Ten Minutes With Jacqui Dowd
Ridgefield cycling enthusiast and head of the Ridgefield Bicycle Sports Club
Jacqui Dowd is head of the Ridgefield Bicycle Sports Club, co-chair of LINC (Leading Initiatives for New Connections), and owner with husband Sean of the Ridgefield Bicycle Co. With cycling season in full gear, efforts by LINC getting traction on a multi-use trail connecting the town, and the announcement of a youth duathlon in June, 2014 we decided to talk with her about all things cycling.
In its third year, the club has more than 300 members. That’s incredible. Did you ever think it would be so popular? We had no idea. The bike shop was already leading rides, and Evan McGerald from TriRidgefield suggested we start a club. It’s has been awesome. It has brought people together with similar interests that otherwise would never have met. While the numbers are impressive, it feels like friends gathering for a ride.
What did all these people do before they joined the club? It’s different for everyone. A lot rode on their own. Now those people ride with the club—joining us for Thirsty Thursday parties, Sunday rides, or whatever their fancy. Others are new riders or just haven’t done it in a while. The club provides safety in numbers and we try to support members with safety clinics and promoting riding etiquette.
What is LINC? LINC is a proposed in-town multi-use trail that will connect the Rec Center and Founders Hall, Main Street, and the Branchville area. The trail will provide five miles of carefully designed walk-, ride-, and strollways, free of the busy traffic that impedes our roads. LINC is part of the town’s 2002 plan of development that was updated in 2013 by a Parks & Recreation committee.
People have been talking about a path around town for years, and it’s never gotten anywhere. Can this work? This idea has been around a long time, but there is a good group working on it. The busier our roads get, the fewer places active people and families have to go recreate. We can and will make this work. Most importantly, everyone wins if it does.
The new library will have bike racks. Did you have anything to do with that? Well, I did meet with assistant library director Mary Rindfleisch many moons ago about it, but full credit goes to the library for coming up with the concept and being pro-active in finding solutions there.
Will it increase bike usage? It won’t hurt.
People in Amsterdam are more inclined to hop on a bike than a car. Can America—Ridgefield—ever get there? I think people would love to have that option. Of course, Ridgefield presents very different challenges like narrow winding roads. So the more we can do as a community to help people choose how to get around, why wouldn’t we?
So to engage youth in town, the bike club is organizing a duathlon on June 8. What do kids think about it? They are so excited! Our youth are just as active and love to be outside as their parents and grandparents. Even more so. One more opportunity to get out to run and ride your bike in a fun, encouraging environment. Awesome!