Bicycle Master Plan: Why we need one in the Greater Brockton Area

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As many people that ride around Brockton and her suburbs might experience daily, there is a serious lack of adequate bicycle infrastructure. Part of the reason for this lack of bicycle infrastructure has to do with available funding, the other part has to do with the lack of a truly comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan for the area. For those that might not know what a bicycle master plan is, it is a document that guides local and Commonwealth government on how to go about developing bicycle infrastructure in a given area. Without a bicycle master plan for Brockton and her suburbs, no one knows where and how to start developing bicycle lanes and other bicycle related amenities. In order for the Greater Brockton Area to develop better cycling infrastructure,  we need our own Bicycle Master Plan. 

Now as you can see from the map above, some work has already been done by the Old Colony Planning Council in the way of measuring bicycle Level of Service on key roads in Brockton and other towns in their planning region. We are just using the Brockton map here due to it being the biggest city in the area. What you can gather from the map, Brockton, along with other towns in the region do not have very good bicycle Level of Service due to their lack of bicycle infrastructure. One of the first orders of business the cycling community should partake in, is forming bicycle advisory committees in their towns to raise awareness of the need for bicycle infrastructure.  

How do you form these bicycle committees you ask, simply contact your local Town or City officials and explain to them you would like to start a bicycle advisory committee. Our suggestion as to which department you should try first is your Town or City's Planning Department. If no Planning Department exist, or the Planning Department expresses no interest, then we recommend you speak to your City Council or Board of Selectmen concerning the matter. If these Town or City officials still express no interest, then I would recommend you speak with your Commonwealth Official from your district and contact Velo Urbano along with MassBike (your Commonwealth Bicycle Coalition) so that they and we may contact officials in your Town and City concerning establishing a bicycle advisory committee. 

If Town or City Officials question the need for a Bicycle Master Plan in your community, simply explain to them the benefits to having bicycle related infrastructure. Having bicycle related infrastructure will promote the safety and welfare of cyclist in the community. Bicycle infrastructure will spur more cycling in your Town or City, and cyclist tend to spend more than drivers at local businesses. Traveling by bicycle saves not only the cyclist money by not having to fuel a car or pay for parking, but it also saves the Town, City, and the Commonwealth money due to less wear and tear on Town, City, and Commonwealth roads. Bicycle transportation is also good for the environment and the health of the community. It is also the purview of the Commonwealth to see a mode shift of about 2% from automobile travel to bicycle transportation as was laid out by then Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth Richard Davey and the Deval Patrick administration, and is now supported by the new Baker administration.

Once the Town or City is on board with forming Bicycle Advisory Committees, the Committees should meet to discuss the over all vision of the Bicycle Master Plan. Once a vision for the plan has been determined, the committee should start selecting which roads should be apart of the Bicycle Master Plan and what cycling amenities they would like to see. Theses Bicycle Advisory Committees should determine if they want the bicycle transportation network to be more for recreational cycling purposes, cycling for transportation, or both. After deciding the purpose of the bicycle network, a selection process pertaining to which roads should be used in the Bicycle Master Plan should be developed. Roads could be selected based on their directness to certain destination in the Town or City, on volume of traffic, or the scenic nature of the road selected to be apart of the bicycle network. The Bicycle Advisory Committees should ask their Town or City for the necessary traffic data to help make these determination. If the Town or City does not have this data, it can be obtained through your Regional Planning Agency. 

After all the data has been gathered, roads selected, and cycling amenities determined, it is time for your Town or City to start drafting the language for the Bicycle Master Plan. Depending on the size of your Town or City, the breadth of your bicycle network, and available funding, it can take a few months to a year to complete the Bicycle Master Plan. Once the plan is completed, it will go out for public review and comment which is good for the document. By allowing the public to speak on what they like and do not about the Bicycle Master Plan will help craft a better plan for your community. 

Once the Bicycle Master Plan has been completed, public feed back heard and worked into the document, then the plan can be finalized and its implementation should embarked upon. It is paramount that the bicycle advisory committee continue to meet to make sure the plan gets rolled out by the City or Town and that plan as conceived is carried out. 

Only after recommendations from the Bicycle Master Plan have been implemented will your Town or City  see improvements for cyclist and see bicycle ridership grow. We encourage anyone reviewing this blog that might have questions to please reach out to us and we will answer them to the best of our ability or put you in contact with someone that can. We look forward to seeing bicycle committees form in the Greater Brockton Area and attending their meetings.