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Signing the LOOP

July 21, 2011

Recent article about the Upper Valley LOOP Trail focuses on need for safer bike and pedestrian options in the Upper Valley.

While the recently signed on-road “Upper Valley Bike LOOP” route provides the safest option available for traveling by bicycle between Norwich, Hartford, Lebanon and Hanover, there are many areas where improvements would be welcomed by pedestrians and riders. Last years widening of road shoulders along Route 5 have made it much safer for adults to travel by bicycle between Norwich and Hartford, however,  more off-road improvements would help families find viable safe options to travel without having to rely on cars. The Wilder Multi-use Path, considered an alternate off-road LOOP Trail section paralleling Route 5, is a good example of how a path that is separated from the road will attract regular use by many types of trail users – parents pushing strollers, riders going to and from school or their homes, runners heading out to stay fit, and more. As new housing is being completed and occupied on Mount Support Road in Lebanon, those residents will be looking for better options to travel to nearby workplaces such as DHMC, Centerra Plaza, and downtown Lebanon – a proposed off-road path will be a wonderful improvement for that portion of the LOOP Trail. Maybe it is also time to consider the values of installing a bike and pedestrian bridge as a transportation spur between Mount Support Road near David’s House across Route 120 to Centerra Plaza? Maybe buses could even use this new bridge? The tough part in all this planning and implementation is balancing costs and needs of the community and the reality that much of the land needed to improve the system is held privately – negotiations, agreements, and, land purchases (where necessary), take time and money.

The Upper Valley Trails Alliance continues to work with area Bike and Pedestrian Committees, trail organizations, and trail advocates to design and complete many trail improvements.  A mix of earth paths, packed gravel-surfaced trails, on-road or off-road bike lanes, and Multi-use paths, combined with sidewalks, Park and Rides, and bus routes, will result in the most cost effective means to create an inter-connected Upper Valley Transportation and Recreation Network that meets everyones needs.

What sections of the LOOP Trail need attention and why?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sara permalink
    July 21, 2011 4:55 pm

    As a frequent bike commuter, these are just some initial thoughts I have related to the loop route:
    1. Mount Support Road: with all the new construction I would assume the road would need to be repaved afterwards – what is the chance the shoulders will be widened and improved for bike safety? That would be key as it is already a really important commuter route, plus a good alternative to Route 120! While an off-road path might be nice, there are potentially hundreds of commuters who could benefit from simply a smarter existing road & bike lane shoulder system – it just seems like like that would be a quicker reality!

    2. Route 10/4 in W. Leb (including the bridge between WRJ and W.Leb which has always been pretty darn scary!). Again, there has been lots of construction around that stretch – so, I really hope the plan is to make it more bike-friendly??

    In general, it seems that when the roads are all ripped up to be replaced is when these safety improvements can and should happen! Nothing is worse than when some road/intersection has just been “improved” in a big construction project, and the result is maddeningly worse (or just not any better) for bikes! More of us need to know how to be part of that planning process to try and make these changes actually happen – can UVTA help distribute that information so people know how participate to effect positive changes prior to final decisions about road projects? I really think there is tons of interest by people wanting to see these projects yield improvements, but there is also just a lack of information about how to find the right meetings to attend and people to tell our stories to…

    Another general thought is that continuing education for cyclists and drivers alike about sharing the road (including the fact that there are real laws about safe passing of cyclists by cars, and that cyclists are bound by traffic rules whenever they are on roads!) is something that really needs to happen continually for people to feel safe enough and be patient enough, to get out on these routes on their bikes…

    ok, I guess this is long enough… 🙂

    • uvtrails permalink*
      July 21, 2011 5:35 pm

      You’ve shared some important points about major construction projects and the importance for the consideration of improvements to bike and pedestrian facilities during project planning. The new bridge that has been proposed for the Route 4 crossing of the Connecticut River between West Lebanon and White River Junction will have bike and ped improvements. UVTA staff attended several public meetings held by the NH Dept. of Transportation during their bridge design efforts on this project. We shared the importance of improving the then poor bike ped. conditions of the old truss bridge and asked for consideration of wider bike and pedestrian facilities. Several community members and City representatives also advocated for these improvements. In the end all bridge design options included wide sidewalks and bike lanes for both directions of travel. Although the temporary bridge is somewhat inadequate for safe crossing, I anticipate the permanent bridge will provide the bike ped improvements that we’d like to see implemented throughout the Upper Valley.

      To be part of the planning process, we let individuals know via our bi-weekly e-mails of upcoming construction projects that might need meeting attendance to advocate for bike ped improvements. We can also work towards sharing more information through our blog and website too.
      Your direct voice to town and city planners, developers, and State officials, will help influence positive change. Several communities also have Bike and Ped Committees – sharing your concerns with lack of facilites in specific areas will also focus attention by those groups.

      Improvements to Mount Support Road are also expected. I understand an off-road shared multi-use path will be built adjacent to the road – hopefully soon! Hope to hear more from the Lebanon Planning Department on this soon.

  2. amelia sereen permalink
    August 4, 2011 8:44 am

    THanks to yesterdays group loop ride yesterday,I joined from WRJ to Lebanon, and remembered how much I love road biking.
    So early this morning I road from Slayton Hill in Leb to Hanover.
    I missed the exit path from DHMC, but got out onto the 120 path into Hanover just fine anyway.
    Feeling pressed for time, I then took the bus to W Leb and realizing there was a 10 minute wait, I opted to reprise the ride back to Leb via the Old Pine Tree Cemetery road.

    I am impressed by the markedly increased courtesy of passing motorists, altho there were a few worrisome moments.

    The upshot-I am back on the road. Nice as the railtrail is, it is not as much fun.

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