After spending a bunch of time yesterday thinking and chatting with people about the challenges of biking around town here in Greenfield, I have set myself a challenge. Rather than heading out on any of my usual routes for my rides each day, I will ride as many of the streets in town as I can.

Aside from simply changing things up a bit for myself, I am hoping it will give me a better sense of what is working and what isn’t for commuting by bike in Greenfield.

Here is the route I covered this morning:

My riding route for today

Don’t judge me on the distance… it was extremely humid, plus I had to be back before the kids woke up.

A general observation—and something I have noticed before—is that the road surfaces in this town are not great for bikes. Part of that is that we are a small-ish city with a DPW that is constantly strapped for resources, we have a lot of aging infrastructure, and New England winters are tough on pavement. Still, between patched and re-patched asphalt and lots of gravel and sand run-off from driveways, most of the streets I covered this morning had at least one or two spots where I had to slow down signficantly to navigate pretty rough and treacherous surfaces.

On Facebook yesterday, I mentioned how many streets are lined with parking spots. Here is Church Street, with runs between High and Federal:

Church Street heading west

The entire north side of the whole length of the street is taken up by parking spots. Close to Federal Street, both sides of Church Street are dedicated to parking.

Here is Union Street:

Union Street

And Franklin Street, heading south towards Main:

Franklin Street

The crazy thing about Union and Franklin Streets is that all of those spots are marked with signs as residential permit parking. I took those pictures a little after six in the morning, when one would generally expect the majority of the residents to still be at home.

One final observation from this morning’s ride, this one from Crescent Street:

Crescent Street

I took that picture standing on the corner of Crescent and Congress Streets, looking east where Crescent starts to bend around toward Grinnell and Highland.

I ride this street a lot, and while it is not so bad heading east toward Highland (other than the cars that park half on the street up there on right), coming the opposite direction is another story. It is a completely blind curve down to the intersection of Main and High, and cars tend to come zooming around, cutting the curve short and leaving cyclists no room to escape.