Northern Berkshire Transition

People like you who are interested in strengthening the resilience of our region

 Protected Bike Lane for Main Street North Adams

The information below was compiled by Jay Walsh of North Adams, MA  (4/20/12)


Highest and Best Use

Current North Adams Downtown Parking

What is a Protected Bike Lane

North Adams Comprehensive Plan - COMMUNITY PRIORTIES

Merchants Say Bike Lanes Good for For Business

Connecting the Community - North Adams Neighborhoods and Beyond





Adding more parking downtown where there is already a sufficient amount does not attract more people to the Main Street, you just move the people already coming to town from one parking spot to another.  A plan such as this diagonal parking scheme has no potential for economic benefit for the downtown nor is it an improvement desired or identified as a priority to community enhancement (ie Quality of Life).

The diagonal parking scheme if installed on Main Street will put a permanent road block to installing a Protected Bike Lane downtown.  A Protected Bike Lane has the potential to; free up parking, slow traffic, provide car passengers better access; in addition, will bring more, and new people to the downtown, provide economic growth,  and is a project which encourages more adults,  youth,  families and, tourists to come downtown. It is a project that clearly demonstrates to visitors to North Adams that we are a progressive community creating important infrastructure for its citizens, business and tourists. This is clearly a Higher and Better use when considering making a change to our Main Street.



Bringing more cars to Main Street is not the answer, bringing more people is. There are currently over 2,000  parking spaces on/or within 100 yards of Main Street, 1,200 public parking spaces and another 870 semiprivate lots and private parking for residents and businesses like MASS MoCA, City Hall, the Library, Big Y, Breen Center, the Holiday Inn and so on.  To put this into perspective, the Berkshire mall has roughly 2,300 parking spaces serving both shoppers and employees, and more than half of those spaces are empty 90% of the time.  And not one of the Berkshire Mall parking spaces is directly in front of the business a person is planning to patronize. With over 2,000 parking spaces within 100 yards of Main Street, do we really need more parking?








North Adams Comprehensive Plan - COMMUNITY PRIORITIES


Even the priorities in our own City Comprehensive Plan currently being developed with input by many North Adams citizens clearly identifies in many of its priorities a clear derire for increased biking infrastructure, and NOT ONCE in the plan do community members indicate lack of parking sighted as an issue!

The community priorities noted below can be found within the North Adams Comprehensive Plan "VISION 2030". They clearly identify the desire of the community to develop, create, and enhance the cities biking and walking infrastructure connecting our community and tourists to the downtown, as well as the parks and recreation found in our beautiful North Berkshire setting.


From the Vision 2030 plan

" The city is a place where residents and visitors of all ages enjoy the natural scenery through a strong and connected recreational system. That system connects into the downtown through the Hoosic River and out into the vast natural landscape surrounding the city in all directions."

"The built environment reflects the community’s pride and identity as a richly creative and diverse community, where that artistic sense is woven into the fabric of the physical environment – its homes, gardens, parks, signs, businesses, and community spaces."

"The city openly collaborates with residents and stakeholders to pursue initiatives that achieve this vision, drawing new investment to the city in an open and community-focused manner that includes input from those who may be impacted."

From the statements below detailed in the cities Comprehensive Plan, you can see how many of the specific "Priorities" site and support the development of a biking infrastructure connecting the downtown and greater community and are specific priorities of concern to our furture.


Linking and strengthening connections between MASS MoCA and MCLA with the downtown is essential for furthering downtown revitalizations.


… downtown recreational options, and age-specific amenities programs for citizens.


.... connections within the downtown and between city neighborhoods are a critical component to improving mobility both for those without a car and those who would prefer to walk or bike. … and will contribute to a more lively and interactive community setting.


…lack of  pedestrian and bike amenities present…


Obesity and obesity-related illnesses call to…. provide opportunities to improve walkability,  access to recreation, and promote healthy lifestyle choices.


It’s a documented fact that housing within neighborhoods that have bike paths and along bike trails command higher property values and, also attract young professionals and families with children who are actively looking for communities with these amenities. 

Not one of the priorities mentioned above, found in the cities Comprehensive Plan, are being met or addressed with this proposed diagonal parking scheme.


