Editorial: Concord owes thanks to a pair of groups
Concord is a community with many people to thank: the folks who volunteer to clear streets of litter; the green-thumbed saints who adopt a roundabout, park and other public property, and beautify it with flowers; the gardeners who donate the fruits of their labors to food pantries and soup kitchens; and many more. Today we single out two groups for praise: the Central New Hampshire Bicycling Coalition and the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail.
Thanks to the coalition, bicycling between the north end of downtown Concord and Penacook will be much safer much sooner than expected. The group donated $7,000 that, when added to $10,000 from a state Department of Transportation grant, will pay to stripe five-plus miles of Route 3 to create a clearly marked bike lane in each direction.
For cyclists, that should mean no more close calls with truck mirrors or fear of plunging into a seemingly bottomless sewer catch basin while looking over one’s shoulder. The bike lanes will provide an inexpensive transportation link between one of the more rapidly growing sections of Concord and the city center. In the process, they will pass numerous shops and eateries, as well as at least two ice cream stands. (We have it on good authority that ice cream consumed in the course of a bike ride contains minimal calories and maximal nutritional value.)
The coalition’s gift moves Concord forward on its plan to be as bike friendly a community as possible. The next big step will come when Loudon Road is reduced from four lanes to three while adding bike lanes and the redesign of Main Street turns biking downtown from high-risk to reasonably safe.
Maps depicting Concord area bike routes that are safe and often scenic can be found on the coalition’s website, http://cnhbc.org.
One is a great family ride that includes a visit to most of Concord’s parks. Maps also show safe routes to schools and the city trails open to mountain biking. A link to the coalition and its maps should be added to the maps section of the city’s website.
The bicycling coalition and the Friends of the Merrimack River Greenway Trail overlap in their mission and their membership.
The latter group has worked for years to make a 1.3-mile trail along the east bank of the river between Loudon Road and Tirrell Park near Manchester Street a reality. The trail is now part of the city’s master plan, and earlier this month, the city council voted to partner with the friends group to facilitate the building of the first portion of a trail that could one day run from Boscawen to Pembroke and be a tremendous recreational resource.
The paved trail, plus boardwalks where it crosses wetlands, would serve walkers, runners, cyclists in summer, and cross-country skiers and snowshoers in winter. So far, the friends have collected $120,000 in donations toward the $2 million cost of building the trail .
The efforts of the friends group and bicycling coalition are making Concord a greener, and dare we say hipper, place, one more likely to attract outdoor-minded people with families who want to visit or settle here. Since activity boosts appetites, the efforts of both groups are good for local businesses and the economy.
The best way to support both groups and their mission is to join them and, if you can, to donate to the cause. The groups’ websites can be found online at cnhbc.org and mrgt.org. Visit them, and then take a ride.