Before Bike Week
Sign at Wake Up the Earth (by Robert Fine)
|The first Saturday in May is the day Jamaica Plain Wakes Up the Earth with a parade and festival. After spending six hours talking to people at Boston's Earth Day celebration, I didn't have the energy to recruit volunteers and gather materials for a MassBike booth this year, so we didn't have one. Next year, MassBike's Emerald Necklace Greenway Project will be hard at work getting support for a couple of projects to reconnect the Emerald Necklace. This year, there were lots of political and environmental groups, including Bikes Not Bombs. I managed to get a few copies of the Boston Bike Week Calendar printed to hand out to people I knew would help get out the word.|
Jazz by the Mystic River
|By Sunday, I had printed up a bunch more copies of the calendar, so I biked up to Somerville to the Mystic River Herring Run Festival to hand them out. Any event that gets people to Somerville's unknown but beautiful riverfront park is worth biking 10 miles to, in my book. I got updates from fellow bike activists Joel Bennett of the Friends of the Community Paths and Stephen Winslow of Bike to the Sea, a former MassBike board member who is now Somerville's bicycle coordinator. There were good exhibits about most of the parklands in the lower Mystic watershed, including my favorite, Alewife Brook, a great urban wild and the nexus of four existing and potential bikepaths. I bought a copy of a new book about its history.|
Milton Bike Committee Table
10:00 am kids race in Milton
There were lots of interesting events going on today, so I picked the one
to which I thought I could contribute, biking over a couple of hills and
across the Neponset River to
help Marjorie Jeffries of the Milton Bike Committee with a table at the
first annual Milton
Bike Day, which included a family ride around town, and races for
kids and adults. The local Rotary Club did a pretty good job of organizing
the event; attendance wasn't too high, but they made it clear that this
was boing to become an annual event, and this was a day for them
to learn how to run races and rides. Next year will be bigger.
Dave's Bike Infirmary of East
Milton was there for technical support, and Scott, the manager, showed off
a great Japanese/Dutch utility "trekking" bike (and got recruited into
MassBike's discount program). He thinks the next big thing in bikes
could be utility bikes for people who don't want to spend all their money
on high-priced gas. I answered lots of questions about the
Neponset Trail and talked to
several Milton residents who cycle daily, but were not (yet) MassBike
A helpful bystander took this piecture of the 10 of us who started riding from Castle Island
|The forecast was for occasional showers, but the ride was scheduled, and I was going to show new MassBike Executive Director Dorie Clark, as well as a group from Bike to the Sea, around the bikepaths of Boston, so I headed up the Southwest Corridor and the Melnea Cass Bikepath to Castle Island in South Boston to lead the ride. It started raining just as I got on Day Boulevard at Carson Beach, and by the time I met the group of 9 assembled at the parking lot, the rain was quite steady. After some group photos, we decided to head inland where it seemed to not yet be raining, and loop back the way I came, then through Forest Hills Cemetery to Mattapan Square and down the Neponset River back to our starting point. The rain only got heavier as we went west. The group did get to see the Melnea Cass path and the Crosstown Center, which will incorporate separate bike and pedestrian paths into its frontage on Melnea Cass Boulevard. By the time we got to Ruggles Station, the rain was a steady as ever, and we lost two riders. We stopped in the sheltered breezeway at the Boston Police Headquarters, and the group voted to return to the start. We followed the Southwest Corridor downtown rather than repeating our route, enjoying a traffic-free mile to Copley Place, following Stuart st. to South Station, and taking Summer St. back to South Boston, past the new Convention Center. The rain had let up a bit, so I decided to bike along the Harbor and up the Neponset Trail on my way home. It kept raining, but the ride was pleasant; I only encountered two people on the entire length of the Trail. I got in 34 miles of bicycling for the day and had a nice hot bowl of clam chowder when I got home. We'll definitely try this ride again in June.|
Lilacs in the Arnold Arboretum.
Monday morning dawned cool and dry, so I had a pleasant ride past the
Arboretum's lilacs and down the Emerald Necklace to Cambridge. I thought
I would have a straight shot from the B.U. Bridge to the Charles River
Transportation Management Association's (TMA's) breakfast at University
Park, but the street was totally blocked by construction, so I had to
detour a bit to get to Mass. Ave. There was great food and as can only
happen near MIT, I got into a discussion with an engineering student who
was studying human physiology in preparation for long space missions
as to Mars. When asked whether she wanted to be an astronaut, she replied,
"Doesn't everybody?" A few minutes later, who should appear, but Larry Young,
MIT professor and former astronaut, who happened to be the student's advisor.
I gave them both advice on buying tandems and took off for work after eating
a few too many pastries.
After work, I biked a mile over to Davis Square to Redbone's annual Bike Valet barbecue party, which benefits MassBike and the New England Mountain Bike Association. The food was great, though I put a bit too much hot sauce onmy already spicy barbecue sandwich. This is the Bike Week event, where the whole community comes out. I helped staff MassBike's booth for a while, but most of the people who came up to me I've known for years. Highlights included Lauren Hefferon riding her kids in from Arlington on Trail-a-Bike and trailer behind her, ANT bike's interesting creations, and the first perfect weather for several years, which attracted a record crowd. Dorie Clark, MassBike's new Executive Director, is really getting to know the local bicycling community through Bike Week. Here are more pictures on NEMBA's web site.
Broadway Bicycle School, Cambridge
The best food of the week, as usual, was at the annual pancake breakfast
served by the
Broadway Bicycle School in Cambridge. It tends to attract people
who don't just commute by bike but live to bike, each in their own
way. As I rode up, Karl Kurz of
Bikes Not Bombs was recruiting people to ride in next Sunday's
annual Bike-A-Thon. We reminisced about our first protest ride over
20 years ago, planned at BBS back when it was the Bicycle Repair Collective.
