Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19, uncontested candidate for Ward 1 alder, announced in a statement last week that he would like to increase the number of bike paths in New Haven to help link Yale’s campus to the rest of the city.
Catalbasoglu has said his path policy initiative would be a way to bridge the divide between New Haven and Yale by encouraging students to travel around the city and invest in local businesses. Even though the aldermanic race is uncontested, he continues to campaign and encourage voters to vote in the Nov. 7 election.
“A big part of this campaign since day one has been to connect Yale students to the city,” Catalbasoglu told the News in a Tuesday interview.
He described the Yale bubble as an “actual physical bubble,” which he believes needs to be broken by physically connecting Yale to New Haven.
Catalbasoglu said that creating more bike paths could also help spur economic growth, decrease noise pollution and make the roads safer for children and students.
“About 18 percent of public school kids are diagnosed with asthma,” he said. “[The bike paths] can definitely help in terms of pollution and the clarity of the air.”
Mark Abraham ’04, executive director of DataHaven, a data analysis nonprofit in New Haven, thinks the bike path policy initiative would help New Haven create a network of “complete streets” — roads that could cater to all users, regardless of age or ability, by allowing all modes of transportation.
Information collected by DataHaven shows that while New Haven is one of the more walkable and bikeable cities in Connecticut, there is “still much room for improvement,” Abraham said.
“I think that New Haven could look at Boston and Cambridge, which just within the past year have built extensive two-way, separated bike lanes,” Abraham added.
Caroline Smith ’14, a co-organizer of New Haven bike month, agreed that new bike paths would benefit the city, since biking is such a major part of New Haven transportation. Still, she is interested in learning more about just how Catalbasoglu plans to implement his plan.
In particular, she wants to make sure that communities in New Haven are given as much of a voice as possible — and as much of a voice as Yale affiliates.
“What’s just as important as the bike lanes themselves is the process by which they are built,” Smith said.
When asked about the funding of the project, Catalbasoglu said the finances are a “bit of a tug-and-war.”
Though he has concerns about financing the project, he said he has spoken to New Haven Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen ’04 and plans to work with him on making New Haven a more transportable city.
“I’ll make sure to work with my colleagues to make sure there is accurate funding for the bike lanes,” he said.
Abraham noted that there is not a “dedicated stream of funding” for creating bike infrastructure. But he pointed to cities like Boston and Cambridge as models of how New Haven can raise the money necessary to finance the project.
At the end of the day, Catalbasoglu said, his goal is to encourage more and more Yale students to settle down in New Haven after they graduate.
“If I can get more Yale students wanting to live in New Haven at the end of my two-year term, I will deem my term successful,” he said.
Ashna Gupta | email@example.com