Biking at Junction Park

Plants to be added to park landscape

By Betsy Levinson

With the popularity of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail bringing increased bike traffic through Junction Park, the focus remains on safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

According to Nat Welch, co-chairman of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Advisory Committee, no accident has been reported since the bike path was routed through West Concord at the train station in about 2011.

But according to Dorrie Kehoe of the West Concord Green Thumbs garden group, the park is an accident waiting to happen.

Both groups, working with the town and the MBTA, are waiting to see if a short-term plan designed by the town Planning Department will calm traffic through the park.

Kehoe said the Green Thumbs suggested installing a series of planters in the bike path to see if those would force those on wheels to slow down and not pose a hazard to families enjoying the park as they wheel along the trail through the MBTA rail stop.

Bike and scooter traffic has increased substantially with the opening, though unofficial, of the bridge over Rt. 2.

Planning Director Marcia Rasmussen drew up a sketch for a short-term plan to place large planters and screens to act as deterrents to bikers and other riders as they weave their way around the Club Car Cafe across the tracks.

Bikes in Junction Park considered accident risk
Bikes in Junction Park considered accident risk

But the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Advisory Committee, while encouraging cyclists to walk their bikes, does not favor the planters, seeing them as an impediment to the flow of traffic and a hazard to pedestrians.

On a recent afternoon at the park, cones and signs were placed in the paved pathway as bikers rode through, many not walking their bikes.

A portion of the park is owned by the Town of Concord, but the larger section, including the train station, is owned by the state. The Club Car Cafe building is an historic site that is leased to the cafe owner.

All parties want to keep the park as a space where wheels and walkers respect one another. Welch said the BFRTAC feels signs calling for dismounting from bikes is sufficient. Welch said the advisory committee is waiting to see if the planters slow bike traffic.

The West Concord Green Thumbs sent a statement in support of the town of Concord’s short-term plan for Junction Park. “We think that ensuring the safety of all the people who use Junction Park – those passing  through and those spending longer amounts of time enjoying the park – is essential,” wrote Sabrina Haber. “This plan has our support  because it reflects that concern and was created with input from many of the local groups who use Junction Park regularly.”

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