Before Bike Week
Saturday, April 26: WBOS EarthFestThe bicycle celebration season began with MassBike's participation in WBOS's annual Earth Day celebration on the Charles River Esplanade around the Hatch Shell. Our tent was set up next to a bigger one housing other environmental organizations, and we shared it with the Inline Club of Boston. I helped staff the booth during the late afternoon; the concert was still going strong, but there were few cyclists taking advantage of our valet parking, as you can see from the accompanying photo. Last year, there were hundreds of parked bikes. We had people send postcards to their State Reps encouraging them to support Safe Routes to School legislation. The most common question was about where there were other bike paths, so I got to enlighten people about the Neponset and East Boston trails. I was glad that I had to get home to make dinner for my family and didn't have to pack up the wet tent or trailer it back to Dorchester, which Tim Baldwin had to do.
MassBike at Wake Up the Earth
Bike Float at Wake Up the Earth
Art Bike at Wake Up the Earth
Saturday, May 3: Wake Up The EarthTwo years ago, MassBike debuted its valet parking apparatus at Jamaica Plain's fabulous celebration of spring, but last year no one could be found to organize our presence. As a result, there was an acute shortage of bike parking, and I swore that we would be there in 2003. Of course that meant that I had to get volunteers and transport and set up the booth, I had a major lack of time as I had to finish up a paper to deliver at a professional conference for which I was departing early Sunday morning [conference website] [my paper]. But the weather was great on Saturday morning, after forecasts of rain which only changed on Friday night, as I biked to Dorchester to pick up the 10-foot-long trailer containing our tent, a bike parking structure, and MassBike literature. Pulling well over 100 pounds almost 5 miles back to Jamaica Plain was a challenging way to start the day. Bill Reyelt was on the Southwest Corridor waiting for me, and after three tries, we managed to get the tent set up. I helped set up the bike racks two years ago, so that part went more quickly (and Turil helped a lot, too). Our site wasn't near an edge of the exhibit area, so we got fewer parking customers than I would have liked, but lots of people stopped by with bicycling questions. I got a little time off to wander about, eat, and check out the Art Bikes (to be auctioned off by Bikes Not Bombs at the end of Bike Week) and the float Milton Trimitsis, Roslindale's newest bike shop owner, pulled in the parade on a trailer identical to MassBike's. I left Bill to figure out what to do with the last bike parked on the rack an hour after the festival had ended, and pulled our equipment back to Field's Corner. Everyone on the street was really nice to me, shouting out friendly greetings or asking how much the trailer cost. I was really glad to drop it off and zoom home with a much lighter load.
Fixing Bob Williamson's flat in Dorchester
Cycling past Neponset Trail Mural
Lunch in Adams Park in Roslindale
Stopping to smell the lilacs in Arnold Arboretum
Another sunny Saturday greeted riders for our Bike Week Kick-Off Ride.
Paul Schimek, Boston's current bicycle and pedestrian coordinator who will
probably lose his job in the current budget crisis put together a route
which emphasized Boston's neighborhoods and
parks. Starting in Boston's largest park, Franklin Park, we headed across
Dorchester on an amazingly direct (for Boston) route to the Harbor, where
we picked up the northern end of the
Neponset Trail. On the way, we made a side trip (extended due to
a flat tire) through the beautiful Victorian neighborhood of Wellesley Park.
We followed the Neponset River across the southern edge of Boston to Cleary
Square in Hyde Park, and from there, the Amtrak Main Line and the valley
of a long-lost creek to Roslindale Square, where we scattered to buy lunch
to eat in Adams Park after a welcome from Roslindale Village Main Streets
director Tom Litke. I had a great turkey, stuffing, and cranberry croissant
from Diane's Bakery, followed by a hot fudge sundae from Emack and Bolio's.
Others got sandwiches from Fornax bakery and the Village Market.
