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Cape Cod Commission

Bicycling on the Cape in increasingly popular. The Cape Cod Commission has recognized the economic and environmental benefits of bicycling in its Long Range Transportation Plan.

Existing facilities

Cape Cod has a relatively large number designated bicycle facilities. This situation largely reflects the heavy summer tourist traffic. Existing facilities which have been reported to the bicycle facilities inventory project are:

Cape Cod Canal frontage roads

Frontage roads on either side of the canal are under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers and are very popular as bicycle and pedestrian paths. They may be accessed at a number of points, though access is often not clearly designated by signs or on maps.

Shining Sea Path, Falmouth

The Shining Sea Path, completed around 1980, follows the abandoned rail line from the center of Falmouth to the Steamship Authority ferry dock in Woods Hole.

Falmouth bicycle routes

Several on-road routes in Falmouth have been designated.

Dennis paths and bicycle route

Paths in Dennis run parallel to parts of Old Bass River Road, Setucket Road and Old Chatham Road. Mayfair Road is a designated bicycle route, though the town wishes to remove this designation in view of increasing traffic volume.

Paths in Barnstable

A path runs along the south side of Route 28 through a residential and shopping district west of the center of Hyannis. Another runs along Old Stage Road between Route 149 and Race Lane.

Cape Cod Rail Trail

The trail extends from Route 134 in Dennis to LeCount Hollow Road in Wellfleet, with gaps in Orleans and Harwich. The first segment from Dennis to Orleans was completed in 1980. An extension from Eastham to Wellfleet was completed in 1995. There is a short "missing link" in Orleans and Eastham. New directional signs are being installed on the Rail Trail, a cooperative effort of the National Park Service, the DEM and the Cape Cod Commission.

Nickerson State Park path, Brewster

A designated bicycle path runs from the park entrance around Cliff Pond to the south end of the park.

National Seashore paths

These paths primarily provide access to beaches. They run from Route 6 to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham; from Head of the Meadow Road to High Head Road in Truro; and through the Province Lands in Provincetown.

Massachusetts Bike Route 1

Massachusetts Bike Route 1, a designated bicycle touring route, extends between Boston and Provincetown, with a spur to Woods Hole. Ferryboat connections are available at both Provincetown and Woods Hole. The route is mostly on roads, but it makes use of the Shining Sea Path in Falmouth and the Cape Cod Rail Trail.


The Cape Cod Commission has a contract with the MHD for a bike locker demonstration project. Lockers have been installed in Harwich and Mashpee. Lockers are planned for Falmouth, Barnstable, Provincetown and Eastham.

Bicycle on bus service

The Sea-line (Cape regional bus from Barnstable Village to Woods Hole in Falmouth) has racks to accommodate passengers’ bicycles.

Ferry service

Several ferry companies will transport passengers’ bicycles for a small additional charge,. The ferries connect the Cape with Gloucester, Boston, Quincy and Plymouth, on the mainland, as well as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. All run in the summer only, except the Steamship Authority ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which run year-round.

Proposed projects

The following descriptions of proposed facilities have been submitted to the bicycle facilities inventory.

Shining Sea Path extension

A proposal from the Town of Falmouth would extend the Shining Sea Path past the center of the town. Part of the extension is a rail with trail, though only one train per week presently runs to Falmouth. A spur path is planned to the High School. Additional proposals would provide a rail with trail as far as the Bourne Bridge.

Improvements at Cape Cod Canal bridges

Several commenters pointed out that the sidewalks of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges are narrow, and suggested improvements such as cantilevering a bicycle path from the side of the bridge. One advantage of this is that it could allow the bridge to be widened for vehicular traffic. Commenters also expressed a desire to improve connections at the ends of the bridges, where there are no signs to direct bicyclists to the bridge or to the Canal frontage roads.

Cape Cod Rail Trail improvements, connections and extensions

Many commenters including the Cape Cod Commission pointed out that the original section of the Rail Trail is due for repaving, and that widening and additional signage might be considered in view of heavy use of the trail.

