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A more connected network: surveying Cape Cod’s side path crossings

Cape Cod is known for its safe, expansive network of shared-use paths frequented by bicyclists and pedestrians from around the globe. Popular regional shared-use path routes like the Cape Cod Rail Trail and Shining Sea Bikeway allow safe, easy bicycle travel across Cape Cod.

The existing rail trails and shared-use paths are the backbone of Cape Cod’s bicycle network. In addition to regional rail trails, various multi-use or side paths provide a vital link to town centers and surrounding communities. However, in many cases, safety improvements are needed at side-path crossings.

The Commission’s Side Path Crossing Inventory is part of an ongoing regional effort to promote safe bicycle and pedestrian accommodations across Cape Cod, consistent with the Cape Cod Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The Side Path Crossing Inventory builds on the 2022 Rail Trail Crossing Inventory and includes safety recommendations for side paths along roadways.

During the Fall of 2022, Cape Cod Commission staff collected data from locations where side paths crossed (at grade) with roadways and busy commercial driveways. Data for this inventory was collected in six of the 15 towns. Side paths in Barnstable, Chatham, Dennis, Mashpee, Sandwich, and Yarmouth were studied during site visits and, in a few cases, through a desktop review. Overall, staff inventoried more than 150 at-grade crossing locations during the data collection period.

The Side Path Inventory describes specific features of the crossings inventoried by Cape Cod Commission staff. Presented alphabetically by town, the inventory includes collected features, information, and photographs for each crossing location. The report includes next steps and offers basic design guidance, diagrams, and formal design guidelines from state and federal sources.

This project provides a resource for municipalities in Barnstable County, who are often responsible for the design and maintenance of the region’s side paths, to create a better-connected and more uniform network that meets the needs of all users.

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