MassPaths Bikepath Snow Plowing Report
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 (Updated to Friday, February 21)

Bike paths and lanes are integral parts 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. If they are not plowed while the snow is still soft, paths with significant foot traffic become unskiable within a day, and remain a mess for everyone until the ice melts.

As I crossed the MassPike headed north this morning, I saw the first snow flakes, and by the time I got to the top of Observatory Hill in Cambridge, it was snowing quite steadily, which it did until early evening. I don't think that the conditions that I saw Thursday morning will change drastically, so they are noted under this storm instead of Saturday's. We got more snow on Wednesday, which turned to rain, so it's hard to say how much fell. Whatever fell was dusted by an evening return to snow.

An interesting exchange of letters with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, which plows (or doesn't plow) the Charles River and Southwest Corridor paths was published by the Universal Hub on Sunday. There are no surprises: the DCR has always said that bike paths are a low priority, and I have felt like a voice crying in a white wilderness. I think that we're approaching a critical mass of winter riders, and might be able to start mustering the political clout to get their policy changed. We have to realize that path clearing is not just for cyclists; runners, dog-walkers, kids walking to school, and people who simply want to take a constitutional in snowy weather without walking through deep snow on unshovelled sidewalks use the paths, too. To minimize ice formation, the paths *have* to be plowed during storms like the City of Boston and Town of Brookline do on their admittedly shorter paths. We had hoped that with the loss of responsibility for plowing many of their parkways to the Department of Transportation/Highways, personnel and equipment would be freed to do a better job of plowing the paths. That has not happened, and it it way past time that it does!

