Bedford League of Women Voters to Form Traffic and Transportation Study Group
By Kim Siebert MacPhail
At their fall meeting on November 14—following a presentation by Bob Dorer, chair of the town’s Transportation Advisory Committee—attendees and members of the Bedford League of Women Voters discussed how the lack of pedestrian access and bike accommodations, abundant cut-through traffic and inadequate public transportation negatively affect Bedford’s quality of life. At the conclusion of the meeting, the League resolved to form a study group to delve into the matter that would culminate in a position paper on the issue.
Dorer, who works for the US Department of Transportation, led the assembled group through a summary of the groups in Bedford and in the state that focus on or have responsibility for transportation-related matters. In Bedford alone, eleven groups/entities are involved:
- The Selectmen, as Road Commissioners, along with the Town Manager
- The Department of Public Works
- Traffic Committee, composed of Town Manager, Police, Fire, DPW
- Planning Board and Planning Director
- Transportation Advisory Committee
- Bicycle Advisory Committee
- Zoning Enforcement/Code Enforcement
- MBTA District Representative
- Representative membership on the Hanscom Field Advisory Committee, focusing on land use, noise and transportation
- Representative membership in Hanscom Area Towns (HATS), focusing on growth and development issues around Hanscom AFB and Hanscom Field
- Representative membership in Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), examining smart growth and planning; Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, and MAGIC, the sub-region group of thirteen communities under the MAPC/MPO umbrella
The focus of the Transportation Advisory Committee, which Dorer chairs, includes sidewalks; coordination with police, DPW, Planning Board and Selectmen; strategic planning for town walkability, intersection and roadway improvements, bicycle path upgrades and additions; and expansion of transportation services.
It was noted that the recent Healthy Bedford Survey conducted by Bedford Youth and Family Services revealed that most respondents see traffic and lack of sidewalks as the greatest obstacles to a healthy lifestyle in Bedford. Additionally, inter-community regional transportation, such as connections between Bedford’s BLT, Burlington’s B-Line, and Lexington’s Lexpress were discussed that could make car-free living a greater possibility.
The League plans to form a study group on transportation and traffic with the goal of articulating policies, projects, and actions that will improve Bedford’s walkability and quality of life—such as, but not limited to— the Great Road Master Plan; “Complete Streets,” a concept that considers all roadway users equally in the design; development of a comprehensive sidewalk plan; the fledgling Circuit Trail project; and the recently passed School Way improvements.
To read the recent article about the Circuit Trail initiative, visit: http://thebedfordcitizen.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/hammond-proposes-two-conservation-land-circuit-trails/
To see the most recent Great Road Master Plan designs, visit: http://www.vhb.com/thegreatroad/
To read a short Massachusetts Municipal Association article about Complete Streets, see: http://www.mma.org/economic-a-community-development/5339-complete-streets-policy-available
Note: Kim Siebert MacPhail, the writer of this article, is a member of the Bedford League of Women Voters.