New Report Illustrates Westfield's Bikeability

MassBike has been working in Westfield for the past several months to create a Bikeability Assessment for the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Trail (FOCGRT). The report details how the city can improve its bicycling infrastructure to attract new bicyclists and make it safer for all road users. Back in July 2013, MassBike led a training for eight local residents who volunteered their time to collect data and gather observations about key roadway segments.

We're excited to help these local advocates work toward their goal: to make Westfield's streets safer for bicyclists of all ages and abilities. At future project meetings, this assessment can help make the case to local stakeholders that bicycle-friendly infrastructure is worth the investment.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="235"] Clipboards in hand, evaluators used the MassBike Bikeability Assessment Tool, coupled with their local knowledge, to observe the extent to which Westfield's built environment is bikeable.[/caption]

Westfield, which is located in the Pioneer Valley, has plans to expand its bicycling network with the construction of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail. When completed, this shared-use linear path will span 3.2 miles and connect Westfield all the way to New Haven, CT as part of the Farmington Valley Greenway. As part of MassDOT's Bay State Greenway, the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail will eventually extend north from the Westfield River, connecting to communities in Southampton, Easthampton (via the Manhan Rail Trail) and Amherst (via the Norwottuck Rail Trail). The impetus for Westfield’s investment in this project can largely be attributed to local leaders like Don Podolski, Owner of New Horizons Bikes (the city’s local bicycle shop) and Jeff LaValley, Chair of the FOCGRT, other dedicated advocates, local politicians and state officials.

You can read the full report here. Overall, the evaluators had the following observations:

  1. Add bike lanes on corridors wide enough to accommodate them.

  2. Optimize underutilized road space by including bicycle-specific infrastructure along corridors.

  3. Bicycle-specific infrastructure that provides dedicated space for bicyclists should be installed at key intersections.

  4. Introduce low-cost bicycle facilities like way-finding signage and bike parking racks.

We all hope that this report can provide a foundation for discussions on how to improve bicycling in Westfield. In particular, we hope that local advocates can engage elected officials and other key stakeholders to act upon the observations for future projects. MassBike plans to continue working with the local advocates to make better biking a reality in Westfield.

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.

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