Berkshire Regional Planning (BRPC) B i c y c l i n g  &  W a l k i n g  P l a n

The map on page 13 identifies areas of potential for bicycle infrastructure ie Level of Service (LOS) for Bicycling or “The Bicycle Compatibility Index” . The researh done by the BRPC clearly identifies Main Street of North Adams as ranking “Extremely High”  on this index of  Bicycle Compatibility. This Extremely High  identifying it as meeting the criteria  which is the highest level of compatibility in the ranking system.


NEXT STEP FOR COMMUNITIES (page 38) A planning approach that a community may wish to take is to determine a basic network connecting common destinations and focus on improvements between them. Multiple communities or the region overall may wish to do this as well. It was heard while preparing this report that it is difficult, but desirable, to be able to bicycle safely between the centers of Lenox and Pittsfield, Great Barrington and Stockbridge, and Adams and North Adams.



Connecting the Community - North Adams Neighborhoods and Beyond

This third lane on Main Street is a valuable piece of real estate, and I agree it should be reconfigured and utilized to its highest best use to serve the downtown, surrounding neighborhoods and greater community as a Protected Bike Lane. This third lane is the only viable corridor to connect the North Adams neighborhoods to the East and West with the Main Street community; and when the planned extension of the Ashawilicook Rail Trail from Adams is connected to North Adams and goes on to Williamstown it will be the beginning of a "network" of safe bikeable trails for the entire community.

The planed Bike Trail (Ashawilicook Rail Trail  extension) from Adams will cross right through West Main Street (blue line in the map below)  and a Main Street Protected Bike Lane (green line below) would connect not only the downtown to the Bike Trail, but would develop a route which families from all the surrounding neighborhoods can easily bike to Main Street. This (beginnings of a) biking network will also enable families and young adults to bike to the library, the movie theater, the Mohawk Theater, to Conte and McCann schools, enabling access to all the sports and recreation facilities at Joe Wolf complex, go to baseball, softball and soccer games and practices.  This Main Street bike lane and its connection to the bike trail will also connect students of MCLA and visitors to MASS MoCA with the shops and restaurants on Main Street and, give support to these institutions Bike Rental (MASS Transit at MoCA) and Bike Share Program (at MCLA). MAP ABOVE Bike Trail (Blue) Bike Lanes (Green) by Joshua Field


How traffic affects our sense of community.

The research of Donald Appleyard on traffic and its effects on community. His research is used by community and city planners around the world.What makes a Livable Street. Click on the image below for the video describing his findings.













 Federal Government sees the value in improving biking and pedestrian infrastructure.

In the United States, federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced in March (2010) a new policy encouraging cities and states to include the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in their transit infrastructure planning.

The Department of Transportation will discourage projects that negatively affect bikers and walkers, LaHood added.

In an interview with The New York Times, LaHood called the policy a “game changer” as the country searches for more sustainable choices.


Bike Lanes: From Shared Space to Protected Lanes

For streets to be safe and welcoming to cyclists, the addition of bike lanes is essential. Dedicated space for cyclists educates all street users about a bicyclist's right to the road, and creates a safer roadway by calming traffic. T.A. advocates for bike lanes as part of its "complete streets" vision, where all users are taken into account when designing streets.

Celebrate the beautiful place we are so lucky to live in. Get out and walk and ride and take the time to look around. There is so much more to North Adams than what you see rushing by in a car.

Graphic above by Joshua Field





Why over 200 large and 300 small cities in the US and around the world are doing this.


US cities like Austin, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco, Washington D.C., as well as Winter Climate communities such as Boston, New York City, Detroit, Minneapolis and even Chicago with one of the most foul winter conditions in the country, all installing bike lanes.

Indeed, depending on how you judge what makes a city best for cycling, it’s often the colder ones that win out: Frozen Minneapolis is one of the best biking cities, thanks to well-built infrastructure and a bike share system.  Rainy Portland continues to have the largest percentage of its population commuting by bike, a fact that should continue to shame city managers whose polities stay pleasant all year round.



Bike lanes bring new customers

A common misconception in North America is that businesses will suffer if we remove on-street surface parking and replace it with widened sidewalks or bicycle infrastructure.

A study in Toronto seems to support the theory that people who arrive by automobile spend more than those who arrive by automobile.

