Snow And Ice No Deterrent To Users Of The Bike Path
By: Elise R. Hugus
With temperatures hovering in the low 30s and heavy snowfalls, it looks like winter is here to stay. But that does not deter some residents from getting out on the Shining Sea Bikeway for some fresh air and exercise.
On a recent weekday, as patches of ice melted into tiny streams in the noontime sun, several residents took advantage of the weather to walk their dogs, bicycle into town on errands, or go for a jog.
Elizabeth A. (Lizanne) Foley and Cheryl M. Kitts, both of Falmouth, take a walk during lunchtime year-round, and rarely let cold temperatures or ice deter them. The pair usually walk with Ms. Kitts’s Labradoodle, Tegan, from the Locust Street entrance to the bike path to Ter Heun Drive, or toward Woods Hole, if the wind is not too strong. “Sometimes life stops us,” Ms. Foley said, “otherwise, we’re out here.”
Despite the ice and snow lingering from the January 1 snowfall, some people brave the path on two wheels. As David C. Hawkins, a resident of Greengate, headed to Super Stop & Shop on his mountain bike, he remarked that he is grateful to the Falmouth Department of Public Works for plowing the bikeway. He said that salt would be helpful to reduce slipping, but understands that it could impact the sensitive environments that the bikeway traverses. As a daily bikeway user, Mr. Hawkins said his durable-tread tires make riding easy, even in the winter.
“You can ride forever and not get tired,” he said.
Karl R. Helfrich of Eli Road, Hatchville, dodged the ice while running near Salt Pond. Without spikes on his shoes, he said he takes his time over the slippery parts, but, in general, enjoys the run from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Quissett campus to Falmouth or Woods Hole village a couple of times a week.
“I actually run more in the winter, because I’m doing other things in the summer,” he said.
By coincidence, his wife, Lucy C. Helfrich, was walking not too far behind. She said she walks the path from The 300 Committee office near Locust Street, at least twice a week.
“I love the bike path in the winter. It’s so quiet. You can go long stretches without seeing anyone,” she said. There are regular walkers, she added, as William Faxon passed by. Mr. Faxon, a resident of West Falmouth, said he walks from Locust Street to Trunk River, a 40- to 50-minute walk that he has enjoyed five or six times a week for years.
“I ride [a bicycle] in the summer, and walk in the winter,” he said.
Some residents say they would prefer the bikeway not to be plowed, at least partially, so they can use it for cross-country skiing. Patricia P. Johnson, co-founder of the Friends of Falmouth Bikeways, said that the December 20 storm that dumped 18 inches of snow on Falmouth opened up “a three-day window for cross-country skiing.” The snowfall last weekend also allowed skiers to use the bike path before it was plowed from Woods Hole to North Falmouth.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” Ms. Johnson said. “I have gone for years without skiing, so it’s nice to have the opportunity when it snows. But I’d be on my bike faster if it is plowed.” She added that golf courses and the trail around Long Pond Reservoir are also good places for skiing.
Dr. Edward S. Gross, the chairman of the Falmouth Bikeways Committee, said that the committee voted to have the DPW clear snow from the entire length of the bikeway.
“You can’t satisfy everybody with this one. It’s become an important avenue for a lot of bikers who depend on it to go to work,” he said. “We have more of an obligation to people who want to get where they’re going.”
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