Group maps a new bike trail extension

Inaugural Bike Network Master Plan Workshop Draws working group to Wellfleet


   Truro residents gather around maps showing their town's current and potential bike and pedestrian routes at the first in a series of bike trail network workshops held Saturday at the Wellfleet Senior Center. Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet residents marked up their respective town maps to reflect their preferred routes and priority development. Photo by Teresa Martin.

Plan will design bike trail from Wellfleet through Truro to Provincetown

By Teresa Martin.

A gray cold Saturday morning didn't detour more than 30 bike and pedestrian supporters from bringing their network ideas to the first in a series of Master Plan workshops. The inaugural workshop, held at the Wellfleet Senior Center, sought public input and hands on planning participation for an expansion of bike routes in Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet.

Plan in progress
The group represented a variety of interests, including the Lower Cape Bike Coalition, seashore homeowners, town committee members, and residents who simply wanted to learn more.

"There is no one master plan yet," explained Clay Schofield, Cape Cod Commission transportation engineer, in response to one attendee's repeated requests for specific details.

"We are the plan," he said pointing to everyone in the room, noting that the purpose of the workshops and everyone's participation is exactly that - to share details which will become the master plan.

Funding sought
Funding requests triggered Saturday's workshop. The commission and the National Seashore have filed grant requests for federal money to better plan and manage bike and pedestrian traffic in Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet.

Although the federal government has not yet awarded any grant money for the effort, the commission and seashore said community input today is essential to creating a project that works for the region. The groups hope to plan an interconnected network, rather than isolated projects.

Heavy use
The current rail trail, where old railway beds became bike paths, runs 22 miles. Schofield said 400,000 people a year use the system, with peak use of 400 people per hour.

Recent repaving and ongoing maintenance isn't enough to keep up with the demands generated by this volume of traffic. In addition, safety issues arise from crossing busy Rte 6, as well as from competing use of routes by cyclists, pedestrians, and cars.

Initial ideas
The Master Plan, as it now stands, primarily articulates a handful of key goals, including themes of:

  • Safety
  • Interconnection of elements
  • Support for multi-modal transportation
  • Minimal environmental impact
  • Better biking experience for both visitors and year round residents

Beyond these goals, the plan has nothing set in stone, although it offers up some ideas as places to start. The wide variety of potential options range from building and extending paved bike paths within the national seashore to removing an auto lane on Rte 6 and incorporating bike paths instead, to everything in between.

No consensus in workshop
The assembled group made it clear there was no consensus on the best approach. One seashore homeowner decried an additional paving within the park. Another resident spoke stridently against losing any portion of Rt6 to bicycle traffic.

Other individuals advocated for pedestrian and unpaved trails, commuter needs, family vacation needs, and serious bicyclist use. Another noted the needs of in-line skaters. Several people talked about ensuring path design so that the trails weren't too steeply graded and were accessible to people who rode bikes, not just bike athletes.

Regional Transportation Authority invoked
Busses and the lack of bike racks on busses proved to be a hot spot with the audience.

"Those busses can accommodate only two bikes. That is incredibly inefficient," stated one woman, to nods from those around her.

Safety ideas
Safety issues also triggered a strong reaction, with some attendees demanding cyclists needed education, while others argued that drivers needed to learn to share the road. Everyone agreed Rte 6 was a hazard, but no one agreed on the best method - tunnels, bridges, stoplights, or just running for it - for crossing.

One idea, which gained traction, was that town beach sticker offices and beach entrances provided an ideal venue for educating bikers and drivers alike. In addition, these locations would reach both visitor and resident.

Working sessions
The most productive portion of the day, though, happened when pencils met paper. Armed with large maps of current and proposed options in each of the three towns and sharpened pencils, the groups divided up by town.

Using local knowledge, attendees identified areas of safety issues, "activity centers" (aka, places people wanted to get to and from), population areas, and other factors. They proposed routes and solutions.

Then, they repeated the exercise with maps of proposed rail trail extensions, applying very local knowledge and expertise to draft plan.

More to come
This input, reiterated Schofield, forms the heart of the workshop, which isn't about sharing one plan but about creating a plan by all, that serves region's real needs.

He said there would be additional times and locations for other workshops, but they are not yet scheduled.

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