Pedaling cycling safety
Rocky Perham of the newly formed Greenfield Area Bicycle Coalition helps clean upTurners Falls Road on Saturday. Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »
Members of the newly formed Greenfield Area Bicycle Coalition clean up Turners Falls Road on Saturday to make the narrow road safer for bicylce travel. Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »
Alden Booth, co-owner of the People’s Pint and member of the newly formed Greenfield Area Bicycle Coalition, joins other members in cleaning up Turners Falls Road on Saturday. Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »
GREENFIELD — One group of local bicycling enthusiasts left their wheels behind this weekend, opting instead for a pile of brooms and shovels.
Members of the newly formed Greenfield Area Bicycle Coalition spent most of Saturday afternoon cleaning up the sides of Turners Falls Road, which they said is a notoriously dangerous section of town to ride on. About a dozen volunteers turned out for the cleanup, where they cut back weeds, cleaned up trash and broken glass and swept out the length of the road’s margin.
According to Booth, the coalition was formed this spring to try to make bicycling safer in Greenfield and the surrounding area by working with communities to improve the condition of the roads and raise awareness of bicycle safety.
“This turned out to be a much bigger job than we expected; there was a lot more dirt on the road then we thought,” said Alden Booth, co-owner of The People’s Pint and a member of the coalition who took charge of the event, as he worked a wide broom up the side of the road.
Booth said cleaning up the roadway is only the first step toward making it safer for cyclists. He’d like to see more efforts to educate motorists about when a road is dangerous for bicycles.
“Under state and federal law, bicyclists are supposed to be allowed to ride in the road and cars are supposed to let them,” said Booth. “It’s also legal to cross the yellow line to pass a bicycle. A lot of people don’t know that, but it is legal.”
Booth said the coalition plans to work with the town in the future to put up signs asking drivers to share the roadway with bicyclists and to let them they can safely pass.
“I’d also like to the see the shoulders widened to three feet. Right here, we have maybe a foot and a half, and it’s usually filled with debris,” he said, pointing to the thin white line at the road’s edge. “Even just one more foot could make a huge difference.”
Rocky Perham, a volunteer from Greenfield, said he came out because Turners Falls Road is part of his daily commute and he’s had first-hand experience with how tough of a ride it can be.
“I bike this hill every day on my way to work,” said Perham, as he dumped a shovel-load of dirt and weeds into a white painter’s bucket. “I wanted to come out and help this local bike association make it safer and easier to ride. There’s not much of a shoulder and there isn’t much of an option to widen it, so we have to do the best with what we’ve got.”
Perham also noted that cyclists trying to travel between Turners Falls and Greenfield don’t have many other options besides Turners Falls Road for a quick trip. Other routes, he said, involve riding down Route 2 and over the French King Bridge or going through Montague along the bike path.
Maureen Pollock, the Greenfield Planning Department’s assistant planner and a member of the coalition, said she turned out to help raise awareness about the road and to make it more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly.
“This road is used by so many people from Greenfield and Turners Falls, and ultimately we want to make it easier for cars, bikes and pedestrians to use,” said Pollock. “This road is a priority for the town to address and improve.”
Coalition member Matt Howell, who lives in Greenfield, said he showed up to help clear the road to make his commute easier and make biking safer and friendly to other local residents.
“We want to raise more awareness that we can share the road with cars and make biking safer for everyone,” Howell said.