Monday, August 18, 2008

Biking to work

Bicycles are an integral part of the Hopkinton landscape. Seeing people gathering at the Common on weekends with their bikes or cycling past my house on Ash Street always reminds me what a beautiful town we live in and what a great form of exercise bicycling can be.

Lately, however, I'm noticing more people riding bicycles not just for leisure, but increasingly as commuters. Maybe I'm noticing it more because I've started riding my own bike to work more too. I claim no moral superiority here, I ride when I can, and still use my car on many days too.

Riding the bike to work has focused my attention on a few things about Hopkinton:
1. Our major roads don't have bike lanes or have bike lanes that run off into unfinished shoulders
2. Our Recreation Plan surveys consistently indicate a demand for bike trails and bike lanes (it's the #1 request respondents had, above open space and every other form of active recreation).
3. We've done very little to make our roads accessible to bicyclists.

I would like to see us (members of the town planning board) make pedestrian access, including bicycle access, a priority in any new subdivision and on any repair or upgrade to existing roads. I will also continue to raise it as an issue during site plan review and other planning board discussions.

Our local businesses, including EMC, are promoting alternative modes of transportation and healthy lifestyles, by providing facilities for employees to keep bikes, and to shower after biking or running to work. EMC is also a recognized leader in promoting carpooling and ride sharing. This creates an opportunity for our Chamber of Commerce and our town boards and committees to promote Hopkinton as a community that recognizes the value of an infrastructure that is accessible to all commuters, including those on bicycles. But first we have to pony up the infrastructure to make Hopkinton truly pedestrian friendly.

From an infrastructure planning point of view, with intersections becoming increasingly congested, whatever we can do to reward and incent local businesses to promote fewer cars seems worth examining -- whether it's telecommuting, rideshare, shuttle service, commuter rail access, or safer roads for bicycling.

As an example of what we could do to reward businesses who take measurable steps to reduce traffic impact, I wonder if there's a way to offer relief from parking requirements during site plan review (we require a certain number of parking spaces based on building square footage), for companies who commit to and can provide evidence of a certain percentage of their population telecommuting, or using alternative transportation methods, including biking, walking, and carpooling?

Just a thought for further exploration, like everything here.

Now, off my soap box, and onto that hard little seat on my bike! :-)

Happy Trails!

1 comment:

  1. reducing car parking space requirement for facilities that offer bike parking is a thoughtful idea markey. it would act as a financial incentive for facilities if asphalt and the drainage issues it creates are more expensive than bike racks. it is this kind of creative vision that makes you an asset to the hop.