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Get the Facts: Usage & Access

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

Claim: Nobody is really going to use this trail for commuting.

We can't know that until we build it! At least one person has already shared that he gave up using his car in favor of the Minuteman Bikeway. And as noted in the Get the Facts: Environmental Impact section, taking even one car off the road would get rid of more carbon emissions than all the trees cut down in this project could sequester. As the saying goes, "you can't measure the usage of a bridge by the number of people swimming across."

Claim: The trail will become dangerous with high-speed bikers. There was even a fatal accident on the Minuteman Bikeway last year!

Accidents are tragic, and of course no one should lose their life while out for a walk. However, one incident is not indicative of the overall safety of the Minuteman Bikeway. It is one of the most-traveled bike corridors in the country, with thousands of trips every day. In fact, Arlington has counted as many as 90,000 riders per month! It is also worth noting that serious cyclists have stated they prefer open road for long performance rides. They know they can't get up to racing speed on a shared-use bike path, and they typically want a route that will take them 20-30 miles. The entire Minuteman Bikeway, even once the RBT connects to it, will be under 12 miles long.

Claim: The Extension designs explicitly label the path as "MIXED USE". This means:

  • There is no traffic segregation plan.

  • Strollers and dog walkers will mix with cyclists.

  • Wheeled visitors can use the stone dust path to pass slower users.

  • There is no plan to exclude users on electric bicycles, scooters, or skateboards

  • There are no speed limit measures.

  • Bedford Police do not monitor traffic on the existing Minuteman

  • Bedford Police do not track accidents on the existing Minuteman

In fact, the Minuteman Bikeway has guidelines for shared use, which could easily be adopted for this project. The guidelines do bar motorized scooters and bicycles, and they also set expectations for walkers staying to the right, bicyclists using helmets, giving a verbal call-out when passing another user, and courtesy toward others all around. Some users might be jerks, but unfortunately, jerks can be found everywhere. Bad users are far outnumbered by good ones, whether they are on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bicycle, or in-line skating.

Claim: Pave somewhere else - we want this 1.7 miles to stay natural.

Bedford exists as part of a region, and we should consider connectivity to Lexington, Arlington, Cambridge, Concord and other surrounding towns as a benefit. New commuting or leisure travel options, lowering carbon emissions, and creating accessible pathways are more than any one Town can tackle on its own. This project, like all municipal projects, aims to create greater benefits for more people as a whole, rather than prioritizing any one property owner, one business owner, one trail, or even one Town.

Consider too that this path is not natural: it is a former railroad track cut through the woods. The rail bed contains leftover debris and creosote from the train days, and the path requires maintenance to stay smooth and packed.

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