Boston Bike Week 1999: A Diary

By Doug Mink

As keeper of the Bike Week Calendar, I had access to events as they were scheduled, but as it all went on the web as soon as I found out about it, I didn't know anything which wasn't public knowledge. I decided to go to as many events as I could, talk to organizers, and find out what went well and what we could do better next year.

Saturday, May 15: Tour of Scenic Woburn

After a soccer game in Norfolk in the morning, I had to ferry my daughter to a birthday party in the afternoon. I took my bike with me on the car so I could reacquaint myself with the bike/ped path west of Horn Pond. I left it for a once-paved trail up to an overlook from which I could see Mt. Wachusett, 50 miles to the west. Then, after looping past a couple of nice ponds in Winchester, I discovered the Horn Pond Brook Path, a green gem in an industrial city, which I had never ridden before. It was a great warm-up for Bike Week.

Sunday, May 16: Tour of Arlington

For the second year, the Arlington Town Bicycle Committee led a tour on the back streets and bikepaths of Arlington, with a long stretch of Mass. Ave. thrown in so that riders felt like they earned the free brunch at Trader Joe's in Arlington Heights at the end. Jack Johnson handed out cue sheets, and Doug Willen gave a safety speech, then 75 riders, led by the town's bicycle police, headed down the Minuteman from Spy Pond to the John Wald Memorial on the Cambridge line on Alewife Brook. There were numerous families, including kids on kid seats, in trailers, on trailer bikes, on tandems, and on their own bikes. Most people were from Arlington or adjacent communities, and the weather was perfect. My new bike path for the day was the one on the southern edge of Spy Pond, next to Route 2 from Lake St. to Pleasant St., a useful link, but in need of repair. I met some old friends and got a good sense of what was happening in the Arlington Bicycle Community.

Monday, May 17: Dinner at Redbones

Redbones, Somervilles premier barbecue restaurant with valet bike parking, once again fed bicyclists some of its wonderful sandwiches, closing down Chester St. near Davis Square and turning it into a Bike Week minifestival. The Somerville Bicycle Committee had a booth as did cosponsor Independent Fabrications and the Major Taylor Humanitarian Association, featuring spokesperson and Worcester Telegram and Gazette columnist Lynne Tolman.

Tuesday, May 18: Broadway Bicycle School Breakfast

Today I had to drive my daughter's car pool, but that didn't keep me from bicycling across Cambridge to attend the annual pancake breakfast, which features delicious pancakes of various types (including chocolate chip) with maple syrup and local bicycle celebrities on the side. Cambridge Bike/Ped Coordinator Cara Seiderman stopped by, after dropping her bike off at her office across the street. Andy Rubel discussed Boston bike routes and paths with Milton Trimitsis and me for almost an hour, so that the next revision of the Boston Bike Map, due by the end of the summer, will be more accurate. Thanks to the staff of Broadway Bicycle School for staying involved with Metro Boston's bicycle commuters. Because I didn't bike commute on Bike To Work Day, I didn't get my workplace entered in the Corporate Commuter Challenge, where we might have had a chance at the under 1,000 Ben and Jerry's party.

Wednesday, May 19, Morning: HI-ENE Breakfast

For breakfast I stopped by the new Hostelling International office in Allston for breakfast. It faced outbound traffic, so we had to work to get people to stop, but it was fun to see Bonnie Friedman and Ron Gallagher again and catch up with what the former AYH has done since I was on the board almost 10 years ago.

Wednesday, May 19, Evening: Movie Night at Bikes Not Bombs

The back of the Bikes Not Bombs shop in Jamaica Plain was turned into a theater, complete with popcorn, for a double feature Wednesday night. Return of the Scorcher, a movie made in the early 1990's about how bicycles were coming back as transportation, had interviews with activists around the world and showed some good footage of cycling in China before the anti-bike forces started to take hold.

Four Wheels Bad; Two Wheels Good is a new film made by a BNB staffer about Bikes Not Bombs, its history, and its current projects. Many of the stars were in the audience, so it was especially fun to watch, and it showed some good examples of what bicyclists are doing now to make the world a better place. Production quality was high, as it was made on digital video, and the soundtrack was good, too.

Thursday, May 20: Carpool Day

I didn't bike at all... (:().

Friday, May 21: Boston Bicycle Festival

Adam Schulman of the Boston Transportation Department estimated 500 people passed through the festival over its 3 hours. I would say that there weren't that many, but there were as many cyclists as at any previous Boston Bike Day, and there were more exhibitors. I agree with Bonnie that more food would have been nice. One of the pleasant surprises was that there were *50* entries in the Corporate Commuter Challenge--that's companies, not individuals.

Not just an attendee, but an exhibitor, I joined Pat King in showing off the proposed East Coast Greenway Pat and I, among others, got interviewed by Channel 56, the only local TV station to show up, at least during the time I was there, from 11:30 until after 2:00. I have a tape of their 10:00pm newscast, and have heard from a friend that I was on it, but I haven't watched it yet.

Andrea D'Amato, the Mayor's cabinet secretary in charge of bicycle issues, said some nice things and gave out the Commuter Challenge awards, but I don't remember anything which she said. Attempts will continue (thanks, David) to get her to bike to work from her home in Roslindale. Mayor Menino missed the Bike Festival for a walk-on on David Letterman Friday night. He delivered a pretty lame Top Ten list about Fenway Park hotdog vendors (from headquarters in Quincy) and walked off without saying a word. For that I stayed indoors and missed the last naked-eye lunar occultation of a bright star of the millenium.

Saturday, May 22: Connecting the Emerald Necklace

A group of us from MassBike/Metro Boston led a cycling planner through some of the horrible connections between the fragments of Boston's Emerald Necklace. Along the way, we started to list ways to fix the problems, as part of the work on the grant we got from the Mass. DEM Greenway Program to figure out how to reconnect this great system of parks and greenspace. We even picked up a couple of other local cyclists for a while, then I had to leave for my daughter's soccer game.

Sunday, May 23: Tour of South Brookline

Those who don't live near Brookline might not realize the vast difference between its urban North and country-estate-filled South. The Brookline Bicycle Committee capped off a week of bicycle breakfasts with a great tour of the town south of Route 9, led and mapped by Marian Lazar. About 25 of us started at the historical center of Brookline, at the Town Green, once on the road from Boston to Sherborn, now at the intersection of Warren and Walnut Streets, for a 5-mile ride which passed lots of mansions and some great puddingstone outcroppings. One of the best views of Boston, from the west on the top of the hill in Larz Anderson Park, was followed by a great decent down Goddard and Cottage Streets and back to our starting point. I got to meet Rebecca Kushner, who organized Brookline's Bike Week activities, Marc Lisle, who designed the logo for Brookline Bike Week, and Dick and Jill Miller, who are working hard to get support for the Cochituate Rail Trail. We had just enough time for refreshments before it started to rain, so my daughter didn't complain too much from the Trail-a-Bike on our 5-mile ride home.