Letter to the Editor: All-Weather Accessibility on the Reformatory Branch Trail? 

~Submitted by Jacqueline (Jaci) Edwards

Experience and expert research tell us a paved path is not usable in all weather and, when busy, is also less safe for slower users. How sad it would be to forcibly take land from Bedford residents, to ruin a local business and destroy a vanishing town asset—a relatively flat path through shaded woods, healthy for people and the planet, gentle enough for the very young, fragile seniors and the infirm and still welcoming to runners and most wheeled vehicles—only to find out what we already know: 

Neither paved nor dirt paths provide all-weather access or are suitable for all users at all times.

Maybe a paved path wouldn’t have (a lot of) mud, but there would be ice. A paved RBT is often compared to Bruce Freeman Trail. These direct quotations are from users of that trail last January 13, 2021, posted on “Nextdoor,” Avalon Bedford Neighbor: 

  • BB West Concord-Thoreau • 13 Jan
    Heads up: Bruce Freeman Rail Trail between Main Street and Old Marlboro is pretty much solid ice.
  •  MM Thoreau Hills
    And alas, the ice is too rough for skates 
  • AS West Concord Village
    I just walked it tonight; there is no ice at all on the Bridge over the Assabet…but yes, lots of icy patches on stretches on the path leading to it 

DPW can plow snow off a paved path. That requires an ongoing outlay of money, from an additional appropriation or moved from another DPW line item. How quickly will it be plowed after a snowfall? Before or after residential sidewalks? As with streets, plows grind pavement as the blade clears the snow. New England weather itself is infamous for destroying pavement (think: potholes). Both cause cracks and broken patches in the pavement—creating an uneven, unsafe bikeway, requiring regular, costly repair and resurfacing. 

Pavement gets slick when it rains. While okay for most pedestrians and some cyclists, it’s hazardous for most bicyclists, particularly in autumn when the bikeway is strewn with wet leaves. 

No outdoor New England path will ever be usable for everyone in all weather. But the Reformatory Branch Trail should be recognized and preserved as the remarkable asset it is to our rapidly growing town.

Please, vote NO on Article 10.

Editor’s Note: Edwards is speaking for herself, not as a representative of BARC.

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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