Monday, December 21, 2009

2009-2010 Plowing Update

OK, we're off to a much better start this season! We've had two successful plowing events so far.

Our contractor is working out very well, getting out there within a reasonable timeframe and getting the snow off as best as we could expect. Volunteers are helping out to shovel out around the gates and bollards that can't be removed, as the plow has to lift its blade to get around them. Thanks to all the contributors and volunteers for your generosity and patience. Thanks to the Town of Lexington and DPW for assisting in making this private arrangement possible.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bikeway Plowing Update

Here's an update of our plowing experiment plans:

We've identified a contractor, independent of other Town of Lexington work and are working with the town to make sure that we can hire this person and they can get appropriate access to the path, etc.

We looked into getting the path cleared last weekend, but it seems that there is too much ice at the moment and we can't afford to have it all removed.... a very time and labor intensive process, so we need to wait for a thaw.

Hopefully, we'll have the new contractor in place so we can start plowing as soon as practical. This contractor will be able to plow the path within a day or two of a storm, so this will hopefully avoid the kind of ice-pack problem we are currently facing. They will also be using different equipment. They have both a blade and a bucket available, so it will give us a few chances to try different approaches.

We regret that we haven't been very effective this year in keeping the path clear, but we have learned a lot about what not to do and done our best to conserve funds, so we should be able to do a better job later in the season and if there is left-over, next year. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lexington Bikeway Plowing Suspended

The Friends of Lexington Bikeways (FoLB) met Thursday Jan 8 to review the results of our plowing experiment to date. The FoLB and Bike Advisory Committee unanimously decided that we needed to explore modifications to the program and decided to withhold funding and temporary suspend the experiment until we have a chance to explore and implement modifications.

We feel the results so far have been mixed. Some of this is due to the weather, but it is also clear there are some other problems that must be addressed which are compounding the problem.

• Plowing is costing over twice as much per mile as Arlington and the results aren't nearly as satisfactory.
• The delay before the path gets cleared is a big factor. Lexington's policy is that the bikeway only gets cleared after the other town sidewalks are finished, as these paths have priority due to traffic and school access.
• The decision to not open the gates and remove bollards has prevented us from using equipment that can clear these conditions more effectively.
• The sidewalk plow operators seem to drive on the bikeway without plowing to access town sidewalks. The resulting packing of the snow ultimately creates dangerous conditions on the bikeway and makes subsequent clearing much more difficult.

FoLB would certainly like to see the program resumed as soon as possible, however we feel that given the limited funding, we want to assure that we spend the generously donated funds as wisely as possible.

We know many of you will be disappointed to have the program suspended, however our intention is to the best with the resources we have available and make sure we learn from our mistakes and do the best job we can do with available funds. We believe we can do better and don't want to waste funds by being inefficient or ineffective. We ask your patience while we seek to resolve these issues.

This is shaping up to be a snowy winter and we have limited funds. At the rate we are spending, and the rate snow is falling, we would probably not be able to afford clearing the entire season. Our plan has always been to hold money in reserve so that the path can be cleared towards the end of season to assure the path is clear as the weather warms.

We thank everyone for their generous support and look forward to working with the Town of Lexington and its fine staff to do the job your generous contributions deserve.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Plowing Experiment Donations

On behalf of the Friends of Lexington Bikeways, I with to acknowledge the generous donations from many individuals in Lexington (and Arlington) in support of our experimental plowing the bikeway in Lexington. Thank you so much!

The number and size of donation has been quite impressive.

We're committed to finding a plowing solution for Lexington that works well and is cost-effective.

We've had some mixed results and there is a lot of discussion to figure out how best to proceed.

Thanks again!

Abe Shenker
Chair, Friends of Lexington Bikeways

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December 24th plowing update

Word has it that plowing has started in the center and even though there was a lot of packed down snow, the plow was able to get through a good deal of it. I have one report that "bed rock is showing". :-)

Work is still in progress, but the
DPW thinks they'll have it done by weekend.

We're monitoring the progress and we'll discuss and recommend adjustments going forward from what we learn from each storm.

Thanks to everyone who supported the plowing with your generous contributions! We want to make sure we get good value and hopefully excellent results for our limited experimental budget this year.

