PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city of Pittsfield is requesting public input for its draft Bicycle Facilities Master Plan.
The plan aims to establish a safe, comfortable and connected bicycle network throughout the city that is accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
"With this project, the City of Pittsfield is taking a significant step in its steadfast commitment to plan and implement a safe and accessible citywide network for people who bike for various reasons to a range of destinations throughout Pittsfield," City Planner CJ Hoss said. "The development of this master plan will be a collaborative process, and we are seeking to hear from the community."
The master plan will allow the city to develop a long-term citywide vision for a bicycle network and grow beyond a "one-street-at-a-time" planning approach, Hoss said. The city has retained Kittleson and Associations Inc., a nationally renowned transportation focused consulting firm, to lead this project.
"The project team is excited to embark on the planning process to develop the plan and engage various stakeholders and community members to create an equitable and connected bicycle circulation plan," he said.
The project team has identified the following project goals and objectives:
Develop a citywide plan based on transportation, land use, and demographic factors;
Prioritize plan recommendations for full-scale build out over time;
Recommend bicycle facility types for preferred and alternative routes in the network; and
Identify complementary bicycle facilities such as bicycle racks, maintenance stations, and bike-share stations.
A link to the plan has been provided on the city website that includes an interactive map and public survey. The link will be available until Oct. 30.
A public meeting will be held via Zoom at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21; a link will be posted on city's web page during the week of Oct. 12.
Beginning in the early 2000s, the city started to design and implement bicycle facilities with the redesign of North Street to include sharrows (a shared lane marking) and dedicated bike lanes. This effort was followed by the reconstruction of Elm Street with dedicated bike lanes and sharrows.
More recently, the city has adopted a Complete Streets policy and is currently redesigning Tyler Street to add bicycle facilities. Through the adoption of the Complete Streets policy, the city successfully leveraged state Department of Transportation's Complete Streets program to prioritize projects and secure funding.
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Starr Williams gives the valedictory speech at Berkshire Community College's 2019 commencement.
"I like to be a statistic breaker," says Soncere "Starr" Williams. That's putting it mildly. At age 40, Williams, Berkshire Community College's 2019 valedictorian, has overcome more obstacles than most people would in a lifetime. Once a high school dropout, she is the product of an abusive foster home who entered into a dark world of substance abuse, mental illness, and juvenile crime. Today, she's an outspoken advocate for the underprivileged — and she's headed to Columbia University for a master's degree in social work (MSW).
"I come from poverty. I come from a place where people don't succeed, because there are far too many barriers to climb over. It's one of the reasons I'm in social work," says Starr, who graduated BCC with a perfect 4.0 GPA, earning an associate's degree in human services and an addiction recovery assistant certificate before transferring to Elms College in Chicopee. She will graduate from Elms in a few weeks with a bachelor's degree in social work, once again earning a 4.0 GPA, before beginning classes at Columbia this summer.
Getting accepted into an Ivy League school still has Starr pinching herself. "The fact that I'm going to have an MSW from Columbia University still kind of feels like, no, this isn't happening, this is a dream," she says. "People like me are told, 'You're not going to be anything.' When you grow up in that in that environment, you're pegged as going nowhere for the rest of your life. Now, I'm going to have an Ivy League education, and I did it on my own."
Climbing out of the depths
Starr credits many mentors along the way for helping her succeed. Most recently, she has been working with Celia Clancy, president and CEO of Berkshire Business and Professional Women, who has been cheering her on through the application process and sent her an enthusiastic note of congratulations upon learning of her acceptance to Columbia. At BCC, mentors included Assistant Dean of Students Beth Wallace (now retired), Professor of Human Services Kari Dupuis, Associate Professor of Human Services Pamela Coley McCann, and Professor of Sociology Stacy Evans. "They are amazing individuals who are there to support their students," Starr says, recalling many after-hours conversations with Evans. "We talked about climbing out of the depths of poverty and addiction and how hard that is. She gets it."
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