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Mattapoisett Selectmen make plans to reduce bike path dangers

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Bike Path (Erik Fox)

MATTAPOISETT — Improving safety on the bike path, particularly at Mattapoisett Neck Road and Brandt Island Road, has often been an issue broached by Mattapoisett Selectmen. On Tuesday, they tried to make headway with the issue again, bringing in Police Chief Mary Lyons and members of the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee.

“The problem is twofold: You have bicyclists not stopping at the stop sign and motorist who are traveling a little faster than they should be,” said Lyons.

Selectmen discussed reducing the speed limit near the bike crossing, but said there needs to be a way to get bikers to stop. Stop signs are already in place on the bike path, but bikers often speed past them, they said.

“I almost creamed someone the other day, and I always slow down,” said Selectman Jordan Collyer.

Getting bikers to stop is a problem everywhere, said Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee Chair Steve Kelleher. He suggested posts in the middle of the road that would provide a fresh visual to warn drivers to slow down.

Selectman Tyler Macallister, however, said that doesn’t address the issue.

“It gives a false sense of security to the bicyclist, who then behaves as a pedestrian. They actually need to follow the rules of the road of a motor vehicle,” he said.

Mattapoisett resident Paul Osenkowski was in favor of the posts. He said there are so many signs on the roads that people stop paying attention to them.

“After a while you can’t see the forest for the trees, but if you put one tree in the middle of the road, you will slow them down,” said Osenkowski.

Lyons said the posts could be added without speaking with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, but any changes to the speed on the road or to the bike path would have to go through them.

She suggested doing a speed study on the two roads near the bike path, speaking with Mass DOT about potential solutions and installing speed radar signs.

The latter, which shows drivers how fast they are going and blinks when they are above the speed limit, is already on the capital plan and likely to be brought before Special Town Meeting in the fall, but Lyons said she would look into other ways to pay for them as they have been effective in slowing traffic, including around Tabor Academy.

Selectmen said they want a small committee to work together to come up with issues sooner rather than later. Lyons or a member of her department, a member of the Bike Path Committee and potentially Highway Surveyor Barry Denham will be part of the committee that will focus solely on safety issues around the bike path.

Macallister issued a plea to the community as well: “If you’re using the bike path, please stop [at intersections]. If you’re driving through the areas where the bike path are, please slow down.”


Courtesy: Georgia Sparling

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