Group wants bicycle path between New Bedford and Fall River

Riders return to the road after meeting at Cornell Pond off Old Fall River Road in Dartmouth, the midpoint of the first Old Bedford-Old Fall River Ride on Sunday. David W. Oliveira/Standard-Times special

By Curt Brown

About 60 bicyclists made their case on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon for a bicycle path that connects the cities of New Bedford and Fall River.

Bicyclists, in two groups, left UMass Dartmouth’s Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center in Fall River and the SRTA

Park and Ride in New Bedford and pedaled to Cornell Pond off Old Fall River Road in Dartmouth to underscore the importance of having a safe bicycle path that would be off-limits to motor vehicles.

The path would accommodate pedestrians and Rollerbladers as well.

Sunday’s effort was organized by the Mass in Motion organizations in Fall River and New Bedford. It included riders from the two cities as well as Westport, Dartmouth, Wareham, Mattapoisett, Fairhaven, Attleboro and Little Compton, R.I.

Organizers from Mass in Motion, a state group dedicated to preventing obesity through healthy eating and physical activity, were delighted with the turnout on a day with wind-whipped temperatures that felt like the 30s.

Julianne Kelly and Pauline C. Hamel, respective project coordinators in Fall River and New Bedford, stressed the perils bicyclists face sharing roads with vehicles, but emphasized that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists and need to be taken seriously.

“It’s about education,” Hamel said.

They thanked police in New Bedford, Dartmouth, Westport and Fall River several times for assisting them with traffic during their ride. Fall River police accompanied riders to and from Cornell Pond in Dartmouth.

Kelly and Hamel said they have been working with the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, the region’s planning agency, to develop a bicycle path that connects the two cities.

Hamel suggested that a path could be developed along the outskirts of the New Bedford Regional Airport’s property.
She said SRPEDD favors a more southerly route along the coastline with UMass Dartmouth as the hub of the bicycle path.

Kelly said plans for the new Brightman Street Bridge, linking Somerset and Fall River, include a 1-mile bicycle path and she would like to see it connected to other paths in Fall River.

She said as bicycling has become popular with the public, many regions in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are developing multi-use bicycle paths because of safety concerns.

Wendy Henderson, an avid bicyclist and the director of the Dartmouth Health Department, participated in the event.
Henderson, who lives in Westport, said she rides her bicycle to work, weather permitting, as often as she can.
November 08, 2010 12:00 AM

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