Inside there were blueberry, strawberry, chocolate chip, and plain pancakes,
as well as a steady stream of friendly cyclists.
Holly is proud of her Bike Week sign.
The forecast rain seems to have all come last night, so it was only
slightly damp this morning for the ride to Harvard Square for this
morning's bike breakfast. Holly Bogle of Harvard's Commuter Choice
program is a bicyclist, and she has worked hard to make bike commuting
a more attractive alternative at Harvard. This third annual bike
breakfast is part of her work. Lots of bicyclists come through Harvard
Square every morning, not all of them on their way to Harvard, but all
After work, I biked back to the Square to hear a reading at the Harvard Book Store by Chet Raymo, one of my favorite writers, from his new book about Mt. Brandon on the Dingle Penninsula in Ireland, one of my wife's favorite places. His last book, The Path, is the great book on human-powered commuting, telling the history, both natural and human, of the sights on his way from home to work. As I biked home just before sunset up the Emerald Necklace, I was reminded by the golden lighting of the last evening of my visit to Ireland and shot this picture of a hillside between the Jamaicaway Bikepath and Jamaica Pond, laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Breakfast on Brookline Ave. in the Harvard Medical Area.
Today, I aimed for a hat trick of TMA Bike Breakfasts: Commuteworks at the
Medical Area, Artery Business Committee and Back Bay at the Prudential Center,
and Charles River at Kendall Square. It was a beautiful day for biking, and
I even got to bike the bridle path along the Riverway which the
Emerald Necklace Greenway Project is proposing
be paved to connect the Muddy River Path to the Jamaicaway Bikepath.
My first stop was the MASCO parking garage on Brookline Ave., where
Melissa Marantz of CommuteWorks hosted a bike commuter breakfast (and former
Boston Bike Committee member Lyall Croft fixed bikes). After orange
juice and a half-bagel with cream cheese and discussions about bicycle
equipment and cameras, I headed up Boylston St. to the Pru Center to meet
David Strauss (another former Boston Bicycle Committee member), who gets all
of the Transportation Management Associations in Boston and Cambridge together
and bike commuter breakfasts. Then it was across Back Bay and over the
Harvard Bridge, where recent repaving seems to have eliminated the wide
space outside the fog lines we won as a bicycle safety zone during the waning
days of the Dukakis administration. Maybe it will come back when the road is
restriped... A right on Vassar St. brought me to the European-style one-way
bike lanes which were added when the roadway was narrowed last year. They
actually work pretty well if you regard them as bicycle traffic-calming
measures as well as traffic separators. My last stop was the Kendall Square
Bike Breakfast on Broadway, staffed by Jeff Bennett and Stephanie Anderberg.
There wasn't much of a crowd left, though my best friend from college,
Meredith Porter, was still hanging around. There was only half a muffin
left by the time I got there, so I didn't overeat today.
Weeping beech tree in Arnold Arboretum
It was another beautiful day in the Arboretum, and the trails were dry
enough that I took the Sargent Path past my favorite tree, the weeping
beech on the back side of Bussey Hill. I rode with Robert Davis and his
DaHon off and on all the way from Jamaica Plain to Harvard Square.
Strangely enough, when we split in Brookline, he on Kent St., me on the
Muddy River Path, I encountered another guy on a DaHon! Robert
was riding a folder because he wore through the rear rim on his
commuting bike this morning, the same thing that happened to me on
my way home last Tuesday! The past winter was harder on rims--more
sand, perhaps--than others in recent memory.
There were no breakfasts today, but the City of Cambridge was handing out gifts to bike commuters: Boston Bike Maps, of which you can never have enough. Yesterday, Stephanie told me she'd be right on my commuting route where the Charles River Bikepath crosses JFK St. near Harvard Square, so we stopped, and everyone admired Robert's DaHon. I think that this has been the first Bike Week in my memory when it didn't rain on any commuting days!
Starting out at Somerville City Hall
It wasn't raining Saturday morning, so I biked up to Somerville for the
third annual Historic Tour of Somerville. I haven't made it to any of
the previous rides, though my friends on the Somerville Bike Committee
me to go. I lived in Somerville for a year, and just across the border
in Cambridge for the seven years before that, so I know my way around
the city and have an interest in its history. It did rain a bit after
we started riding, but for less than half an hour out of the 3-1/2 hours
of the ride. Brandon Wilson, the executive director of the Somerville
Historic Preservation Commission, told us about the historic places we
passed, including the politics of how they got or are being preserved,
and several members of the Commission opened their homes to our group
of over 30 cyclists. Members of the Somerville Bicycle Committee Ron
Newman and Greg Palmer, Historical Preservation Commission member Dick
Bauer, and a Somerville bicycle cop kept the ride together and got us
all safely across intersections. Robert Winters, a member of the
Middlesex Canal Association, told us of the history and route of the
canal in Somerville, and we followed it for a bit.
Doug and Claudia heading out for dim sum
|Today I didn't attend any bike events because my wedding anniversary was Friday, and my wife, Claudia, and I traditionally go out for dim sum in Chinatown on the closest Sunday. There is a bike element, as we usually bike downtown, an easy trip on the Southwest Corridor, Columbus Ave., and Stuart St. It's much easier than driving, and not much slower, especially since our usual Chinatown parking lot on Washington St. has turned into a very big hole in the ground. We had great dim sum at The Emperor's Garden, no rain feel on either part of our ride, and the sun even came out after we got home.|