Though we have lived in Bedford for over 20 years my husband and I learned about the plan to pave the Reformatory Branch bike trail when it was voted down at the last town meeting. Paving the pathway would destroy one of Bedford’s crown jewels, and we worry that most people in this town are unaware of the devastating implications of this project. The unpaved bikeway helps to preserve the last remnants of Bedford’s rural beauty. Especially since the pandemic started, the ability to ride the unpaved trail with its beautiful trees and shady cover in the hot weather is so soothing. On the unpaved trail, you meet many other walkers and bicyclists who seem to be in the same mindset. They are there to take in the unique and beautiful nature that the trail offers.
The paved portion of the Minuteman bike trail is more “workout oriented”. Cyclists often go at car speeds and don’t seem to care about pedestrians and casual bikers who just want to enjoy the beautiful nature around them. To put this letter together we got in touch with the local police departments to learn about bike accidents on the paved vs. unpaved portion of the trail and the results are shocking. In Lexington, they have docked 32 bike crashes on the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway since 2018. Bedford does not keep statistics on trail crashes, and the Concord Police said they’ve had no crashes on the unpaved trail in the last two years though they did get a few complaints of people tearing down signs.
The Reformatory Trail paving project will profoundly affect our town and destroy one of the last vestiges of rural life we enjoy. This project will also greatly increase the number of people using the trail. At the last zoom meeting of Save the Reformatory Branch Trail citizen group, we learned this plan has been merged with water, sewer, and flood mitigation upgrades. However, the plan to pave the trail needs to be discussed separately so that we can vote at Town Meeting with our eyes wide open.