Bike lane lacking, not town’s fault
In a recent letter to the editor of The Cabinet, a writer lamented the lack of bicycle lanes on the renovated stretch of Route 101/101A in west Milford, down along the river and across from a number of businesses. The road was renovated to add a turn lane that, the writer said, appears to him to be wider than necessary and he urged the town to narrow the lane to add space for bikes.
No one appreciates space for bicycles more than we do, but the first thing we need to address here is the writer’s contention that Milford has "dropped the ball here."
Well, no. The project was under the supervision of the state Department of Transportation, not the town, so Milford had no say about bike lanes, even had the town wanted to have such a say.
We do agree with the writer that there is little safe room for bicycle riders along that stretch of Route 101, but it bothers us less than it does him because we think it is unnecessary for bike riders to be there when they could be across the river on the relatively safe North River Road. Indeed, they could get all the way to Peterborough without ever letting their two wheels touch a bit of Route 101, taking North River Road to Main Street in Wilton, then up Route 31 through Lyndeborough and Greenfield to connect with Route 136 to Route 202 and into Peterborough.
Where, we wonder, is the necessity for traveling on what the writer believes to be – and here we agree again – not a safe bike route? We can see no such necessity.
Unfortunately, though, we think the writer is mistaken about something else. He writes, "We have a lot of people on bikes," and adds, "The cyclist may even be able to sue the town for damages caused by a senseless road condition."
Perhaps, relatively, we do now have "a lot" of people on bikes, but certainly many fewer than we have in cars and fewer than we’d like, but that’s really neither here nor there. The car still rules the road, much as we wish it didn’t, but this isn’t Denmark. Motorcycles might be everywhere here, as the bumper sticker says, but bicycles, relatively speaking, aren’t, and that’s too bad.
And as far as suing Milford because of that stretch of Route 101, it seems highly unlikely that such a suit could prevail. First, the town didn’t do it. Second, there is a clear, much safer, alternate route. And it’s a nicer, more scenic route, too.
We would love to see the day when the car is as rare as the bicycle is today, where public transportation rules the road and buses between Nashua and Keene carry bike racks, where you can take a train from Concord to Milford with your bike in a storage car, unload it and take a nice, long, safe bike ride on a much safer Route 101 because of a dearth of cars, or a much more scenic North River Road.
We’re not holding our breath, but we are biking that safer route.