Last week, MassBike held three public meetings in Springfield to get input on barriers to biking and walking in the city, and thoughts on what our priorities should be to improve the streets. These public meetings were hosted by Live Well Springfield’s community partners, Gardening The Community (GTC), Mason Square Health Task Force (MSHTF), Vietnamese-American Civic Association (VACA), and Caring Health Center. MassBike brought large maps, distributed surveys, and led the discussion to generate ideas for making things better.
There will be one more public meeting held in Metro Center some time in January (the details are still being finalized). If you cannot make the public meetings, then please feel free to give your input here.
The attendees were candid and informative about the barriers they face every day when biking or walking. Attendees from GTC and MSHTF highlighted the need for better bicycle facilities. Gardening The Community is an organization that grows food on an urban farm and then delivers the food via bicycle to customers. Because of this, they are keenly aware of the deficit of bicycle facilities in the city. In particular, they highlighted I-291 as a barrier which cuts Springfield in half (I-291 is an urban highway connector from the Mass Pike to I-91). There was also a more general desire for better separation and protection from motor vehicle traffic.
There were two meetings hosted at VACA in the Forest Park neighborhood, primarily attended by members of the Vietnamese Community. At the first meeting, there were several elderly residents (mostly women) who primarily walk or use transit to travel. The second meeting was attended by young men, anywhere from 12 years old to 24. Despite the age and gender differences, the primary concern for both groups was crime. Of course, that meant the number one thing for them to make the city more comfortable for biking and, more specifically, walking would be to reduce this kind of crime.
The purpose of these meetings is to inform the priorities of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan that the City of Springfield, in partnership with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and MassBike, is putting together. This is being done under Live Well Springfield, a coalition of community partners working to improve the health and vitality of Springfield’s underserved neighborhoods.
As part of our Bikeable Communities Program, we offer a number of services, such as Bicycle Planning Assistance to facilitate a strategy for implementing bicycle-related projects, Bikeability Assessments to evaluate a community’s current state of bike-friendliness, and Bikeable Communities Trainings to help local advocates engage with key stakeholders and understand how to improve local infrastructure conditions.