger people, and moms with kids.”

Cassandra Basler oversees Connecticut Public’s flagship daily news programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She’s also an editor of the station’s limited series podcast, 'In Absentia' and producer of the five-part podcast Unforgotten: Connecticut’s Hidden History of Slavery.

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