~Submitted by Jacqueline (Jaci) Edwards
Sometimes less is more.
Issues on the dirt trail can be addressed without destroying a natural environment sought by diverse users– walkers, runners, bicyclists, those with assistive devices –as a healthy refuge from a busy, noisy world, or forcing an unprecedented hostile takeover of our neighbors’ private sanctuaries – their yards.
Assertions are that a wider, faster, paved trail will make it safer. Demonstrably, it will not. The Bicycle Advisory Committees and Select Boards of the three “bikeway” towns—including Bedford’s—have known about serious safety concerns on the Minuteman Bikeway for years and called for a research study, which was executed by Daniel Amstutz, Arlington Senior Transportation Planner and his team (https://www.arlingtonma.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/56160).
What did our local professionals find about the paved bikeway? Concerns about safety conditions on the MMBikeway became increasingly serious as the number of users and speeding increased.
Direct quotations from their findings follow:
- Issues of user conflict and safety between different user types are frequently raised . . . Most conflicts appear to be between pedestrians and people bicycling, especially in terms of the speed . . . bicyclists passing pedestrians too quickly or too close, or getting frustrated at being unable to pass pedestrians or other cyclists so they can move faster
- Higher speeds of some bicyclists are making lower-speed users uncomfortable and creating hazardous conditions for all users of the Bikeway.
- Lower-speed users feel unsafe and uncomfortable on the Bikeway . . . fear[ing] they will be struck and injured [especially since] the fatal crash that occurred on the Bikeway in Lexington in March 2019, when two cyclists collided with each other and one was killed. [emphasis added; also in Boston Globe]
The professionals’ report says the dirt paths (Bedford, Concord) don’t suffer these serious concerns about personal safety. Issues about today’s RBT can be fixed for a lot less money, disruption and community division – if our town wants to, and it should, because the RBT is safer–AS A DIRT PATH.
Editor’s Note: Edwards is speaking for herself, not as a representative of BARC