The Sandwich Bikeway and Pedestrian Committee hosted a walk through the village and open house discussion at Sandwich Town Hall on Tuesday, October 17.
A group of about 10 residents met at Sandwich Town Hall to tour roadways throughout the village to get a look at some of the challenges that exist for pedestrians and cyclists. From town hall they walked to Tupper Road, onto River Street, back toward Main Street, and onto Jarves Street before making their way back to the hall.
After the walk, the group gathered in the upstairs meeting room to discuss what some of the hazards are for people who walk and bike in town, as well as to discuss some of the ideas that residents have for improving those conditions.
Nick Jackson, the vice president of Toole Design Group, led the discussion. He said that his company had been working to identify the needs of members of the community who want to walk and bike in town.
The Toole Design Group was hired last month to create a master plan to allow walkers and bikers to travel safely throughout Sandwich.
He said that the company is also looking into ways that non-vehicular modes of transportation can be made more attractive to people who currently rely on their cars.
“Many people use the canal paths. But those end. So how can we connect them to the town better?” he asked.
He noted that even on the canal service roads there have been some conflicts between bikers and walkers along the shared-use pathway.
Mr. Jackson noted some steps that had already been taken by the town to improve mobility, such as building sidewalks where there once were none, such as along Quaker Meetinghouse and Service roads.
Sandwich schools have also been active in the state’s Safe Routes to School program, which helps provide students with safer ways to walk to school.
Once Mr. Jackson completed his presentation, he split the room up into three groups and gave each group a map of Sandwich. The groups were asked to identify the places they would like to be able to walk or bike to, some of the paths they are already taking, and what locations are hazardous to pedestrians.
The two major sections of town that the groups identified were Sandwich Village and the south part of town that includes the Cotuit Road plazas and the Pop Warner field.
All of the schools in town were noted as places of interest. Increasing the ability for students to walk to school would help decrease some of the vehicle traffic along Quaker Meetinghouse Road.
Bicyclists said that the section of Route 6A that runs from Crow Farm to Old County Road was particularly treacherous for them. However, they said that they were able to bypass a chunk of that by riding along Spring Hill Road.
Committee member Sean Polay said that a section of guardrail near Gully Lane gives the perception of jutting out into the road, which is dangerous for both drivers and bikers.
Another hazard identified as problematic to bikers is the granite curbing along Route 130.
After the map activity, attendees were asked to rank their priorities when it comes to walking and biking in town. The options included connectivity (closing gaps and improving connections), safety, vulnerable users (such as children and elderly), right-of-way (land ownership), and life-cycle cost (how much maintaining such a system will cost).
Safety was overwhelmingly the number-one priority with vulnerable users coming in a close second.
Mr. Jackson said that he understands that a lot of people were unable to make it to Tuesday’s meeting, but a website is being launched that will enable those who were unable to attend to voice their opinions.
The website will feature an interactive map of town where residents can log on and indicate their own points of interest, as well as any known hazards. They can also map out the routes they like to take when walking or biking.
Mr. Jackson said that a link to the website will be available on the Town of Sandwich website, sandwichmass.org, by next week.