LYNN — Residents got their first look at the planned expansion of the Northern Strand Trail into Lynn and possible ways a community path could allow people to bike to the sea on Thursday night.
An interactive workshop followed by a public presentation wrapped up three days’ worth of public input sought by Kittelson & Associates, a Boston-based engineering firm the city has enlisted to plan a community path from the city down to the ocean.
Public input was sought on creating the community path, which would be a rail corridor from Western Avenue down to the waterfront, along with bike facilities from Western Avenue down to the downtown.
Mayor Thomas M. McGee said in a previous interview with The Item there’s an actual rail line that runs through the other communities on the trail, but in Lynn, that rail line ends at Market Basket and doesn’t include a rail connection to get down to the beach.
“We’d like to stay focused on the railroad tracks,” said Emily Jodoin, vice-president of the Community Path of Lynn Coalition, a nonprofit organization that has been involved in bringing the trail to Lynn.
“They not only make it a bike path, but bring resources in to help people in that neighborhood. We also want to include that and different things and really make it a place people want to go to in Lynn.”
There are two components of the trail, as the state is working to complete the Northern Strand expansion into Lynn. It currently ends at the Lynn/Saugus line. In February, the state awarded $1.5 million to improve the current trail and kick off the expansion into Lynn.
Since 1993, Bike to the Sea has been working to create the Northern Strand Trail, a mostly-paved, car-free path from Malden/Everett through the Saugus marshes, to the beaches in Revere, Lynn and Nahant.
Urban planner Tess Stribos and senior planner/landscape architect John Paul Weesner for Kittelson & Associates presented different options connecting a community path to the waterfront, while discussing strategies on how to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety on roads the trail would go through.
Stribos said the planning includes thinking of routes and connections from and to several key destinations, including from the regional trail, from Western Avenue to the downtown, from the downtown to the shore, from Western Avenue to new development on the waterfront and additional connections to the Lynn ferry terminal.
Weesner said one of the difficulties is in how the rail bed becomes a community path, with one of the issues being how the path would get across the tracks. Getting the MBTA to agree to a crossing or underpath would be hard, he said, and extends the project even longer.
What seems to be a good option, he said, is coming down on either Neptune Street or Summer Street, meeting the grade on Summer. The path would run from Western Avenue to Summer, which would change at Summer or Neptune as a pedestrian-only piece. At Commercial Street, users could get across the Lynnway and to the pier.
Options were discussed for how the regional trail would connect to the downtown and get over the beach side.
Weesner said if the path ran from Summer or Neptune to Market Street in the downtown, Market could still accommodate on-street parking while adding bike lanes on either side of the street without affecting traffic.
Also discussed was a regional trail connection on the Lynn Common — Weesner said Lynn Common could be extended, which would destroy the shoe intersection, but would allow a dedicated lane that comes in around the roundabout, crosses and runs along the Common way without interruption.
Planning involves looking at how to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, especially in the downtown, where there have been lots of crashes.
“Right now, I wouldn’t really want to ride my bike (around Lynn) because it doesn’t feel safe,” said Hope Abramson, of Lynn.
Abramson said she’d like to see the city become safer for bikes and walking, and is excited for the trail to connect in Lynn.
“If we could ride our bike from Lynn to Everett, that would be awesome,” she said.
Joe Wilson, a Lynn resident and Bike to the Sea member, said the trail could bring more people into the city.
“The city before used to be a scary place,” he said. “Now, it’s more friendly … so the whole atmosphere has changed. It could bring more people into the city to go to restaurants and concerts and it’s good exercise.”
Kathy Wrynn, a Lynn resident and member of the Saugus River Watershed Council, said she’s been a bike path proponent for 30 years and can’t believe it’s finally happening.
Wrynn said she recently went on vacation to Copenhagen, Denmark, where there seemed to be more bikes than cars.
“Just to see all the people so fit and healthy because (they were) all biking to work, it was just unbelievable,” Wrynn said. “I think it’s the future.”