New handbook for New Haven cyclists

Elm City cyclists now have a nifty handbook to accompany the over eight miles of new bike lanes launched two years ago.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. announced at a press conference held Tuesday morning at The Devil’s Gear Bike Shop the release of a handbook titled “Street Smarts Smart Cycling”, a 48-page guide that includes new bike routes, an overview of cycling laws and advice on bike maintenance. DeStefano said the book is the brainchild of “Smart Cycling”, an initiative that is part of the New Haven Street Smarts campaign launched two years ago, and reflects the popularity of the city cycling movement.

Dana Barnes SPH ’11, who worked on the book this summer, said the guide, which has been available on the Department of Transporation website since it was finished last summer, was released in paper form to make distribution easier. She added that the book may also be distributed at safety seminarsat Yale this fall to introduce new cyclists to city biking laws.

“This cycling community did not exist in a meaningful way 20 years ago when I became mayor. It has become such an important part of this city,” said DeStefano, who spoke at the event Tuesday.

New Haven Transportation, Traffic and Parking interim Director Jim Travers added at the event that the book contains information relevant to many aspects of the biking community — from children learning to ride their first bike to motorists and cyclists who need to understand the laws.

“Today, we’re celebrating the inclusion of Smart Cycling into the Street Smarts campaign, and the mayor who supports the transit-rich environment, that’s conducive to better physical and fiscal health,” Travers said.

Matthew Feiner, the owner of The Devil’s Gear Bike Shop, said he thought the book was a comprehensive, well-written guide to bicycle safety in New Haven.

“It’s through education that we change ourselves, and that goes double when it comes to bicycles,” he said.

New Haven’s transportation infrastructure is largely based on the auto industry, Travers said, and that the large populations of pedastrians and cyclists have played a significant role in its conception.

Travers said that New Haven is paving the way for bike infrastructure standards in the state. . Travers added that the Federal Highway Administration recently allowed the city to include bike boxes in the street designs around Gateway Community College.

In more serious undertones, DeStefano also addressed the death of Devil’s Gear service manager Mitchell Dubey — who was an avid bike enthusiast — at the book release Tuesday. He added the community plays an important role in preventing crime and tragic events.

“In the end, a lot of the answers that we see in senseless violence are found in the values reflected in the cycling community, in this sense of connection to one another.” DeStefano said.

The number of cyclists in New Haven has doubled since 2008.

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