Table of contents

Franconia Notch Multi-Use Path

History and discussion

Compiled January, 2007 by John S. Allen

This page reproduces e-mail messages expressing a variety of opinions about the Franconia Notch path and related projects, and giving historical background. Several of the messages were originally posted on the e-mail list of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition.

Comments by:

Roger Hillas
Dave Topham
Jim Feldman
Tom Revay
Bob Spoerl
John S. Allen
[anonymous], update
Dave Topham, Jon Niehof
White House Millennium Council
[anonymous, another update]

Roger Hillas comments on NH bicycle facilities

From: "Hillas, Roger" <rogerhillas *at*>
To: "'bicycle *at*'" <bicycle *at*>
Subject: Bicycle Path Along Route 89
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2001 16:13:33 -0400

John, I agree heartily with your excellent article about the Franconia Notch bicycle path, and with your recommendation that bicyclists be allowed to ride on the shoulder of interstates in New Hampshire. I rode north and south through Franconia in September 1979, before the changes you describe, and it was quite safe to ride on the shoulder of the road. On the same trip, I rode extensively on the shoulders of limited access highways in Nova Scotia.

But am writing because I have actually ridden the bicycle path along Route 89 from North Grantham to Purmont, east of Lebanon. It has two major problems.

1. Because it is almost never ridden, it is covered with loose debris, and tree roots have pockmarked its surface in many places.

2. Like most bike paths, it is too narrow and dangerously juxtaposes pedestrians and bikes, especially near the Upper Valley Humane Society building. The designers, evidently thinking it made the path more quaint, have added unnecessary curves to the fastest parts of the trail, and they are pretty fast.

Interestingly, the path stops at Purmont in the west because there is an alternative route from there. That route involves a 20% grade after you cross Eastman Hill and descend north to Route 4 just west of Lake Mascoma. That hill is one of the steepest I have ever climbed or descended on a bike. It is much safer to head west on 89 for a mile and a half to where it intersects Route 4. I have done just that several times and was lucky enough not to get caught.

Roger Hillas

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Dave Topham comments

From: "Dave Topham" <dstopham *at*>
To: "John S. Allen" <jsallen *at*>
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2001 11:49 PM
Subject: Re: Franconia State Park Bicycle Path


Hi, John!

A very good piece of work!

I agree with everything you documented concerning the Franconia Notch "bike path". I've cycled through the notch many times before the "improvements" and found the conditions for safe bicycling a lot better then. As far as I'm concerned, that entire section through Franconia Notch may as well be posted as banning bicycling altogether. Right after the bike path was constructed, I cycled it from The Flume to the northerly most point where it dumps the cyclist back on Route 3. The ride was so bad that I took the main road back to The Flume parking lot, ignoring the "Bikes Prohibited" signs, and felt I was a lot safer even with the narrow roadway. Later the center dividers were constructed as you mentioned, so now I don't ride through Franconia Notch at all. This hurts, as the loop from Lincoln across the Kanc to North Conway's West Side Road, then west through Crawford Notch, and south through Franconia notch back into Lincoln was once one of the most spectacular century rides in New Hampshire.

I have forwarded a copy of your e-mail to several serious bicyclists and advocates plus Tom Jameson who heads up the NH Bike-Ped committee. I will be seeing Tom at the NH Bike-Walk Conference on Thursday so I'll try to yank his chain a bit more. Tom also worked with the original survey crew who planned that horrible "bike path" so he knows it all very well, or at least that is what I've been told. I refuse to cycle on that path, and the northerly end and around Echo Lake is the worst. Several GSW members have tried riding through the notch on the road and have been stopped by the state police. I maintain that a little shoulder space would be far better for cycling than any bike path.

The Route 89 bike paths are indeed a waste, and they were only constructed because Route 89 construction severed some local roads like Route 10. Politics are wonderful, and the highway engineers are often clueless. Yes, I'd take riding on the Route 89 shoulder over the poorly designed and poorly maintained bike path anytime. But it seems the original and current mentality is that "little Johnny" who does not really know how to ride a bike on the road with traffic must be "kept safe" by having him ride on a separate path. Some people will never ride on the road with traffic because they think the bike is a toy to be taken out only for a Sunday afternoon ride with the kids far away from cars. Those of us who want to use the bike as a true vehicle to go somewhere, for recreation or commuting, should be allowed to use the public roads, and the roadways must be designed with sufficient width or shoulder space to allow safe operation of bicycle and motor traffic without causing conflicts. I really believe the Franconia Notch roadway could have been made wide enough to allow safe bicycling on the road without causing harm to the environment or greatly increasing the cost when the "improvements" were being made. Now we must fight a real battle to make changes if bicyclists are to ever legally and safely ride through the notch on the road.

Let's keep in touch, John, and I'll let you know if I hear anything of interest at the Bike-Walk Conference.

