By Meredith McCulloch
Fueled by public input from two well-attended public meetings and an online interactive wiki, the final master plan for improved pedestrian and bicycle access on town roads arrived at the Selectmen’s meeting on September 8, 2015.The plan identifies specific changes to Bedford streets, sidewalks, and paths that will improve safety for walkers and bikers. The changes would encourage walking and bicycling as alternatives to the car,and those alternatives can reduce traffic and improve public health.
Some steps are small in scope, for example completing connections between existing paths, improving signage or adding crosswalks. Other changes can be incorporated into major road improvement projects at little or no additional cost. For example, designating bike paths with paint or highlighting crosswalks. Others call for major structural changes such as road realignment or installing traffic circles.
The plan spells out specific measures to improve accessibility and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, showing photographs and sketches of each proposed change. Five “priority corridors” are designated as most in need of attention:
- The Great Road
- Burlington Road
- Lane School, to Sweetwater Avenue and Fawn Circle
- Concord Road
- Intersection of Page Road and Old Billerica Road
Some examples of recommendations are changes to The Great Road intersection with Shawsheen Road and the area around Wilson Park. Each has no clear safe route for bicyclists or pedestrians. New crosswalks and a traffic circle would improve the Page Road and Old Billerica Road intersection. Concord Road has breaks in sidewalk access and a safer crosswalk is needed at Davis Road by the Lutheran Church.
A team of volunteers and town employees working with the consultant firm Toole Design Group developed the 90-page plan. Those participating were Adrienne St. John, Town Engineer; Roy Sorenson, Director of Public Works; Sue Baldauf, Director of Youth and Family Services; Carla Olson, Healthy Bedford Coordinator; Heidi Porter, Director of the Board of Health; Margot Fleischman, Bedford Selectman; and Terry Gleason, Bedford Bike Committee Chairman.
Asked about the timeline for implementation, Nick Jackson from the Toole Design Group said it may take place over 20 years, with portions being implemented as the opportunity arises.Major structural work will be guided by the amount of funds the town can afford to budget as weighed against other priorities. He said Bedford is better positioned than some other communities because of the number of existing trails and sidewalks. There also are many existing “rights of way” that can speed the process.
In addition to the physical changes, the plan calls for systematic education programs for the public on bicycle safety and the meaning of signage and road markings.
Click to view the slides in the Toole Design Group’s presentation to the Selectmen.
For a link to the draft Master Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and information on how to comment, please see the press release below from Healthy Bedford and Youth and Family Services.
Pedestrian and Bike Master Plan Available
The Selectmen were pleased with the Toole Design Group presentation of the Draft Pedestrian and Bicycle Master at their meeting Tuesday, September 8th. Toole Vice President Nick Jackson and Principal Engineer Patrick Baxter reviewed existing conditions in town, resident concerns from two community meetings and wiki map responses, and their recommendations for Bedford to consider in the future. The plan is currently in draft form and is available to view at the top of the Department of Public Works website at https://www.bedfordma.gov/department-of-public-works
Comments may be emailed to email@example.com through September 30th and will be incorporated into the final report as appropriate.
Other questions about the plan or the process may be directed to (781) 275-7605 or (781) 275-7727.