Jessica's Bike Week 2012 Journal

All photos by Jessica Mink, unless otherwise noted.
Click on "Photos" on the left to see all of the images for a day.

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Tuesday, April 24

Jim Gascoigne of the Charles River TMA asked me if I could map and lead a ride around Boston for the people who organized Boston's annual Bike Week Commuter Challenge. Previously, they stuck to the common routes near downtown--the Charles River and the Emerald Necklace-- but now they wanted to get out into the city more, so I put together a loop using the South Bay Harbor Trail, all of which is bikeable even though it doesn't all exist as a "trail" yet, the Southwest Corridor, the Casey Overpass, the Morton Street almost-bike-lanes, Almont Park, the future and current Neponset Trail, and Boston's Harborwalk to get us back to the starting point, Harpoon Brewery.

Commute Challenge Kick-Off Ride

On tap at Harpoon Brewery

Saturday, April 28

Dick and Roberta Bauer on the Mass. Central Trail After hearing about the ride I put together for my 60th birthday last fall, Dick and Roberta Bauer asked if I could do something similar for them to celebrate their 60th birthdays at the beginning of May. Since they live in Somerville and are interested in the bike path exploration I put together a route taking off from the Northwest Suburban Loop in my 1994 paper, A Massachusetts Greenway Network, using the Mass Central, Assabet River Rail Trail, the Bruce Freeman Trail, the Narrow Gauge Trail, the Minuteman Bikeway, and the new Alewife Brook Greenway.

Saturday, May 12

The first day of Bike Week--*my* Bike Week always runs 9 days from Saturday through the following Sunday--started out with the annual Franklin Park Coalition meeting where after annual reports and a rousing keynote address on the value of public land by State Representative Byron Rushing, we got down to the business of figuring out ways to improve Boston's largest city park. Executive Director Christine Poff led us in a discussion of the proposals our breakout groups had come up with. Christine Poff at Franklin Park Coalition meeting
Cyclists admire mural along the Neponset Trail I always like to start Bike Week with a ride for MassBike, usually along the Charles River. I had planned to check out the not-yet-open bike-ped bridge between Cambridge and Charlestown, but I got involved in the Circle the City project by leading bike rides around the city connected with events on June 24, July 15, and August 5, and the organizers thought that it might be a good idea to stage a preview ride during Bike Week. Since the Franklin Park Coalition is one of the project's participants, it seemed like a good idea to start *after* their annual meeting from Franklin Park, so seven of us did. Taking the Commuter Challenge Kick-Off route as a base, I added 5 miles to follow the Emerald Necklace instead of the Southwest Corridor and figured out a good way to bypass Mattapan Square on quiet streets to avoid getting separated there like on the first ride. We also scoped out the Connecting the Corridors route between Ruggles and the Fenway. Here we are at the 2008 "Stained Glass" mural, painted on the Neponset Trail by that summer's Youth Conservation Corps crew.

Sunday, May 13

Today the Boston Belles, a group of young woman cyclists, organized a local ride as part of the world-wide Cyclo Femme celebration. We rode from Harvard Square to Arnold Arboretum, where we picnicked (on Lilac Sunday, the one day of the year when you are allowed to picnic there) and back. Today was the first day I saw my friend Laura ride with her broken foot using the special double-width pedal which her boyfriend Scott put together.

Cyclo Femmes

Laura with broken foot

Monday, May 14

Becuse my RozzieBikes colleagues Laura and George were off their bikes (or mostly, in Laura's case) due to non-bicycling injuries, I ended up heading off to Bike Week Commuter Breakfasts on my own. Because I wanted to end up in Kendall Square by 9:00, I skipped the Ashmont Cycles breakfast and headed straight to the waterfront on the not-quite-existent South Bay Harbor Trail. You can actually ride it on paved surfaces all of the way from Ruggles almost to Summer St., where you have to alternate between street and path to Fan Pier if you don't want to carry your bike up and down steps. I used it on both my Commeter Challenge Kick-Off Ride and my Circle the City Preview Ride. Here is a view of a completed section of the trail leading into a building with steps. South Bay Harbor Trail along Fort Point Channel

Across Fort Point Channel on Summer St. was my first breakfast of the day, that of the Seaport TMA. Here are Lauren from the TMA and David, a RozzieBiker who used to commute to the Seaport every day.

