By Ben Oleksinski

For a fast-changing suburban community, some dialogue over alternative transportation and its place in Bedford is obvious and necessary.

The Bicycle Advisory Committee is facilitating such a conversation by encouraging the use of bicycles by Bedford residents to decrease traffic congestion and air pollution, while also increasing recreation opportunities.

The Bike Share pilot program, the most recent result of these efforts, make bicycling a more convenient option. ‘Dockless’ bikes, or bikes which don’t require expensive parking dock infrastructure, will be made available using a smartphone application and can be rented for short periods of time. After riders park the bike in an appropriate parking space and end the rental, the bike can be used by the next person. Users are encouraged to park bikes at or near existing bike rack locations or in a designated bike share parking space.

Services will start this summer, as part of a MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council) regional system along with Bedford and 14 other participating communities. The Bicycle Advisory Committee, working with other departments, is identifying potential locations for parking spaces based on public bike racks, facilities, and trails, and will continue to search leading up to launch. The pilot program is set to run for one year and will be extended if successful.

Another effort includes E-bikes for Bedford Police officers. Two have already been purchased and are ready for deployment around the community in various capacities.

These can be seen as extensions of the 2015 master Bedford Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan, which provided recommendations for programs like Bike Share based on community input and analysis of current conditions.

Future initiatives for the Bicycle Advisory Committee include focusing on bike education. The direct priority here is getting children to bike to school and ensuring they do so safely. While still in progress, this strategy to educate would consider the existing school curriculum, make a presence at local events such as the PMC kids ride, and also go through structured organizations (BEST, Recreation Department, etc.).

‘Education’ is just one of the five, broader ‘E’s for the long-term framework. Others include ‘Encouragement,’ ‘Engineering,’ ‘Enforcement,’ and ‘Evaluation,’ all yet to be discussed by the Committee.

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