Doug's Bike Week 2004 Journal

All photos by Doug Mink, unless otherwise noted.
Check out what happened in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

Before Bike Week

Wake Up the Earth
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.
Mystic Herring Run Festival
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.

Saturday, May 15

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 members.

Koga-Miyata utility bike; note 2nd kickstand

Sunday, May 16

Group on Castle Island
A helpful bystander took this piecture of the 10 of us who started riding from Castle Island

Watching kites on April 10
The weather was much nicer for the Neponset Trail ride in April, and the kites were flying.

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.

Monday, May 17

Arboretum lilacs
Lilacs in the Arnold Arboretum.

Jamaicaway Bikepath
The Jamaicaway Bikepath on my way to work through Boston.

University Park Bike Breakfast
The first Bike Commuter Breakfast of the week on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge.

Redbones Benefit Barbecue
The highlight of Bike Week is Redbones Benefit Barbecue/Block Party in Somerville.

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.

Lauren Hefferon and family
Lauren and her kids.

Dorie, Ben, and Doug
Dorie Clark, Ben Halpern-Meekin, and Doug Mink at the MassBike booth. (by David Loutzenheizer)

Tuesday, May 18

Broadway Bicycle School
Broadway Bicycle School, Cambridge

Karl Kurz and Steve Winslow
Karl Kurz and Steve Winslow, Somerville Bike Coordinator.

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.

Broadway Pancake Breakfast
Bicyclists' Pancake Breakfast at Broadway Bicycle School in Cambridge.

Wednesday, May 19

Harvard Bike Week Sign
Holly is proud of her Bike Week sign.

Harvard Bike Breakfast
Bike Commuter Breakfast at Holyoke Center in Harvard Square.

Harvard Bike Breakfast food
Fruit and pastries from Au Bon Pain

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 were welcomed.

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.

Olmsted's oaks
Olmsted's oaks along Jamaica Pond

Thursday, May 20

Medical Area Breakfast
Breakfast on Brookline Ave. in the Harvard Medical Area.

Commuter Challenge T-Shirt
Melissa Marantz models this year's Commuter Challenge T-Shirt

Back Bay Bike Breakfast
Bike Commuter Breakfast at the Prudential Center

Kendall Square Bike Breakfast
Bike Commuter Breakfast in Kendall Square

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 for the Commuter Challenge 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.

Vassar St. Bikelane
Vassar St. Bikelane eastbound toward MIT's Stata Center

Friday, May 21

Weeping beech tree
Weeping beech tree in Arnold Arboretum

DaHon and owner
Robert Davis and his DaHon folder

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!

Handing out maps
Stephanie Anderberg hands out a Boston Bike Map

Saturday, May 22

Group at start
Starting out at Somerville City Hall

Middlesex Canal marker
Robert Winters and Middlesex Canal marker

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 have encouraged 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.

Stained glass
Stained glass in one of the houses we visited

Sunday, May 23

Doug and Claudia
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.