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Thursday, April 26 News

Stamford promotes Bike to Work Day

STAMFORD — David Martin donned reflective gear and pedaled through the streets of downtown Friday on his “mayor’s bike” for national Bike to Work Day.

Martin arrived at Veterans Memorial Park just past 8 a.m. on his Trek performance hybrid bike. He wore a vest and ankle straps over his khaki pants. His custom two-wheeler and helmet are emblazoned with “Mayor’s Office.”

The mayor’s zest for cycling was matched by the groups — Danny’s Cycles, Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club and People Friendly Stamford — in attendance for the eighth annual event.

Bike to Work Day was promoted this week across the nation, and for good reason, advocates say. Forty percent of trips in the United States are shorter than two miles, making bicycling a feasible and healthy way to get around, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

JD Ospina, 29, pedals to his job on Franklin Street from his home on Clinton Avenue — a roughly four-mile trip — three times a week.

“I used to suffer from high cholesterol and high blood pressure and it has lowered my numbers substantially,” said Ospina, who works at the Franklin Street Community Health Center.

Ospina stopped at the park on his way to work Friday to fix a flat.

“There are still a lot of potholes in the city,” he said.

Ronald Morse, 40, is another devotee of traveling via two-wheeler. He rides through Stamford on a “speaker bike” — a WorkCycles bike built in the Netherlands hooked up to a portable sound system — that can carry Morse and his 7-year-old daughter.

Despite the look of it, the boombox on wheels gets just as much attention as a regular bike, Morse said.

“If you ride on a bike in general you get attention,” he said. “People will say ‘that thing is cool’ or yell ‘get off the sidewalk.’ You get it all. When you’re on a bike, you’re not private like when you’re in a car, so you have to be more diplomatic.”

City officials told the crowd they have been taking steps to make Stamford more conducive to cycling.

A bike rack and repair station was installed recently at the Ferguson Library on Broad Street. Eight others will be brought to shoreline parks, community centers and Trailblazers Academy, Transportation Planner Emily Provonsha said.

Bringing racks to the downtown, East and West sides and South End is a priority, she said.

“We chose places that have a high percentage of zero-car ownership,” she said. “Those are all neighborhoods where there is 25 to 45 percent zero-car ownership.”

The city is also rolling out bike lanes on High Ridge Road and has conducted a bicyclist and pedestrian study.

“We all know that biking and healthy living is going to become more important over the next decades and you’re the vanguard that’s leading the way,” said Martin, who rode to the park from the government center on Washington Boulevard.

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“There are cars that sometimes just don’t get it,” he said. “Lead the way and show them the right way to be on the road.”