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Charter Oak Bicycle Park

Statement of Purpose The Charter Oak Bicycle Park will be the driving force in Hartford’s sustainable comprehensive revitalization. Featuring indoor and outdoor BMX racing tracks, an indoor velodrome, retail/repair shop, and classrooms, this unique centrally-located multi-use sports complex will provide year-round employment, competitive sport, recreation, and socializing opportunities for local residents, while attracting professional athletes, spectators, and leading industries worldwide. The Charter Oak Bicycle Park will be the hallmark of Hartford’s 21st century active reclamation of its legacy as the birthplace of the American bicycle industry.

Vision Every day, Felix, Danny, Carmelo, and Marisol ride bikes to their new jobs at Hartford’s Charter Oak Bicycle Park. Along with thousands of other residents, commuters, and tourists, Felix, Danny, Carmelo, and Marisol very much enjoy the efficiency and economy of traveling by bicycle on Hartford’s safe, signed, and well-maintained roadways.

Felix and Carmelo are responsible for the physical maintenance of the BMX track, although they swear this in no way gives them a competitive edge come race time! Danny manages the Hartford Bicycle Cooperative, a retail and repair shop owned and operated by its young adult employees. Marisol heads up the security team at the Velodrome, ever ready to call in extra support when world champions like Lance Armstrong and Marty Nothstein come to compete at the nation’s only indoor velodrome.

Felix, Danny, Carmelo, and Marisol credit the comprehensive "Bicycle Driving Education" curriculum pioneered by the Hartford School System during their latter high school years as solid foundation to launch their new careers. Like their peers and parents, these four teenagers of different neighborhoods and backgrounds have come together over a common love and lure of bicycling. They are proud to be among Hartford’s next generation of bicycle entrepreneurs and champions.

Goals

Promote the employability, mobility, health, and self-reliance of Hartford’s residents, especially its young people
Create career opportunities for local youth in bicycle building, racing, promotions, and auxiliary trades and services
Incubate a vital, cooperative, and sustainable urban culture attractive to area residents, tourists, and other guests
Expand market opportunities for existing local metals, textile, and hospitality industries
Pilot the Bicycle Driving Education curriculum in Hartford’s public high schools
Build a world class one-of-a-kind multi-use sports complex utilizing cutting edge green technologies that is affordable and accessible to families
Return vacant urban land to productive and sustainable use
Capitalize on Hartford’s 19th century identity as the "Bicycle Capitol of the World."

Charter Oak Bicycle Park: An Assets Based Approach to Urban Revitalization

The Charter Oak Bicycle Park is, itself, part of an even bigger picture that envisions Hartford’s renaissance of bicycle culture and commerce. There is abundant statistical and anecdotal evidence about the multiplier effect of increased bicycling on a community’s economic, environmental, and social well being. It is no coincidence that cities which are ranked as "America’s most desirable places to live" – Seattle (WA,) Portland (Oregon and Maine,) Madison (WI,) and Davis (CA) -are also its most bike-friendly. Hartford, CT is bursting with potential to not only join, but surpass these cities as America’s most favored. Consider:

History The undisputed "birthplace of the American Bicycle Industry," Hartford alone righteously can hoist bicycling’s hometown flag.

Infrastructure At the same time bicycle manufacture took hold of Hartford in the 1880’s, Hartford born and buried Frederick Law Olmstead and parks benefactors collaborated to create a network of wide roadways linking parks downtown. Within Hartford’s 18 sq. miles are some 2,500 acres of parkland, 3 miles of CT River shoreline, and a low density housing stock in which one, two, and three family structures predominate.

Democracy The ultimate common denominator, the bicycle is a unifying dynamic among people of diverse ages, interests, shapes, abilities, ways, and means. Hartford, CT, a decade ago ranked the nation’s fourth most impoverished city, is conversely located in one of the nation’s wealthiest counties. Nowhere is the power of the bicycle to create community more evident than the annual Hartford Parks Bike Tour has exposed thousands to Hartford’s unique living legacies of public parks and bicycles.

Location, Location, Location The Charter Oak Bicycle Park will sit in a prime location. Its center city location is a convenient destination from anywhere in the city and neighboring towns. The Park is located near the West Hartford town line, immediately accessible by I-84. A short walk from the Park is the Albert I. Prince Tech and several vital industries in the Parkville Industrial Corridor. The Park is traversed by a dormant rail line recently designated by the State Department of Transportation for development as a mass transit corridor, the South Branch of the Park River, and two streets (Brookfield and Stone) that the Department of Public Works has identified as suitable for designated bike lanes.

And-Timing: Recent bicycle related development initiatives by the public, private, and citizen sectors in Hartford are converging to create the necessary environmental, economic, social, and political conditions for the sustainable operation of the Charter Oak Bicycle Park.

 

Parkville Industrial Corridor Study, DRAFT REPORT September 1999, prepared by McCabe Enterprises for the Parkville Revitalization Association: "The Parkville Industrial Corridor’s legacy as the first manufacturer of bicycles in the United States seats it apart from other neighborhoods and places. The bicycle legacy helps make Parkville memorable and distinguishable from other working neighborhoods attempting revitalization. It is one of Parkville’s assets and should be used. (p.53) 54% of existing enterprises indicated an interest in expanding to products serving bicyclists (p. 32) 25% of Industrial Corridor businesses indicated that they have at least one employee who bikes to work (p.14)"
South Branch Park River Reclamation Project, supported by US EPA, is a multi-sector citizen led campaign to restore the river and create a greenways corridor which will link the Charter Oak Bicycle Park to (Albert A.) Pope Park.
Capitol Region Council of Governments Bicycle Transportation Plan, DRAFT September 1999, Among top recommendations are (1) promote a pro-cycling culture, (2) develop region-wide campaigns and facilities that raise the profile of cycling for transportation and recreation, (3) promote economic development opportunities in bike related business.

 

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Last modified: January 04, 2000