MassPaths Bikepath Snow Plowing Report
Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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.

A good storm to ring out the old year dumped 6 inches or so on Boston through the afternoon of New Years Eve, tapering off to blowing snow by 7:00. The wind built up through the evening--the 7 pm fireworks went off, but those at midnight were cancelled due to high winds, a fact relevant to bike path conditions when I biked home at 10:30. It blew all night as the temperature dropped to near-zero Fahrenheit, so despite good path clearing right after the storm, there was a lot of drifting by Thursday morning. By Friday, the paths I ride had been replowed and were pretty clear.

I finally gave in this year, after exceeding my quota of one fall on ice per year by three last winter, and bought studded snow tires. They're Kenda 700x35's, which were what my local bike shop had in stock, and have really helped through both snow storms this winter. You still need to practice riding on slippery surfaces, but studded tires are quite a bit more stable on marginal packed-snow surfaces as well as ice.

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
Clear on Friday morning, with lots of bare pavement indicating that the roads were probably well-plowed so the sun could sublimate off the thin layer of snow which remained. There were places where studded tires helped, but mostly because they gave me the freedom to drift away from the bare pavement which didn't always extend all of the way across the road.
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
This looked pretty clear on Friday morning, but the parallel sidewalk, while plowed at some point, had too much snow to be easy riding. Friday night, I rode the westbound lane to Forest Hills, and it was very well plowed, with a minimum of three feet except around the east Arboretum entrance, where for some reason the shoulder was almost totally unplowed. The road widens there for the Forest Hills ramp, so it's not impassable, but it does make you ride out into traffic which is just then splitting to take the exit, creating a dangerous situation. A major boon to my Jamaica Pond through Pondside to the Arborway route was the recent replacement of the shielded "Walk" request button at the Arboretum crosswalk with one you can push with mittens. No more frozen fingers!
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 soon after it stopped snowing and was clear south from Route 9 to Daisy Field where the drifts were barely passable late New Years Eve. The hill from Willow Pond Ave. to Perkins St. was pretty clear, but between there and Jamaica Pond, the drifts were too deep for me, and I bailed to Centre St., which is a much better alternative this winter since they paved over the deadly trolley tracks. By Friday morning, the path was plowed to pavement for most of its length and salted on the hills.
Perkins St. Bike Lanes
1.5 miles of mostly bike/ped-separated paths paralleling a busy 4-lane parkway; two intersections with traffic lights
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
These lanes, originally paid for by the Boston Parks Department, were restriped by the state in 2008, an act which I hoped would increase the DCR's awareness when it came time to plow them. The westbound lanes were clear, but the eastbound lanes along the wall on the Pond side were not as good. With a minimum of a foot plowed, they were always usable despite there being nowhere to put the snow.
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
Both bicycle and pedestrian paths were plowed and clearfrom Route 9 south to the parking lot before Chestnut St. The sidewalk to Perkin St. was not plowed at all, so you have to deal with the rotary at the south end.
Muddy River Path
12-foot-wide 0.6 mile shared bike/ped path with no intersections
Brookline Park Department and DPW
I was riding home after my 9:00 pm cut-off for riding this path alone, so I checked it from Netherlands Ave. and it was plowed. It's also sheltered from drifting, so it should not be too hard to ride. I rode the full length on Friday morning, and it was pretty clear, though not always to bare pavement.
Commonwealth Ave. Bike Lanes
Connecting the B.U. Bridge to Boston University Boston Transportation Department
I only rode a short stretch between Carleton St. and the B.U. Bridge, but the bike lane was totally clear and seemed to be just as good eastward. I rode Comm. Ave. all of the way west to Brighton Ave. and noticed that there were pavement dots marking two wider lanes instead of the striped three lanes, with space for a full-width bike lane between the two new lanes and parked cars. Does this mean that the bike lanes will be extended westward?
B.U. Bridge
Easy connection to Charles River bikepath Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
The west sidewalk is closed due to construction, so I usually ride the road these days, but the east sidewalk is plowed.
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 upstream from the B.U. Bridge, soon after the storm ended, but it got drifted over between the Weekes Footbridge and Western Ave. by the time I came through at 10:30 pm Wednesday. I made it through, but had to get off and walk a few times. There was some drifting east of River St., but it wasn't impassable. By Friday morning, the path had been plowed again and was clear, at least upstream from the Agassiz Bridge. By Friday night, the paths was clear from Hawthorn St. to the B.U. Bridge, except for a bit of drifting snow around the Weekes Footbridge.