Take care!

Dave Topham NH/GSW LAB Rep. LCI #39

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Jim Feldman likes the path, gives historical background

To: massbike *at*
From: Jim & Sara Feldman <feldmans *at*

Subject: [massbike] history of the Franconia Notch "bike path"
Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2001 10:35:28 -0400

This has been one of those discussions that should have the heading "Stop the World, I want to get off." That WONDERFUL bike path was created as part of a solution to a 20-year campaign of the State of NH to complete I-93, more or less over the dead body of the Appalachian Mountain Club. The issue was whether or not the road could run through Franconia Notch, a narrow, glacier and water-cut notch between the Lafayette-Lincoln ridge and the Kinsman-Cannon ridge. There were MANY issues under contention in the courts, including access to recreational facilities, damage to natural sites such as The Old Man of the Mountains, and the appropriateness of pushing interstate truck traffic (basically Boston to Quebec) through the notch. What existed before and during this long period of contention was US 3, a two-lane road with various commercial and state-park facilities along its length. In anticipation of legal success(?), the state had brought I-93 north of Lincoln to the base of the Notch and then completed the section north of the Notch that runs from Cannon to the VT border over near St. Johnsbury. Taking it west of the Cannon-Kinsman-Moosilaukee ridge (the other possible alternative) had become a financial impossibility at that point.

Eventually, after many design cycles and much debate in and out of court, a compromise was achieved between all of the contending parties, particularly the state and AMC. In the narrowest portion of the notch, 4 lanes were compressed into 2 and for that stretch, low speed limits were created and the road made inaccessible to bikes (horses, pedestrians and similar modes of transport.) Formally, since that design does not meet the criteria of an Interstate, the two-lane portion has no I-93 signs and bears another name. As part of the design compromise, it was agreed that a bike path would be run through the Notch, that tunnels would be constructed that permitted pedestrian/hiker access to trails coming across the notch (we used to just stomp across rt 3), and that various trails and parking lots would be moved or closed to mesh crossings and exits.

It is inherent in the design of mixed-mode orthogonal traffic that there will be crossings. Complaining about the bike path going through the Lafayette Campground parking lot shows that whoever made that complaint had not considered that there is nowhere else to take it. There is a parking lot on both sides, lots of trails coming out of those parking lots and a tunnel under "93" to accommodate the cross traffic. Because of the geography at this particularly narrow section of the notch, the bike path had to be on the Canon side and had either to take out precious camping sites or go through the parking lot. It is a big, open parking lot. I do not think that traversing it represents much of a hazard at all.

The path, the notch, the trails and walkways, the campsites, and the sightseeing stuff (Old Man, the Flume, etc.) are extremely popular. So is the road through the Notch. All of these get heavy use, some misuse, and present problems in meshing mixed modes of activity. It is this engineer's opinion that the bike path, as one part of the solution, is well engineered for scenery, relative quiet, ease of access, and FUN. This is nobody's commuter run. It does get you quite pleasantly through the steep climb/descent through the Notch without competition with trailer trucks. I have done the whole state from south to north. I have lots of pleasant memories from different sections. The Franconia Notch bike path is high on the list.

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Tom Revay responds to Jim Feldman

To: feldmans *at*, massbike *at*
From: Tom Revay <trevay *at*>
Subject: Re: [massbike] A counter opinion
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 14:23:38 -0500

[Feldman had posted a letter to Mac Daniel, author of the Starts and Stops column for the Boston Globe, which Tom cites here]

Mac Daniel
The Boston Globe

Dear Mac:

Just to let you know that indeed, Tom Revay's opinion of the bicycle path in Franconia Notch is his own. I have ridden that route numerous times in both directions in good weather and in wet, uphill and down, with other people on the trail and without, and I find it a delight, a pleasure and a welcome relief from the noise and unpleasantness of sharing the road with fast traffic.

Maybe Tom spends too much time on city streets and finds trees and quiet threatening, but I for one find this trail, which is cool in the heat and protected when the howling winds come screaming down the notch, well conceived, nicely executed and always a pleasure.

That's great, Jim. And setting aside the 'tude of your message (I don't like trees and quiet? Your data, please!), you've entirely missed the point -- or is evaded a better term?

Both John and I will agree that you can enjoy riding on that path as much as you want to. Both John and I can understand fully how one might prefer that quiet yet hilly path to the highway's noisy yet flat shoulder.

But John has pointed out that the "Bicyclists must walk bikes" signs appear to have been placed in locations where crashes occur, to the degree that significant parts of this "bike path" are declared too dangerous to ride a bicycle in. (!)

And I can vouch that there are times when I'd prefer a direct route that isn't my usual preference, simply because it gets me where I want to go and doesn't exhaust me.