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

Arnold Arboretum
1.5 miles of park roads which are mostly closed to automobile traffic with no intersections
Boston Parks and Harvard University
Laura Smeaton reported on Thursday: Peter's Hill in the Arboretum was also not plowed to the pavement, but there was a truck working on the section closest to the lower Bussey/South Street entrance.
Blackwell Footpath
A half-mile gravel path connecting the Forest Hills MBTA station and the South St. Arboretum entrance
Boston Parks and Harvard University
Laura Smeaton (who I now point to to show that I'm not really *that* hard-core) reports on Thursday: The hardest part of my ride was actually the Blackwell Footpath through the Arboretum. It was fun 'snow biking' on the downhill, but I kept spinning out going up hill, and did not feel like bleeding out my tires given needing to ride on pavement later.
Roslindale Bike Lanes
Two miles of bike lanes on both sides of Washington St. from Forest Hills to Roslindale Square and to West Roxbury on Belgrade Ave. and buffered and wide bike lanes along American Legion Highway
Boston Public Works Department
After all of the snow, the lanes are pretty much blocked where they are next to parked cars, though they were clear next to the curb by Friday. The buffered bike lanes on the American Legion Highway were about half clear on Sunday, but the buffers mean there is plenty of space for biking out of the travel lane. Centre St. bike lanes look pretty clear.
Centre St. and VFW Parkway Bike Lanes
DCR, plowed by MassDOT
On Wednesday morning, at least half of the width of the VFW Parkway lanes was clear, with plenty of width for biking. Cntre St. from Arboretum to VW not checked yet.
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
Eastbound, at least, looked pretty clear. The parallel sidewalk is bare pavement, except near the Forest Hills entrance, where it is a sheet of ice.
Morton St. Buffered Bike Lanes
Cemetery Rd. to Harvard St.
I checked these from my car on Monday night, and they were plowed about the same as the American Legion buffered lanes.
Franklin Park Roads
Much of the park loop road is closed to motorized traffic and there are bike lanes on the main road.
Boston Parks and Public Works Departments
Not checked yet.
Centre/South Bike Lanes
A mile of bike lanes through the heart of Jamaica Plain from Jackson Square and the Southwest Corridor to Forest Hills
Boston Public Works Department
These lanes are pretty much gone, covered by snow and/or parked 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
By Friday night, it was clear to its full width, at least between Willow Pond and Eliot St.
By Thursday night, there was lots of clear pavement, but there were also a few long icy stretches. There is a bit too much snow around intersections.
Plowed to packed powder by Tuesday night.
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
Westbound plowed to more than half their width, eastbound mostly covered with 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
Clear on Friday night, with only a few patches of slush.
Quite a bit of bare pavement on Thursday night, but slushy, too.
By Wednesday night, there was some clear pavement covered by puddles and still quite a bit of ice. Plowed to packed powder by Tuesday night.
Parkway and Netherlands Rd. Contraflow bike lanes
Two one-block contra-flow lanes plus and contraflow cycle track
Brookline Park Department and DPW
By Wednesday night, the Parkway contraflow lane was clear, the contraflow cycle track plowed to at least some bare pavement, and the Netherlands contraflow lane narrowed to 1-2 feet by snow.
Muddy River Path
12-foot-wide 0.6 mile shared bike/ped path with no intersections
Brookline Park Department and DPW
By Friday night, there were fewer icy patches and almost no slush.
Thursday night, it was mosly clear, with a few unavoidable icy patches.
Wednesday night, there was more bare pavement, but still long icy stretches. Packed snow and icy patches with occasional bare pavement on Tuesday morning. Probably the same on Wednesday with few bare patches.
Commonwealth Ave. Bike Lanes
Connecting the B.U. Bridge to Boston University Boston Transportation Department
Pretty clear on Tuesday morning, at least near the B.U. Bridge
Brookline Bike Lanes
Town of Brookline
Essex St. contraflow lane buffer visible, but not much of lane on Wednesday, but clear by Friday night.
B. U. Bridge Bike Lanes
Boston to Cambridge Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Plowed By Mass. Highway Department
Pretty clear on Wednesday night.
B. U. Bridge west sidewalk
Boston to Cambridge
Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Plowed By Mass. Highway Department or B.U.
Snowy, but ridable on Tuesday morning
Harvard (Mass. Ave.) Bridge bike lanes
Cambridge to Boston Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Plowed By Mass. Highway Department
Not checked yet.
Longfellow Bridge bike lanes
Cambridge to Boston Department of Conservation and Recreation,
Plowed By Mass. Highway Department
Not checked yet.
Charles River Bikepaths
Narrow, shared bike-ped path with few intersections
Department of Conservation and Recreation
By Friday night, it was mostly wet pavement from Hawthorn to the BU Bridge, with quite a few sizable puddles and a few patches of icy slush, lots easier to ride than Friday morning.
By Thursday night, there were a number of patches of bare pavement, but don't be fooled: it really is more pleasant to use streets. A day of sun and warm weather might clear it off, though.
The Cambridge side looked like a plow had run over it since Tuesday's snow, but on Wednesday night it was a challenge to ride when I broke my vow (below) and rode it from Harvard Square to the Cottage Farm Pumping Station. While there was occasional bare pavement, especially at the Harvard end, it was like biking through ice cream. I baled to the ramp to the B.U. Bridge when the slushy uphill approach to the B.U. Bridge appeared.
On Wednesday morning, AAron Pik reported The Cambridge Bank of the Charles River path was passable on my 32mm CX tires, but not especially pleasant. It was plowed down to a similar level as a few storms ago, but the softer snow didn't pack down as evenly and it was pretty bumpy. While not unsafe, it wasn't pleasant. Maybe on a bike with suspension or fatter tires.
On Tuesday: Icy from the remnants of the last storm and late plowing. I'm not using the path for the rest of the week, unless I see that the warm weather melts this snow, which will take a while because it's so icy.
J.F.K. Park
Wide, shared bike-ped path from river to Harvard Square
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Plowed to packed powder by Tuesday night, a bit icier on Wednesday night, and slushy on Thursday night.
Western Ave. Cycletrack
Cambridge Cambridge DPW
Not checked yet.
Western Ave. Cycletrack
Boston Boston DPW
Not checked yet.
N. Harvard St. bike lanes
Boston Boston DPW
Sometimes half present, sometimes covered by snow piles.
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
Both north and south approaches plowed to pavement by Tuesday night. Bridge is clear edge to edge. It could all be a bit icy, but I had no trouble with studded tires.
Southwest Corridor Bikepath
Separated Bike/Ped path with poorly-designed intersections
Department of Conservation and Recreation
On Friday morning, it was pretty clear from Forest Hills to Ruggles, with a bit of ice around intersections, but not really anywhere else. There were a few sizable puddles, too. There was a Bobcat clearing intersections.
Laura Smeaton reported on Thursday: I rode section between FH & Ruggles on SWC yesterday (Feb. 19) --using wide, studded tires. While riding in in the late am , I met workers in orange shirts chipping away by hand on the short, steep section near English High, and just up path, met a BobCat , who kindly pulled aside to let me pass. I was impressed by the bustle of activity to help clear the path, and so gave a 'thank you' shout out, big smile, and a nice wave to both groups.
That being said, there were quite a few sections with a lot of snow/ice, but I found those sections very easy to negotiate using my fat, studded tires. The ride home in the evening was *much* harder, as the uncleared areas had turned to slush, and I had to be very careful not to slide out. Seems like the worst section for this wobbly slush was between Roxbury Xcing and Stony Brook. I don't think my studs made any difference in the slush, but do think that width of those bike tires likely helped.
Therefore, while I would appreciate the paths to be as clear as possible, I would also encourage cyclists to use tools at their disposal (wider tires, cyclocross mud tires, or studded tires) and riding skills useful for icy conditions.
South Bay Harbor Trail
Bike/Ped path from the Federal Court House up Fort Point Channel to the Southwest Corridor
City of Boston
Not checked.
Neponset Trail
Mostly paved Bike/Ped path
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Not checked yet
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
Peter Davis reported on Thursday morning: Linear Park, from Alewife to Davis Sq, is mostly clear, but with patches of slush and frozen slush, some of them quite deep.
Danehy Park Paths
City of Cambridge
Not checked, but probably plowed
Cambridge Bike Lanes
Striped lanes of varying widths on major and connecting streets
City of Cambridge
Wherever there is parking, the lanes are gone, and they're disappearing everywhere else under plowed snow. Aaron Pik reported on Thursday: The Brattle Street path from rte 16 to Hawthorn was its usual self, sometimes in a snowbank, sometimes under a car.
Vassar St. Cycle Track
Buffered bike lanes from Main St. to Memorial Drive (almost)
City of Cambridge
Not checked.
Fresh Pond Bike Path
Parallel to Fresh Pond Parkway in Kingsley Park
City of Cambridge
Not checked yet
Alewife Brook Trail
Stone dust and boardwalk sections are never plowed. No report on the rest.
Fitchburg Cutoff Trail
Not checked yet.
Concord Ave. Cycle Track
Buffered bike lanes from Belmont to Fresh Pond Parkway
City of Cambridge
Not checked yet.
Alewife Parkway Bridge Sidewalk
Connection from Minuteman Bikepath to Fresh Pond and beyond
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Not checked yet.
Minuteman "Commuter Bikeway"

