Photos: Springfield River Bike Path

These photos were taken on August 25 in Springfield. They show a woman riding her bicycle on a bike path that runs alongside the Connecticut river (the path is separated from cars by a physical barrier); a man riding his bicycle on a road; and a view of the river seen from the bike path. More information about the path is at:

www.springfield-ma.gov/park/index.php?id=riverwalk

With about 154,000 people, Springfield is the Pioneer Valley's biggest city. With 48 percent people of color, it is one of the Valley's most diverse cities.

Rail Trail Gets Better

Swanzey, New Hampshire (population 7,200) borders Keene and is about six miles from Massachusetts and Vermont. On August 1, town officials and the public will celebrate major improvements to Swanzey's bicycle and pedestrian trail, the 21-mile Ashuelot Rail Trail. The trail goes from Keene to Winchester, New Hampshire.

Photos of the trail are at:

www.nhstateparks.org/explore/bureau-of-trails/ashuelot-recreational-trai...

More than $50,000 was invested this year to fix a bridge on the trail and resurface some of the trail.

Hampshire County Air Quality Gets An F

Northampton, Amherst, and the other towns in Hampshire county received a failing grade for air quality in a new report by the American Lung Association, a group run by doctors. “That means elderly people and people with asthma are at an increased risk of dying,” Casey Harvell told the Valley Post. She works in the Association's office in Waltham, Massachusetts. “It’s bad for the general public too.”

Local Nursing Home Owners Fight Bed Bugs and Workers

Westwood nursing home in Keene has bedbugs. The home is licensed by the state to have 85 human residents. A city inspector found the bugs on November 21. On November 29, the nursing home was still trying to get rid of the bugs. Bed bugs drink human blood. They make people itchy. More information is at www.epa.gov/bedbugs.

"Few members of wealthy families are ever admitted to nursing homes because they can get all the services they need brought to them at home," according to Nobody's Home, a book by nursing home worker Thomas Gass. The book was published by Cornell University in 2005.

$1.4 Million Bicycle Path Coming

The Valley will soon be home to another world class path for walking and bicycle riding. Last year, Chicopee, Massachusetts created a path for recreation and non-motorized commuting. Soon it will extend the riverside path by more than a mile, at a cost of about $1.4 million, almost all of which will be paid for by the federal government.

Vehicles Kill Pedestrian, Seriously Injure Another, in Keene, Brattleboro

One of the best ways to prevent climate change, and to prevent some of the thousands of deaths that are caused annually by lung cancer caused by smog from cars and trucks, is to travel by walking or riding a bicycle. These modes of travel also reduce obesity. Obesity causes health problems that cost American taxpayers billions of dollars annually.

2,000 at Rally Say 'Healthcare Is a Human Right'

In what could be a model for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and the nation, Vermont is poised to enact single-payer health care. On May 1, more than 2,000 people, including a large contingent from Brattleboro, marched on the Vermont statehouse.

The march was part of a movement that has earned the support of Vermont governor Peter Shumlin, and the state legislature. Shumlin lives in Putney, near Brattleboro. The insurance industry is working to kill the movement's momentum in the legislature.

Vermont Nears Passage of Single-Payer Health Care; Rally May 1

In what could be a model for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and the nation, Vermont is poised to enact single-payer health care. A march and rally that will be held on May 1 in Montpelier is part of a mass movement that has earned the support of Vermont governor Peter Shumlin, and the state legislature. Shumlin lives in Putney, near Brattleboro. The insurance industry is working to kill the movement's momentum in the legislature.

Springfield Incinerator Hearing is April 5

Why did an incinerator corporation recently choose Springfield, the biggest city in western Massachusetts (population 156,000) as the location for a new incinerator? Could the choice be related to the fact that Springfield is home to a much higher percentage of people of color (48 percent) than most cities and towns in the region? The percentage of families in poverty in Springfield is more than double the national average. Maybe the incinerator company’s lawyers thought poor people of color would be less likely to put up a fight. They were wrong.

Vermont Emerges as a Guiding Star for Massachusetts, New Hampshire

From 2002 until last year, Vermont's republican governor vetoed almost all of the major initiatives passed by the state's progressive legislature. In January, governor Peter Shumlin, a democrat who lives near Brattleboro, took office. Already, Vermont is setting an example for Massachusetts and New Hampshire.