An Orleans link between the two unconnected sections of the rail trail is proposed, and is in the Transportation Bond Issue. This would require a Route 6 overpass. Another overpass is needed at Route 6 in Harwich to eliminate a detour.

A Harwich-Chatham spur of the rail trail is nearing 100% design. There is funding in the Transportation Bond issue for this, and it is in the 1996 Transportation Improvement Plan.

Private ownership of parts of the right of way pose a potential obstacle to extension of the Rail Trail through Wellfleet and Truro. The most promising approach would seem to be a trail not on the railbed, but east of Route 6, providing access to National Seashore ponds not presently accessible by good roads. Bicyclists may also use lightly-traveled Old County Road in Wellfleet, and Route 6 from Truro to North Truro, which has wide shoulders.

Another proposal would extend the rail trail through Barnstable, in the most difficult section for through bicycle travel of the entire Cape. The actual route might deviate from the rail line here as well. One individual commenter proposed a rail with trail all the way to Bourne.

Falmouth/Bourne/Barnstable bike routes

Representatives of the advocacy groups Mad About Cycling and the Falmouth Bikeway Committee suggested a number of designated shared roadway routes in Falmouth and neighboring towns. Some routes in Falmouth have already been designated.

Route 151 proposals

Three different proposals were received; one from the Falmouth Bicycle Committee for bicycle lanes, one for a path on the north side in Mashpee, and another for a path on the south side.

Mashpee proposals

Commenters from Mashpee had several suggestions, mostly for paths adjacent to roadways, but some for bicycle lanes.

Hyannis Intermodal Center and related projects

An intermodal transportation center is proposed for Hyannis, integrating rail, bus and ferry terminals. There is a proposal to bring a spur of the Cape Cod Rail Trail to the intermodal center.

Harwich-Chatham Bikeway

This proposal would add a spur to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, primarily utilizing abandoned railroad right-of-way.

Provincetown projects

A rail trail is proposed in Provincetown to relieve traffic on busy Commercial Street and Bradford Street. An improvement of Race Point Road to connect with the existing Province Lands paths is also proposed. Other proposals have been described, for a path adjacent to Moors Road, and a bike lane on Route 6 (an alternate to the proposed rail trail in Provincetown), as well as improvements to the Province Lands trails in the National Seashore.

Highway and road widening

Besides the Route 151 bike lane proposal, there were suggestions to add shoulder width to Route 28 in Falmouth and Route 6A in Sandwich on the Upper Cape. Several commenters expressed a desire for adding width whenever feasible and necessary, and pointed out that this approach is more economical and allows easier and more direct travel than bicycle paths.


Several commenters expressed a desire for bicycle parking at numerous points including shopping areas, beaches and educational institutions.

Cross-state routes

See the section of this report on cross-state routes for more detail on the following routes:

The southern east-west cross-state route converges with the coastal north-south route on Cape Cod. Both terminate in Provincetown, with a spur to Woods Hole. The routing suggested for the segment from Sandwich to Dennis is somewhat different from that of the existing Massachusetts Bike Route 1, to provide access to Craigville Beach and the Hyannis ferry docks, and to avoid narrow, congested Route 6A in Barnstable.

Cape Cod region priorities

The following priorities were developed through the inventory process:

1) Rail trail improvements, extensions and links including the two overpasses of Route 6 in Orleans and Harwich; the extension through Dennis, Yarmouth and Barnstable and the repaving, widening and signage of the oldest segment of the trail, between Dennis and Eastham. The Harwich-Chatham spur is near 100 percent design.

2) Improvements to connections at the Cape Cod Canal. Economical and simple measures include signage, designation and improvement of routes to and from the ends of the bridges and the Canal frontage roads. A far more expensive, yet desired improvement would be wider bikeways/walkways on the bridges, which might also allow increasing the width of the roadway for motor traffic by removing the walkway inboard of the bridge towers.

3) Maintaining and improving streets and roads for bicycling during the course of normal maintenance and reconstruction.

4) Extension of the Shining Sea Path to North Falmouth. This is near 100 percent design.

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