Letter to the Editor: An Improved Bikeway Can Be a Tiny Step Toward Fighting Climate Change

~Submitted by Ken Larson

I heard a wrong-headed argument the other night at the public meeting regarding the extension of the Minuteman Bikeway. Many who spoke against paving the extension cited concerns over the natural environment. “Nature is endangered, not asphalt.” or words to that effect. The purpose of expanded non-automotive infrastructure is to make the use of walking and biking for daily transportation easier and safer. To defend nature and counteract the reality of climate change, a concerted move away from using automobiles is paramount. Creating an improved bikeway is one tiny step toward that goal. Creating a small improvement to bicycle transportation isn’t going to make much difference. But as more people recognize that getting out of our cars is THE biggest thing we can do as individuals to curtail climate change and its destruction of the world the sense of bikeways is obvious. The day will come when we will chuckle at our reluctance to create pathways for walking and bicycling. Of course, we could bury our heads in the sands of a leafy path and enjoy a tranquil walk while the world burns to ignore our real responsibility to change our car-loving ways.

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James Walsh
October 5, 2022 11:36 pm

Has there been a study done of traffic on this particular section to prove that it’s use will increase in a way that takes automobile commuters off the road? I’d love to see the data. Also I’m unsure why it can’t be used right now for that purpose as there’s a path there already?

Tim Bennett
October 6, 2022 11:45 pm
Reply to  James Walsh

It’s always funny to me when opponents of the bikeway both minimize the benefits of taking care of the road by claiming that few new people will use the trail while at the same time others are claiming that too many people will use the trail to the point where it is unsafe (a baseless accusation given the design of the new trail, which will include stone dust shoulders for walkers).

Rebecca Neale
October 7, 2022 4:37 pm
Reply to  James Walsh

Right now, the path can only be used in certain conditions. The proposed improvements will allow people to use it — in lieu of cars — for more of the year. Whatever daily traffic the path receives now, it will receive at least that same amount of traffic after the improvements, for many more months of the year.

October 12, 2022 12:53 pm
Reply to  Rebecca Neale

It is hard to understand the argument that paving the trail is to discourage car usage when the design includes a parking lot. As this becomes a commuting route from some will it be a driving destination for others?

Similarly, have we figured out how many cars need to come off the road much to off set the environmental impact of construction needed to create this trail?

It’s wonderful we live an environmentally conscious community. Perhaps the millions of dollars being used towards this project could be used towards another project (either local or state) to fight climate change.

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