SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In many ways, Massachusetts is leading the way in creating safe space on streets and roadways for bikers and pedestrians. MassDOT calls it their Complete Streets initiative.
But the 22News I-Team found a bike lane in at least one location in Springfield that is not scoring high points. In fact, the I-Team discovered the bike lane can be dangerous to travel in if bicyclists are not paying close attention.
Westfield State University student Kareem Wedderburn is a self-described transit nerd. He rides his bike instead of taking his car whenever possible, such was the case one day in late October when he crashed his bike.
“While I was focusing on the car, I hit the curb of the median of the on-ramp, and I flew off my bike,” Kareem Wedderburn said.
He said he then rolled into the street, spraining his wrist. His laptop was tucked away in his backpack. The impact of his fall cracked its screen. The crash happened in a bike lane along Chestnut Street in Springfield, near Union Station where he was attempting to catch a bus to Westfield State University.
A few days later, the 22News I-Team went to check it out. We discovered the bike lane ends without warning, up against a curb. It was the same curb Wedderburn said he hit when he crashed his bike.
Wedderburn is left feeling angry about what he describes as “incompetent bike infrastructure in western Massachusetts.”
“I follow a lot of people in the Boston area, and I see a lot of progress over there. I see protected bikes lanes and lots of good biking infrastructure,” Wedderburn said.
The 22News I-Team went to Boston to see how bike lanes are implemented and used by bicyclists. In some of the most populated areas of the city, like near the Boston Common, bike lanes are clearly marked with green paint and in some cases, they are lined with white reflective fencing. But clearly marked bike lanes are not just in the densely populated areas of Boston. They are everywhere.
The website Walkscore.com rates cities all over the world on how they incorporate space for pedestrians and bicyclists. The website rates Boston “very bikeable.” Springfield does not bode well against Boston, but according to Walkscore.com, Springfield outperforms the state’s second-largest city, Worcester.
Springfield Public Works Director Chris Cignoli told the 22News I-Team in an email the bike lane installation along Chestnut Street is not completed yet. The I-Team pressed for a completion time, but Cignoli has yet to return our email inquiries.
More than a month after Wedderburn’s crash, the bike lane on Chestnut Street has yet to be completed. Now on the mend, this mishap has not stopped Wedderburn from biking to school and work.
“We’re not trying to inconvenience you. It’s just the most efficient way for me to get there. And I want to get there safely,” Wedderburn said.