Letter to the Editor: Stone dust better choice for trails

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I’m one of the signers of the petition to keep Hopkinton’s woodland trails soft-surfaced. With 210 signatures so far on the online petition and more on the original paper petition, it seems like a lot of trail users agree with me.

I usually make two points about the issue: First, a 10-foot wide paved path is a road, not a trail. If I want to walk on a road, I can find one at the end of my driveway. Second, the only trail activity not supported on a packed stone dust trail (like the Center, Echo and Hughes trails) is rollerblading. Wheelchairs, strollers, runners, walkers, horseback riders and bike riders can all use stone dust trails. I’ve ridden my skinny tire road bike the entire length of the Upper Charles Trail, through Milford (paved) and Holliston (stone dust). There was no difference in performance between the two surfaces.

Stone dust trails are ADA-compliant, cheaper to build and maintain, easier on the body to walk/run, and permeable (better for the land). A paved path may be appropriate for a commuter bike route in an urban setting, used by bike riders moving at high speed rather than leisurely walkers, but not for the walking trails in our suburban town.

I urge the town join me in supporting this initiative.

— John Ritz, Hopkinton

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