Back in November, we worked with local advocates to undertake a Bikeability Assessment in three Hampshire County communities (Amherst, Belchertown and Northampton). This project was done at the request of Healthy Hampshire, in collaboration with the Towns of Amherst and Belchertown and the City of Northampton. The focus was specifically on intersections, and how to make them safer and easier to navigate for bicyclists.
Thanks to the hard work of the local volunteers, we collected an enormous amount of information about the layout of the intersections and areas that could be improved. The fantastic thing about having local bicyclists undertake these assessments is that we can get information that only a frequent rider on a particular road would know – such as that a certain intersection becomes unmanageable after the adjacent high school lets out, but otherwise appears adequate.
After analyzing the data and going through the pages of notes, we are proud to release the Hampshire County Bikeability Assessment. Click here if you would like to look at the full report. Some of the main points from the report were:
- Amherst: The intersections in and around the UMass Campus are barriers to bicycling, particularly the intersection of Triangle Street and East Pleasant Street.
- Belchertown: The intersection of Routes 9 and 202 should be the focus for improvements in the future. Due to the geometry of this intersection a roundabout with grade-separated bicycle facilities should be considered.
- Northampton: Intersections along King Street (Route 10) all need additional bicycle infrastructure. Route 10 is an arterial road that provides access not only to many commercial destinations, but also the Northampton Bikeway and the Franklin County Greenway. Tightening turn radii and adding colored biycle lanes and/or bike boxes should be done to improve bicyclist safety and comfort.
Overall, communities in Hampshire County are leaders in the state when it comes to bike-friendly infrastructure. They have a considerable off-road network, many traffic calming features, and painted infrastructure like bike lanes, sharrows, and even a bike box. However, the process of retrofitting our streets to encourage bicycling is still in its infancy, even in our most advanced communities. This report should further the conversation on prioritizing areas for improvement.
You can find out more about our Bikeability Assessments (which is a part of our Bikeable Communities Program) by clicking here. If you are interested getting an Assessment for your community, please email Services@MassBike.org.