(As an example: the C&O Canal Towpath trail near Harper's Ferry, WV isn't paved. It's got a worn-away gravel surface, but it's mostly dirt, and it's bumpy. Yet when I was touring through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia last year, I learned that taking the towpath between Antietam Battlefield and Harper's Ferry was the best route at the end of the day because it was -flat- and I was -tired-. Whereas, the nearby roads in Maryland and West Virginia had two directions: straight up and straight down. Despite the fact that the towpath wasn't smooth, and was thus a challenge to ride with a fully-loaded touring bike, it was better suited to my circumstances, and so I took the towpath. If the roads served me better, I'd have taken the roads.)

The fundamental problem with the Notch path is that the law -requires- this path be used by bicyclists traveling through the Notch, even though the road's shoulder is arguably safer, and certainly flatter. So the problem isn't that you like riding there; the problem is that everyone -must- ride there, whether or not they like it, whether or not it's safe, or whether or not it's even passable (for it's not maintained in winter, that can come in October and last until May in the White Mountains).

You can like this facility all you want, and hey, I'm glad you like it. Furthermore, those of us who support roadway cycling are constantly being told that we should support path construction for any number of reasons. And when it comes to rail trails, scenic paths, road-grade-separated paths, and paths that go places that couldn't otherwise be reached by bikes, I generally do.

So what about you? Now that you have your path in Franconia Notch, are you willing to work on behalf of those of us who might prefer to ride the flat shoulder of a roadway over a short distance, but who are prohibited from doing so by force of law? Rather than argue with John and me, why not support our idea that New Hampshire's restriction on riding the highway shoulder in these areas be repealed?


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Bob Spoerl provides more background

To: "John S. Allen" <jsallen *at*>
From: "Bob Spoerl" <bspoerl *at*>
Subject: Re: Franconia Notch assessment
Date: 10:17 AM 5/6/03 -0400

I work for NH Bureau of Trails, a part of NH State Parks. The following are my thoughts, not official department verbiage. I came across your page while looking to see if anyone else had maps of the "bike path".

I read your critique of the path and felt you may be interested in some other points. I was interested in why it was laid out the way it was, (not to spec's) and found out from some of the engineers involved or at least knowledgeable about it that part of the group that helped with the planning and design for the widening project requested that it be more "natural". (my word) They wanted to avoid destroying the natural terrain to accommodate the path. It was felt that most of the people were there it enjoy the park and its natural features....not cruise through it. Designing a separate path was not a option because of limited real estate to do it. (the highway and the Pemi river, and many of its tributaries are very real constraints)

I find that there is a big division between the needs of the recreation bicyclist and the hard core bicyclists. I believe the path was designed for the recreation group. However I don't believe that means that creating bad trail is allowable.

While other states may allow bikes on the interstates, I do not believe they would allow bikes on a similar situation in their state. We have lots of truck traffic and lots of gawkers...a bad mix. There are lots of accidents on the road as it is...a biker would not stand a chance, trapped in the guard rails.

I represent our department on the state bike/ped advisory committee, and would be very interested in your thoughts.

Bob Spoerl
Program Specialist, NH Bureau of Trails
bspoerl *at*

Reply to Bob Spoerl by John S. Allen

To: "Bob Spoerl" <bspoerl *at*>
From: "John S. Allen" <jsallen *at*
Subject: Re: Franconia Notch assessment
Cc: dstopham *at*

At 10:17 AM 5/6/03 -0400, Bob Spoerl wrote:

Hi John

I read your critique of the path and felt you may be interested in some other points. [etc.]

I am aware that the Appalachian Mountain Club was involved. Unfortunately, this group has no expertise in bicycle facility design. One member has written me and described the public process. He defended the design strongly. I would be interested in knowing what the actual crash statistics are for this project. I have noticed more and more stringent warning signs going up year after year. These are indicators of a problem, but the problem could have been anticipated.

The one concern that was not taken into account was that of proper design for bicycle use. The AASHTO bicycle facility design guidelines are not met. This concern is especially serious because so many of the people riding bicycles here are casual bicyclists, or children. The path was built to fulfill the Federal requirement not to sever a bicycle route, rather than being built appropriately for the casual and child bicyclists. The appropriate solution would have been to have shoulders on the road for the few, skilled-through-traveling bicyclists and a safer facility in the park for the casual bicyclists.

I disagree that the path was designed for casual bicyclists. It was designed for pedestrians, and I suppose that even the idea that it would be paved made it troubling to the AMC people. The idea of grading it would have been anathema to them. I do agree that designing a bad path is not allowable -- and the Franconia path is one of the most hazardous I have ever seen. I have recently seen another in Prince George, Utah [link added when preparing this Web page -- JSA] which is just as bad, and for similar reasons -- it goes up and down very steep slopes, though it parallels a highway that is well-graded.