Our hunger stanched, we biked across West Roxbury to Millenium Park, Boston's newest large park, where we checked out its numerous bikepaths, noting that most of the other bikes in the park seemed to have arrived by car. As both this park and Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester, through which we rode on the Neponset Trail, are converted landfills, "Dump to Dump" suggests itself as an alternative name for this ride. The views from Millenium Park of the MDC's Cutler Park and Brook Farm Reservation are far wilder and more extensive that one would expect to see inside Boston's city limits. The problem with this park is that it is disconnected from the community, with bike access made fairly difficult by one-way streets and the barrier of the VFW Parkway. In fact, you cannot get out of the park (unless you ride the dirt paths of Brook Farm, or as suggested by David Wean, through the VA Hospital parking lot) without riding some distance on the VFW Parkway, which is not for those uncomfortable riding in heavy traffic.
We made our way back across West Roxbury, mostly on quieter streets, cut through a bit of Roslindale, and climbed Fairview, Peters, and Bussey Hills through the Arboretum to the lilacs, which were much easier to view today than they will be tomorrow. None of us had cars in Franklin Park, so we scattered from the Arboretum and headed home,
||I spent Mothers Day giving my wife the gift of time, washing windows and installing screens. We didn't make it out on our bikes at all...|
Charles River TMA breakfast at University Park in Cambridge
Today's weather reinforced our decision years ago to have a Bike Week rather
than a single Bike Day. While it wasn't *really* raining, the light mist and
forecast for heavier rain seemed to deter a lot of potential bike commuters.
Only the dog and exercise walkers were out in the Arboretum this morning,
and not too many people made it to the Charles River TMA's bike commuter
breakfast at University Park in Cambridge. MassBike board member Karin Turer
and Bike Week stalwart Debbie Adams were there when I arrived, joining
Stephanie Anderberg from the City of Cambridge and Jim Gascoigne from the
Charles River TMA who hosted the event. Only a couple of other cyclists stopped
by during the time I was there. I missed the Globe's writer and photographer
who came by a half hour before I did. I am told that the photographer did
not even get out of her car to take pictures; maybe she didn't want to
get her camera wet in the mist.
There were a lot more people at Redbones tonight! It stopped raining about the time I got there around 5:30. The barbecue was great, and the ripe tomatoes were especially tasty. Andy Rubel had the galleys of the new edition Car-Free in Boston which he is publishing. MassBike board members came from all over the state, and Tim and Turil gathered postcards in support of Safe Routes to School for MassBike. Scott Mullen was hawking The Ride, the current web issue of which has links to Bike Month calendars throughout the Northeast. The New England Mountain Bike Association was recruiting members and fund-raising to buy trails. ANT Bikes had some of their utility bikes on display, and Independent Fabrication had their road bikes out. This is the one Bike Week event where activists, mountain bikers, tourists, and racers all get together, drawn by their one common interest, good barbecue!
Biking through Arnold Arboretum
This morning I got to ride through an almost-empty Arboretum though the
lilacs were more in bloom than they were on Lilac Sunday two days ago.
I hadn't confirmed that the Broadway Bicycle School was hosting their
annual pancake breakfast for cyclists, but the fact that all the racks
within sight of their entrance had as many bikes as possible locked to
them let me know that for at least the ninth time (see the
Breakfast Calendar), they were turning their shop into a chocolate
chip and banana pancake emporium. Every meal turns up a few more people
with interesting jobs and bicycle stories. It was hard to leave to go
to work, but I did.
Harvard's Bike Commuter Breakfast at Holyoke Center
Today was Harvard's day during Bike Week. Holly Bogle, who directs
Harvard Commuter Choice Program
(which includes bicycling), is a cyclist, and she put together
a good breakfast spread, with the assistance of Au Bon Pain, in the heart
of Harvard Square. Her boss John Nolan, director of Harvard Transportation
Services, talked about the significant amount of sheltered bike parking
Harvard is including in their new parking garages.
Cambridge zoning laws
required them to do it, but it's nice that they're advertising their compliance
rather than trying to avoid the law. Harvard campus police were registering
bikes and giving out LED headlights and taillights to every registrant.
