Although it is probably hard for anyone living outside the third-largest city in Massachusetts to believe, there are no official bicycle lanes anywhere in the entire sprawling city of Springfield.
That will change Monday as officials open the city's first bike lanes in the Sixteen Acres neighborhood.
“This is a great initiative between the city, (Pioneer Valley Planning Commission), Mass Bike, and the Sixteen Acres neighborhood,” Mayor Domenic Sarno said in a statement. “The new lanes enhance public safety by having lanes marked clearly, as well as enhancing the quality of life for residents.”
The bicycle lane comes to the neighborhood courtesy of a partnership between the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) and Live Well Springfield, a coalition of community organizations including Partners for a Healthier Community, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the City of Springfield.
On Monday, Sarno and officials from the aforementioned agencies and groups invite the public to join them in a ride along the new lane. The group ride begins at noon and kicks off at the corner of Puritan and Plumtree roads.
The bike lanes were completed this fall by the city Department of Public Works and span Plumtree Road between Bradley Road and Wilbraham Road. The street was chosen because of its neighborhood character and the opportunity it offers to connect multiple parts of the city for cyclists.
The partnership is looking for suggestions from city residents about where else they would like to see bicycle lanes constructed. One suggestion being floated in recent days is a path stretching from the city's historic Forest Park neighborhood to the downtown area, via a connection to the riverfront to coordinate with the replacement of the elevated section of Interstate 91.
Those wishing to take the survey and offer their insights can visit the Live Well Springfield website. Live Well Springfield is working off of a $2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control’s Community Transformation Grant initiative. The program aims to make healthy living easier and more affordable in Springfield, as well as to promote healthy eating and active living.
For more information about the public bike ride event, the City of Springfield Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, or Live Well Springfield, contact PVPC’s Josiah Neiderbach at (413) 781-6045.