There is a vision in the South Coast for a 50-mile cohesive bike path system that will run from Rhode Island to Cape Cod. On March 27 at the South Coast Bikeway Summit, South Coast Bikeway Alliance Member and Fairhaven Selectman Bob Espindola, and President and Coordinator Julianne Kelly, welcomed a full house at the Fort Tabor Community Center in New Bedford to discuss biking.
A number of speakers gave their insight on the impact of biking and our communities over the course of the evening. Without a shadow of a doubt, it was made clear that having safe and beautiful biking and walking options will only benefit the South Coast.
“Cities that bike seem to be happier,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “You get to know your city and environment. You even appreciate people a little bit more.”
Mitchell reminisced about a recent trip to Copenhagen, which he described as a “huge biking city,” and said this is becoming truer in a lot of American cities.
“We want to get people on bikes,” said Mitchell. “It raises the quality of life.”
Espindola described his own trip to Copenhagen, where he witnessed streams of bikers lined up at streetlights, even outnumbering automobiles.
MASSBIKE Executive Director David Watson commended the Mayor for his support of the South Coast’s bike efforts.
“It takes a leader at the local level who gets it, as well as the community support,” said Watson. He acknowledged the people who attended the event as well. “You are the most engaged region in the state.”
The highlight of the evening was the animated keynote speaker Willy Weir, author of two books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs. He is also a columnist for the Adventure Cyclist Magazine, a photographer, radio commentator and actor. Weir has cycled over 60,000 miles throughout the world. His presentation focused on his very first cycling adventure in 1981 across the United States.
“[My] adventures almost always start on trails,” said Weir.
Much of the South Coast’s bike path route is already in place, and there is a plan for the rest of it. Little by little, with the support of the community and its representatives, the project should one day come into place.
There are many resources available to get more involved in biking projects and events. Mattapoisett’s website is www.mattapoisettrailtrail.org. To register for the Mass State Bike Week Celebration event on May 10, visit www.southcoastbikeway.com.
By Sarah Taylor