We congratulate Sarah Gardner, professor of environmental studies and associate director of the Center for Environmental Studies, and the four students in her environmental planning class for successfully acquiring funds from the commonwealth to construct the bicycle path they are designing. We hope they succeed in making the path a reality. If realized, we believe their project would be a great addition to the Purple Valley.
As Gardner can attest after 13 years of work on this project, it can be extremely difficult and disheartening to weave through red tape, so we commend her for persevering and seeing her dream one step closer to fruition. Especially at a liberal arts college, it is inspiring to see that a class can have a real impact on the community at large, and hopefully this achievement will encourage other students to take on their own ventures to better society. The proposal is exemplary of the power of collaboration between members of the faculty and the student body, and we are optimistic it will set a precedent to which future faculty-student endeavors can strive.
We at the Record believe that this undertaking is in line with many of the College’s goals and interests as an institution. For one, it works toward sustainable transportation, an objective we find important and to which we aspire. Creating an added incentive to bike, rather than drive, is harmonious with the value the College community places on staying healthy. The bicycle path plan also promotes safety by providing cyclists with an alternative to riding alongside cars on the busy roads between North Adams and Williamstown, a source of accidents and close calls among students in the past. In addition, increasing accessibility between the two towns would help the College further its efforts to foster a connection with the surrounding region. Encouraging members of the community to go outside and appreciate the beauty of the Berkshires around us is an ongoing mission at the College, and the proposal is in accordance with this goal.
We also support Gardner’s environmental planning class in its pursuit to determine what students hope to gain from the proposed bicycle path. We suggest that the class look into increasing access points to the trails already in existence, as well as additional signage indicating those access points, which we feel are underutilized by the student body. Furthermore, we would like to see collaboration with the Purple Bike Coalition, a student organization that could make further inroads into the student body. We hope that sports teams at the College will take advantage of the proposed path in their practices and encourage the creation of physical education courses such as cycling or rollerblading that would make use of the path. Additionally, it is important that the proposed bike path be plowed periodically during months of snow due to the long winter season in this area. Hopefully, additional amenities like equipment racks, water fountains and benches could eventually be added.
We at the Record would very much like to see the bicycle path project come to fruition and hope that one day residents of the community will bike to and fro on the proposed path under the beautiful Berkshire foliage.