MassBike Bikepath Snow Plowing Report
Monday, February 13, 2006

Bikepaths are an integral part of the bicycle transportation network, and these reports are provided to encourage their use by bicyclists who might otherwise not venture out in the snow, and to encourage their proper maintenance (which includes snow plowing) by the responsible agencies given in bold type below. Paths with significant foot traffic become unskiable within a day, and remain a mess for everyone if they are not plowed while the snow is still soft.

Yesterday, Boston was hit by 12-18 inches of snow, depending where you live, with significant variateions apparent even within the city. I got all of my exercise shovelling on the day of the storm and set off in the late morning on Monday for work, which opened a couple of hours late. All of the paths I encountered except the BU Bridge sidewalks were plowed and passable, though none were clear enough that I would recommend them to snow biking novices.

Wednesday, February 15 update: The Jamaicaway path is the only one that is really clear. The shadowed parts of the Arboretum are still snow-packed, though not too icy, and the hills are mostly bare, dry pavement. The Muddy River and Charles River paths weren't plowed close enough to the pavement and are pretty icy in many places. The Boston Parks Department wins the plowing award for this storm.

Please send updates and reports on the conditions of other paths in Massachusetts to Doug Mink

Arnold Arboretum
1.5 miles of park roads which are mostly closed to automobile traffic with no intersections
Boston Parks and Harvard University
The roads were plowed, but the only bare pavement was on east and south facing slopes, and even there it was minimal. The roads were covered with skiable packed powder, but I was able to bike on it past the skiers I encountered. The snow on the trees was beautiful and I stopped several times to take pictures.

By Wednesday, the roads up both sides of Bussey Hill are pretty clear, except a couple of short icy stretches on the north side. The road along Hemlock Hill is still packed snow, with realtively little ice.

Arborway "Bike Lanes"
1 mile of wide paved shoulder which is unmarked but usually clear of parked cars during rush hour
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
The DCR plowed the Arborway to the curb for most of this stretch, and these pseudo-bikelanes were very clear by evening.
Jamaicaway Bikepath
1.5 miles of mostly bike/ped-separated paths paralleling a busy 4-lane parkway; two intersections with traffic lights
Boston Parks Deparment
The path was plowed for its full length, but it was covered with an inch of packed powder, not always the most stable surface. I biked it from Eliot St. to Route 9 with no problem, but a bicyclist in front of me hit a pavement edge and fell. The plow did not always stay centered on the paved path. There was a bit of sand in a few places and a small amount of bare pavement. There was more pavement by evening, but still packed snow over most of the path.

By Tuesday, this path is almost totally clear, except for the stretch near Daisy Field where the plow operator almost always misestimates the radius of the curve and only catches a foot or two of the pavement. It's still bicycleable, though.

Olmsted Park Paths
3/4-mile of mostly bike/ped-separated paths built over Riverdale Road, across Leverett Pond from the Jamaicaway.
Brookline Park Department
The path was plowed by evening but looked a bit icy.
Muddy River Path
12-foot-wide 0.6 mile shared bike/ped path with no intersections
Brookline Park Department and DPW
The path was plowed to packed power about the same as the Jamaicaway path.
B.U. Bridge
Easy connection to Charles River bikepath Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
The sidewalks were not plowed by noon, but they were quite clear by evening, and dry, bare pavement by Tuesday.
Charles River Bikepath
Narrow, shared bike-ped path with few intersections
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
The Cambridge side path was plowed to packed powder. There was less snow along the river than in the hills of southwest Boston, so it may melt quicker and not flood the low places too much. It was bikeable, but not easily, and it was getting icy in places by evening.

There are still icy stretches on Wednesday, though they are getting slushy as the day progresses. This path was not plowed wide enough and passing other users is very difficult.

