Bike Sharing in New London and Mystic: Ride for Free (for Real!)

Ah, pedaling merrily along, fresh breeze, bright sun, birds chirping, heart pumping – is there a more joyous freedom in the universe?

The beauty of bicycling in our neck of the woods is the variety of terrain: shoreline, farmland, forest – even urban rides have their charm.

You don’t even to own or rent a two-wheeler.

Both New London and Mystic offer free loans of bicycles – that’s right, free – through sharing programs run by dedicated volunteers on a mission to get more people away from their cars and into a healthy, fun activity.

As Mystic Community Bikes notes on its website, bicycling not only reduces energy consumption, traffic congestion, noise and air pollution but also encourages physical fitness.

Both the Mystic and New London programs offers free use of a bike to anyone showing up at various distribution centers with a valid driver's license or ID, and a $10 refundable deposit. They even provide locks and helmets.

“We try to appeal to all levels, from people who commute on a $3,000 custom road bike or a kid on a BMX,” Rob Bareiss, chairman of Bike New London, told me the other day. “We focus on getting families out to ride, making streets safer for riding, and teaching safe-riding habits.”

In fact, the organization will be giving away up to 75 children’s helmets Sunday, June 30, courtesy of a generous donation by the New London Kiwanis Club, as part of it’s fifth annual Bike Fest. The free event, from noon to 3 p.m. at New London City Pier, also includes free bike repairs and tune-ups, a custom and vintage bicycle show featuring Rat Rod Bikes, free reflector tags from Connecticut’s “Share The Road” program, and a Parade of Wheels through downtown, beginning at 1.

Bareiss said Bike New London, which maintains a fleet of 12 bicycles, has seen usage double every year since the organization began five years ago.

Both groups rent adult touring bikes with baskets, ideal for pedaling around town but not for off-road riding or entering a time trial. As such, they don’t compete with local bike shops, and in fact are supported by bicycle storeowners and employees who help out with repairs.

New London bikes are available at the Water Street Parking Garage, conveniently located across from the train station, bus terminal and ferries.

More information about Bike New London is available by email at

bicyclenl@gmail.com or by calling (860) 912 6882.

Mystic Community Bikes has 10 distribution centers: Bank Square Books, 53 West Main St.; Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, 109 Pequotsepos Road; Howard Johnson Inn, 253 Greenmanville Ave.; Mystic Depot Welcome Center & Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, 2 Roosevelt Ave; Mystic Shipyard, 100 Essex St.; Mystic & Noank Library, 40 Library St.; Noank Community Market, 17 Pearl St., Noank; and Seaport Marine, 2 Washington St.

For more information email: mysticcommunitybikes@gmail.com or phone (860) 245-8150.

Both organizations rely on donations and welcome volunteers.

 

 

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