MassPaths Bikepath Snow Plowing Report
Friday, December 14, 2007

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.

Thursday afternoon, it snowed hard and brought the roads of Boston to a total stop. People were all released from work early, and the plows couldn't get through (at least that is claimed by the various agencies which were supposed to be keeping roads clear). Packed fresh snow is an awful bicycling surface, aand I was really glad that two thirds of my trip home could be on paths.

I left work at three on Thursday, an hour after we were dismissed, and headed down the Charles River bikepath from Hawthorn St. in Cambridge. The streets with fresh packed-uneven snow were less stable to ride on than the path with its 2-3 inches of snow and relatively few tire tracks or footprints. The cars were already backed up from the JFK St. light most of the way to Western Ave. As I cycled by, someone yelled out, "What are you high on?" I yelled back, "I'm moving lots faster than you!" not thinking fast enough to say, "Fresh air, soft snow, and endorphins!" He yelled back, "Can I borrow your bike?" Streets in Brookline weren't much better than Cambridge, but the path along the Muddy River, though unplowed, felt better. The Jamaicaway bikepath in Boston had been plowed and only had an inch or so of snow, so I cruised. Riding on a thin layer of snow is a wonderful feeling. It's silent and smooth, though a bit more work than smooth pavement. I rode on the Arborway south from Jamaica Pond, figuring it had a better surface than the back streets I usually take, but the plowed unused road in the Arboretum was a pleasant escape from cars. Washington St. from Forest Hills south had a lot less traffic than I expected, though the road surface was still unstable packed powder. It took me an hour and a half instead of the usual hour to get home, not too bad in heavy snow.

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, and by Friday mid-day, they were prety rideable, though often packed powder.

David Wean reports that the soft-surfaced Blackwell Footpath from Forest Hills to South St. was plowed to packed snow.

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
Thursday night, I rode through the Arboretum because I didn't want to be very close to cars which were move a bit faster than they could really be controlled on the slippery surface, so I didn't get a good look. By Friday night, they were about half clear, enough to stay out of the way of cars
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 all of the way from Eliot St. to Route 9, though it had an inch or so of snow on top by the time I rode through on Thursday. By Friday mid-day, the path was rideable packed powder and wet pavement on the salted hill between Perkin St. and Willow Pond Ave.
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
Theses paths were plowed by Friday evening
Muddy River Path
12-foot-wide 0.6 mile shared bike/ped path with no intersections
Brookline Park Department and DPW
It was rideable though unplowed on Thursday afternoon, but plowed to packed powder by Friday mid-day.
B.U. Bridge
Easy connection to Charles River bikepath Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
Except for a pile of snow in the path near the Cambridge end of the bridge, the sidewalk was rideable on Friday.
Charles River Bikepath
Narrow, shared bike-ped path with few intersections
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
I rode the path on Thursday afternoon with a couple of inches of snow and Friday mid-day after it had been plowed, apparently well before the storm ended. Friday night, I took streets instead.

On Thursday, Jon Niehof reported:
As of about 5:30, the path along Nonantum Road was plowed, but had about an inch of post-plowing accumulation. The shoulders on Birmingham Parkway were *not* cleared, however, which is a shame. Last year the DCR kept the shoulders well-cleared.

Ask the DCR to plow the path during or immediately after snowfalls by calling DCR Community Affairs at 617-626-4973, or email them.

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
This was plowed to packed powder on Friday.
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, but probably plowed.
Southwest Corridor Bikepath
Separated Bike/Ped path with poorly-designed intersections
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
David Wean reports on Friday:
SW corridor plowed, maybe 1/2" packed snow, and by the afternoon there were many clear patches, but once it freezes tonight it will not be great riding.
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
If you use this path regularly and want the DCR to plow it, let them know at 617-626-4973 or contact DCR Community Affairs.
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
The lanes I've been on are half-plowed or a bit more, but the unplowed part is in the door zone, so that's OK.
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
Not checked, but it should be plowed. Let me know the conditions.

The trial plowing project is happening only in Arlington this winter--not in Lexington or Bedford. More details are posted at
[Now for Lexington, at least from Lexington Center to Arlington.]

Stony Brook Reservation
Hyde Park
4+ miles of paved bikepaths
Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
These paths aren't plowed because they get relatively little transportation use and because they are used by cross-country skiers like me.
Cochituate Rail Trail
Natick to Framingham near Lake Cochituate
Towns of Natick and Framingham
Bill Hanson reports:
The trail through the Natick Collection has been plowed. A few icy spots remain as of Saturday afternoon but I had no problems on my commute. No telling what the next storm will do to the trail conditions!
BTW I refer to this stub trail as "Phase Zero of the CRT" :)
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.