I have ridden the entire Notch path from north to south at a time of very low traffic (a cloudy day in September) , and found it challenging and scenic, but also part of the way I was riding behind a mother and her child who nearly crashed a number of times.

The path really isn't designed for recreational, casual bicyclists, because they are unable to handle its difficulties. The path can only be used at a reasonable level of safety by skillful bicyclists. (I wouldn't use the term "hard core" --- the issue is skill, not obsession.) For a ride on this path at a reasonable level of safety, the brakes of the bicycle must be in good condition, something that can't be counted on with casual bicyclists. The bicyclist must also know how to use them, and must have a realistic understanding of the hazards rather than naively thinking that the path is safe because there are no cars on it.

Opinions among skillful cyclists are mixed. Some like to ride the path, because it is scenic and challenging. (I suppose we could fairly call *them* "hard-core", or maybe in New Hampshire "live free and if someone else dies, too bad."). Other skilled bicyclists dislike the path, because it is longer and slower than the highway, only open part of the year, and because of concern about the hazard to less skillful bicyclists.

There are additional problems beside the routing, which just result from bad design choices -- such as routing the path along sidewalks in parking lots where gawkers stand to look at the (late, lamented) Old Man of the Mountain. There is one parking lot where there are raised barriers adjacent to the sidewalk, so that a bicyclist whose wheel strays into one will take a hard fall. I don't have a photo of these but I show the same problem in the page

(First photo on the page).

I agree that the highway in Franconia Notch is not good for bicycling, especially as the barrier has been placed down the middle of sections of the highway with no shoulders. Motorists would not have safe clearance to pass bicyclists in these sections. However, they *did* ride the old highway, and I would venture to say that the number of crashes there was very small compared with the number now occurring on the path -- both because of the path's hazards and because of the different and larger bicycling population attracted to it. If there were shoulders (and they still could be added), then through-traveling bicyclists could choose to avoid crossing the entryways for the parking lots by riding through the parking lots. I really think that shoulders ought to be considered, to provide a *safer* and shorter bicycle route for through travel (yes, really, the crash rate would be lower) and to reduce liability risks. All in all, only about 15% of serious bicycle crashes involve a motor vehicle.

Two ways to increase the crash risk are to build a facility with serious hazards, and to attract people to ride on it, assuming that it is safe. The Franconia Notch path does both. The most alarming locations are where it leaves a parking lot through a wooded area (so you can't see the hazard ahead), then goes down a steep grade. I am thinking especially of the entrance just south of the old Route 3 bridge near the north end of the park -- leading to the "chute" which is shown in a photo on my Web page.

As to the sections of paths along Route 89 near Grantham and Sutton [actually Enfield -- JSA], also shown in my Web page, there is no problem with bicyclists on the shoulders, which are very wide. Also, the bicycle traffic there is extremely light. 19 states allow bicycles on some or all rural Interstates, and studies have shown that the crash rate is low. Building paths in such a situation is a waste of money and only reflects a misplaced obsession with the idea that it is always preferable to get bicyclists onto separate facilities. There are many better ways to use the funding, where there are actually enough bicyclists to justify it and where there are real problems that need to be solved. I hope that New Hampshire can follow the lead of the other states in the future.

Thank you for asking. I hope I have been helpful. You might also be in touch with Dave Topham, of the Granite State Wheelmen. I am cc:ing this message to him.

An update from an anonymous correspondent, in three parts

Date: Sat, 16 Apr 2005 08:44:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: [anonymous]
To: jsallen *at*
[No subject]

Dear Mr. Allen :

I have just read your article on line, on the Franconia Notch "Bike Path" Fiasco. Allow me a few comments.

Your article ignores the deference NH DOT (I call them the Department of Trauma) shows to snowmobiles. They were early and avid supporters of the FN "bike path" because they wanted to use it as a thru route for their polluting machines in winter.

I do know that one ten year old had a cycling accident while descending the Franconia Notch bike path. I heard his bike brakes failed, and he crashed at what was described as a 60 mph speed. The victim was helicoptered to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical center with what were said to be severe head injuries.

Snowmobilers also use portions of the Enfield-Grantham I-89 bike path. This path has never been repaved.This path is only eight feet wide, and has a bumpy, potholed surface. I did a century ride and found I had to slow to about 5 mph on that path segment, which was the slowest on the entire ride.When I last talked with the NH DOT District Chief, he said there were no plans to repave the bike path. One reason I generally oppose bike paths is that they allow the state to segregate bicycle interests (sound path pavement-a distinct minority) from motorists ( a majority) who want money spent on repaving roads.Cyclists lose that struggle every time.

