~ Submitted by Bob Fagan
For many years Bedford residents and others in Massachusetts have worked tirelessly to increase recreational access to all by extending the Minuteman Commuter bike path (via the Reformatory Branch right of way) through Bedford to the Concord line. This includes the recent incorporation of an additional 3-foot-wide stone dust runner’s/walker’s path alongside the paved bikeway. Bedford approved this concept at Town Meeting at least a decade ago. This project would include dramatically safer access across Rt. 62 at the Bedford/Concord line via a tunnel and developing shared walk/bike access along Railroad Ave., with the $10 million funding provided through Massachusetts and Federal transportation improvement grants.
Opponents of this expansion have misrepresented many of the facts and used NIMBY-like approaches in an attempt to deny broader access to recreational activities. Opponents object to a 1.7-mile paved expansion without acknowledging that Bedford has over 30 miles of wooded trails throughout the town. Opponents ignore synergistic benefits of improving a linked network of bike paths in eastern Massachusetts that directly leads to reduced automobile emissions. This project does not threaten, but rather increases, the ability for Bedford residents of all capabilities to enjoy walks in the woods, including on the many trails that spur off the main bikeway route in the conservation areas of West Bedford. Communities across Massachusetts have been actively and successfully supporting beneficial increases in access for pedestrians, bikes, and differently-abled people by expanding the network of rail trail and related community paths.
A relatively small cohort of opponents, 235 people (less than a majority of Spring Town Meeting attendees; and less than 3% of the voting population in Bedford!), defeated this project at Spring Town Meeting in 2022, but the articles are to be revisited at a Fall Town Meeting this year. Please sign a circulating petition to approve the project.
Most importantly, attend and urge all of your neighbors to attend Fall Town Meeting and vote to expand the Minuteman Commuter bike path along the Reformatory Branch trail and implement improvements for pedestrian and bike access along Railroad Avenue and under Rt. 62.