Feel free to comment here if you have suggestions or observations you wish to share.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December 17, 2008 Plowing Status

Even though the town isn't obligated to plow the bikeway until there is 2 inches of snow, the town offered to plow the bikeway tonight, but given the conditions and the high probability of a major storm on Friday, we recommended that we save some of those generous donations for another snowy day and have it plowed after the next storm this weekend.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Lexington Greenway Op-Ed

The following OP-Ed by Keith Ohmart is posted on his behalf.

The first of several public meetings reporting on progress of the Master Planning process for the West Lexington Greenway will be held on January 16, 2008 in the large meeting room of the Cary Memorial Library from 7 to 9 pm. Representatives of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., (VHB) the design firm appointed to produce the Master Plan, will present a summary of the work accomplished to date.

The goal of this project, funded by town Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, is to plan for a network of trails, including universally accessible sections, linking all open space areas on the west side of Route 128. The five mile long study area extends from the City of Cambridge reservoir at the southern end, northward to the Burlington town line, and is largely bounded on the west by the towns of Lincoln and Bedford. The first step in this process has been to document existing conditions and compile an inventory of both natural resources present as well as the impact of human forms on this landscape. VHB has been working with the West Lexington Greenway Task Force, a committee comprised of Town staff and volunteers, to compile this information, which will be presented at the January 16 meeting.

VHB’s representatives have spent the fall compiling data from numerous trips in the field to identify natural features including plant and animal communities as well as physical features including topography and underlying geological features. The impact of human society on the land is also of critical importance to this process. Existing trails, roads, utility corridors, and historical features have been surveyed and mapped. This has resulted in the creation of a sizable database of information, which will be presented in summary fashion using maps and visual images.

Some five miles in length, the West Lexington Greenway represents in the aggregate, the largest semi-contiguous open space in the town of Lexington. Comprised primarily of old-field open space, forest and forest edge and a range of wetland habitats, the Greenway supports a wide variety of flora and fauna communities. The creation of a comprehensive inventory of these features is the critical first step that will then inform the planning process for the proposed trail network.

The purpose of creating this Master Plan is to create a detailed picture of the entire area in order to conduct an informed planning process for trail alignment. Areas of critical environmental importance need to be identified for protection. Opportunities to provide access to areas of environmental interest and beauty need to be considered. Accessible trail connections need to be planned. The desirability of encouraging non-motorized travel for both recreational and commuting activities needs to be considered. These and many other themes will eventually enter into future stages of the planning process.

The January 16 presentation and those to follow in future months are an integral part of the Master Planning process. The purpose of these meetings is to report periodically to the community on the work accomplished and to collect comments and feedback from the public at regular intervals. The West Lexington Greenway is a significant if perhaps under appreciated open space resource, a large portion of which has been set aside for preservation as open space by prior actions on the part of the Town.

January 16 is your opportunity as Lexington citizens to learn more about this resource and to participate in the planning process for its future.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bike To Bridge Boston

Check out this interesting bike ride in Boston:

Proceeds to benefit Boston Schools. Here's your chance to ride your bike down Storrow Drive!

Route Map:


September 23, 20078:00 AMRide starts promptly***
6:30 AM - 7:45 AM — Registration & Packet pickup
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM — Post-Ride Festival with food, entertainment and fun.
***Latecomers won't be allowed to ride because of Storrow Drive closure

WhereCity Hall Plaza, 1 City Hall Square, Boston, MA and throughout the city of Boston. See our map for details about the route.

Bike to Bridge Boston combines a great cause with a fabulous time.Bike to Bridge Boston supports the Boston Digital Bridge Foundation, which helps Boston Public School students get the technology, and the skills they need to succeed in today's world.100% of your donation supports the Foundation's programs

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Harvey's Presentation in Danvers 5/14/07

I was invited to describe the experience with the Minuteman Bikeway in Lexington.

Following my talk, Craig Della Penna gave an excellent slide-show on his long experience with Rails-to-Trails. His website: Craig has a frequent newsletter that
I encourage you to subscribe, identified on the website.

