Over the coming months, Lowell will further promote healthy transportation options by adding bike lanes and sharrows to 17 downtown and neighborhood streets. Sharrows refers to shared lanes refer to travel lanes shared by both bikes and cars and denoted by the painted symbol below. These improvements closely align with sustainable transportation policies at the statewide level which recently helped earn Massachusetts the rank of 3rd most “Bicycle Friendly State” in the nation.
This bike network was outlined in the Downtown Evolution Plan prepared by Jeff Speck for the Lowell Plan and the City of Lowell. Strong support for it has also been echoed strongly by community members through recent planning processes. “One of the major issues discussed during the sustainability and master planning process last Summer was the value of building amenities for bicyclists,” noted City Manager Bernie Lynch, “More than 2/3 of residents surveyed identified bicycle infrastructure as a key opportunity for improving the City’s transportation network. We believe that promoting bicycle mobility will not only lower our carbon footprint and reduce traffic congestion, but also supports the City’s economic development strategy grounded in continuing to enhance the quality of life for residents, employees, and visitors in the City.”
The bike network will cost approximately $70,000 and is being funded entirely through federal grants that the Department of Planning and Development was able to obtain. Work is expected to begin in July and be completed this summer.
Lowell’s newly established bike network also connects to larger regional cycling routes, including the BruceFreemanTrail and Bay Circuit Trail. As recommended in the Downtown Evolution Plan, it is also being planned in coordination with the design of the expanded trolley routes, so as to encourage use of an array of alternative transportation options throughout the city.
Lowell’s bike network is also complemented by UMass Lowell campus planning efforts. The University will expand their bike share program in the fall, shortly after the City’s bike lanes and sharrows are put in place. University officials hope that the combination of free bicycles and bicycle-friendly streets in the neighborhoods surrounding the campuses will reduce traffic associated with unnecessary students and faculty trips and will promote University economic activity in the Downtown by strengthening the connections between the campuses and Downtown.
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) also hopes to see residents utilizing the city’s new bike lanes during their 1st Annual RiverRide Bike-a-thon and Family Fun Ride, which will take place along with Lowell Riverfest (Sept 22nd) during the 2nd Annual Lowell Sustainability Week (Sept 22 – 29th). “By signing up for the Bike-a-thon, community members can raise funds for their non-profit or favorite local cause while enjoying some quality time with friends, family or colleagues,” says LZ Nunn, GLCF Development Director. More information on the Bike-a-thon route and registration are available at www.glcfoundation.org.