SALEM — The city has finished a 4.8-mile bike lane that gives bike riders their own space on Salem's busy streets.
The lane creates a north-south biking corridor through Salem, running from the Marblehead town line to Winter Island. It also gives riders a way to access several parks, open spaces, schools and beaches, according to city officials.
"Striping dedicated bike lanes will help educate vehicular traffic that they need to share the road with bicyclists, and make bicyclists more comfortable riding on the road with cars," Mayor Kim Driscoll said.
The lane was a joint project of the city and its Bike Path Committee.
"It gets people out of their cars and onto bicycles, which is great in terms of relieving traffic congestion," said Lynn Duncan, Salem's director of planning and community development. "It's definitely greener, and it's healthier (for the rider). It has benefits for the community and the individual."
Dan Shuman, owner of Salem Cycle and chairman of the Bike Path Committee, said the new lane "adds to our existing bike path and connects multiple locations."
It will link the Marblehead/Salem bike path off Lafayette Street, a small path through Palmer Cove, and a path along Webb Street and along Collins Cove, Shuman said.
The lane also establishes Salem as a "bike-friendly" city, Duncan said. The Bike Path Committee, formed in 2006, has, with the help of a consultant, finished a master plan that recommends phasing in improvements for bicyclists.
Since 2006, the city has added an off-road bike path next to the Bridge Street bypass road, extended a Marblehead path a half-mile from Lafayette Street to Canal Street, and put 54 bike racks downtown. In 2009, Salem installed its first on-street bike lane from Harbor View Terrace to the Marblehead line.
The city is in the process of planning a 1.5-mile extension of its bike path, from Canal Street (near Gardner Mattress) to downtown. The project will connect downtown Salem to downtown Marblehead with an entirely off-road path.
All this has made an impression on the cycling community.
"Cyclists see Salem as a cycling destination," Shuman said.
The bike lane, which cost $41,475, was paid for by grants, including Community Development Block Grant money.