Tag Archives: bicycling

Bike MHT announces 50/50 bike rack program

Bike Manchester has just announced the Manchester 50/50 Bike Rack Program, which will provide bike racks to 15 lucky (and savvy) Queen City businesses and non-profits for just $200. Thanks to the efforts of Bike Manchester and theCity of Manchester Department of Public Works and Bike Manchester, Manchester gained its first striped bike lanes last year.

Bike lanes and racks are the sort of improved bicycle infrastructure that Bike Manchester has been advocating for in the city since 2013 in effort to get more Mancunians out riding bikes more safely, and the organization is now partnering with the City DPW on the Manchester 50/50 Bike Rack Program.

More bike racks will mean less bikes chained to signposts – photo from Manchester Ink Link

According to Bike Manchester’s map, there are a number of bike racks located at private businesses, city parks and schools, but many are the flimsy portable type, and there are many areas of the city without any racks at all. The Manchester 50/50 Bike Rack Program will not only boost the numbers of racks in the city, but provide strong, permanent racks either on private commercial or non-profit property, or on public sidewalks.

Businesses with bike racks will not only be more appealing to bicyclists, but the increased visibility that the racks will provide will give Manchester residents more assurance that there will be a place to “park” when running errands or commuting by bike.

Bike Manchester explains the application process in their press release:

Business interested in applying to take part in the program must do so by Feb. 28 at bikemht.com/application. Bike rack applications will be evaluated on, and priority given to, those whose proposed bike rack locations are most visible to the public, are accessible to the greatest numbers of bicyclists and potential bicyclists, and on the strength of the applicants’ plans to promote bike rack use to their customers, employees, and/or commercial tenants.

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1375887_10202145353624343_1588005138_nFollowing up on the bicycle infrastructure meeting last month, a group of bicycle riders and enthusiasts is holding a Bicycle Advocacy Meeting Monday evening.

Tim Blagden of the Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire and Nik Coates of the Central New Hampshire Bicycling Coalition will facilitate an “action plan” meeting with Manchester bicycle infrastructure advocates from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, Oct. 28, at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 54 Hanover St.

The purpose of this meeting is to help formulate an actionable list of short- and long-term priority projects and goals for which we might advocate. The meeting will also help determine the best organizational structure to accomplish these priorities and goals. Food and drink will be provided with an RSVP. Please note any food allergies beforehand.

If you build it, they will ride

Market Basket provides one of the only bike racks on Elm Street, but it gets plenty of use. – photo by Will Stewart

When a group of people met a week-and-a-half ago at Milly’s Tavern to discuss bicycle infrastructure in Manchester, they had to speak in hypotheticals about the future, because infrastructure for bicyclists–bike lanes, racks, and so on–in the Queen City is essentially nonexistent. When you visit cities from Concord to Portsmouth, Boston to Montreal, Amsterdam to Portland Berlin, Portland, Ore. to Portland, Me., what you’ll find are cities that are expanding their bicycle infrastructure to enable more residents, visitors and workers to get around by bike, whether for recreation, exercise or daily commuting. And by offering people of all skills the opportunity to get around by bike, they’re reducing traffic, improving the health and safety of their residents, and increasing their quality-of-life.

Bike lanes separated from auto traffic in Montreal–something like this could work in Manchester on certain wider streets like Canal or Valley. – photo by Paul Smith

Manchester has been pathetically behind the curve when it comes to bicycling for years now. Despite calls for bike lanes and other bicycling infrastructure in official planning documents like the city’s 2010 master plan and the 2006 Neighborhood Initiatives plan for Rimmon Heights, little if any of it has been accomplished.

The one bright spot has been the work of Manchester Moves, which has built the Piscataquog Trail through the West Side, connecting Goffstown to the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium via the Hands Across the Merrimack bridge, and the South Manchester Trail running from South Beech to Gold Street. The trails are wonderful additions to the city, but because they exist mostly within residential neighborhoods, they remain almost strictly recreational trails. A resident of the West Side riding to work downtown along the trails, for instance, would have to cross no less than seven lanes of busy traffic at Granite Street without any provision for cyclists after crossing the Merrimack. It’s clear then that while they are great assets for the city, the trails on their own are not enough; they need to tie into a network of bike lanes, designated alternate routes for bicyclists, and places to lock up bikes across town. Continue reading If you build it, they will ride

State releases promising new outdoor recreation plan

Part of New Hampshire's new "Live free and..." tourism campaign.
The outdoors are big business in New Hampshire, and part of what makes the state (including its cities) appealing.

