== Bike-Walk Alliance of NH ==
September 2008: Rail Trails and HB-1203 in the news
If you bike or walk in New Hampshire, there is something on this Bike-Walk Alliance of NH web site that should be of interest to you! There is so much activity here in the Granite State involving biking and walking it is difficult to write about all of it. However, let's get started!
Rail trail meeting of NH DOT Commissioner George Campbell
On August 26, three rail trail advocates from different regions of NH had a very informative and productive meeting with NH DOT Commissioner George Campbell in his Concord office. With him were Assistant Commissioner Jeff Brillhart and Director Jack Ferns of the Division of Aeronautics, Rail and Transit. Representing statewide rail trail advocates were Alex Bernhard, spokesperson for the meeting and Vice President, Friends of the Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County; Dr. Charles Martin, author of the recently-released book New Hampshire Rail Trails; and Dave Topham, BWA-NH Director and co-founder. The meeting was arranged by State Representative Jane Beaulieu while the agenda was prepared by Alex. The group met for nearly an hour in a friendly dialog which resulted in the following guidelines:
Before the meeting adjourned, Dave Topham presented the Commissioner with a letter from the Salem Bike-Ped Corridor Committee stating how the Manchester and Lawrence rail trail will benefit many people interested in transportation as well as recreation. A summary of the work underway in Salem and potential users of the corridor were covered in the letter.
Rail trail advocates meet with NH DOT Commissioner George Campbell
row: Alex Bernhard, VP, Friends of the Northern Rail Trail/MC; Jack Ferns,
Director, NH DOT Division of Aeronautics, Rail and Transit; George Campbell,
DOT Commissioner; Jeff Brillhart, DOT Assistant Commissioner
Rear row: Dave Topham, Director, BWA-NH; Charles Martin, author of NH Rail Trails book
Progress on many rail trails around the state continues! In addition to much activity on the old Manchester to Lawrence corridor in NH, a new effort in Methuen, Mass. will add another 1.5 miles from the Salem town line to the Methuen depot. This project is being undertaken by the Methuen Rail Trail group - see www.MethuenRailTrail.org for details. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail, Merrimack County, just completed another two miles heading toward Tilton using funds from the Recreational Trails Program.
Meanwhile, some articles have appeared about commuter trains using this corridor to provide alternate transportation for motorists using Route 93. While alternatives should certainly be considered and high-speed commuter trains are fantastic, the Manchester to Lawrence corridor simply cannot support this type of service. The Route 93 expansion project should help relieve traffic congestion for a little while. For commuter trains, the existing Boston-Lowell-Nashua-Manchester-Concord corridor is likely to be upgraded and is considered to be the only practical route for trains running from Boston to Manchester and later to Concord. For those people concerned that rail trail efforts along the M&L corridor are a waste of time because commuter rail is coming back, we have two answers:
more details about rail trails around New Hampshire, please check our NH
Rail Trails listings via the index provided on this web site.
Implementation of NH Bike Bill, HB-1203
The implementation phase is now underway before the law is to be effective January 1, 2009. Basically, the law comes down to common sense and courtesy. Bicyclists and motorists must realize the dangers and opportunities of using our shared roadways. Both must follow the rules of the road, and BWA-NH supports enforcement of these rules, existing and as stated in HB-1203.
During the next few months, BWA-NH plans to work with NH DOS/DMV to update the state Drivers Training Manual, the DMV computerized driver's exam, and to reach driver training instructors via their monthly workshops.
For all drivers who already have their licenses, a series of Public Service Announcements are planned with most of the covered scheduled for early spring 2009 when bicyclist return to NH roadways in numbers after the winter season. By then the actual law with the assigned RSA numbers can be referenced. Other publicity is under discussion, this including T-shirts, brochures, bookmarks, and bumper stickers.
A reporting system for flagrant violations of the new law including the "3-foot rule" section will be discussed with NH DMV. The 2004 "IEE Program" (Inform, Educate, and Enforce) involving NH DMV Highway Patrol and 52 local police departments was a good start and may be refreshed in 2009. A key point to remember is that awareness of proper bicyclist-motorist interactions to avoid problems is more important than enforcement after a violation has occurred. Let's work together to share our roadways. They are for transportation and movement of people; they are not exclusively for motorists, bicyclists, or pedestrians. Mutual respect and following common-sense laws will enable everyone to share the roadways in a safe and responsible manner.
For more details about the new law and how it became law, please see the legislation page on this web site.
Bicycling education via the NH BikeSmart program concluded in June with 5,134 students and 450 adults representing grades 3-5 in 39 schools being reached this year. A more advanced LAB "Kids-II" program was held in Hopkinton for 85 students in grade 8; more are slated for the upcoming school year. See the BikeSmart page for more details. Under discussion are several "train the trainers" courses in order to reach more students with these nationally-recognized and standardized bike-ed programs.
Safe Routes to School program
Recommendations for the reimbursable grants for the second round of the NH Safe Routes to School program were reviewed and forwarded by the Statewide Advisory Committee on August 4. The recommendations for nearly $1M were forwarded to NH DOT Commissioner George Campbell for his review and approval. Round three is slated to start accepting applications late this year as approximately $3.4M is left in the NH SRTS fund. BWA-NH is pleased to be a voting member on advisory committee. See details in the August issue of the NH Safe Routes to School newsletter.
