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Bicyclists to be barred from private road at Weston Golf Club

Posted by Leslie Anderson  May 18, 2012 02:05 PM

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Bicyclists planning a weekend ride along picturesque Meadowbrook Road by the Weston Golf Club will soon be met by a police detail turning them away from the private road often used as a cut-through.

Depending on the availability of police officers, a detail will begin either this weekend or next to discourage motorists and cyclists who do not have an access sticker, Weston police said Friday.

The detail was originally set to begin this weekend, but the department may be too busy with other events across town, including the Boston Brain Tumor Ride on Sunday, said police Lieutenant John Lyons. Detail officers may not be available, Lyons said.

Sunday’s bicycle ride, a fund-raiser benefiting the National Brain Tumor Society, passes through Weston but does not travel along Meadowbrook Road, according to the group’s website.

Weston Police Sergeant David Tinglof said the department had received numerous complaints about cyclists on the private road and throughout town, and confirmed that a detail had been hired by the club and residents to turn away non-club members and non-residents this Saturday and Sunday morning from 8:30 to 11:30.

In a letter to members obtained by the Boston Globe, General Manager Bryan O’Connell wrote that “Meadowbrook Road will have Police Detail for the purpose of checking automobiles for Meadowbrook Road Stickers and to prevent the groups of cyclists that are using the private road.”

O'Connell said he would have no comment.

Tinglof said Meadowbrook Road is a private way maintained entirely by club members and residents with posted private signs on each end.

On weekends, when there are more golfers using the course and more residents home doing errands, the groups of cyclists who use the road create a particular safety hazard, according to Tinglof.

The cyclists create a problem for golfers in carts trying to cross the road, for motorists trying to pass the riders and for golfers who fear a stray ball will hit someone riding by, he said.

“There are bike laws out there,” Tinglof said. “And we do get a lot of complaints from residents in all areas of town.”

Lyons said most of the complaints are about big groups of riders. “They are in big groups and no one moves out of the way, and it can become a confrontational situation,” Lyons said.

According to David Watson, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, or MassBike, a state law he said he helped write went into effect in 2009 allowing bicyclists to ride either single file, or two abreast. “State law allows bicyclists to ride two abreast and to ride in the middle of the lane,” he said.

In addition, he said when bicyclists are riding on narrow roads, similar to many in Weston, it is up to the car driver to wait for a safe opportunity to pass.

“Bicyclists do not have to endanger themselves or move off the road for the convenience of motorists,” Watson wrote in an email.

He said that if the police detail turns away people on bicycles, they must also turn away cars driving through without the proper sticker. “They can’t single out bikes,” he said.

As the head of a group whose mission is to promote a “bicycle-friendly environment,” Watson said it is not uncommon to hear that motorists sometimes get frustrated by groups of bicyclists, acknowledging that all bike riders don’t always follow the rules.

“But most of us are pretty well aware of bike laws, and especially on those twisty back roads which are so nice to ride on we’re generally trying to ride safely,” he said.

Tinglof estimates that Weston has the highest concentration of cyclists of “almost any Boston suburb.”

“We have nice roadways, winding hills,” Tinglof said. “They like the terrain and the type of town this is.”

Tingloff said the details, being used for the first time, are being entirely paid for by the Weston Golf Club and residents of the Meadowbrook Road.

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.

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