The state Division of Parks and Recreation has released a new five-year Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), calling for the creation of more walking and running trails, playgrounds, and community recreation.

As Department of Resources and Economic Development Director (DRED) George Bald wrote in his introductory letter to the report:

Community recreation is vitally important to the entire recreation landscape in New Hampshire. Locally-based recreation opportunities that include parks with playgrounds and picnic tables, places where dogs can romp with other dogs and dog owners can share outdoor play time, pathways that allow for walking from home to stores or community centers and back again, bicycle paths and right-of-ways for both exercise and commuting, as well as safe walking routes to schools, are integral to future planning for both transportation and recreation improvements.

A strong community-based recreation program supports a strong state park system which helps build strong healthy minds and bodies for our young people, our families, and our elders.

Continue reading State releases promising new outdoor recreation plan

The Union Leader is reporting that the Federal Highway Administration is rescinding and cancelling all trail funding for 2012.

Budget times are tough, but these are the sort of projects that make cities more enjoyable and strengthen communities, in addition to providing residents options for commuting, exercise and recreation. This news comes on top of delays in restoring commuter rail between Manchester, Concord, Nashua and Boston, and reduced funding for the MTA. It is shortsighted and sad to see legislators at the state and federal level cutting funding for transit, trails and alternative transportation while continuing to fund highway expansion and heavily subsidizing automobile use.

Fortunately, construction of the bridge connecting the Piscataquog Trail on the West Side with the Goffstown Trail was secured through earlier funds and will go forward. Trails and other bike infrastructure, such as bike lanes–along with commuter rail and improved public transit–are vital to continued growth and investment in cities like Manchester, and they should be funded and cherished.

Funding for trails runs dry

Federal grants: Manchester was eyeing projects that may not happen now. 

By MARK HAYWARD

Any bicycle and pedestrian trails that local communities have on the drawing board for next year likely won’t go very far.

New Hampshire officials learned last week that the federal government has zeroed out $677,000 in 2012 grant money that was anticipated for pedestrian trails, the state Division of Parks and Recreation said Monday.

The Recreational Trails Program funding is the only source available for non-motorized trails in New Hampshire. It is a major component of the motorized trail system also.

“We are completely stunned at the sudden email from (the Federal Highway Administration) and this loss of funding,” said Bureau of Trails Chief Chris Gamache.

State officials said the agency made technical corrections to its funding formula, recalculating grants for the years 2009 to 2012.

The result: the Federal Highway Administration was taking back $678,000 and had rescinded all 2012 funds, which amount to $677,000.

“Sen. Shaheen’s staff have been aware of the situation and are in touch with the Federal Highway Administration to see what options are available,” Shaheen spokeman Faryl Ury said Monday night. “We understand accounts are being adjusted for this program for every state nationwide.”

Fifty-five organizations received grants this year, including the state’s largest city.

Manchester won grants for the last several years. The city uses them to build paved, 10-foot wide trails, including trails on the West Side and in south Manchester.

Next year, it was planning to seek $350,000 in federal grants to build a trail to run east from Tarrytown Road and hook up to the Rockingham Trail at Lake Massabesic, said Peter Capano, chief of parks for the city.

If the grant money is lost, the project won’t go forward, said Capano, who added that the project wasn’t a given anyway.

This year, the city won a grant of $466,000 to extend the South Manchester trail, which runs parallel to South Willow Street, from Gold Street to Highland-Goffes Falls School, he said.

This summer, construction is expected to start on a bridge that spans the Piscataquog River and links the Piscataquog River Trail to the Goffstown Rail Trail.

Earlier grants funded the bridge, Capano said. The grants pay for only 80 percent of a project. City money or private funds make up the remainder.

Capano said Manchester Moves, a local trail group, has pledged $75,000 toward the local match.

Chances are remote the city could build the trails without federal help, Capano said.

Most trails make use of former rail beds, and Capano acknowledged a mountain bike could ply the trails now.

But paved trails draw pedestrians and a wide range of nonmotorized vehicles, including baby strollers and street bikes, he said.

He said the city hopes to eventually have all trails meet in the downtown area, which would facilitate cross-city bicycling.

Monopolybag: Riding the unfinished rail (trail)s in southern New Hampshire

 

Many of the rail trails south of Manchester remain unfinished - photo from Monopolybag

Earlier this month, Manchester Moves presented the City of Manchester with a check for the remainder needed to secure matching funds for the completion of the Piscataquog Trail, particularly the bridge connecting the West Side rail trail with the Goffstown Trail.

