HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – May is National Bike Month, and the city of Holyoke has issued new plans to make bicyclists feel safer, and have easier commutes.

A growing number of bicyclist crashes over the years in Massachusetts has many calling for new safety infrastructure, and the city of Holyoke getting onboard.

At the Holyoke Public Library, the BikePed Holyoke Biking and Pedestrian Committee meeting to address walkability and bike-ability concerns. This comes after the former Baker Administration signed into law a traffic safety bill, for bike lines to be 4 feet wide, and to reduce speed limits.

Kristen Sykes, Vice Chair of BikePed Holyoke Biking and Pedestrian committee tells 22News, “What we found is at least around the Commonwealth and the country, is one of the safest ways, is to be able to have a dedicated space for people. So oftentimes if you can have a protected bike lane it means there is an actual barrier that separates the lanes from the cars.”

According to the State Department of Transportation, there were 146 bicyclist crashes last year, three of those in Holyoke were deadly. Adding 33 percent of accidents involving bicycles happen at intersections.

“People want to bike and walk more and the motorists are not seeing them, and so one way to bring your bikes and people into your community is a place to have bike racks to park their bikes safely and not hazard. So that helps change the culture of the community,” says biking advocate, Craig Della Penna.

There will be two to three bike racks installed in various locations throughout the city, chosen by residents. A grant from the city council will also allow for one of them to be an artistic bike rack.

These bike racks will make the city more biker friendly, as the growing population of the city is at almost 40,000 people, according to the United States Census Bureau. Additionally, a safe-routes-to-school infrastructure grant through MassDOT will be used to improve better walking and biking routes for children.

Mass in Motion Coordinator for the Office of Planning and Economic Development, Stephanie Colon says, “As soon as other schools can get more involved and the program expands, other schools will then apply for those other grants and funding to fix the sidewalks, streets around where students are living, playing.” This will be a five-year project. 

Already, rapid flashing beacons and speed tables have gone up around the city, with more to come on streets like Sargeant Street.

There will also be an assessment for raised sidewalks in the future and the completion of the bike trail on Route 5 between Holyoke and Northampton. Business value in the area continues to grow thanks to additional bike trails.

In continuation of National Bike Month, there will be a Mayoral Bike Ride with Mayor Joshua Garcia on May 23. The race will begin from Rohan Park at 5PN on 298 Sargeant Street and finish at Fame Lounge at 6:15 PM on 286 Dwight Street.