~Submitted by Deb Edinger
Traffic patterns have changed significantly since the pandemic. Many people no longer commute into offices or only go in part time and that is not likely to change. The Boston Globe recently published a letter that described these changing traffic patterns (John Hancock How traffic has changed through the pandemic 8/12/2021). The pandemic changed the predictability of traffic congestion. Instead of occurring during regular commuting hours it now occurs much more randomly. The commuters who used to be in offices full time are now working from homes that they frequently leave in cars to run errands. The bulk of the cyclists on the Minuteman Pathway especially on weekends are not commuters they are recreational users.
Today all users are accommodated on the two different trail types. Faster more athletic cyclists can use the Minuteman trail. Walkers, dog walkers, casual cyclists, runners, cross country skiers, and families with young children predominate on the slower more rural Reformatory trail. Paving the trail adds less than two miles for the athletic users but makes the trail much less attractive to slower users.
If the Reformatory trail does end up being paved it would be dominated by a single class of recreational users and some commuters. A narrow-angled gravel path designed for drainage is not ideal for runners knees or walkers who do not want to walk single file. How ironic if the slower users are forced to drive to more accommodating trails. The state may provide funding but its’ goals are not the town’s goals. Please vote no on paving the Reformatory Trail.