Every Monday night I host a community ride. There is no charge for the bike but a donation is suggested. Every week I choose a different local charity/nonprofit as a beneficiary. The next Monday Night FREE ride will support Westport Farmer’s Market on July 11th.

I started the community ride for a few reasons. Firstly, I wanted my business to give back to all the local nonprofits that make our town so special: Westport Library, Wakeman Town Farm, Pink Aid, The Levitt Pavilion, CLASP, Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, (for a full list and dates, check here).

In addition, I wanted to tie my business to the giving circle that I co-founded last year called 100 Women Who Care- Fairfield County, CT.  My giving circle gives to 4 charities/nonprofits each year. My community ride enables me to give back in a small way to many local & deserving organizations.

Lastly, and this is the crux of my motive: I am trying to inspire more people to ride their bikes in Westport. Come to the FREE ride with your own bike. Let’s meet up and talk and ride. Let’s experience a beautiful twilight ride down to Compo Beach and back (from Imperial Ave).

Who knows? It may inspire you to become involved (or voice your opinion) about bike lanes in our town. The Downtown Plan Implementation Committee is ”always open to citizens who wish to join a working group that is focused on a particular project of interest. We welcome everyone to attend our meetings and get involved.”

Whether you are from Westport or another town, if safe bike lanes are important to you, think about how YOU can help make them a reality in your town.

Are you on the PTA & you want students to ride to school safely? Do you have a local business & you want to encourage bike riders to ride by your shop? Are you a trainer & want to encourage healthy activities for daily living? Do you simply want to feel safe riding to the beach, Main St or the train? Do you have someone in your family- tween, disabled, injured, elderly- who needs access to stores and doctors via walking or riding? Are you a realtor and understand that having a bike lane is a great selling point? Are you a community leader who supports projects that connect the community? There’s an avenue for you to become involved and your voice needs to be heard.

Here’s a great article about the East Coast Greenway and how it is working to connect cities and towns from Maine to Florida with protected bike lanes, “A Bike Path for the Entire East Coast,” posted on www.citylab.com.

greewayIf you live in CT and want to see how much progress we have or haven’t made, here’s the link to the local Greenway page.

Safe bike riding is important for Westport Bike Rentals, but it is also very important to me because I love the pedestrian lifestyle. I want to be able to use my bike rather than my car for the 4 mile radius in which I do most of my shopping, eating, errands, and activities.

Personally, I would love to see a ”Westport Loop”: a safe bike lane that connects Main St to the train station to the beach areas to the high school. So…I have some homework to do. I am going to submit a couple of variations of such a route to the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee. I am also going to attend a Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance meeting.

By the way, it doesn’t matter what kind of bike rider you are. In fact, the majority of people are frankly just “interested & concerned” in safe bike lanes. That’s enough to make a difference. For more inspiration, watch this video from People for Bikes.

What small thing can you do to engage in the safe bike lane conversation? Please think about it, then DO something.