Belmont Citizens Forum bike path pamphlet stirs controversy

BCH reported this week that the pamphlet distributed recently by the Belmont Citizens Forum is “stirring controversy.”

So, just FYI, if you’re wondering if your town has a NIMBY problem, terms like “controversial” and  “bike path” popping up in close proximity to one another in the town paper are a good sign that, in fact, you do!

That said, I suppose I can see Rep. Brownsberger’s point that the pamphlet (which I read and enjoyed) presents a vision of the finished path when, in reality, the details of what the path will look like and where it will run are very much open to study and debate. More distressing were the comments of Channing Road residents, which are filled with the kind of amorphous fears of  big city drug pushers and thugs that have  been used in chichi towns like Weston to veto or fight bike path- or commuter rail extensions into their towns. My favorite quote in the article comes from Channing Road resident Bruce MacKinnon in reference to the current unsightly scrub land that runs between his back yard and the tracks. “Kids drinking and the swearing back there goes with the territory, but now they want to put a bike path in there!” My GOD. They want to bring middle class people in to exercise back there! What’s next? Orgies?

Let me just say that I run the Minuteman Trail at least once a week. I’ve run it all the way from Alewife to Concord and here’s what i’ve seen – and in great numbers: People biking. People walking. Couples strolling with their kids. Teenagers  and younger children on bikes riding – free and unafraid of being hit and killed by clueless drivers. Businesses — bike shops and cafes — posting signs on the path to attract the crowds to their shops. Bird watchers. Here’s what I haven’t seen: anybody who looks even remotely like a drug dealer, homeless person or active member of the Crips, Bloods or MS-13. Bike paths are infrastructure – and they’re clean, beautiful, community building, good for business -good for the environment infrastructure. The short jump from the current bike path terminus on Brighton to Belmont Center might seem like a small matter, but it isn’t: there are plans for a shared-use bicycle and pedestrian path that extends beyond Belmont Center and running, someday, all the way west to Northhampton. Let’s put fear on the shelf just for once, Belmont, and actually make this happen. OK?