Biking the Boston 'Burbs (Trails, MDC, & Towns beyond Hubway area)

bigeman312

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Took a walk along the Reformatory Branch this weekend. The signs are thick advocating rejection of the bike path enhancements, and using a cute cartoon turtle to tug at the heart strings. There is practically a billboard right at the Concord town line.
There are aspects of the project I'd like to see completed and other aspects of the projects that I would not like to see completed.

The most no-brainer improvements proposed are:
  • Extension of the bikeway along Railroad Avenue:
    • A raised shared-use path along the south side of Railroad Avenue that would maintain crossing access for abutting businesses and residents.
    • A new five foot sidewalk on the north side of the road.
    • Repaving with new striping.
    • A new closed drainage system to decrease flooding.
  • New 11-space permeable pavement parking lot where Railroad Avenue and the Reformatory Branch Trail meet:
    • New landscaping features, benches, bicycle racks, signage, etc.
  • Ramp from the path to the end of Evans Avenue for access to the trail.
  • A non-motorized crossing at the end of Turf Meadow Rd for access to and across the trail.
  • Seperate the bikeway from the Water Department's access driveway east of Hartwell Rd:
    • Driveway and path separated by a vegetated buffer with new tree plantings.
  • Improvements to the Hartwell Rd crossing:
    • Accessible crossing with flashing pedestrian signal to warn motorists of users crossing the road is proposed. This would be an improvement and I'm on board with that.
      • Personally, in a perfect world, I'd rather sever the automobile connection and have Hartwell Rd dead-end on either side of the path with a non-motorized crossing connecting across the path.
  • New 15-space permeable pavement parking lot at the end of Lavender Lane:
    • Landscaped to provide screening for the nearby homes.
    • Benches, signange, bicycle racks, etc.
    • Non-motorized crossing connection to the adjoining conservation land trail network.
  • New 15-space permeable pavement parking lot off of Concord Rd:
    • Landscaping, water fountain, picnic table, bicycle racks, signage, etc.
  • Underpass under Concord Rd:
    • 10 ft tall by 18ft wide underpass.
    • Accessible ramp connection.
    • New sidewalk to Bonnievale Drive.
These aspects of the project improve access to the trail and improve connections to the Minuteman without destroying the existing natural, dirt trail.
 

chmeeee

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These aspects of the project improve access to the trail and improve connections to the Minuteman without destroying the existing natural, dirt trail.
Those trying to keep it as a "natural dirt trail" are just trying to restrict access to limit the user count so they can enjoy it for themselves. Selfish NIMBYism at its best.

We need more access for safe, comfortable non-motorized transportation in this state. If you're arguing against that you're on the wrong side of history.
 

bigeman312

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Those trying to keep it as a "natural dirt trail" are just trying to restrict access to limit the user count so they can enjoy it for themselves. Selfish NIMBYism at its best.

We need more access for safe, comfortable non-motorized transportation in this state. If you're arguing against that you're on the wrong side of history.
I disagree with that simplistic view. I believe we need more safe, comfortable, non-motorized transportation in this state and I also believe we need to protect natural areas. This project does one at the expense of another.

I strictly bicycle and walk as my only two forms of transportation for context. I am the furthest thing from arguing against safe, comfortable, non-motorized transportation.

The reality is that those non-motorized transportation forms are constantly pitted against one another for a tiny slice of the pie, while car-supremecy continues to reign. Here we have one the few natural, dirt paths in the area that I enjoy very regularly.

The best thing about this project is that it would provide more safe, comfortable, non-motorized transportation infrastructure. The worst thing about it is that it is paving a more natural stretch. One of the reasons I love non-motorized transport is that it provides the opportunity to decrease our species’ footprint on the natural world.

In a perfect world, we (non-motorized users) wouldn’t be fighting each other for scraps, but rather some space could actually be taken from automobiles. Turning automobile space into micro-mobility space is a step in the right direction, but paving a forest isn’t quite as obviously positive.

EDITED TO ADD: I’m in favor of many aspects of this project, as outlined above.
 
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RandomWalk

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The Reformatory Branch article at the Bedford special town meeting failed to get 2/3rds support. The final tally was 537 for and 537 against.
 

itchy

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^^ That's really too bad. Why did it need a 2/3 majority?
 

RandomWalk

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Perfecting the title to the bike path might require eminent domain.

I wonder whether the state could step in and do all the work. It’s similar rationale to building a highway, but the intended vehicles are different.
 

Brattle Loop

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Perfecting the title to the bike path might require eminent domain.
It was one of the possibilities, and because of that it needed the 2/3rds majority. (I'm not sure why that's a requirement when eminent domain is involved, but it is.)
 

bigeman312

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I'd love to see them come back with a plan that includes only the "no-brainer" changes I outlined above, that improve access while also balancing conservation and preservation. I believe that would have much more widespread support. Quoted here for reference:

  • Extension of the bikeway along Railroad Avenue:
    • A raised shared-use path along the south side of Railroad Avenue that would maintain crossing access for abutting businesses and residents.
    • A new five foot sidewalk on the north side of the road.
    • Repaving with new striping.
    • A new closed drainage system to decrease flooding.
  • New 11-space permeable pavement parking lot where Railroad Avenue and the Reformatory Branch Trail meet:
    • New landscaping features, benches, bicycle racks, signage, etc.
  • Ramp from the path to the end of Evans Avenue for access to the trail.
  • A non-motorized crossing at the end of Turf Meadow Rd for access to and across the trail.
  • Seperate the bikeway from the Water Department's access driveway east of Hartwell Rd:
    • Driveway and path separated by a vegetated buffer with new tree plantings.
  • Improvements to the Hartwell Rd crossing:
    • Accessible crossing with flashing pedestrian signal to warn motorists of users crossing the road is proposed. This would be an improvement and I'm on board with that.
      • Personally, in a perfect world, I'd rather sever the automobile connection and have Hartwell Rd dead-end on either side of the path with a non-motorized crossing connecting across the path.
  • New 15-space permeable pavement parking lot at the end of Lavender Lane:
    • Landscaped to provide screening for the nearby homes.
    • Benches, signange, bicycle racks, etc.
    • Non-motorized crossing connection to the adjoining conservation land trail network.
  • New 15-space permeable pavement parking lot off of Concord Rd:
    • Landscaping, water fountain, picnic table, bicycle racks, signage, etc.
  • Underpass under Concord Rd:
    • 10 ft tall by 18ft wide underpass.
    • Accessible ramp connection.
    • New sidewalk to Bonnievale Drive
 

fatnoah

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I know it's apples and oranges, but as a semi-regular rider of that trail on my hybrid bike, I'd much rather see effort put into connecting it to the Freeman trail. A big part of the "fun" of the Reformatory Branch trail is that it's both unpaved and not a technically or physically challenging ride.
 

bigeman312

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I know it's apples and oranges, but as a semi-regular rider of that trail on my hybrid bike, I'd much rather see effort put into connecting it to the Freeman trail. A big part of the "fun" of the Reformatory Branch trail is that it's both unpaved and not a technically or physically challenging ride.
100% agreed! I've outlined all of the upgrades above that can be pursued while still leaving the Reformatory Branch unpaved.
 

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