Lauren R. Stevens: A good way to honor Gail Cariddi for her bike path advocacy

WILLIAMSTOWN — Let's call the entire North Adams to Williamstown portion of the bike path, due to be under construction in 2019, the Gailanne Cariddi Bike Path. Former Mayor Alcombright has started the process, referring to the first section in North Adams as the Cariddi Mile.

This east-west portion of Berkshire bike routes has three parts. Two whose routes are set: from Route 7 and Syndicate Road in Williamstown to, and across, The Spruces; and from there to the airport road in North Adams. The route of the third section, to Mass MoCA, hasn't yet been established.

Gail wanted Berkshire bike paths during her 21 years as a city councilor and her four terms in the state legislature. She walked potential routes and worked with the Berkshire Bike Path Coalition, Bike North Berkshire, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the highway division of Mass Department of Transportation on planning and financing. She worked with towns and cities, councilors, mayors, selectmen, town mangers and especially the public. She attended meetings, which were not always pleasant, when potential bikeway neighbors expressed their views.

She wanted particularly for bike paths in her native North Adams. According to emails from Gail, there was a splurge of bike path activity on that front in early years of this century and then another around 2007. And now, finally, the first four miles are actually in the pipeline, the route chosen, the money available. It's too bad Gail won't be around to see it built.

We know how proud she would have been because of how proud she was when, sick as she must have been, she attended the opening of the next mile north of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, from Hoosac Street to Lime Street in Adams, last May. The next month her cancer did her in.

True, many people have been involved in pushing what has been called the Mohawk Bike Path — because it parallels the Mohawk Trail automobile road. But the reference point, the constant was Gail. Always with patience, poise and yet persistence, she was the polar star.

By the way, "Mohawk Trail," even for the highway, is something of a misnomer, since the Berkshires were Mahican territory.

Landmark column

According to the clicker on my computer, this is the 401st of my columns for this department. It looks as though I wrote a few in 2002 and fairly regularly beginning in 2003, although sometimes under the heading "Our Berkshires." It's a privilege to splatter a little print in a friendly environment on a biweekly basis.

At least, that's how it looks from the White Oaks.

A writer and environmentalist, Lauren R. Stevens is a regular Eagle contributor.


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