With rising gas prices, greater environmental awareness and more health consciousness, it’s no surprise that more people in Manchester and elsewhere are looking at getting around town on half-as-many wheels as the family sedan. And while groups like Manchester Moves have made huge improvements in developing the Queen City’s trail infrastructure, there’s still much to do to make Manchester a truly bicycle-friendly city.
There have been positive bicycling developments in the city recently. Last summer, the MTA installed bike racks on all its buses–something even the MBTA in Boston has yet to do on many of its major bus routes; and the Hands Across the Merrimack bridge connecting the Piscataquog Trail on the West Side with the Riverwalk and downtown has been bustling for a few years now. More anecdotally, the number of cyclists on the road seems to be rising.
Still, Manchester lags behind some of its New England neighbors when it comes to a robust bicycling infrastructure. To the northeast, Portland is actively expanding its inner city trail system, as is Manchester, but they’ve also designated plenty of bike lanes and shared lane markings, or “sharrows”, on city streets, and provided ample bicycle parking, something often lacking in Manchester. It certainly doesn’t hurt that their bus system is better funded with longer hours and more frequent service, making it easy for Portlanders to ride to the bus stop and hitch a ride into town.
There’s reason to be optimistic about the future of bicycling in the Queen City, though. Along with the efforts of Manchester Moves and the dedication to expanding the rail trail network, there’s also the compact nature and easy navigability of the city’s grid system. Given a push and improvements in infrastructure and education, Manchester seems could soon have a strong segment of bicycle commuters.
LivableMHT has put together a map of the existing and planned bicycle infrastructure, notably the rail trails, in and around the Queen City, as well as the on-street bike routes recommended by NHDOT. There are some obvious issues with many with the recommendations, not to mention gaping holes in the routes, and few if any are accompanied by the bike lanes or sharrows needed to make bicycle commuting or recreation feasible for beginning and moderate cyclists.
So what improvements would you like to see in Manchester’s bicycle infrastructure? Where would you like to see bike lanes or sharrows? Should they be on major roads or side streets? Is there anything you’d like to see businesses, employers, neighborhoods or the city do to encourage biking?
Let us know. As we get input, we’ll put together a community-based map of LivableMHT’s recommended future bicycle network for Manchester.