Spring: Think ‘bike trails’

Spring has come. There’s snow on the ground, but the crocuses have already pushed their heads up, lured by the warm days that started to come, sporadically, a few weeks back. It’s not long before the weather really warms and signs of spring burst forth — including a blossoming of bikers, runners and joggers on Ridgefield’s roads.

This town could use bike trails. There are many reasons — fun, mostly, but also health and to get bikers and runners off the roads. Healthy habits needn’t be risky. People, especially parents teaching children to ride, need places to bike — and run — where they aren’t threatened by cars. And drivers would benefit from fewer bicyclists and exhausted runners rounding blind corners in the falling dusk.

Ridgefield, with its long history of open space activism headed by the Conservation Commission, is rich with hiking trails — footpaths through woods and wetlands, up steep, rocky terrain that sometimes treats the hiker to overlooks across surrounding hills and valleys. But  those trails are for nature hikers and mountain bikers.They’re not for runners or road cyclists.

Town officials have long supported the concept of bike trails, and there are plans. Most encouraging, as a story in last week’s Press described, are two efforts championed by the new and welcome LINC (Leading Initiatives for New Connections) committee. One would build bike-quality trails in Ridgebury’s Lake Windwing open space. Another —  more involved, but with a lot of potential — is to connect the trail around the Recreation Center property to the village center.

One more goal worth pursing would be to lift the unfortunate restriction against biking on the “rail trail” from the town center to Branchville.

In the long run, a bike trail from the town center to Branchville might connect with the greenway trail envisioned following the path of the abandoned Super 7, up the Norwalk River Valley, connecting Norwalk to Danbury by foot and bicycle.

Bike and running trails could be a wonderful asset to the town and its people — from those exercising off middle-age poundage to those learning to stay upright on a two-wheeler.

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