If you look at the west side of the northernmost (in Enfield) section of the I-89 path, you will see sections of the old NH 10. Using the old two lane state road as the bike path would have saved a lot of money, compared to blasting side hill granite for the existing bike path. Note that there is a paved road from the Purmort I-89 interchange to the base of Whaleback Mountain ski area (which should be operating next winter ). A short stretch of paved road heads north and west from the Montcalm exit on I-89. While this stretch of road currently disappears into a beaver pond, the beaver pond is a recent development, and had no influence on the bike path design.

One interesting aspect of the Enfield bike path is that one night, thieves stole about 1300' of anchor fencing which stood between the path and I-89.

The Enfield-Grantham path is used by cyclists. It is the most direct cycling route between the Sunapee area, and the "Upper Valley" (Lebanon-Hanover-White River Junction.

The only paved access to the north end of the E-G bike path is up a steep ( up to 18% ) sustained climb from NH 4 called Eastman Hill Road. After climbing for over a mile, cyclists must descend south for nearly a mile to reach the bike path. Or one can cycle south to Plainfield on NH 120 and then make an alpine climb towards Methodist Hill Road, and then lose all the altitude gained to descend to the start of the bike path. The Dartmouth varsity cycling team avoids both of these climbs.I have seen cyclists on the E-G bike path, but have not in over forty years, seen any cyclist on the above approaches to the path.

As I stated earlier, I generally oppose bike paths. However, I have been working for years to get NH DOT to extend the north end of the E-G bike path to Stoney Brook Road (a dead end road rising from NH 4 to a point about one mile north of the Purmort I-89 exit). The maximum grade of this path would be no more than 8%. The path could be built entirely within the I-89 r.o.w. so no land would have to be acquired. This would make the existing path, with its key regional link role, accessible to average cyclists.

In this effort, I have been opposed by Lebanon's bicycle/pedestrian Committee on the claimed basis that few commuting cyclists would use the path. Lebanon residents living on Stoney Brook Road support my efforts.

I know of no bike path past, present or planned in Sutton, N.H. [My mistake -- JSA; I mistook the location of the Enfield-Grantham path when I first posted my article.]

My Town Planner is attempting to impose a shared bike path/sidewalk on Hanover's Lyme Road ( NH 10 ) a road which currently has 10' bike lanes, which NH DOT refers to as break down lanes.I oppose this effort.

The section of road in question has three senior citizen living facilities on it.Kids from the elementary school routinely bicycle in the bike lanes in opposition to the car direction of travel. The police never do anything about this.

I do appreciate your efforts. Keep up the good work.

Sincerely, [anonymous]

Cost of the proposed path has been estimated to be under $300,000.

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Date: Sat, 16 Apr 2005 09:46:54 -0700 (PDT)
From: [anonymous]

To: John Allen <jsallen *at*

[No subject]

Dear Mr. Allen :

I forgot to mention that the Loon Mountain ski area in Lincoln,N.H. runs bus excursions from Lincoln to the top of Franconia Notch ( 2000'). The riders are cyclists who take their bikes (some rented from Loon) from the bus and ride the Franconia Notch bike path back to Loon. An interesting aspect of this operation is that a high percentage of the cyclists fail to switch to the right hand side of NH 3 where the bike path ends, and so ride on the wrong side of NH 3, as they descend. A high percentage of these "cyclists" are pale and obese, suggesting that they may ride only once a year, when an entity like Loon Mountain carries them, for a fee, to the top of Franconia Notch. N. Woodstock, N.H. is at about 700' above sea level.

You ought to do a review of the relatively new bike path in Lincoln which runs east along NH 112 towards the East Branch bridge.This path requires unnecessary crossings by cyclists of NH 112. If you look up the ADTs for that section of road, you will find the path is not justified by the level of traffic. The original plan was for the path to continue further west, thru land owned by a condominia. The condo owners, who would have been the chief beneficiaries of the path, refused to sell land or a r.o.w for the path.

I measured the width of the paved path surface just east of the Loon Mountain main access road. It measured 8'6" at a time when AASHTO had already adopted a recommended 10' minimum width for two way paths.

Other bikeways to look at: The Killington,Vt. "bikeway" on River Road. This is merely a painted line on one side of River Road.

The Hartford, Vt. $2.1 million one mile bike path, which takes more time to bicycle in either direction than the adjacent Vermont Route 5.

Norwich Vermont, Hanover, N.H. and Lebanon, N.H. are also building " bicycle facilities" which range from defective to ludicrous.

If you get up this way, take a look at the Vermont 4 Eastbound approach to the I-89 eastbound onramp. A bicycle thru lane is needed. EB cars go from 50 mph to 15 mph in less than 100' to make a sharp right hand turn (notice the skid marks on the pavement). Cyclists unfamiliar with the area, have no means of moving safely from the right edge of the Vt. 4 pavement to the left of the too short right hand turn lane.Cars making the right hand turn onto the on ramp frequently do not signal their turn.Cyclists EB here can easily be making 40 mph on the downgrade, which is frequently downwind. The State of Vermont refuses to recognize the problem.

