Building Bike Culture in Fall River

[caption id="attachment_23607" align="alignright" width="300"] Current End of Quequechan River Rail Trail in Fall River.[/caption]

There are a lot of ways that MassBike helps communities in Massachusetts access safer bicycling. We work through Safe Routes to School, the MassDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Awareness and Enforcement Program, Mass in Motion, and our Bikeable Communities Program, just to name a few.

In Fall River, a lot of these programs are coming together to make this city a better place for bicyclists and active, healthy living. As we mentioned recently, Fall River is one of the communities included in the MassDOT Safety Program. Through this program, MassBike is advising the city how to connect cyclists between an existing bike path on the west side of the city with a proposed one on the east side. This should bring in both recreational riders and commuters.

Recently we met with Julianne Kelly of Mass in Motion (MiM) and Jacqueline L. Schmidt, Senior Transportation Planner with the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SPREDD) to discuss how we can help Fall River continue to grow as a city that attracts existing cyclists and encourages new ones. Through MiM, we can complement the work we will do through the MassDOT Safety Program to

  • Connect the many beautiful parks in Fall River by bike paths or lanes

  • Ensure bike equity by serving all income areas and road users, including recreational riders, bike commuters within the city, and bike commuters through the city

  • Focus on bicycling (along with healthy eating and other MiM priorities) as a key component to active, healthy living

  • Take into account Fall River’s hilly topography when planning for bicyclists

  • Develop bike map routes

It's exciting to see how all of these programs can work together to make the city a safer place to bike. To that end, we also discussed bringing in Safe Routes to School and having infrastructure connect to schools to get more kids biking for transportation.

Kelly, an avid bicyclist and active member of Bike Fall River, the local bicycle committee, has worked tirelessly making bicycling safer and more accessible in Fall River. Lately, she says, the focus has been on building a culture of bicycling. Having all of these programs come together to enhance bicycling for all in the city will help make that happen. From planned multi-use pathways to upcoming rail trail ground breakings, there is already a lot underway, but there are still plenty of opportunities for improving bicyclist safety.

The city already has a lot to offer bicyclists, such as the city’s density, which makes it great for commuters, and the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve, with 14,000 acres of protected land and bikeable roads that make for a beautiful ride. Mass in Motion Fall River is also one of the one of the founding members of the South Coast Bikeway Alliance. Kelly says that the comprehensive focus on bicycling that will make Fall River an even better place to bike is about “pushing ahead and having a lot of support, but also learning as you go along.” That’s why the audits and discussions with engineers are so important to bringing Fall River to the next level.

According to Barbara Jacobson, MassBike’s Program Manager, “Working with Fall River has been great because they are so enthusiastic about biking and walking. They want to use as many of our programs as they can and take a holistic approach to promoting bicycling for all of their residents. They are especially enthusiastic about making sure no one is left out regardless of age, income level, or ability.”

Mass in Motion communities can access MassBike programs at no cost to them. To see if your community is a MiM community, visit their website.

Fall River is a city working with every possible angle to enhance a culture of bicycling. Like Fall River, a lot of cities and towns across Massachusetts are making decisions that positively impacts cyclists. What’s happening in your town? If you would like to share stories about cycling advocacy or infrastructure changes, contact [email protected] to let us know. Your story might be featured on the MassBike website and newsletter!

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