SouthCoast Bikeway takes off!

 

It’s that time of year to finally dust off the wheels, find your helmet and hit the pavement! In congruity with the emergence of spring, the Southcoast Bikeway Committee has just held an informational meeting about the future bikeway that someday will run forty miles through the entire South Coast.

The South Coast Bikeway Committee formed exactly a year ago in March of 2011 through efforts from Fall River and New Bedford Mass in Motion, groups focused on increasing healthy living habits and habitats for area residents. A year later, there are now committees representing many of the towns through which the South Coast Bikeway will pass: Fall River, Westport, Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion and Wareham. Supporting partners include Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Developement District (SRPEDD), Mass in Motion (New Bedford and Fall River), Umass Darthmouth Office of Sustainability, and Voices for a Healthy Southcoast, among others.

As it stands, there is a completed bike route that runs on and off-road through all of Swansea, and sections of bike paths completed through parts of Fairhaven and Mattapoisett (named the Phoenix Bike Trail and Mattapoisett Rail Trail, respectively). Although future plans are extensive, progress has been slow partly due to lack of funding.

To address this issue, and raise momentum in the South Coast biking community, plans are developing for a fundraising bike ride this summer! This ride will not be a race, but a recreational ride with multiple routes varying in length for different levels of riders. It will also feature a ‘bike parade’ and food and refreshments provided by local vendors. Riders of all ages and abilities will be able to participate and raise money to go towards whichever section of the proposed bike path they choose. Stay posted for ride date and specifics!

The SouthCoast is not the only area upping the ante in bike path plans. Among the speakers at last week’s meeting, a representative from the East Coast Greenway shared their proposed route for the 2,500+ mile bike route that will run down the east coast connecting Canada to Key West and hitting lots of major cities along the way. http://www.greenway.org/index.shtml

If you’re a bike touring junkie like me, I hope that reading this makes your mouth water a little, too.  I’m already planning my three month vacation to be able to do this, and they’re no where near finished yet.

On a smaller scale, Bill DeSantis, a civil engineer who has done extensive bike route work on the east coast, brought to attention the bike route that is underway to run across Massachusetts. This bike route will connect the Norwottuck Trail that runs from Amherst to Northampton, through central mass and eventually out to Providencetown on the cape. Bill also brought up the importance of bicycle education in raising awareness and improving bicycle safety.  Check out http://bikeed.org/ for their online course.

Get to know your rights and resources as a cyclist in MA at Massbike.org.

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