Biking in Melrose: Good for Business

[caption id="attachment_22952" align="alignleft" width="300"] Steve Leibman of the Melrose Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee shows Kara Showers of Mass in Motion how to change a bike tire.[/caption]

This August, Melrose became the latest community to participate in MassBike's Bikeable Communities Program. The Melrose Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee, which promotes biking and walking in Melrose, contacted us because they wanted more information about how they could implement bike infrastructure in their city and encourage more biking for transportation. As Kara Showers, of Mass in Motion: Melrose/Wakefield and the Melrose/Wakefield Health Department, told us, "There is much interest in bike riding around [Melrose] for pleasure and as a mode of transportation. It is exciting to be able to support this community interest!"

Melrose has a lot of opportunities for bicycling infrastructure and increasing bicycling in the city. In our first meeting with them, we highlighted these opportunities and a few key strategies that will help them reach their goal. Together we

  • Identified areas that would benefit from bike lanes, bike racks, or other physical changes that would make Melrose an even safer and more attractive place to ride a bike

  • Discussed how cycling and bike parking grows the local economy and how the committee could use this information to strengthen their relationship with local businesses

  • Identified people and organizations who could be allies in advocacy

We then joined the Melrose Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee at the Sally Frank’s Farmers' Market for the first Bike Day. Showers saw a great deal of excitement for bicycling during Bike Day where, "[Committee] staff answered cyclists' questions, talked about rules of the road, and [demonstrated] how to change a flat tire." Mass in Motion: Melrose/Wakefield also provided helmets, and we helped out with helmet fittings and informational materials for kids and adults. Visiting the market gave us a chance to connect with Melrose's enthusiastic bicycling community and learn more about how the city can improve cycling.

After engaging with the Melrose Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee in our meeting and the Melrose community at the farmers' market, we were able to work with the committee to identify assets that will help them grow bicycling for transportation in Melrose. Some of these assets are

  • A farmer’s market that sets up near a commuter rail. Here the committee can promote cycling and provide education and safety trainings in a location with a lot of foot (and wheel) traffic, as they did during Bike Day. The farmer’s market is also a good place to meet cyclists who might be interested in advocacy.

  • A nearby T station, Oak Grove, with a Pedal & Park bike cage. The secure bike parking at a convenient location gave the committee the idea to encourage a group of commuters to ride together to this station. Creating this convoy will attract potential cyclists who want support, encouragement, or tips.

  • An active cycling community in place. In Melrose a lot of people already ride their bikes for transportation. This community of users will help show a need for biking infrastructure and are likely to be advocates.

  • A few popular corridors wide enough for bike lanes. Bikes lanes often encourage more riders.

  • A potential ally in the local business community. By working with local businesses, which benefit financially from a greater cycling community, the committee can create strong support and backing for projects that require city approval or funding, such as bike racks. As with new bike lanes, adding bike parking encourages cyclists to shop and dine.

Melrose is just one example of how MassBike’s Bikeable Communities Program helps local advocates improve cycling in a city or town by providing support and education. Your community’s opportunities, needs, and wants for biking might be different than what you have read about in Melrose. If you would like to discuss our Bikeable Communities Program and what it could do for your neighborhood, please email Program Manager Barbara Jacobson for more information.

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