In a recent conversation about bike path progress, Michael Gagne, Mattapoisett Town Administrator, stated that he was “hopeful” that a finalized legal document will be presented to Mattapoisett Selectmen for signature at the August Board of Selectmen meeting. The document will formalize the gift of land by the YMCA to the town, and is the last document needed to be filed with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation before proceeding to the required public hearing and then to final construction plans. Gagne had met with Selectmen in executive session on July 9 to review specific aspects of the draft before providing direction to legal counsel.
Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path are also “hopeful” that all parties to this agreement will work expeditiously to execute it so that this long-delayed project can be put back on track.
Is Mattapoisett a “bike friendly” town? Judging from the increase in bicyclists in the Village over the last few years, it would seem that yes, people find our town a very nice place to bike. If we could complete the bike path, improve some of our intersections and make better bike access from the north side of town, as well as create safer conditions for biking to our businesses, then we might say we are on the road to being bike friendly. What more does it take? Informed bicyclists who practice the rules of the road and safe cycling, motorists and bicyclists who willingly share the road, and a town government that supports policies and planning to make our infrastructure safer for bicyclists.
The American League of Bicyclists (LAB) has a program called “Bike Friendly America.” Communities across the nation are invited to apply for “Bike Friendly” status. It’s free. The LAB provides a toolkit of projects, policies, programs and plans designed to make biking in our community better. Wouldn’t it be great to arrive to our town’s borders and see a sign that says “Welcome to Mattapoisett, a bike friendly community”? It’s not unlike the Arbor Foundation’s “Tree City USA” program. What we need to get started is a small group of people to participate in targeted activities that will result in our town being designated a Bike Friendly Community. Are you interested? You can find out more about Bike Friendly America online at www.bikeleague.org/bfa. Come to our Harbor Days booth, check out the information packages there, and sign up for more information. We will be scheduling an evening meeting in upcoming months to bring every one up to date.
But even if you don’t want to join the group, please start right now helping us to become more bike friendly by visiting the LAB website for great information about rules of the road, safe cycling, learning to ride effectively and more. There are great short videos, too. Among the most important rule: ride with the traffic, not against it. Drivers are not looking for bikes going the wrong way. Ride a safe distance from the shoulder – 18 inches to two feet. Other best safety tips: wear bright clothing and a helmet, make eye contact with drivers at intersections, don’t wear earphones when you are riding, and let people on the bike path or sidewalk know you are passing with a ring of your bell or calling out “passing left.” Enjoy your summer!