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Crowds Enjoy Vehicle-Free Roadways in West Hartford Center

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

The fourth annual Center Streets drew a crowd as a loop around West Hartford Center was closed to vehicular traffic for several hours on Sunday.

Levi Fox rides his horse. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton. Photos by Ronni Newton and Hunter Marotto

Visitors to West Hartford Center could walk, bike, scooter, or skateboard – and one young boy even road a toy horse – but vehicular traffic was prohibited for several hours Sunday as the town celebrated the fourth annual “Center Streets” block party event.

“I think it’s the biggest crowd yet,” said Scott Franklin, an organizer of the event and treasurer of Bike West Hartford.

The event, traditionally held on the Sunday before school resumes, ran from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m., and Franklin said that by 9:30 a.m. there was already a large crowd. Last year the West Hartford Police Department estimated 2,000 attendees, and this year he said it was more like 2,500-2,750.

“It was consistent all day,” Franklin said.

The weather – sunny and breezy, with temperatures in the high 60s/low 70s – was just perfect.

In addition to opening the streets for exclusive use by cyclists and pedestrians, Center Streets featured music from two live bands, a bike rodeo sponsored by the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program, complimentary spin classes from LIFER fitness, and a quiet area hosted by Autism Services and Resources Connecticut, one of the event’s sponsors.

Children could enjoy chalk drawing on the road, corn hole, and hula hoops.

“What a great way to kick off the new school year, to get people out and riding,” said Mayor Shari Cantor. “There was great energy, the kids look so happy with big smiles on their faces. It’s a wonderful community bonding activity,” she said.

Cantor noted that she even saw one kid riding a horse around the loop.

The horse, which had four wheels, was the chosen mode of transportation for Levi Fox, who turns 3 on Monday.

“I saw it in a toy store, and he’s so frustrated that he can’t ride yet, so we bought it,” said Levi’s mom, Elyse Fox.

Her other child, 6-year-old Elle, who will be a first-grader at Norfeldt, was zipping around on her scooter.

Resident Rick Wells tested out an electric bicycle provided by Bloomfield Bicycle and Repair. He was joined by his brother, Rory Wells, a resident of Manchester, NJ, who was visiting on the way back from dropping his daughter off for her sophomore year at UConn.

“It’s neat,” said Rick Wells of the electric bike, although he said he would be more interested in one with a longer range than 20 miles. “We’re both leisure motorcycle guys,” he said of himself and his brother, “but this might be the way to go.”

Ethan Frankel of Bike West Hartford, co-organizer of the Center Streets event, was pleased with the number of participants this year.

“This is a great event,” said Virginia deLima of Bike Walk Connecticut. “Some people have said we should close these streets permanently.”

One of the event sponsors was BiCi Co. Program Manager Joseph Dickerson said that the organization hopes to have its second location, at 616 New Park in West Hartford, open by mid-fall. BiCi Co will offer programs for adults and youth, sponsored bike rides, and bicycle and related equipment retail and repair operations.

Roads were closed to vehicles for the duration of the Center Streets event in a rectangular loop that included Farmington Avenue (from LaSalle Road to South Main Street), the southbound lanes of South Main Street to the Memorial Road extension, the Memorial Road extension to LaSalle Road, and the entire stretch of LaSalle Road up to Farmington Avenue.

Although the Town of West Hartford personnel are physically involved in closing off the streets, the event is entirely run by volunteers and is a public-private partnership with all costs paid for by sponsors.

Generous financial support for Center Streets was being provided by many local business and residents and “Major Sponsors” included Autism Services and Resources Connecticut (ASRC), The Residences at Steele Road, and Tenpath.

More information about Bike West Hartford, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation promoting the development of bicycle infrastructure and education within West Hartford, can be found here.

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Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Town Council member Leon Davidoff and his wife, Alexis Davidoff. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Event co-organizer Scott Franklin. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rick Wells (left) and his brother, Rory Wells, test out electric bikes. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Virgina deLima, Ethan Frankel, and Tracy Frankel of Bike West Hartford. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Tim Canlas, Mia Canlas, Ella Fong, and Dennis Canlas of Code Ninjas. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mayor Shari Cantor (right) dances in the street with her mother, Rose Granow, to the music of The Score. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Courtesy photo

Bike West Hartford committee members pose with Mayor Shari Cantor. From left: Ethan Frankel, Cantor, Tracy Frankel, Ed Pawlak. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Courtesy photo

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Michael Cantor, Rose Granow, and Mayor Shari Cantor. Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets didn’t just open the roadways to bikes and pedestrians. There were scooters and even a toy horse, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Center Streets, West Hartford Center. Aug. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

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