Aileen from the ABC TMA watches over the well-protected spread located inside the Mass. General Hospital bike cage, accessible only if you knew the code or a friendly insider let you in...

After some visting and watching the new bike repair station being used, I headed across the Charles River to Kendall Square and promptly got lost trying to find the end of the Great Commuter Race.

Luckily, I ran into Ron Newman from Somerville, who pointed me in the right direction so that I could get this picture of the bicyclist who won the race.

After a few hours at work (reached via Cambridge bike lanes for much of the way), I headed off to the MAPC offices downtown.

David Loutzenheiser presented the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's (MAPC) new Eastern Massachusetts Bicycle Network Map during lunch hour.

I had fun riding back up the Charles River to work racing this tour boat and watching these cormorants and turtles.

Tuesday, May 15

Today was the annual Broadway Bicycle School Pancake Breakfast, which has been an annual feature of Bike Week since 1995 when we started our week-long celebration of bicycling in metropolitan Boston. It's fun to see the same people every year--I guess that I'm one of those--but we also see new people, too. And the pancakes are great!
Jim from the Charles River and Jenn from the City of Cambridge hosted a breakfast at the Kendall Square end of the Minuteman Bikeway, feeding cyclists coming into Cambridge from the northwest. Soon people will have an easier time reaching Alewife from the west, when the MWRA finishes its project on the Fitchburg Cutoff trail and the new bridge across the street from this breakfast can finally be opened.

My day ended with a long meeting bringing new members of the Casey Arborway Design Advisory Group (DAG) up to speed on the planning process so far.

Wednesday, May 16

Because of steady rain, everyone but Harvard's Commuter Choice cancelled their outdoor Bike Breakfasts today. There was good food inside Holyoke Center, though, and a number of non-melting bicyclists. I made several new friends over orange juice and pastries, including Dorea and Reuben.

Another day another Casey Overpass almost-three-hour meeting, this time of the full DAG, looking at three specific portions of the plan.

Thursday, May 17

Five breakfasts today, but I only made it to four. The first was Commuteworks' at the Longwood Medical Area, with bagels and BCU bike repairs.

The second was the ABC TMA's at 10 St. James Place, inside the parking garage.

Then it was a few blocks over to 10 Park Plaza, where the Massachusetts Department of Transportation was holding their breakfast on Charles St. It was fun to talk to people in the state who are trying to make bicycling transportation as important as cars.

Across the river in Kendall Square was the last breakfast I could visit today; Somerville's, which was closer to where I work, had already ended.

Tonight's entertainment was the annual Bicycle Travel Film Festival in Arlington, sponsored by Lauren Hefferon's Cyclismo Classico.

"Cyclo Diaries", about a pedicab trek from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by a pair of crazy Australians and their Vietnamese friends, was the favorite of my friends and I.

Friday, May 18

An early day, leading a group which reached 32 cyclists from West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain down Belgrade, Corinth, and Washington Streets to the Southwest Corridor and on to the annual Bike Fest at City Hall.

Kris Carter and Alice Brown from the City of Boston anchored the festival on City Hall Plaza. There were no speeches, but lots of talking.

Kris Locke of Harvard's Commuter Choice program took my favorite picture of the morning: me, Jessica Parsons, who is coordinating "Circle the City", and Jessica Robertson, who is coordinating Hubway for the MAPC, with a cameo appearance by former Boston bicycle coordinator Nicole Freedman.

Saturday, May 19

cyclists on the Broad Canal
Saturday's String Theory Ride through Cambridge followed a route which resembled the string of a crashed kite scattered across the city (or our 300-foot antenna from East Campus to the roof of the Green Building at MIT after it blew down in a hurricane in the fall of 1971). It did hit lots of interesting scientific and engineering sites, such as the pleasant boardwalk along the Broad Canal which once brought coal to the powerplant which generated electricity for innovative Cambridgeport.
cyclists in Northpoint Park with bridges
We also visited North Point, where the almost-complete bridge over the MBTA tracks north of North Station will soon connect Cambridge and Charlestown along the Charles River.
middle school cyclists enjoying Franklin Park After lunch at the end of the ride at Fresh Pond, I biked across the city to Franklin Park, where I had volunteered to help out at the annual Bike and Kite Festival. I assembled a group of middle-schoolers on City-owned free rental bikes, and we biked a loop all of the way around the park. It was fun, but five 11-year-olds in constant motion are about as many as I can guide without losing any.
Afer the Franklin Park ride was over, I zoomed up the Southwest Corridor to Dartmouth St. and the Esplanade to help park and retrieve bikes at the annual Earth Fest. Since we revived Earth Day as a music and environmental festival in 1990, I have always tried to take part and tell people about the joys of bicycling in Boston. MassBike volunteers at Earth Fest