I recently attended a meeting of Vermont Agency of Transportation (now VTrans) employees, at which none of them ( and none of the regional planning commission " transportation planners" ) knew VTrans standards for placement of roadside barrier fences.

Best Wishes, [anonymous]

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Date: Sun, 17 Apr 2005 11:02:49 -0700 (PDT)
From: [anonymous]
Subject: Franconia Notch Bike Path
To: John Allen <jsallen *at*
Dear Mr. Allen :

Your on-line article does not mention that the Franconia Notch State Park section of I-93 includes a climbing (NB) lane for cars and trucks.

The highway thru the Notch was always conceived as part of the Interstate Highway System.The road does not "connect" two sections of the Interstate. The section which is less than National Defense Highway System standards (4 lanes, divided highway) was possible only because it is in a State Park. That section is called a "parkway".

The 27th edition of the AMC Guide to the White Mountains states on page 254 that the Pemigewassett Trail is a pedestrian-only trail which runs from approximately Profile Lake south to the FNSP Visitor Center.This fact argues even more strongly against the tolerance of walkers on the paved multiple purpose path.

Who keeps statistics on bicycle accidents on the Franconia Notch State Park bike path?

New Hampshire (and Vermont) are currently engaged in a major campaign to install rumble strips in the breakdown lanes (shoulders) of Interstate highways.

Whether you drive or cycle, you should know that The Basin area of Franconia Notch is a place where moose frequently cross the valley.

In the 1990s, a major rockfall on Cannon cliff caused some rock to descend to within 10' west of the bike path.

Within the past few years, NH DOT built a new NH 101 between Manchester, NH and Exeter. The word bicycle does not appear in the FEIS for the highway. NH 101 is part of the NDHS, and the new sections are built as 4 lane divided highway.

NH has a bicycle/pedestrian coordinator. This position has experienced considerable turnover. I think designating one person as the bike/ped voice makes it easy for the Detroit Syndrome people to marginalize the voice of cyclists. In the late 1980s, one of NH's most ignorant pols wanted to see NH 10/302 upgraded in the Bath-Landaff-Lisbon area.The current ADTs for that section are in the 2800 vehicles per day range, with 20 year projections calling for around 6000 ADTs.

Thus there was no justification for building a series of bypasses of the small towns, but the pol and one trucking company wanted a new route.So they got that section of NH 10/302 included for the first time in the NDHS. Please do not try to come up with a national defense scenario which would require lots of military trucking between Littleton,N.H. ( on I-93 ) and Wells River, Vt. ( on I-91 ).

The new highway design would have required climbing of hills which the Abnaki and the current NH 10/302 avoid.So the new highway had to have climbing lanes - an added expense. The original cost for the 8.6 mile upgrade was $56 million. I drove the present route at the speed limit and then calculated what the new route would take at its speed limit. For its $56 million, it would have saved something like 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

The bypass was not popular with the Towns which would have hosted it. Lisbon voted unanimously at its Town Meeting against the bypass. Lisbon would have lost its one gas station, because the bypass would have diverted so much traffic from the economically struggling village that the major oil company which owns the station said they would have to withdraw from the village location. Lisbon would have lost 4% of its tax rolls to the highway r.o.w.

The State continued.They bought three houses in the new r.o.w. and tore two down.

A new DOT Commissioner decided to reevaluate. A new cost estimate of $72 million came in. The State decided not to proceed with the bypass, and issued a press release stating that the project would not proceed due to "lacustrine soils". The soils, which had been studied before, have not changed since the glaciers left the area.

The new highway, with its hills, and truck traffic, would not have been used by cyclists who prefer the flatter old highway, which essentially follows the Amonoosuc River, taking one thru the small villages where water, food and toilets are available. The entire area is one in which air quality is in compliance with federal standards, while southern N.H. is not in compliance with air quality standards.

Last I knew, we are back to an upgrade of the existing NH 10/302, but the width of the shoulders is unknown. Cost of this option should be $25 million.

I once heard an employee of the Connelly Trucking Company of Littleton tell me that his company regularly sends out trucks loaded to 130,000 lp.That is well over the State limit (last I knew it was 80,000 lp.).

If you look at the NH DOT bike route maps , which can be seen on the NH DOT web site, you will see that the State bike paths are mentioned in text and not well represented on the maps themselves.

Sincerely, [anonymous]

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The anonymous correspondent describes additional projects

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 08:01:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: [anonymous]
Subject: WMNF Bike Project
To: John Allen <jsallen *at*


Dear Mr. Allen :

Please go to and then click to the Twin Mountain Bicycle Path Project in the Amonoosuc Ranger District. You have till 24 July to comment on this terrible project .

