Bike Cheshire kicks off with ribbon cutting at Pop's Pizza; returnable deposit gets you a bike and helmet for a ride on linear trail
CHESHIRE-Three years ago, Jim Jinks became active in local politics in part because of his interest in seeing Cheshire become more of a bike-friendly community.
When Jinks was exposed to the Simsbury Free Bike program in that town, where a returnable deposit gets you a bike to ride on the linear trail, he became inspired. In early April, Jinks decided to organize a similar program in Cheshire and on Friday it became reality with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Pop’s Pizza to kick off Bike Cheshire.
At three locations located near the linear trail – Pop’s Pizza, Cheshire YMCA and CrossFit Cheshire – bikes will be available in essence for free for riding on the linear trail in town. What you do is sign a waiver, pay a returnable $10 deposit and you receive a bike and helmet. When you return the bike and helmet you get your $10 deposit back.
“In April I had the notion to start a bike share in Cheshire modeled after the successful Simsbury Free Bike program,” Jinks said. “The goal is to get people riding. There are health benefits and it can be an economic tool with cost savings.
“You don’t have to just use the bike on the linear trail, you can use it instead of a car to go to the store or run an errand to save gas money. But ultimately it’s just fun, convenient and cheap.”
Chris DeBisschop, wife of Pop’s Pizza owner Pete DeBisschop, saw a story in a local newspaper about Jinks’ plans for a bike share program in town. Jinks at the time was looking for businesses to serve as bike rental locations. Chris DeBisschop mentioned it to her husband and they thought it would be a good idea for Pop’s Pizza to be one of the rental sites.
“We saw a story in the newspaper and emailed Jim,” Pete DeBisschop said. “We talked to Jim and the concept appealed to us. We see a lot of benefits and it will be good for the town. Once people get the idea it’s here it will take off.”
Jinks has 17 bikes donated for Bike Cheshire that he will split among the three bike share locations. He is also looking for residents and businesses to make a donation and sponsor a bike with the funds used to repair the bike as needed.
State Representative Liz Linehan of Cheshire loves the concept.
“I grew up in the Pop’s Pizza neighborhood and I think this is so good for the neighborhood,” Linehan said. “This neighborhood is in transition and this program will be good for small businesses in the area. It’s wonderful and fantastic for the community. It’s just one other thing that makes Cheshire great.”
The health benefits of the program especially appealed to Kate Glendon, public health specialist for Chesprocott Health District.
“This is a new, up-and-coming healthy activity,” Glendon said. “It increases physical activity and increases quality of life. At Chesprocott we will eventually become another location where you can register bikes for sharing.”
Cheshire Recreation Director Joshua Medeiros loves the concept too.
“We want everyone to have access to all our recreation parks and this program is one way to increase that access,” Medeiros said. “It reduces the barrier and creates opportunities for those who don’t have bikes.
“Jim has done a great job getting this off the ground and I expect it to grow pretty quickly.”
Among those helping Jinks organize and run the program are board of directors Sean Henri, owner of Pepperland Marketing, Casey Nugent, owner of Job Well Done Remodeling, LLC, Bike Cheshire mechanic Richard Pfeiffer, Ball and Socket Arts, Ion Bank and Gromko Insurance.
Other board members are Jeffrey Guimond of Ball & Socket Arts, Hope Milligan Reinhard and Attorney Nicole Barillaro.
“This idea is amazing,” said Anne Harrigan, a member of the Cheshire Board of Education. “Cheshire can really benefit from this. I’m happy to see businesses get involved and showing support. One upside is it should help benefit businesses here. With the Ball and Socket Arts opening coming this will be the place to be.”
Jinks said Bike Cheshire is affiliated with the Simsbury Free Bike program. He hopes to eventually expand locations in town and hopes more bikes will be donated for the program. The Cheshire Chamber of Commerce is a drop-off location for bikes.
For more information, contact Jinks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.