Chappy bike path survey rolls out new numbers, old arguments

Chappy bike path survey rolls out new numbers, old arguments

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A survey of Chappaquiddick property owners shows that 38 percent of those who responded to the survey favor a mixed-use path for bicycles and pedestrians. The path would follow a route from the ferry, along Chappaquiddick Road and Dike Bridge Road, to Dike Bridge.

The survey indicates 54 percent of those surveyed want to create either a dedicated bike path, a mixed-use path, or sharrows (engineering term for marked bike lanes within the roadway). Of those who responded, 46 percent want to do nothing.

The survey was conducted by a group of Northeastern University engineering students who have suggested a path design as part of their college studies.

The survey was designed by the students, with input and funding from members of the Chappy Path Committee, a group that favors construction of a path. The students say they took the assessor’s list of individual property owners, removed not-for-profit and government owners, as well as properties owned by the same individuals or trusts on behalf of individuals. The survey was mailed to 498 distinct individual property owners, and 44 percent of those responded to the survey.

Norma Costain Kontje, who is active in the Sharing Chappy Roads Committee, opposes construction of a new bike path, and disputes the objectivity of the poll. “The survey was an assignment for a group of undergraduate students,” Ms. Kontje said. “A survey done by those with a goal in mind, the questions can point to the answers favored by those who designed the survey.”

The student group said opponents of the bike path declined an offer to participate in the survey and help design the questions.

“We’re not professional survey designers either,” Ms. Kontje said. “It’s an excellent intention, and we support the intention of a survey, but the result was very poor, it was unprofessional.”

The proposed bike path is a divisive issue on Chappy, the subject of several contentious community meetings. Residents of the Island have squabbled for more than 30 years about safety, aesthetic, and legal issues related to a path.