Environmental Progress

Springfield's first bicycle lane opened October 26. A day earlier in Keene, a $15 million, energy efficient, affordable housing project opened. It was built by www.kha.org. Riding a bicycle rather than driving, reduces global warming, acid rain, and smog. Living in multi-family housing, rather than a one-family house, saves farmland and forestland, and makes using public transit a viable alternative to owning a car.

Sprawl is a major problem in the Valley. A Trust for Public Land report, "The Connecticut River: Quintessential New England," tells a shocking story with numbers: the number of people living in the entire length of the Connecticut River valley grew just eight percent from 1980 to 2000. But the amount of developed land grew 33 percent from 1982 to 1997.

There is a map at www.ValleyPost.org/node/137 (scroll down to the bottom of that page). Made by the Trust for Public Land in 2006, the map shows the Pioneer Valley/ Brattleboro/ Keene section of the Connecticut River watershed. Land outside the watershed is light green, meaning streams in that area do not flow to the Connecticut River. Dark green land has been protected from development, in many cases by www.LandTrustAlliance.org. On the map, red land is vulnerable to being paved with McMansions, Wal-Marts, parking lots, roads, and ChemLawns. Click on the map to enlarge it.

The new bike lane is a mile long and covers the full length of Plumtree Road in Springfield. Riding a bicycle helps prevent obesity, one of the nation's leading causes of death. The bike lane is the result of work by activists who have a web site at www.MassBike.org.

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