~Submitted by Christina Carvey
As a near life-long Bedford resident, a mother of three young children, an animal- lover, and a cyclist, I’m writing to share my perspective on the Reformatory Branch Trail, and the proposed “improvements” (i.e. paving, widening, developing).
My family and I use the trail regularly, primarily for biking. With a trailer we ride to Chip In Farm for pumpkins and Christmas trees. We bike to Concord to get ice cream and watch the trains. I jog with my daughter as she rides from school. My husband and I rode to Emerson Hospital the morning our youngest was born. We love this path.
The Reformatory Trail is special. Its features set it apart from paved bike paths: the dense tree canopy; the proximity to nature and undeveloped space; the peace and calm of a less frenetic pace. Bikes travel more slowly here than on paved paths, and not in fast packs. Reformatory Trail users are generally congenial, attuned to their setting, and responsive to calls of, “On your left.” It’s never so mobbed on weekends that I fear for my children’s safety. Indeed, weekend family adventures on the Reformatory are relaxing; weekend trips on the paved Minuteman are not.
The Minuteman Extension project has morphed into something that would rob the Reformatory Trail of the qualities that make it so extraordinary, and replace it with something entirely different – the very wide, very paved, very developed Minuteman Bikeway Extension. It would take an existing shared-use path – already enjoyed by hikers, walkers, cross-country skiers, joggers, cyclists, commuters – and repurpose the land for those who prefer pavement. Bedford already has access to ten miles of paved Minuteman Bikeway. Let us save these two miles of smooth, flat trail for users who want a more nature-based experience. (Footnote 1)
This November 14, I encourage you to vote no at special town meeting on the article that would allow the Town to take the land by easement or eminent domain. Voters can prevent the bulldozing, and save Bedford’s gem – the Reformatory Trail. https://savereformatorytrail.org/
(Footnote 1) While it’s true Bedford has 30+ miles of other trails, those miles contain virtually no contiguous stretches of smooth, flat surface that can be readily traversed with a typical bicycle or stroller, or are friendly to pedestrians with limited mobility. The exception is the Narrow Gauge Trail – unfortunately, the Bicycle Advisory Committee is already planning to pave that one too. (https://www.bedfordma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif6866/f/minutes/trails_committee-meeting_minutes_2021-01-14_virtual_meeting.pdf).