Including Manchester, which is developing an extensive trail network thanks to Manchester Moves, the towns between Goffstown and Salem–Goffstown, Manchester, Londonderry, Derry, Windham and Salem–all have rail trails in various stages of completion.  Eventually these trails will be connected in a manner similar to the very successful Minuteman Bikeway north of Boston, and Northern Rail Trail in Grafton and Merrimack Counties, linking four of the state’s 10 largest communities along a recreational trail.

Salem resident, recreational bicyclist and frequent ArchBoston poster Monopolybag recently rode the partially completed trails from Salem to Manchester, and wrote up a nice report about the problems and potential of southern New Hampshire’s rail trails:

Recently, a friend and I decided to bike the Windham Rail Trail from Salem, which we have done before, but we decided to try to make it to Manchester.

Continue reading Monopolybag: Riding the unfinished rail (trail)s in southern New Hampshire

The Union Leader is not always the strongest advocate for urban growth and livability in Greater Manchester–their strong support for a suburban-style liquor store on prime land in the heart of the Granite Street gateway to downtown and the West Side is just one recent example of promoting poor planning ideas for the city.

That makes today’s editorial in support of adding bike lanes as part of the Route 101 West widening–and hopefully beautification–project in Bedford even more encouraging.  This is one of those things that is such a no-brainer: relatively low cost with huge quality-of-life improvements.  It would be even better to see an express commuter bus running up and down Route 101 sometime in the future, delivering the many Bedford residents who work in the city to downtown or to commuter rail, and getting more people using the MTA bus system.  For now, bike lanes would be a good start.

Biking 101: A lane would help

In Bedford, there is a great deal of support for widening Route 101 from the Route 114 intersection to Wallace Road. It creates a huge snarl of traffic not only during rush hours, but in the middle of the day and even on weekends. The road simply is too narrow to handle the volume of traffic that needs to get through it.

Last Wednesday, Bedford residents and public officials turned out for a state Department of Transportation meeting on the widening project. The numbers were good because the issue is a big one for the town, and because the DOT wisely advertised the meeting on highway signs along that portion of Route 101.

We were struck by the strong support for moving the project up on the DOT’s 10-year plan. We also were struck by the suggestion of one resident, Bill Fisk, who rode his bicycle to the meeting. He urged DOT officials to make it easier for people to bike instead of just rely on cars. It was good advice.

A lot of bike enthusiasts have an unrealistic expectation that bike lanes will reduce commuter congestion. That is highly unlikely, although we know people who live in Bedford and bike to work. But the lanes are valuable nonetheless. They are recreational assets that double as possible commuter paths.

Putting a bike lane on a newly widened 101 would be valuable to the town (the shoulder west of Wallace Road is wide enough for bikes now). If the state doesn’t want to pay for it, the town should see how it could do so, preferably through donations.

NHPR’s morning call-in show, The Exchange, is discussing bicycling in New Hampshire today.  If you have thoughts to offer before 10am, call or email the show.  Otherwise, the discussion will be available for streaming beginning later this afternoon on NHPR’s website.  It’s worth a listen for anyone who cares about expanding travel options in the Queen City.

Beefs over Bicycling in the Granite State!

Given concerns over gas-prices and obesity, more people are taking to two wheels instead of four.  But as more communities look to become cycling-friendly, there are speed bumps in the road: tight budgets to improve roads for bikes, arguments over law enforcement,  and limited space to park.  We’ll look at the biggest roadblocks toward cycling in New Hampshire.

 

Guest

  • Larry Keniston – Intermodal Facilities Engineer for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation
  • David Topham – Executive Director of the Bike/Walk Alliance of New Hampshire

We’ll also here from

  • Scott Bogle – Senior Transportation Planner for the Rockingham Regional Planning Commission.

Unlovable: Kelley Street bridge closed to pedestrians & bicyclists


Just in time for Commute Green Week in the state, the Hippo‘s QOL column reports that the Kelley Street bridge is posted as being closed to pedestrians and bicyclists during deck replacement.  The Highway Division website has information on the project and why it is necessary to replace the bridge deck at this time, but does not provide any information about restricted access for pedestrians and bicyclists, or alternative routes for non-drivers.

Bicycles in New Hampshire are given the same rights and responsibilities as cars with a few exceptions, so almost anywhere a driver can go, a bicyclists should be able to as well.  LivableMHT hasn’t seen the bridge under construction, so this is speculation, but given that the deck is being replaced and probably exposed, it seems likely that the Highway Division is restricting bicycle access for safety reasons.  If a lane is paved, however, bicyclists should be able to make use of it as any motor vehicle can.

Continue reading Unlovable: Kelley Street bridge closed to pedestrians & bicyclists