September Newsletter. Early October Public Meeting!

Greetings Needham Cyclists!

It has been a while since we've sent out a newsletter and, in the meantime, almost a complete summer of bicycling has gone by - here's hoping you've logged many safe and enjoyable biking miles!

To kick off the 2012-13 bicycling year, Needham Bikes is hosting another open public meeting, on Wednesday, October 3rd, at 7:00 in the Community Room at the Needham Library . The purpose of the meeting is to provide an open forum for bicycling enthusiasts of all ages and stripes to share suggestions, ideas and concerns about cycling in Needham and to connect with other bicycle advocates.

Needham Bikes is a non-profit (501c3) group dedicated to improving bicycle safety and awareness in Needham. Since 2009, Needham Bikes has been busy getting dozens of new biking signs installed, adding bicycle accommodations throughout town, sponsoring several family fun rides and hosting the annual Needham Bike Fair.

Now Needham Bikes is looking to you to become more involved. This will be an opportunity to discuss how we can work together to get our best bike-related ideas and plans moving forward. We'll also discuss how we can structure and focus the group to get more people involved and make Needham a more bicycle friendly community.

Please bring your ideas and energy!

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One current area of concern for bicyclists in Needham is in ensuring safer passage between Needham and Newton. Two of the primary routes - Highland Ave and. Kendrick St. - will both be altered by the Rt 128 Add-a-Lane project. Information on the plan and designs available on the MassDOT website .

The Add-a-Lane project will expand the crossings over the highway on Highland and Kendrick, while adding exit and entrance ramps on Kendrick St. The good news is that MassDOT engineers plan to include bike lanes on each bridge crossing. However, because of high-speed traffic entering and exiting the highway on these bridges, we feel that the passage will actually become less safe, in spite of the bicycle lanes.

Needham Bikes has been working with bicycle and pedestrian advocates in Newton to escalate our concerns about the future multi-modal transportation routes between the two municipalities.

We are looking for a re-evalution of the current designs in a way that will enable more creative solutions than the standard AASHTO Highway Construction Guidelines allow. We are hoping for a 'Complete Streets' perspective within which to view the transportation corridors. Complete Streets is a design principle, now adopted by the state of Massachusetts and elsewhere, in which streetscapes are designed and operated to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and passage for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists users of all ages and abilities. For more information on Complete Streets, see www.completestreets.org .

We are looking to get support and advocacy for this cause from as many local officials as possible. To this end, we are convening a meeting in November with local bicycle advocates, MassDOT engineers, as well as state and local officials to discuss alternatives. We'll announce the specific date and location for this meeting at the open meeting on October 2nd and post it on our web site, www.needhambikes.org .

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Needham Bikes continues to support the Bay Colony Rail Trail project . This is the effort to create a 7-mile recreational path where there are now abandoned railroad tracks beginning at Needham Junction (by Roche Brothers) and heading west under High Rock St., past the Town Forest and over the Charles River into Dover and Medfield. Once completed, the rail trail will provide a safe and scenic place for bicyclists of all ages to enjoy the outdoors.

The project has continued to move ahead with unanimous support of the Board of Selectmen. At the special town meeting in late October, the project is looking for a positive vote to allocate Community Preservation Act funds to enable a conceptual planning and design study, which will provide valuable technical insight into things like access points, parking, connections to other trails, rehabilitation of the bridge over the Charles, etc. At the current pace and level of support, the path could become a reality within a few years.

Support for the Bay Colony Rail Trail is part of Needham Bikes' overall mission to enable safer bicycling passage throughout the town. For more information on the rail trail project, go to www.baycolonyrailtrail.org , or to get more involved, contact the Needham coordinator Dmitry Gorenburg ( [email protected] ).