Ray Coffey reported on Tuesday: The upstream end of the wooden footbridge was a bit snowy, the wind cleared of most of it. Snowy at the Z corner near the little (BU?) boathouse downstream end. I think the BU section just upstream along Storrow is clear because it gets sun (and salty splashes) then the path ducks into shade from the overpass and trees and gets snowier for the middle section to the River Street bridge. The Bowker floating bridge was really clear. They did a good job on that. Odd, because the section between there and Mass. Ave wasn't cleared at the time.

Thank the DCR for plowing at least some of the path so soon after the snowfall, but ask them to try to get to the Boston side sooner and make sure it's all clear after drifting closes it 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 soon after the storm, but drifted over when I came through around 10:30. It is plowed frequently and should be clear sometime on New Years Day.
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
I haven't checked this yet, but MassPike usually does a pretty good job of keeping clear.
Southwest Corridor Bikepath
Separated Bike/Ped path with poorly-designed intersections
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
I rode this on New Years morning and it looked like it had been plowed soon after the storm ended. There was quite a bit of drifting between Boston English and Forest Hills and anywhere else there was a hundred feet or more of open area upwind (west) of the path. The snow did make it easier to cross the tree root pavement upheavals.
Melnea Cass Bikepath
Separated Bike/Ped path
Boston Parks or Transportation Deparment
Not checked yet, but probably not plowed.
Harborwalk (Fort Point Channel)
Bike/Ped path along Fort Point Channel
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
City of Boston
Not checked yet.
Neponset Trail
Mostly paved Bike/Ped path
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
The DCR often plows this path, but I haven't heard about its current condition. If you use this path regularly and want the DCR to plow it, let them know (or thank them when it is plowed) 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 but probably plowed.
Danehy Park Paths
City of Cambridge
Not checked yet.
Cambridge Bike Lanes
Striped lanes of varying widths on major and connecting streets
City of Cambridge
The snow before Christmas was still piled on parking spaces near Harvard Square this week, but the bike lanes I use were fairly clear after the storm on New Years Eve.
Fresh Pond Bike Path
Parallel to Fresh Pond Parkway in Kingsley Park
City of Cambridge
Ray Coffey reports that this path is plowed.
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
Peggy Enders reports from Lexington:
All of Lexington is plowed -- I checked it this afternoon and got some good pictures. The Friends of Lexington Bikeways ...and the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee ... came to an arrangement with the town of Lexington that we would raise funds privately for this year's plowing pilot. The Lexington DPW plows the Lexington portion of the bikeway with a small snowcat that does two passes of its five miles, providing a 8-foot width. The town of Arlington pays for the cost of plowing its portion of the Bikeway, and they use a truck plow. We have received generous contributions from a number of bikeway enthusiasts, but we are still looking for more donations to get us through the winter. We hope to raise about $3K on top of what's been donated by the Friends and by a town public trust. Donations should be mailed to Abe Shenker, Chair, Friends of Lexington Bikeways, 6 Stedman Road, Lexington 02421. Donations are tax deductible and should be made payable to FoLB (with "snow plowing" in the memo).

Cambridge and Arlington haven't been checked, but they should be plowed. More details are posted at

Upper Charles Reservation
Watertown, Newton, Waltham
4+ miles of paved and unpaved bikepaths
Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
These paths aren't plowed.
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.
Assabet River Rail Trail
Hudson and Marlborough, so far
Town of Hudson, City of Marlborough (so far)
Not checked, but probably not plowed.
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.