A pipeline which exists running from FR 313 ( the yellow line on the scoping letter map ) to Twin Mountain is not even shown on the map.

The scoping letter refers to the existing Franconia Notch State Park paved bicycle path as a "success". This is false.

The "idea" for the path arises from outside the Forest Service. There is no one on the WMNF staff or apparently in Twin Mountain who knows anything about bicycle facilities.

The best potential bike routes in the area apart from existing State highways, are the unpaved Gale River Road, leaving NH 142 in Franconia,and following the North bank of the Gale River to what is called Five Corners where the Trudeau Road intersects NH 3 , and the old railroad bed from Pierce Bridge , East along the Amonoosuc River (crossing the River once) to Twin Mountain. Note that the WMNF scoping map shows no proposed use of this old RR bed for a section of the "purple line" in Twin Mountain. This appears to be a political decision. NH 302 from Littleton to Twin Mountain is also a logical bike route. NH 118 running SE from Franconia, has a very steep sustained grade, with a climb of about 900 vertical feet.The usually poor condition of the road's pavement precludes using the steep grade for an exciting downhill bike ride.

Nothing is said about NH DOT's schedule for adding bike lanes to NH 3, nor are ADTs or projections given.

The project is supported by NH DOT and by the NH Trails Bureau. This N.H. resident has no confidence in either bureau. For years, I have referred to NH DOT as the New Hampshire Department of Trauma. The Trails Bureau is a wholly owned subsidiary of the snowmobile industry.

An old railroad used to run from Pierce Bridge up to the height of Franconia Notch where a hotel, the Profile House stood.

It is very disconcerting to drive a road and find snowmobiles on a parallel path, with their 24 hour a day head lights bobbing up and down . Today's snowmobiles can easily do 50-75 mph or more. I would argue that Twin Mountain's (part of the Town of Carroll) economic difficulties are due to its over-reliance on snowmobiling as a means of attracting visitors . Now the Town wants to expand that, while US troops are occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. I think it is ludicrous to use taxpayer dollars to expand petroleum-dependent types of recreation, which at the same time, degrade the physical health of participants.

Any assistance you can provide would be appreciated .If you wish to reform the WMNF and/or NH DOT, this proposal would be a good place to start .

I would appreciate acknowledgment that you received this message . Please include your web site address . Thank you,

Sincerely, [anonymous]

[I regret that I was leaving on vacation as I received this message, and did not comment on the Twin Mountain project -- JSA]

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Update from Dave Topham, in response to Jon Niehof

Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 16:03:02 -0400
From: "Bike-Walk Alliance of NH \(Dave T.\)" <dave *at*
Subject: Re: Twin Mountain Bike Path
To: "Jon Niehof" <jon_niehof *at*
Cc: "Linda Gould" <lgouldr *at*>, <jsallen *at*>

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your comments! In return, I would like to offer the following just to keep the subject alive.

1. A key phrase used to describe the proposed Twin Mountain bike path is "family friendly" even if you did not see it in print.

2. Making the Parkway wider and removing the present bike ban would be nice but I don't see that happening. Not only for the cost involved and questionable usage by long-distance cyclists, but the Parkway is officially Interstate Route 93. Nowhere in New England are cyclists allowed on Interstates, and fat chance that NH would be the first to allow such!

3. The stone-dust surface is but one surface treatment under consideration although that is what appears in print. There is ample time to discuss options, and the designers are willing to listen. There is a surface which UNH came up with that is porous yet hard, withstands frost, and is relatively inexpensive. This and more should be reviewed over the next year or two, well before actual construction is scheduled to start. $$

Keep your ideas and support coming! Anything sent to the WMNF Regional Office and NH DOT will be read and appreciated, even if not in direct response to a particular phase. You might also keep the Twin Mountain Chamber of Commerce contact, Jim Covey, in the loop. Jim has been advocating for this trail for several years and has the full support of local business people. Jim and Lisa Covey run the Profile Deluxe Motel, 580 Route 3 South, PO Box 99, Twin Mountain NH 03595, 603.846.5522, info *at* . I worked with Jim for the presentations made on May 30, and I stayed over at his place to avoid a long drive home late at night.

Take care!

Dave Topham
BWA-NH Office

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jon Niehof" <jon_niehof *at*>

To: "Bike-Walk Alliance of NH (Dave T.)" dave *at*
Cc: jsallen *at*
Sent: Friday, September 15, 2006 1:14 PM

Subject: Re: Twin Mountain Bike Path

Thanks for the reply, Dave. I'm cc'ing John Allen in.

--- "Bike-Walk Alliance of NH (Dave T.)" <dave *at*> wrote:

Everyone agrees that the design problems seen on the Franconia Notch recreational trail will not be repeated in Twin Mountain.

Excellent. I was hoping I was reading "family-friendly" correctly in the description of the project.

