A bike repair station where cyclists can fix flat ties, adjust chains and do routine maintenance for free is coming to town.
The small station complete with air pump, tools and a stand to safely hold a bicycle while it's being fixed is a gift to the town from the Central Connecticut Health District, which provides public health services to Berlin, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield.
The other three district towns will also receive repair stations, health district Director Charles Brown said Wednesday. The stations are part of the district's work to encourage people to get outside and exercise and improve their health.
The hope is that having convenient places to make free routine bike repairs will draw more people to use bicycles, he said. Each "Ultimate Bike Repair Station" costs $1,099 and is funded through grants. The towns pay nothing.
"We thought what can we do to support physical education? This is one way to do that," Brown said. "Hartford is one of the cities that already has these stations. They've had good use of them."
The bike repair station will likely be put at the new train station, which is slated to open next spring. But the town may get it before the new station opens, so Hellyn Riggins, the town development director, will work with the interim town manager to find a temporary site for bike repair.
"That's s good idea," bicyclist Craig Finn of New Britain said Wednesday afternoon when flagged down by a reporter on Route 372. Finn, a Berlin native, was on his way to work in East Hampton because "car problems" left him with no ride to his job.
"If that repair station is put up, I'd use it," he said.
Craig Pedemonti, owner of Cutting Edge bicycle, skateboard and snowboard shop on Berlin's Mill Street, said having a repair station in town will be a good thing for cyclists here.
"Wonderful idea," he said. "Hope it leads to getting appropriate bike lanes on roads here."
Brown said the district is talking with member towns about ways to improve streets and outdoor facilities to encourage people to get outdoors more.
"We're exploring all ways to help people get more active," Brown said. "Berlin is extending sidewalks and connecting sections near the train station and town hall. I never thought I'd be so interested in sidewalks but when I see new sidewalks like the ones getting built in Berlin, I'm very, very happy. It just makes me smile."