Letter to the Editor:  Vote “Yes” on Reformatory Trail for the Greater Good

~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.  

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Jerry B.
October 20, 2022 1:30 pm

The greater good is in the eye of the beholder. Some would say it is leaving natural systems intact whenever possible given recent evidence of how important this is in mitigating climate change. The greater good can be allowing the current multiple uses of this path, maybe at a slower pace for commuter bikes, but with much to be gained by the physical and mental benefits of immersion in nature. The greater good can be for the town to invest in all terrain wheelchairs for loan, so those who need them can enjoy the bucolic trail as it is now, not after it is turned into another paved suburban road with fast bicycles whizzing by. Due to many obstacles and for many reasons, the best way to connect to the Bruce Freeman may not be through either Bedford or Concord at all.

October 24, 2022 1:36 pm
Reply to  Jerry B.

All terrain wheelchairs for loan would be great in addition to this project, but they would not solve the problem of inequity. It is unrealistic for many wheelchair users (my husband being one of those) to transfer into an all terrain chair. Many wheelchairs require specialty fitting and are custom made for the individuals body and cost over $40,000. That is not something we could just switch out of and expect to be safe in an all terrain chair that is stored somewhere and cared for by whom? How do we know its been charged properly? How do we reserve it when we just want to spontaneously head out on a family outing on a Sunday afternoon? What if it breaks on the middle of a trail? Will there be a paved, flat parking lot with ample space to transfer between the two chairs if that is an option for someone? Will they have ones for children as well as multiple sizes for adults? These are all hypotheticals but getting all terrain wheelchairs isn’t as easy of a fix as people think.

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