Towns of Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford
Bruce Kulik reported on Thursday afternoon: I finally got to get back out on my bike this morning 9a-10a I rode the trail from Mill Street in Arlington to Maple Street in Lexington, and then again from Bedford Street in Lexington to Wiggins Avenue in Bedford. Otherwise, I was on Massachusetts Avenue, Bedford Street, Wiggins Avenue, and Great Road.
From Mill Street to the Lexington Line there was a mix of wet pavement and a small layer of crusty ice. Approximately 50% clear. Crusty ice was melting and did not pose any difficulty.
Lexington Line to Maple Street. Almost entirely covered with either hard ice or crusty hardpack. Rough surface in many places with tire ruts that will divert your wheel. Uncomfortable and tense riding. I bailed out at Maple Street. Maple Street ramp poorly cleared.
NOTE TO PLOWING ORGANIZATIONS: It does no good to plow the main trail if you can't get to it because the access points are inaccessible. The Maple Street ramp should be plowed when the trail is plowed. I had not noticed this previously as I do not use the Maple Street ramp regularly.
Massachusetts Avenue and all other streets that I traversed were totally clear but damp. Some areas had melt runoff in the gutters.
Bedford Street to Wiggins Avenue. Hardpack cover with some ruts and bumps. Passable but slightly uncomfortable. I could only go about 10 mph whereas on the the roads I could go almost 15. Rt 128 bridge covered in about an inch of softpack, use greater caution there.
Melting today will probably clear up the Arlington sections. It will probably take a few more days of above freezing temperature for the Lexington and Bedford sections, maybe by Monday.
Peter Davis reported on Thursday morning: As of about 8:30 this morning, the Minuteman Bikeway through Arlington (from Bow St. in the Heights to Lake St.) was mostly covered with about 1/2 inch or more of frozen slush. Some of it is thicker, and some of it is deeply rutted. Be careful. Studded tires definitely recommended. From Lake St. to Alewife is mostly clear, due to heavy salting.
Upper Charles Reservation
Watertown, Newton, Waltham
4+ miles of paved and unpaved bikepaths
Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation
Not checked yet
Newton Bike Lanes
City of Newton
Walnut St. bike lane is largely buried under snow.
Revere Beach Reservation
Shared use paths (or very wide sidewalks)
Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation
Not checked yet.
Northern Strand Community Trail
Everett and Malden
Shared use path
Everett and Malden DPW
No Report.
Stony Brook Reservation
Hyde Park
4+ miles of paved bikepaths
Mass. Department of Conservation 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. There are marked narrow bike lanes on Enneking Parkway through the reservation which are probably clear.
Former Metropolitan State Hospital
Belmont, Waltham
paved bikepaths
Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation
Not checked yet.
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, has reported 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
No report.