LAB/Maine Bike Rally - In Review
The LAB National Rally was combined with the Maine Bike Rally on July 11-13 in Fryeburg, Maine. Approximately 650 cyclists enjoyed the well-organized event which included wonderful rides, great food, and the chance to meet both regional and national cycling advocates. BWA-NH and the GSW had a shared table-top exhibit area. We look forward to the 2009 Maine Bike Rally which is again planned to be headquartered at the Fryeburg Academy.
involved and help us help you!
If you really want to help us continue our advocacy and education efforts here in New Hampshire, please consider joining our organization. Remember, a full one-year membership in the Granite State Wheelmen recreational bicycling club is included with every sponsorship of BWA-NH starting at $35.00 a year. A sponsorship application is available on the home page of this web site.
State of NH Bike Maps now available
A set of seven free regional NH bike maps were made available from NH DOT on May 16, 2008. After nearly two years of meetings, presentations, state-wide hearings, inputs for various cycling groups, revisions, budget cuts, and other time-consuming projects, the new maps were available in time for the Bike/Walk to Work Day events. To ensure the maps reach bicyclists and not just tourists looking for a free souvenir that is soon trashed, they must be requested. Distribution will be made via the rest areas on the NH Interstate Highways, by contacting the DOT, and from other key NH locations around the state. BWA-NH is a member of the bike map steering committee and can testify that a lot of time and effort has gone into these maps. To be sure, they are not perfect and the state infrastructure is a moving target that cannot be reflected on a map which may be outdated before it is printed. To compensate for such, the NH DOT Bike-Ped web site http://www.nh.gov/dot/nhbikeped will carry updated versions of the maps available for free downloading plus notation of corrections. Any problems or suggestions concerning the maps should be sent to the attention of Jerry Moore in the NH DOT Bike-Ped Office at JMoore2@dot.state.nh.us. (Please use email to contact the Bike-Ped Office, not the phone.)
The new maps are smaller but more comprehensive than prior versions. When folded they are just 4.5" x 6" so they fit nicely into bike bags or jersey pockets. The printing is very sharp and easy to read on the 18" x 24" layout. Included is an elevation profile, ratings for the suggested on-road routes, improved and unimproved rail trails, features including airports, covered bridges, commuter rail stations, rest areas, state parks, park & ride locations, sample recreational ride loops, and even the water taxi on Lake Winnipesaukee. Rules of the road concerning bicyclists are stated, complete with the RSA numbers. Governor John Lynch provided the welcome message. The seven maps are based on the seven tourist regions of NH: Merrimack Valley, Seacoast, Monadnock, Lakes, Dartmouth / Lake Sunapee, White Mountains, and the Great North Woods. Distinctive cover photos help identify the maps. The life-cycle of these maps is estimated to be five years. The NH DOT Bike-Ped Office hopes the bicycling community finds the maps to be helpful, especially since state-wide inputs from many bicyclists were incorporated into the final design.
BWA-NH and GSW represented at National Bike Summit, March 4-6, 2008
BWA-NH Executive Director Linda Gould and GSW President Bill Kennedy attended the LAB National Bike Sumit in Washington, DC on March 4-6, 2008. The GSW received the LAB Region One Club of the Year Award for its long-time support of the League and for helping form BWA-NH. Recognition was given for the work done by BWA-NH in a short time including the introduction of the "bike bill" HB-1203 to make bicycling in NH better for all cyclists.
On "Meet your Congressman Day" during the National Bike Summit in March, Senator Sununu holds the LAB award given to the Granite State Wheelmen for its support to the Bike Walk Alliance of NH which has been promoting bicycling laws, rail trails, and bicycling safety and education in New Hampshire since 2004. From left to right in the photo, we have Christopher Zigmont of Pedro's, a representative from the Bikes Belong Coalition (sorry, we don't have her name!), Charley LaFlamme from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, BWA-NH Executive Director Linda Gould, US Senator John Sununu, and GSW President Bill Kennedy.
Did you miss reading about what the BWA-NH has been doing in past years? If so, check out our Recent News page.
BWA-NH On-Line Calendar:
Check out our on-line
calendar to see what is planned around the state affecting the bike-ped
community. We hope this will enable more NH residents to learn what is planned
for their communities and be able to participate in the decision-making process.
Want to help the Alliance?
Join the Alliance as an individual or a sponsor, help with the bike-ed programs, and get involved with local planning issues affecting bicycling in your area. Learning what is planned for your community is critical to ensure roadways are designed or rebuilt to properly accommodate bicyclists. Get involved and help spread the word! The Alliance can help via use of our email list-serve system. You do not need to be an Alliance member to use this free service. The more people who know what is going on in our NH bicycling community, the sooner the better, then everyone can have their say in a timely manner to help make a positive difference for all bicyclists.
Did you know that by joining the Alliance your payment includes a fully-funded GSW membership with all the benefits? Present GSW members are encouraged to join the Alliance when your current membership is due for renewal. For more details please check out the membership page on this web site.