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Franconia Notch Multi-Use Path

Examination of design issues

Photo Tour

Article describing the path

A history and discussion

Franconia Notch State Park, in New Hampshire, is a popular recreational destination. Its multi-use path should be safe for use by casual, recreational bicyclists and children -- the kind that a path in a park is likely to attract -- but isn't. Problems followed from the path's being called upon to serve as a connecting route through the park, having to wind up and down and under the through highway. The additional goal of providing access to all points of interest along the highway complicated design further. The path has blind corners, dangerous obstacles, and worst of all, extremely steep slopes. It is closed after dark and when snow-covered. As part of the same process which led to construction of the path, bicyclists were prohibited from the highway, and its

 

design also excludes them, leaving them no alternative route at those times.

The path poses an unfortunate example of unintended consequences resulting from incorrect assumptions about safety, political cross-currents, and non-adherence to design guidelines.

Signs instructing bicyclists to walk have been posted in some sections of the path. Signs prohibiting use of inline skates also have been posted. Wheelchair use has not been prohibited; such a ban would highlight the non-compliance of the path with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The links to the left above connect to more detailed information about the path.

I thank the several correspondents who have contributed to this suite of Web pages. Photos in the photo tour are by Brian DeSousa unless otherwise indicated.