by Michael Torelli
Children wearing helmets while riding their bicycles around town may end up receiving a sweet treat for taking necessary safety precautions.
The Town and the Cheshire Police Department are working together again this year to ensure that local bicyclists wearing their helmets are rewarded with coupons for a free ice cream from one of four locations.
This summer marks the second year that the program is being offered. A total of 200 tickets have been purchased from four businesses in town — 50 from each — with the expectation that they will all be handed out to riders the rest this month and through early September. Last year, the Town received donations for 25 free ice creams from the same four locations.
The businesses that are participating this year are Dairy Queen (1062 South Main St.), Old Bishop Farm (500 South Meriden Rd.), Rose Dairy (908 South Main St.) and Sweet Claude’s (828 South Main St.)
Town Manager Sean Kimball said the program is beneficial to not only promote bike safety, but to connect law enforcement officers with the community.
“It’s an effort to use positive reinforcement to develop safe riding habits with our young people,” explained Kimball. “I think it’s a great way for the police to interact in a positive manner with the community.”
Funding for the program was made available through the Elim Park gift account, which is donated to the CPD and Cheshire Fire Department annually by Elim Park Place. Kimball believed that, because of the generosity of the business owners last year, it would be best to purchase the free ice cream coupons again this year.
The Town of Simsbury, where Kimball worked prior to taking the Town Manager position in Cheshire, offered a similar program with great success, he said.
“The town had done this for a long time,” reflected Kimball. “It’s just nice to see kids’ faces light up. They enjoy meeting and interacting with police officers, but it’s great to ride away with a free ice cream, too.”
John Torello, owner of Old Bishop Farm, said he was happy to have his business participate in the program.
“We think it’s a good effort by the town to encourage people to be safe,” Torello said. “… It’s great that they can get a reward for doing the right thing — for keeping themselves safe.”
Because of the site’s popularity, children riding on the Cheshire Farmington Canal Heritage Trail may have higher chances of being stopped by an officer. However, that’s not to say that those riding safely in their neighborhoods will go unnoticed, Kimball insisted.
“We’ll be focused certainly on the trail area, but you never know: Anywhere around town there will be officers who have these tickets (that) they can hand out when they see somebody making a good, safe choice,” Kimball said.