A JOINT EFFORT BETWEEN RESIDENTS AND OFFICIALS HAS MADE SIMSBURYTHE MOST BICYCLE-FRIENDLY TOWN IN CONNECTICUT
When extolling the virtues of their town, Simsbury residents can point to the picturesque business district, a good school system, well-kept neighborhoods and proximity to Hartford.
They can list amenities such as a seasonal farmer’s market, state and municipal parks, and landmarks including the world-class International Skating Center of Connecticut and the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows, home to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s summer music series.
Or they can allow others to sing the town’s praises. Last year, this magazine named Simsbury to the No. 2 spot (behind Avon) on its list of best medium-sized towns in Connecticut. In 2011, Simsbury also turned up in Money Magazine’s guide to the best places to live, ranked 39 out of 100.
Even better, the townspeople own bragging rights to a unique title. In 2010, the Washington, D.C.based League of American Bicyclists named Simsbury a bicycle friendly community, the only such community in Connecticut and, at the time, southern New England. (Boston earned the label in 2011.) Central to earning the moniker is the paved, vehicle-free, 8-mile Simsbury portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which stretches from New Haven to Northampton, Mass. Six of the eight miles in Simsbury are also part of the 2,500-mile East Coast Greenway that runs from Key West, Fla., to Canada.
The designation also serves as a symbol of the power of teamwork between citizen activists and town officials. “Why would Simsbury, a town of 24,000 people, become the first bike-friendly town in southern New England? Because government and volunteers worked together,” says Mary Glassman, the town’s first selectman.
The bike-friendly title “is a huge accomplishment for our town and a symbol of our ability to coordinate recreational opportunities with the unique beauty of our open spaces, the quality of life, the tremendous volunteerism in our town, and the town leaders who support bike paths,” Glassman says, pointing out that the cyclists pass by a mountain, a river and meadows. “Add it all together, and you can see the results.”