Likewise, bicyclists will still be able to use Route 3 if they prefer faster travel. The trail through the Notch is a real fiasco when it comes to bicycling -- and I don't see it being changed.

John's suggestion of removing the ban on the sections of the parkway with wide shoulders is probably the best possibility.

Did you happen to write a letter or email the WMNF regional office during the "scoping" comment period?

I didn't find out about it until I was flipping through proposed projects when planning my hike for this past weekend. If it's not too late to be effective, I'd be happy to send in a letter.

A hard-packed stone-dust surface is currently planned.

I have a personal distaste for stone dust. One material the Mass Dept. of Conservation and Recreation is using is what they call "binder." As best I can tell, it's sand epoxied together (an oversimplification, I'm sure.) It's a fully ADA-compliant soft surface and seems to handle normal rainfall on the path surface itself fairly well--i.e. one square inch of path is porous to the amount of rain that will fall on one square inch. It has some problems when there's a steep slope to the path, or when water from alongside runs onto it; once the water starts flowing it will erode. It also doesn't seem to support as high a speed as pavement; I'd say 15MPH is about my comfortable top. However, that may be a benefit.

I wouldn't necessarily *suggest* the stuff, but it might be worth looking into.

but having a gravel sidepath for those wishing to "run on dirt" or for equestrians has a lot of merit. This design was incorporated in the new Windham Rail Trail.

Sounds good!

Let's keep our eyes and ears open concerning the Twin Mountain Bike Path proposal and for anything else of similar interest around NH.

I'll let you know if I hear anything. I mostly get up there to go into the Whites these days (working on the 4000-footers), but I do appreciate the NHDOT bike maps. Every summer I plan on touring and every summer I run out of time....

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None are so blind

Interesting note from the June 15, 2001 issue of Appalachia, pg. 140:

'The White House Millennium Council designated the 8.8 mile Franconia Notch Recreation Trail (known to many as the "Bike Path") as New Hampshire's "Millennium Legacy Trail." Each of the fifty states has a Millennium Legacy Trail chosen by the council, though no federal funding accompanies the honor.'

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Another update from the anonymous commenter

In December 2006, a new paved bike path opened in Bristol, N.H. You really should see it. The path is two separate sections of path alongside NH 3-A between the CBD and Newfound Lake. The two sections are connected by a section of road cycling/walking on NH 3-A. I have walked the path in December. I saw no bicycles on the path, and saw only four other pedestrians. Grades and curves were only eyeballed , and seem ok but I can't discern what problem the path was supposed to solve .

 An old roadside spring on the west side of NH 3-A is now bypassed by the new path. There is no signage (yet) telling cyclists about the old spring. Locals will know about it, but first-timers will miss the spring entirely. There is as yet, no designated parking space at the lower terminus of the path .The Southern section of path begins East of NH 3A and then crosses to the West side of 3-A. Then the path ends. On the day I walked the path, there were no signs telling NB cyclists to cross to the East side of the highway. If they did so, they would then have to recross the highway, to get back on the Northern section of path, which lies between  NH 3-A and  the Newfound River.

 One of the walkers I encountered said " This would be a good path if it went all the way to town." he length of the path is said to be 1.7 miles, but that must include the section of road walk/biking .      At the Southern beginning of the path is a new bridge ( over 100' long) over the Newfound River .        The upper section of path  crosses driveways for a pizza place , a hair dresser,  a gun shop, and a couple of local roads .

 The Northern end of the path is reached by taking " Old Route 3-A" South from the West Shore Road.

I walked part of the FNSP Bike Path this summer. On a perfect weather day, I saw six cyclists on NH 3 ,North of the Notch, and saw only two cyclists, traveling very slowly on the bike path. Your web site does not mention that part of the bike path on old NH 3 is also on what used to be first a narrow guage, then a standard guage railroad line from Bethlehem Junction to the top of Franconia Notch. NH DOT still claims a rail r.o.w.  thru the WMNF which ends at the Bethlehem/Franconia Town Line.

 Yes, you can anonymously pass on my comments on the new path .There is a cost  figure for it given on the transportation enhancements  listing on the site. There are also estimated construction dates for other N.H. paths on this listing .      Bristol refuses to pay its dues to its regional planning commission. Its Master Plan calls for extending the path South, " ... Along the [Newfound ] River to the center of Bristol. This makes no sense because the river floods, and the terrain South of the existing South path terminus is essentially flat. A local school exists on NH 3-A which is quite a way from the river.

Bike paths; the new way to boondoggle ...

There are plans for a bike path from Franklin,N.H. along the Winnipesaukee River (within the existing State-owned rail r.o.w.) to Laconia, Weirs Beach , and Meredith, with noise about extending the bike path thru New Hampton and Ashland to Plymouth (again using the rail r.o.w. ; this would be a rail with "trail " project.

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