TRURO — Nurzhijit Kopzhassar, who lives and works in Provincetown, frequently travels to Wellfleet by bike to see a friend who lives there. He cycles along Shore Road (Route 6A) as far as he can but picks up Route 6 after Shore Road converges with it in North Truro.
Kopzhassar is not happy with pedaling on the shoulder, but he has no choice: there is currently no way to travel across Truro by bicycle without using the highway for at least part of the trip.
The results of a survey conducted by the town’s bike and walkways committee last spring indicate that Kopzhassar is not the only one wishing for a safer route through Truro. A majority of the responses received so far — 63 percent of 431 surveys completed — cite lack of “infrastructure” as a key deterrent to biking.
A backroad route becomes possible again when Route 6 intersects with Castle Road, but at that point Kopzhassar chooses to stay on the highway shoulder for the rest of the way to Wellfleet — for the sake of efficiency. He is an experienced cyclist who works in a bike shop. But he says pedaling along Route 6 is particularly bad at night.
Stories like Kopzhassar’s worry Susan Roderick, who chairs the Truro Bike and Walkways Committee. Referring to Route 6, Roderick says, “That’s the main way people travel, so we want to make it safer.”
The committee’s survey asks cyclists and pedestrians who use the town’s roadways about their needs and desires when it comes to biking and walking here. The survey was published online and advertised on posters via QR code in April; it will remain open for additional responses through September.
The survey also asks for feedback on possible improvements, including one that would eliminate one lane of traffic on Route 6 and construct a “fully separated bike and pedestrian path between the fork of Route 6 and 6A and the Provincetown border.” That’s an option the Cape Cod Commission and the Mass. Dept. of Transportation (MassDOT) are working toward, according to the survey, and so far 88 percent of respondents say they would support that approach.
The Cape Cod Commission conducted a series of public forums and studies with the National Seashore and the towns of Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown between 2014 and 2017. From these, the commission created an Outer Cape Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which was presented to MassDOT in 2017 to guide the state agency.
The plan proposes creating a multi-use path along the east side of Route 6 in North Truro, potentially involving a reduction in the number of lanes for cars.
“MassDOT is in charge” of Route 6 infrastructure projects, Roderick says. But “everyone has to be on board,” she adds. Which is why the Truro committee’s survey is important. While MassDOT has the power to carry out the construction of new bicycle lanes and rearrange the space for vehicles, individual towns have to approve the projects first.
MassDOT and the Outer Cape towns don’t have a perfectly harmonious history. In 2021, Wellfleet residents and officials vehemently objected to a MassDOT plan to extend the Cape Cod Rail Trail two miles north, on the grounds that it would spit cyclists out onto a busy part of Route 6. After much debate, the path was extended only for a mile, dead-ending at the state’s Wellfleet Hollow Campground.
Roderick is optimistic, though, about Truro’s collaboration with MassDOT because, she says, their goals of eventually extending the bike path all the way from Wellfleet through Truro to Provincetown and creating a safe, complete bike route align with local desires.
Those include the health benefits of cycling, a reduced dependency on fossil fuels, and intangibles that perhaps the Outer Cape’s intrepid cyclists can articulate best.
“I love it,” says Rick Gross of his commute. Gross is a lifelong Cape Codder who bikes to his job at Marine Supply Co. in Provincetown from his home in North Truro whenever weather permits.
“It’s neat for the things you don’t notice in a car, like the smell of barbecues in the afternoon,” he says, “and how the temperature drops when you get closer to the harbor in the morning.” But Gross says he’s lucky to live on Shore Road and is thus able to avoid the highway.
Construction of new bike routes in Truro is still a long way off. The bike and walkways committee members have their eyes on 2026, when MassDOT is scheduled to repave Route 6.
To participate in the Truro Bike and Walkways Committee survey go to truro-ma.gov/bike-and-walkways-committee.