You might remember last month when two MassBike staff went to Greenfield to undertake a Bikeability Assessment. The purpose of the assessment was to feed into a regional Complete Streets Plan, which would lay the groundwork for improvements in Franklin County’s streets. We were joined by ten local residents to help with the assessment, and gathered data on five key areas in Franklin County. You can find the full report here.
From our point of view, this was a successful event with community involvement and a solid product. Some of the key findings were:
- Debris is a major issue on many of the roads, pushing bicyclists into travel lanes or forcing them to use sidewalks.
- Shoulders on many of the roads are inconsistent, and totally non-existent in some spots. Having paved shoulders, designated as bike lanes if possible, is especially important in more rural areas where traffic may be traveling at higher speeds.
- There was no bicycle parking recorded anywhere, even near city center of Greenfield.
- There were a range of speed limits, but in general traffic was moving too fast for most people to be comfortable bicycling.
- As is common in many rural areas, the intersections are designed to accommodate fast-turning traffic (Y-intersections, e.g.). These can be a danger to bicyclists and a barrier to biking.
From here, Franklin Regional Council of Governments will include our recommendations in the report being submitted to the regional planning agency. Beyond that, this report is a tangible example of how local residents can come together and impact their community. This report will inform future road improvements in these locations – it might not happen tomorrow, but when a road project comes up for Route 5/10/116 in S. Deerfield, we can point to this report to guide the decisions.
It is thanks to the support of Mass in Motion, a program of the Department of Public Health, that we were able to provide this technical assistance. We are excited to be using this opportunity to expand the local capacity to make change in our communities; by leveraging local energy, we can accomplish so much more together. Let us know if there is an opportunity to do a bikeability assessment in your community by emailing Price@MassBike.org.