I ate too much pastry, but it was great to talk with other Harvard bike
During lunch, I biked down to Harvard's Transportation Fair over the Broadway overpass in front of the Science Center. This time every type of non-single-occupant-motor-vehicle transportation was included, including the MBTA, Amtrak, and ride-sharing programs. Quad Bikes, which is setting up a bike shop in one of Harvard's dorms next fall, was fixing bikes for free at both locations.
Back Bay Bike Commuter Breakfast
I started the day with a quick ride down the Southwest Corridor (after a
bus-heavy mile-and-a-half of Washington St.) and cut over to Boylston St.
and the Prudential Center, site of this morning's first TMA-sponsored bicycle
commuter breakfast. There was a great spread of pastries and fresh-squeezed
orange juice. David Strauss from the
Artery Business Committee
Transportation Management Association, cosponsor
of the breakfast, had some of the T-shirts with the Commuter Challenge logo
which I had been looking forward to seeing. Click on either of the pictures
with the t-shirt to see it up close. David was disappointed by the turnout,
and by the number of people who were entering the Commuter Challenge this year.
Turil was there from MassBike, proud that she can now fit a table's worth
of literature, including pamphlet racks, into two panniers.
After chatting with friends and eating more pastry than was good for my health, I biked over the river to the second breakfast hosted by the Charles River TMA, in Kendall Square. On the way, I got to see first hand the deterioration of the bicycle "safety zone" to the right of the fog line on the Harvard Bridge. The pavement has been pushed up into a ridge parallel to the direction of travel, making it tricky to get into the travel lane to avoid debris.
Phase one of the Historic Parkways Initiative project to narrow Memorial Drive and widen the Charles River parklands is now underway. It was great to see the drawings I have commented on at meetings last fall and winter turning into an improved bikeway along the river.
The food at Kendall Square was almost gone, but there were people to chat with including old friends and past bike coalition board members Michael Herring and Meredith Porter and current board member Karin Turer. The entire staff of the Charles River TMA (Jim Gascoigne and Jeff Bennett) were greeting bicyclists, and Stephanie Anderberg represented the City of Cambridge as well.
Pierre Lallement Bike Path
Friday dawned cloudy and cold, but not rainy. Like Thursday, I had to
start my day with a mile and a half of traffic on Washington St., but
then I got three miles of the Pierre Lallement Southwest Corridor
bikepath on my way to downtown Boston. We had a pretty poor turnout at
City Hall. I'm not sure why because the events in Cambridge which were
so well attended earlier in the week didn't really get more publicity.
Maybe the attitudes about how hard it is to bicycle in Boston expressed
in the Tuesday Globe article are more widely held than I thought...
Anyway, a number of the usual suspects were there, including Boston
bicycle program manager Paul Schimek, State Bicycle Coordinator Josh
Lehman, ubiquitous MassBike board member Karin Turer, and venerable
emeritus law professor Alfred Maleson, who always seems to show up
on a different folding bike.
Heron on Scarborough Pond in Franklin Park
We got Mayor Menino to a Bike Week event (well, it's in the Bike Week
Calendar...) when he showed up at the Franklin Park Coalition's annual
meeting to announce that the Boston Park Rangers were not going to be
abolished after all. Christine Poff, FPC executive director, and others
put together quite a campaign to keep the Rangers in the parks. They
really make the parks safer, and they lead a few bike trips on the
Emerald Necklace every year. I biked the scenic route to the meeting at
the Franklin Park Golf Course clubhouse and saw a heron on a branch at
Scarborough Pond, one of the most scenic places in Boston. Attendees
who arrived by bike noticed a distinct lack of places to park safely.
Hopefully some of the city's bike racks destined for the Emerald
Necklace will end up here. I talked with a Swiss couple who bike
everywhere and had their two young kids in a Burley trailer, and told
them of my favorite trails in the city. They expressed surprise at how
little support the city and state give to bicycling.