Despite the fact that businesses overestimate the number of customers that arrive by car, the study found that 4 out of 5 people do not in fact drive to the particular study area and people who arrive by transit, foot or bicycle “visit more often and report spending more money than those who drive”.

Bicycles are good for the economy, our health, and our pocketbooks. Investing in infrastructure that makes bicycling more comfortable and convenient is a great way to make our cities more liveable and help us reduce our personal debt.


“Economic Impacts of Rivers, Trails and Greenways”, National Parks Service, (1995 report)

American Lives, Inc conducted research for the real estate industry, and it was

found that 77.7% of all home buyers and shoppers in the study rated natural open space

as either “essential” or “very important” in planned communities. Walking and bicycling

paths ranked third. A survey of Denver residential neighborhoods by the Rocky Mountain Research Institute

shows the public's increasing interest in greenways and trails. From 1980 to 1990, those

who said they would pay extra for greenbelts and parks in their neighborhood rose from

16 percent to 48 percent (Rocky Mountain Research Institute, 1991).

Merchants Say Bike Lanes Good for Business                                                                                  According to a study of the economic impact of traffic calming measures in San Francisco, “Sixty-six percent of the merchants believe that the bike lanes have had a generally positive impact on their business.”

The 2003 study, by Emily Drennan of San Francisco State University, notes:

“Small business owners can be the most vocal opponents of traffic calming projects because they fear losing revenue due to changes to the streetscape.

Some research suggests that traffic calming projects can actually improve business conditions and raise revenues for small businesses (Lockwood, 1998).

The Valencia Street Bike Lane Merchant Survey used business interviews to gather qualitative information about the effects of the bicycle lanes on small businesses in the area.” Over 65% of the merchants surveyed supported MORE traffic calming measures.


Common public perception is that on-street parking is vital to business along Toronto’s major arterials such as the Bloor-Danforth corridor, and that bike lanes and other infrastructure for active transportation will hurt commercial activity if introduced at the expense of parking. This perception is not borne out by the two research studies we have conducted to date. Nevertheless it is often used as a justification for choosing not to make the changes to our streets that could provide greater space, comfort and increased safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

DC's cycletracks work well?  District Department of Transportation Bicycle Facility report April 19, 2012

Key Findings

The data indicate that more bicyclists began using 14th street after the one-way track was installed and in general, even more began   traveling along the corridor after the two-way cycle track was installed. After the two-way cycle track was installed, there was a 205 percent increase in bicycle volumes...

Motorists did not indicate that the new bicycle facilities caused any problems in terms of added congestion, delay, or parking challenges.

Residents support investments that encourage people to bicycle for transportation and improve the safety of bicycling. Over 80 percent of resident's support the cycle track and view it as a valuable asset to the neighborhood .


Project Report for Property Value/Desirability Effects of Bike Paths Adjacent to Residential Areas 2006


Energy, Carbon and Fuel Costs

Cycling is the most energy efficient form of travel, it a highly sustainable transportation, bicycle lanes reduce congestion, sprawl and deadly accidents, promotes, and attracts families and, has been deemed "Smart Growth”.

A 20-year study of city infrastructure showed that making streets less convenient for autos and better for pedestrians and cyclists produced stronger growth than auto-friendly shopping centers.

Even a recent comment by human resource professionals in Silicon Valley about how cycling helps attract and retain your workforce also cited a Portland, OR, survey of visitors where 78% said that the city's bike-friendliness was a factor in their decision to visit there.


Business communities in Portland also found that when they removed car parking to install “bike parking”, 84% of businesses agreed that the change enhanced the street and neighborhood for residents and patrons, and that 25% of customers were now arriving by bike.


Another recent San Francisco survey showed two-thirds of merchants said the increased levels of bicycling and walking improved business.




A proposal like the diagonal parking scheme would give up valuable real estate to add just eight parking spaces to Main Street which will do nothing to increase business activity, bring more people downtown, or improve the quality of life for the community at large. If we are going to make a change on Main Street, let’s make it one that looks to the future, creates important economic opportunity for the downtown, one that demonstrates forethought and progressive thinking, and is a project which will do a great deal for the health and prosperity for the broadest spectrum of the North Adams community.

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Tags: Adams, Berkshires, Bike, Biking, Comprehensive, Lane, North, Path, Plan, Protected

Comment by Northern Berkshire Transition on April 21, 2012 at 2:04pm

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