Draft Chatham Bike Plan Subject Of Oct. 5 'Listening Session'

By: Tim Wood

The Old Colony Rail Trail intersection with Crowell Road is cited in the draft Chatham Bike Plan as one of several intersections where safety improvements could be made. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – With the goal of enhancing bicycle infrastructure, the bikeways committee is working with the Cape Cod Commission to develop a town-wide bike plan.

The plan will be introduced at a “community listening session” on Thursday, Oct. 5, an opportunity for the public to have input into and comment on the draft document.

Planners from the Cape Cod Commission held a site visit on Aug. 7, and working with the local committee have developed a preliminary list of enhancements and improvements to bike routes, safety and infrastructure. Current bike paths include the multi-use Old Colony Rail Trail and several on-road routes.

In an email, bikeways committee chairman John O'Toole said the committee and commission planners “believe that Chatham has some strong bicycling assets” and that there are opportunities for improving bike infrastructure.

According to the draft bike plan, goals of the project include connecting the rail trail to the town's villages, including downtown; re-establishing scenic on-road bike routes, many of which are poorly marked or not marked at all; connecting the trail and bike routes to destinations such as Chatham Light, the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge and the fish pier; connecting the rail trail to Nantucket Sound beaches; and delineating bike routes to and from North Chatham.

The plan suggests installation of motion sensor flashing lights at bike trail intersections, such as those installed along the bike trail in Harwich, to improve safety; widening shoulders to accommodate bike lanes; and better signage to direct bikers to local attractions, beaches and villages. Other potential long-term projects could include installation of bollards and gates at road crossings; fix-it stations along the trail; and water fountains/bubblers along the trail.

Copies of the plan can be downloaded from the town's website. The committee is also conducting a survey about bicycle activities in town, which can also be accessed on the website's bikeways committee page.
“The bikeways advisory committee believes the bike plan will lead to significant and noticeable enhancement to the bicycling infrastructure in Chatham,” O'Toole said. Bicycling contributes to the economic activity of the town in both the summer and the shoulder seasons and also enhances the overall recreational and health environment of the town, he said.

The bike plan, a final version of which will be presented to the board of selectmen next summer, will include recommended enhancements, alternatives and cost estimates for bike infrastructure improvements.

The public meeting on the plan will be held Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. in the lower level meeting room at the annex on George Ryder Road.