Jon Niehof reports on Monday on the south side of the river and upstream:
Nonantum Rd. sidepath at Watertown Square: not clear

North Beacon St. sidepath: appeared plowed

Nonantum Rd. sidepath at No. Beacon St.: appeared plowed

Soldier's Field Rd. sidepath, North Beacon to BU Bridge: plowed. Passable with some difficulty; about 3/4" left. B-. Curbcuts appeared to have maybe been cleared once, but subsequently plowed back in, requiring dismount and scramble. In much of Herter Park/Artensani playground, the grass was plowed instead of the path. Adjacent parking lots were plowed perfectly clean down to black (blocking path at points). Wiped out once just downstream of the Eliot (the Eliot underpasses weren't too bad). Slightly better after Cambridge/River St. Jumping over the snowbanks from the path to the crosswalk at Western and River St. was pure hell. Storrow Drive sidepath, BU Bridge to Charlesgate: Lovely. Down to pavement many places (probably because of the sun?). BU Bridge boardwalk cleared! Small piles (6" or so) of snow at each end of the boardwalk, though. B+/A- ...I'd be perfectly happy if the whole system were like this.

Storrow Drive sidepath, Charlesgate to Fielder bridge: 1/2" left on path; passable but touch and go at points. B

Remaining snow was compacted, not powder. I passed one cross country skiier who was skiing on the (plowed!) path; there were also a few ski tracks in the park adjacent to it.

Howard Schnairsohn reports on Tuesday, two days after the storm on Sunday, that:
Hurray, Dudley White path at esplanade was surprisingly "excellent" (bare asphalt in most places) thanks to new equipment and a strong commitment by staff at DCR.

Ask the DCR to plow the path during snowfalls at 617-626-1250. Contact Christina Doctoroff in DCR Community Affairs and send a copy to Commissioner Burrington as well.

J.F.K. Park
Wide, shared bike-ped path from river to Harvard Square
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
Plowed, but I rode the riverside path and didn't check it out.
Lincoln St. to Cambridge St. MassPike Bridge
Bike/Ped connection from Harvard Square to Allston's Harvard Ave. district via Franklin St.
Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
Not checked.
Southwest Corridor Bikepath
Separated Bike/Ped path with poorly-designed intersections
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
Not checked, but the draft DCR snow plowing policy would put much of this path at Level 2, "dedication of snow removal resources within first 24 hours after storm event."
Melnea Cass Bikepath
Separated Bike/Ped path
Boston Parks or Transportation Deparment
Not checked yet, but probably not plowed.
Neponset Trail
Mostly paved Bike/Ped path
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
Sometimes the park manager plows this path.
If you use this path regularly and want the DCR to plow it, let them know at 617-626-1250 or contact Christina Doctoroff in DCR Community Affairs and email a copy to Commissioner Burrington as well.
Somerville Community Path
Wide rail trail from Davis Square to Cedar St.
City of Somerville
Not checked, but probably plowed.
Red Line Linear Park Path
Alewife MBTA station to Davis Square over Red Line
City of Cambridge City of Somerville
Not checked yet, but probably plowed here and there.
Cambridge Bike Lanes
Striped lanes of varying widths on major and connecting streets
City of Cambridge
Not checked, but there was enough snow to cause to park further out from the curb than normal, so bikelanes may be blocked or dangerously narrowed.
Fresh Pond Bike Path
Parallel to Fresh Pond Parkway in Kingsley Park
City of Cambridge
Not checked.
Alewife Parkway Bridge Sidewalk
Connection from Minuteman Bikepath to Fresh Pond and beyond
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
No report yet.
Minuteman "Commuter Bikeway"

Towns of Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford
This path is not plowed ever. Contact Clear the Trail to help get the Town of Arlington to plow their section of the trail.
Northampton Bikeway
East-west across the City of Northampton
City of Northampton
Craig Della Penna, who lives next to the path, reports that it is the intention of the DPW to make it passable ASAP after a storm. If the storm is significant, then they plow it repeatedly --sometimes 10-12 times during the course of the storm to ensure its usability.
Norwottuck Rail Trail
Northampton to Amherst
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of State Parks and Recreation
No report yet.