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Friday, May 6, 2011

Press Release - Somerville named Bicycle Friendly Community

City given bronze-level recognition by the League of American Bicyclists.

With plans under way to expand its network of streets marked for bicycling and to extend the Community Path, Somerville has been named a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the Washington, D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists. Somerville joins a host of other cities receiving this level of recognition for its efforts to promote bicycling, including Kansas City, Mo.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Northampton, Mass.

Somerville added 10 miles of streets marked for bicycling last year and will add another 11 this year, making it approximately a 30-mile bicycle network inside a city of 4.1 square miles.

“We do not just pay lip service to treating bicycles as an equivalent mode of transportation to automobiles, we back it up with action,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “When we redesigned Somerville Avenue, we made bike lanes an essential part of the design. The same is being done with Broadway in East Somerville. Well-marked streets make it safer going for cyclists and for automobile drivers. It also increases the opportunities for people to get out and be active. On top of that, more people on bicycles means cleaner air, less dependency on foreign oil and less traffic congestion for everyone.”

In a City with a model program for healthy living – Shape Up Somerville – and a department dedicated to environmentally-friendly programs and sustainability, a robust bicycling infrastructure represents a perfect complement. Somerville also boasts large populations of young adults and immigrants, both of which tend to use bicycles as a primary mode of transportation.

“The Bicycle Friendly Community program measures and recognizes communities for what they are doing to welcome and promote bicycling from infrastructure to education and encouragement programs,” said Bill Nesper, Director of the Bicycle Friendly America Program for the League of American Bicyclists. “A few things that stand out in Somerville are the Safe Routes to School program, events like SomerStreets that get people out and on bikes and of course the investment to expand the bicycling network.”

This spring the city has been repainting bike lanes and sharrows (the markers that alert automobiles and bicycles to share the road) throughout the city.

“Our bike markings needed a fresh coat of paint after all of the plowing we did this winter when we were getting hammered by snowstorms,” said Michael Lambert, the City’s Director of Transportation and Infrastructure. “It’s all part of the springtime routine of making sure our roads are patched up and in proper working order after a rough winter.”

New sharrows have already been added to Lowell Street. Highland Avenue, School Street (between Somerville Avenue and Medford Street) and Medford Street (between Ward Street and the Cambridge City Line) also will be marked with sharrows.

New bicycle lanes will be added on Somerville Avenue (between Prospect Street and Medford Street) and Medford Street (between Somerville Avenue and Ward Street).

Also, the City has gone out to bid for the design of the Community Path extension from Cedar Street to Lowell Street. Plans are for construction to start in the spring of 2012. The Friends of the Community Path are conducting a bicycle tour of the path extension this weekend during the New England Bicycle Expo at the Arts at the Armory, located at 191 Highland Avenue. Tours will run on both Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Friends of the Community Path will note any potential tour changes due to rain on its Facebook page.

“We’re extremely excited to be taking the next step for the Community Path,” Mayor Curtatone said. “When this new section is added, people will be able to bike, walk, run or rollerblade from Davis Square to Magoun Square. After that we will extend the path through the eastern portion of the city as part of the Green Line extension. Ultimately the Community Path not only will be a car-free travel corridor across our city, it will be part of a regional bicycle and pedestrian highway that runs from the suburbs out in Concord into the City of Boston.”

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