Sunday, May 20

It was a busy day, though I didn't start off as fast as I hoped to. Since I was running late to get to the Mystic River Bike Path Ride, I avoided the hills of Somerville by taking the McGrath Highway from Washington St. (Union Square) to the Mystic. It was the first time I've ever done that whole distance northbound; I even did the underpass where the road splits and the surface part joins I-93. I was lucky that it was a Sunday morning and the traffic wasn't too bad.

Cycling the McGrath-O'Brien Highway

Cycling the Mystic River Reservation

With the group, I toured the Mystic River Paths on both sides of the river seeing views you would never expect to see in Somerville or Medford. The Boston Common Bikenic beckoned, so I took off down the McGrath O'Brien again, this time for its full length south-bound. The infamous expansion joints on the long overpass are much less bumpy along the edge of the road. It's amazing that in 40 years of cycling in metropolitan Boston I have never biked on this infamous stretch of road, maybe because Medford St. is so much more bike-friendly, or at least has slower traffic.

After an unexpectedly fast trip to the Common, I joined Bikeyface herself and about 15-20 other cyclists for lunch. It was a nice mixture of old and new friends: people from Women Who Bike, Courteous Mass, RozzieBikes, the Neponset Greenway Council, and more. I even met another bicycling Jessica to add to our group. Lee Toma and I left in time to make it to our last event of the day, the Somerville History Ride.

We visited parks all over Somerville, one of the most densely populated cities in the country, finding green space tucked in all over with some deep history and some interesting art. And a few parks which don't quite exist yet...
Bikenic at the Boston Common Frog Pond
Pocket Park in East Somerville Future Pocket Park in East Somerville
Since we were passing through Brookline on our way home and Lee Toma had never seen Longwood Mall, one of the "natural" wonders of our area, we stopped by, and he got this shot of me with one of the remaining 175-year-old beech trees there. Jessica and beech tree

Wednesday, May 23

The Bike Commuter Challenge Bike Bash at Flattop Johnnie's in Cambridge traditionally summarizes and terminates Bike Week in Metropolitan Boston. Jim Gascoigne and Richard Fries ran the ceremony, giving out awards to the highest per-capita bike-comuting communities, colleges, and businesses. Harvard once again lost to MIT, and this year Boston (actually its Jamaica Plain neighborhood) lost to Cambridge, but both were beaten by Arlington. Boston had seven neighborhoods in the top 20 communities, though. Dana Farber Cancer Center had the highest corporate participation of all. It was fun to see all of the people working for TMAs who I met at the Kick-Off three weeks ago and at breakfasts through last week

Friday, May 25

George, Jessica, and Laura After waking up early again after a two-and-a-half hour meeting on traffic flow changes in the proposed design for the Casey Arborway, RozzieBikes' monthly last Friday commuting ride really was the end of my 2-week-long Bike Week. Laura and George, who are both returning to biking after non-bicycle-induced injuries, joined me in riding the mile-and-a-half From Adams Park in Roslindale to Ferris Wheels in Jamaica Plain, where owner Jeffrey Ferris was busy cooking up a mess of blueberry pancakes, one of his best efforts yet. The al fresco pancake breakfast attracted commuting cyclists from all over. After eating our fill and celebrating Laura's birthday, we all headed off to work in various directions. Jeffrey making pancakes

Monday, June 11

Raffle drawing Boston's Bike Month doesn't really end until Redbones in Somerville throws its annual Bike Party and Benefit for MassBike and NEMBA. Many of my bike friends are here, and the barbecue is great, too. It's pretty much a who's who of bicycling, mostly of people north of the river, but with a few of us making the journey from Kingville, Maine (Nicole), Westborough (Ellen), and deepest Boston (Laura, Todd, and me).
Laura and Ellen Jessica and Becca