After the meeting, I biked home through Forest Hills cemetery and the bakc streets of Roslindale. My daughter wanted me to drive her to the Art Store to get her a scrapbook, but I claimed this day as my one car-free day during bike week (I had to drive her someplace or pick her up by car every other day of this week!). We took the tandem up the Southwest Corridor and past Boston Latin School, finding out that we could make it there from home in 25 minutes, comparable to what it takes by car during morning rush hour. She wondered why everyone doesn't bike since it was so much fun. At first I thought she was being sarcastic, as there was some argument before we biked, but it seems that once we're actually moving, she enjoys biking. We came home via the Emerald Necklace and Ferris Wheels, where I bought some equipment.
Late in the afternoon, we took off on separate bikes and picked up a friend of my daughter for a ride through the Arnold Arboretum. The friend was a traffic novice and pretty scared, so we pretty much stayed off roads, crossing through Forest Hills Station to the Blackwell Path (which really feels like a rural path despite starting on Washington St.) and riding most of the roads in the main part of the Arboretum. At the end of the day, the lilac viewers had mostly gone home, so we had a great ride through the park, returned home via some different Roslindale back streets and collapsed.
Charles River Reservation Bikepath under construction in Newton
Only two people showed up for my ride along the East Coast Greenway;
I guess everybody was either on one of the CRW rides or the tour of
Arlington. I wanted to see how construction was progressing on the
new bikepath in Newton anyway. The cyclists who joined me had both
spent much of the past few years living in bicycle-friendly parts of
Europe, Robby in the Netherlands, Carroll in Germany, and they compared
the US quite unfavorably to their former abodes. They were not leisurely
riders, either. Both had biked to Sullivan Square from home, and we
kept up quite a steady pace on 25 miles of trails and roads to Waltham
There were two fund-raising walks on the Charles River paths, one from near Leverett Circle and one from Herter Park, but the walkers gave us room to pass. It was a relief to be riding free of the crowds, first when we passed Mass. Ave., and later, when we passed Herter Park. Tree roots and uplifted rocks are still doing quite a job on the pavement along Soldier's Field Road Extension and Nonantum Road, so it was another relief to be riding on the newer path upstream of the Watertown Dam. We saw barrels across the entrance to the woods west of Bridge St. in Newton rather than the usual gate, and there was fresh gravel on the path, so we had to check it out. The gravel ended in a few hundred feet, but a couple of local cyclists came out of the muddy section ahead of us, saying that there was more gravel ahead. They said they had noticed the construction in their neighborhood and were checking it out. We took streets past the mud and got on the trail again for a while before it ended at Albemarle Road, where it will cross the river on a new bridge. We saw three more cyclists on the trail before we headed back onto the street to get to the next portion of the path at Farwell St. where the completed path gets you to Elm St., just a block from Waltham Common. This was one of the quietest stretches of path we rode all day.
After bumping into John Allen and his son, Jacob, on their tandem and eating lunch at McDonald's (it was quick...), we picked up the Mass. Central right-of-way and followed it (on almost parallel streets) all the way through Waltham and Belmont. Channing Road *almost* gets you from Belmont Center to the Fitchburg Cutoff path at Blanchard Road, but you have to cut through a gated parking lot or, more dangerously, the MBTA's Fitchburg Line right-of-way to get through. The entrance to the Fitchburg Cutoff path, which starts when the Mass Central right-of-way splits off from the current main line, is better marked than it used to be, but you still have to know the trail is there. We rode it to Alewife Station, and after a brief stop on the John Wald rest area on the Minuteman Bikeway, took the Red Line Linear Park to its end in Somerville. Staying close to the right-of-way, we continued to Washington St., where after getting (politely) beeped at by a closely-passing MBTA bus, we followed the bikelanes back to our start in Sullivan Square and ended Bike Week 2003 (except for next Wednesday's Bike Bash).
Holly Bogle accepts the Harvard School of Public Health's award from David Strauss
|Bike Week came to a close on Wednesday at the first annual Bike Bash at The Rack near Fanueil Hall in downtown Boston. Sponsored by the local Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), this event included free pool, appetizers, and some pretty good Lord of the Roads cake. David Strauss, who coordinated the Commuter Challenge, in which employers in various size categories from under 25 employees to over 5,000 competed to see who could get the most bike commuters during Bike Week, gave out the awards. I'll try to get a list of the winners and post it here.|