Letter: Bike path ‘weed’ must be eradicated

Posted 7/18/18

To the editor:Eighteen years ago when I moved to the area, I could ride the bike path toward Bristol, and in the stretch beyond the Audubon preserve I could look right across several acres of marsh …

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Letter: Bike path ‘weed’ must be eradicated


To the editor:
Eighteen years ago when I moved to the area, I could ride the bike path toward Bristol, and in the stretch beyond the Audubon preserve I could look right across several acres of marsh and see the North Farm clubhouse and the Warren River as it flowed into Narragansett Bay. The view was expansive, pristine, and lovely.
At some point a few seeds of a very aggressive, very prolific species of plant took root there. At first the plant was imperceptible, having no visual effect on the scenic view. But over the years those few seeds proliferated, and proliferated, and proliferated, such that if I ride the bike path toward Bristol now all that I can see of that once delightful view is the clubhouse flag pole. Those plants, at first unnoticeable, now overwhelm the land there, rising like a great green mound, blocking off all sight from that once lovely vista. And that plant isn’t confined to that stretch of the bike path. It is working its way up and down the bike path all along the way. You can see it everywhere.
Today there is a new kind of seed taking root along the bike path, one which if we don’t uproot could very well dominate the bike path and destroy the path’s beauty in more graphic ways. I am referring to the increasing practice of local businesses staking lawn signs promoting their business at the edges of the bike path. I understand that small local businesses need to grow their customer base, but I don’t think that growth should come at the expense of the public good, and perhaps even public right, of a bike path free of commercial (or any other) advertising. For, like those those plants now out of control down by the North Farm clubhouse, unless stopped there may come a day when the bike path from end to end becomes a continuous series of commercial signs – not just for local small businesses, but for anyone and anything: CVS, Walmart, Best Buy, every realtor who has a house for sale, anybody who’s got a used car for sale.
The bike path is special for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it is still mostly commercial free. It’s a place where for a brief while one can get away from the barrage of an economy trying to sell us things. Call it a refuge, it you like. So I hope this commercial creep comes to an end. Voluntarily, would be best, but if need be, through legal ordinance and enforcement.
I do have something of a fix to propose. Perhaps the town can install posts at the downtown roads that cross the bike path, away from the bike path but still clearly visible from it, where local business on or close to that street could be listed, with appropriate arrows, above which “Follow the arrows to these fine businesses.”
In any case, we must not let the bike path become a marketing free for all.
Jerry Blitefield
58 Beach St

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