Board of Health Statement in Support of the Minuteman Bikeway Extension

The Board of Health (BOH) strives to help neighbors lead healthy lives in Bedford. The BOH is dedicated to serve all residents of Bedford, particularly the underserved and to promote healthy people, healthy families and healthy environment through compassionate care, education and disease prevention. 

The BOH has identified the following public health concerns as impacting the health and well-being of residents:

1. In the United States, only one in four adults and one in five high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity. According to the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, people of all ages and conditions can benefit from more physical activity, including aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises. Physical activity contributes to normal growth and development, reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, and helps people function better throughout the day and sleep better at night. Even short bouts of physical activity can improve health and wellness. Sedentary behaviors have wide-ranging adverse impacts on the human physical and mental health. Increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors among all ages are both important to promote public health.

2. Although Bedford has an extensive 30-mile trail system, only the 1.2 miles of the Minuteman Bikeway are paved and fully accessible. The proposed Minuteman Bikeway Extension project would increase paved, accessible trails by an additional 1.8 miles. 

3. Existing roadways at the beginning of the extension (Railroad Avenue) and at the end (crossing Concord Road) are currently unsafe for bicyclists and pedestrians due to lack of sidewalks and heavy traffic patterns. In particular, improvements to the Railroad Avenue roadway and its rail trail intersection would create a safer and more accessible route to schools advancing Bedford’s commitment to our Safe Routes to Schools program. 

Recognizing (1) the health benefits associated with regular physical activity and the identified risks of sedentary behavior for all ages and abilities and the increased levels of physical activity associated with the use of shared use paths; (2) the CDC’s recommendation that communities combine design approaches that connect activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations with the intent to make it safe and convenient for people of all abilities to walk, run, bike, skate, or use wheelchairs as a way to increase physical activity in a community; and, (3) the current need to provide safer walking and biking routes for residents along Railroad Avenue and across Concord Road, the Board of Health supports the passage of Article 10, Minuteman Bikeway Extension at Special Town Meeting, November 14, 2022.

November 9, 2022