Bicyclists in and around New Milford will now have incentive to stop and enjoy the village center.

Twelve decorative bike racks are being installed throughout the downtown. Nine are already in place with three more to come soon to nearby parks.

Funded by local businesses, the bike racks represent a community effort, said Lisa Arasim, treasurer of the New Milford River Trail Association.

"We worked with the mayor, Parks & Recreation and Public Works," Arasim said. "Local businesses didn't hesitate to pay for individual racks."

"They saw it as a great way to do something for the community, she added, "and to have lasting advertising."

There are seven, arch-designed racks that each secure two bicycles and five racks designed to each secure seven bikes.

Along Main Street, racks can be found at town hall, the post office, New Milford Public Library and Main Moon Chinese Restaurant.

Along Bank Street, racks are located at Morton's Jewelers and Bank Street Theater.

There is a rack to secure seven bikes at The Maxx along Railroad Street and a rack at the Parks & Recreation office along Bridge Street.

"There were actually a lot of cyclists who passed through New Milford but didn't stop here because they didn't think the town was bike-friendly," Arasim said. "Now, hopefully, they'll spend time and shop in town."

Tom O'Brien, an avid cyclist and president of the New Milford River Trail Association, has been promoting bike riding in the town for years.

He was instrumental in getting the first leg of a bike trail installed at Sega Meadows Park in the Boardman district of town.

His and the association's goal, he said, is to have a trail from Gaylordsville in the northwest end of town to Lover's Leap State Park in the south end of town.

They then hope to see New Milford's bicycle and walking trail linked to other communities' trails to form a western New England greenway.

"We hope in a matter of weeks to have a feasibility study done," O'Brien said, "to determine a route to bring cyclists to downtown from Sega Meadows."

Mike Vochis, a businessman and member of the town's Economic Development Commission, came up with the idea of having O'Brien and Arasim approach local businesses to fund the bike racks project.

"They made a presentation at a commission meeting," said Vochis, who owns Candlewood Valley Motors, "and I thought it was a nice idea, but they didn't have a way to pay for the racks."

"I suggested offering a plaque at each rack with the name of the business that funded the rack," Vochis said. "I bought one. I'm not an avid bike rider but I saw where there were many people who would benefit from this."

O'Brien said the engraved plaques were designed by Main Street Signs.

Sbc Construction of Winsted installed the nine downtown bike racks.

New Milford Parks & Recreation crews are installing the final three racks at Young's Field, Patriot's Way and Helen Marx Park, a half-mile north of Young's Field.

Bike racks are also possible at the children's playground along Pickett District Road and at the Gaylordsville Market, if businesses or individuals could be found to sponsor them.

If interested in sponsoring a bike rack, call Lisa Arasim at 860-355-1098.; 860-355-7322

What's better than riding a bicycle on a sun day? The wind in your hair, the warmth of the summer sun on your face.

The New Milford River Trail Association has been promoting a bike trail in the town going from Gaylordsville in the north to Lover's Leap in the south of town. Sega Meadow Park's path was the initial leg of that trail. "Share The Road" signs have been installed on roads throughout the town to raise awareness that vehicles and bikes coexist on the roadways.

Now, 12 bike racks have been installed throughout the downtown. The project was supported by Mayor Pat Murphy and driven by the River Trail Association's officers, including president Tim O'Brien.

The racks are at Town Hall, along Bank Street, at The Maxx on Railroad Street and at Patriot's Way, Young's Field and Helen Marx Park, as well as along Main Street.