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North Haven Officials Join Search for Safe Place for Cyclists

“There’s a lot more to do here,” North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda said.

The identification of safe places that bicyclists might use in North Haven is underway, following a meeting Friday where First Selectman Michael Freda, resident Deborah Mahon and Director of Public Works Lynn Sadosky were among the participants.

The meeting took place at North Haven Town Hall.

“It was excellent,” said North Haven resident Deborah Mahon, who arrived at the meeting with a petition now signed by more than 1,500 people. 

Mahon had launched an online petition as part of her determination to see the Town delegate an area where residents can cycle safely following the death of 16-year-old Connor Kusmit, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while riding his bicycle Aug. 29.

Mahon said the town suggested that officials and residents explore the possibility of designating several areas where bike trails could be created, with the areas scattered throughout the town. 

Among those suggested, according to Mahon, was Carina Park, which is at the intersection of South Avenue and Carina Road, as well as a park at the far end of Washington Avenue and others, such as one near the Hartford Turnpike. 

“We had a wonderful first meeting,” said First Selectman Michael Freda.

He said that at a second meeting in three or four weeks Kerry Mattie, a landscape architect who serves on a committee Mahon has formed to work on the plan, would present site-specific sketches of what perhaps two parks would look like with bike trails. 

Then, according to Freda, he or another official would visit residents who live near the parks to see how they would feel about the development of the bike trails, which would be dirt not cement, in areas close to their homes.

“This is different than a traditional skateboard park,” Freda said of the trails now under consideration. “There is a distinction."

Freda has also spoken with state Sen. Len Fasano. Both Fasano and State Rep. Dave Yaccarino, Freda said, have agreed to assist the town in pursuing any state funds that are available for bike trails.

“There’s a lot more to do here,” he said.  He noted that the town budget was "really, really tight."

In addition to the development of safe places for cyclists as a way to pay homage to him, Connor Kusmit was honored last Saturday at a dinner at North Haven High School. There, according to Mahon, a bronze plaque donated by Hamden Monument was presented. 

It will mark a cherry tree donated in part by Bell Nurseries that has
already found a place on the North Haven High School grounds.

“It’s so nice to see people do good things,” said Mahon, wincing, once again, at the thought of a young life unlived.  “It really makes you feel good,” she said.   

Which Town park would you recommend for bike trails?

Mox October 03, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I understand where a park would be a great place for kids to congregate. However, I think the big picture was missed here. Kids have no safe way to get to any of these parks. We have no sidewalks or crosswalks on the major arteries, aside from Washington Avenue. Ask any kid who lives on the Ridge Road section of town how safe it is to get to Washington Avenue.. you will get the same answer for the kids heading the opposite direction coming from Clintonville, there isnt one! Kids are relying on their bicycles more and more for transportation. It's great exercise and why wouldnt we try to promote an environment of healthier living? There are lots of benefits to more sidewalks and trails aside from just safety and exercise. A broad social impact as more people (not just kids) are out walking and get to know their neighbors, economy, higher property values and the list goes on. Just my 3 cents.. Mox
Rich Halkyard October 04, 2012 at 02:52 PM
As an avid cyclist, I agree with Selectman Freda that there is a lot to be done here. The North Haven community needs more than just a BMX park; we need a comprehensive plan, such as Safe Streets, that includes both safe commuting and recreation cycling. North Haven is a perfect town to promote cycling. I have discussed with Mike Freda and Victor Palma, from DPW, the need for designated bike lanes on major bike arteries and the need for a consistent 4-foot lane on streets that is kept clean and free from debris, including leaves and snow. Discussions probably need to include someone at the State DOT because many of our major bicycle arteries are state roads that are maintained by the DOT. We, as a community including cyclists, need to educate ourselves through various media on the rules and laws regarding cycling such as the 4-foot law, the 3-foot law, and how bicycles as vehicles must comply with traffic laws. But, all this is for naught without enforcement. We need our police to comply with and enforce these traffic laws as well as control speeding and distracted driving. It’s a shame that someone had to die in order to draw attention to this problem. Hopefully, improvements will be made in Connor’s name.

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