Bicyclists wound around Rogers Street Wednesday atop Schwinns, Treks and Fuji cycles, rolling down the hill or peddling around the corner in pairs, groups or solo — many riding along newly painted bike lanes for the first time.
The bike lanes, painted on parts of Rogers Street and Western Avenue over last weekend, are part of a pilot program, as cycling enthusiasts like Gloucester’s Heidi Wakeman map out added lanes for next spring, with the aim of increased safety and accessibility.
“Gloucester can be a beautiful place to ride, but there’s a perception that it can be dangerous,” said Wakeman, who pushed this project and had joined the city’s Open Space and Recreation committee with the aim of being a voice for cyclists in Gloucester. “The lanes are as much for cyclists to know where to ride, as for drivers to be aware of cyclists on the road.”
City Project Manager Steve Winslow gathered state so-called ‘Mass in Motion’ grants through the city’s Get Fit Initiative to fund the line painting, and city councilors voted to approve the white bike lanes at the end of May.
Wakeman learned to ride a bike as a kid in Rockport. She met her husband, who owned a bike shop in Oregon, when she cycled in the West Coast state as a mode of transportation.
She and her husband and sons have participated in Gloucester’s Cyclocross events, and ridden in races and for pleasure. Basically, she loves biking and wants to share that joy with cyclists at all levels and with a variety of reasons for riding.
“There’s different types of people that ride for different reasons — transportation, to do errands, for exercise,” Wakeman said. “If we can make cycling here easier for people, it might make it easier for them to get on the bike.”