~Submitted by Michael Badia
I am writing in support of the Minuteman Bikeway/Reformatory Branch Trail project. As a 33 year Bedford resident who raised three adult children and one with Special Needs, our family has benefitted tremendously from the paved Bedford bike trail. In the early years, we roller-bladed with the kids or towed them behind our bikes, we also enjoyed countless walks and jogs on the trail including with our well-behaved dog. I often used the Bedford to Cambridge trail on my road bike to commute to work in Cambridge over the years. We have also enjoyed riding on the scenic Bruce Freeman rail trail and have been looking forward to an eventual paved and safer connection between the two trails. Paving the Reformatory Branch trial would be a positive step in that direction and would offer a smooth surface for road biking, rollerblading, wheelchair access, and other equipment that would not otherwise be possible on the existing gravel trail. Moreover, a paved Reformatory Branch trail would offer a safe route for smooth surface users and others to avoid some of the typical Rte. 62/4/225 motor vehicle traffic congestion.
With regard to loss of tree canopy and understory, I strongly believe the collective benefits and safety of a paved trail extension to Bedford residents should take precedence here. Larger trees aside, the loss of tree canopy and understory is temporary and much of it grows back quickly. Regular users of the existing Bedford or Bruce Freeman trails have certainly witnessed this firsthand.
With regard to the required property easements, the opportunity for a rare paved bike path extension and the greater good that brings to residents should weigh in favor of approving the project. Recall, the Reformatory Branch project received a majority approval vote from residents back in a March 2022 Town Meeting just not in the two-thirds majority needed to secure the required easements.
Concerns raised about an additional 1.8 miles of a paved trail leading to a “super highway” in Bedford are alarmist at best. I welcome more outdoor minded folks having greater access to this beautiful community. In sum, and this time around, I urge others who use the trail and understand the health benefits to the Bedford community to come out on Nov. 14 and vote in support of the project.