Letter: There are many benefits to making Bristol more bike-friendly

Posted 2/12/21

The proposed Bristol Bike Path Connector is receiving much attention from Bristol residents, which suggests that Bristolians are invested in the future of their town. A desire to make some areas of …

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Letter: There are many benefits to making Bristol more bike-friendly

Posted

The proposed Bristol Bike Path Connector is receiving much attention from Bristol residents, which suggests that Bristolians are invested in the future of their town. A desire to make some areas of town more accessible to bicycles has been expressed, as has opposition to sections of the proposed route.

As a daughter of Tom Byrnes, who worked tirelessly to promote the much loved East Bay Bike Path, I vividly recall the many challenges that were overcome to make the Bike Path a core asset to the town of Bristol.

The proposal for the new Bike Path Connector has been discussed publicly since last summer. I have been impressed in recent Zoom workshops by the very thoughtful planners, who have listened to the people of Bristol and who have responded with creative modifications to the original plans.

Yes, this new bike connector will include shared roadways and, in that way, it differs from the existing bike path. Admittedly, we don’t know with any degree of certainty that making roads safe and inclusive for cyclists would motivate more individuals to use their bicycles for activities around the downtown area. A gradual shift in habits is likely though, with the potential for reduction of car traffic.

My husband and I regularly use the bike path to go from our home in North Farm to the Post Office, library, stores and restaurants, as well as to the farmers’ market at Mount Hope Farm. Although we enjoy biking, we would not use our bikes to get to other parts of town if a safe and accessible bike route didn’t exist.

Some have made the argument that a ride to the Mt. Hope Bridge is “a ride to nowhere.” I couldn’t disagree more. For the casual biker, Ferry Road, Blithewold, the shoreline and the view of the bridge itself are worth the trip to the south end of Bristol. The enjoyment is not always found in the destination; sometimes it is in the ride itself.

Living right next to the East Bay Bike Path, I see cyclists from our condo, and I have observed that bicycles don’t linger, they  take up less space, make less noise than cars, and they don’t contribute to poor air quality.

Additionally, as a health professional, I have worked directly with hundreds of overweight children. Any community design that promotes affordable physical activity and the attractions of the outdoors is a benefit to families

It is my hope that through collaboration between town residents and planners, more of Bristol will become a bicycle-friendly town, thereby creating safe access to a popular form of outdoor recreation.

There will be additional opportunities to voice concerns, make suggestions and actively participate in the planning process. There is a Bristol Town Council Meeting on Feb. 17, and letters may be written in advance to Bristol Town Council members.

Barbara Byrnes Robinson
Bristol

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