Earlier in the month, MassBike kicked off a project in Springfield to help develop a bicycle and pedestrian plan and implementation strategy, which will set the stage for increased rates of active transportation in the city. While the details are still being finalized, Programs Director Price Armstrong has been spending two to three days per week in Springfield for the past few weeks getting the ball rolling.
This work is a part of the Community Transformation Grant (CTG) awarded to Springfield (click here for more about the overall project). The project is being headed by Live Well Springfield, a coalition of community groups and government entities including the City of Springfield, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and Partners for a Healthier Community, among many others. While MassBike will be focusing on bicycling and pedestrian issues, the CTG deals broadly with issues of active living and healthy nutrition. The project will focus primarily on the North End, South End, and Mason Square neighborhoods in Springfield, in addition to Metro Center. This is a great opportunity for MassBike to take the technical assistance offered through our Bikeable Communities Program and apply it to the fourth largest city in New England.
The whole MassBike team is looking forward to engaging in this work. We see Springfield specifically, but more generally the whole of Hampden County, as a prime area to encourage more biking and walking. With a solid pre-war urban development style in the downtown area, and a number of educational institutions, large employers, and cultural amenities within a few mile radius of the City Hall, possibilities abound for improving biking and walking infrastructure.
Ultimately, however, this must be a community-driven project. MassBike is here to help the community craft a vision for itself – what the streets look like, what connections need to be prioritized, and what obstacles are most important to overcome. With the Pioneer Valley Chapter in place and a new full-time on-the-ground Program Associate based in Springfield (more on him to come), we are equipping ourselves to better understand that vision and help the community achieve it. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project in the months to come!