Letter to the Editor: An Unpaved Trail is Healthier for Runners

~ Submitted by Robin Steele

We are writing on behalf of the youth runners in Bedford. In 2023, the Reformatory Trail in Bedford is scheduled to be paved. This decision was made in 2010, long before any one of us could have had a say in the matter. Now if it is paved in 2023, it is going to affect us. We use this trail daily for both track and cross country practices and races.

It is not healthy to run on the pavement every day. Running on pavement can cause many impact injuries, like shin splints or knee injuries. Also, it is essential to train on different types of surfaces, and there are minimal dirt paths in Bedford, so paving one of the only dirt paths in town would be harmful to runners.

We implore you to look at this article and think about the effects it will have on the running community within the schools. The way the trail is now is perfect for walking, biking, and running. By taking away the dirt on the Reformatory Trail, you are taking away a healthy running surface for so many runners.

Please consider coming to Town Meeting at 7 pm on Monday, March 28th at Bedford High School and voting against CPC article 6 #12 for $1.5 million. If this article doesn’t pass it will put the project on hold, which is what we hope to achieve.  Thank you.

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April 18, 2022 1:50 pm

Since the stretch toward and through Lexington was paved it has become a speedway for cyclers and (in the past) groups of rollerbladers. I know bicyclists who now avoid the “path” for fear of fatal collisions after the death of a cycler in Lexington. https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/b5a2jr/bicyclist_dies_in_collision_on_popular_lexington/
I am relieved to learn that any further paving of the bikeway in Bedford has been stalled. Even without paving we pedestrians now see motorized bicycles and other novel fast-moving “vehicles” using the pathway. The once-safe wooded trail barely sustains a courteous, considerate sharing of access for all ages and, indeed, species of “traffic”, while the roadways afford speed-cyclers a fully accessible option.

March 24, 2022 8:08 am

Thank you for this letter. I fully agree with this. I am also a runner and I specifically seek out unpaved trails to avoid injuries as well. Bedford, please don’t pave our trail.

April 18, 2022 1:54 pm
Reply to  Daria

It’s a joy to safely share the trail with runners, children, ramblers and wildlife. Cyclers, for the most part, have been courteous and safety-minded. We gave up using the paved trail that extends through Lexington and beyond for fear of being hit by cyclers for whom the roads have provided their own “lanes”. See you on the trail!

March 23, 2022 9:19 pm

Robin has an interesting perspective. As a cyclist and a walker, I would say the trail is not at all perfect for cycling. It can be extremely muddy and rutty. If you spend any time on the paved Minuteman Bikeway, you may note that many runners also prefer dirt, so they run on the edge of the bike path. That seems like a nice compromise for both runners and cyclists. In addition, it would be nearly impossible to plow the dirt. Plowing the Minuteman Bikeway extends the useful commuting season significantly.
I would also argue that there are many more miles of dirt paths to run on in Bedford so that paving this small portion of the path would not significantly decrease the number of dirt paths. Bedford has a large number of dirt trails which I use all the time. Get out and explore Bedford! And as I recall from my cross country days, you run on all surfaces, and if you are a track person, well, you run on a track.

April 18, 2022 2:06 pm
Reply to  Pete

Before the Bikeway paving (and still in this small section leading to Great Meadows) cyclists, walkers, wildlife, children and pets safely shared the small portion of path. Though ambitious speed cyclers are somewhat deterred by “speed bumps” of tree roots and mud, I’ve considered walking with a rearview mirror to afford more warning of their surprising “On your left” yells. As with cyclists, pedestrians enjoy this path to and from the Town Center, the schools and Concord’s preserved path to the refuge. Can we not afford Bedford with the same luxury of access that our neighbors in value?

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