Most of this information is on my website:

The topics I included were mostly taken from my website:

1. Betty Eddison volunteer recognition -- in the early 90's one day more than 2000 volunteers were recognized on the Lexington Green. Betty said: "Without our volunteers, Lexington would not be the kind of town it is. It's as simple as that," she said. That day more than 2,000 volunteers were recognized. I cherish the medallion I received that day.

2. Jack Eddison Tribute -- the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway , the 500th rails-to-trails path.

3. Bicycle Routes in Lexington: 14 routes, 82 miles of convenient ways to bicycle within Lexington. Most have one end the town border on a road that enters Lexington. Many significant landmarks are identified on these routes.

4. Bicycling Organizations in surrounding Communities

5. There are 15 intersections that provide access to the Bikeway. These are not hazardous, as they are suitably marked. Most have crossing gates that are normally locked -- Emergency vehicles can open the locks.

6. Some beautification plantings of flowers in various places along the >bikeway have been encouraged.

7. Bicycle User's Impact on Lexington Business has been positive.

8. Boardwalks and Bridge Crossings have encouraged safe access to schools. Safe Routes to Schools -- we've done about 10 wetlands crossings:

Friday, May 11, 2007

Proposed changes at 201 Bedford Street

If approved by Lexington’s voters, the reconstruction of the DPW buildings and the landscaping that is planned will be a very welcome change for the many users of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. The bikeway abuts the DPW property for several hundred yards near Bedford Street and the view of roadway equipment and piles of lumber and road materials has never been a desirable image for the millions that use this very popular trail every year. We expect that the Bikeway will have even more use in future years, both from local people and from the tourists of a new age who may well choose bicycling or walking as a better way to enjoy the history and natural beauty of this region. It is therefore important that public buildings and grounds along this route reflect the care and pride we all take in our town’s appearance. From what we on the bicycle committee have seen of the Bio Engineering plans, this visual problem has been addressed with care. The placement of the garage doors on the SW side of the main building and the screening by fences and by tree plantings along the property line will dramatically improve the view from the Bikeway and reduce noise.

Equally important, the new design includes an entry path from the Bikeway onto the DPW grounds. There will be a drinking fountain along this path, toilet facilities on site for public use and a grassy spot for the traveler to rest his or her weary bones. These facilities will compliment those in the center, allowing families with small children to better plan their day. There will be about 20 parking spaces for cars, normally used for DPW business but available for public use on weekends.

The new facility also encourages DPW employees to commute to and from work by providing bicycle storage and shower facilities on site. These amenities will have the practical advantage for supervisors who could bicycle to meetings in the town center or perhaps even to the DPW construction sites around town, saving them the nuisance of driving and parking cars. Some of our Selectmen presently walk or bicycle whenever possible. Making it possible for town employees to do the same would set a further example to all that Lexington is serious about both saving energy and promoting the good health of its people.

Jerry Van Hook
89 Meriam Street

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lexington Bikepath Improvements

By Mike Tabaczynski

On a cold day in October Mike Tabaczynski, Marita Hartshorn, Rich Spencer, David Pinsonneault, and Bill Hadley road the entire length of the Lexington portion of the Minuteman bike way to identify places that need repair. We are already seeing some results from our efforts: namely new caps on bollards and new STOP signs at road crossings. The sides of the bike path in Lexington Center were relandscaped in the spring greatly improving the center ambiance. Numerous information and safety signs still need to be replaced. We look forward to partial repaving and installation of bio-barriers in the spring.

Bikes Not Bombs

By Marita Hartshorn

While driving along Lexington Streets on trash day my wandering eyes often spot discarded bicycles on the side of the road. If only these people knew about Bikes Not Bombs they could turn their trash into a useful means of transportation for kids in Boston or South Africa or Ghana or El Salvador or even New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Boston students can become proud owners of shiny like-new bikes with fully working components.

To earn a bike, students come three times a week for five weeks and learn how to refurbish old bikes, to ride safely, to gain environmental awareness, and to live healthy.

In 15 years of operation, Bikes Not Bombs have shipped 24,909 bikes internationally. Bikes Not Bombs accepts children's, off-road, hybrid, mountain, and touring bikes which are rust free. They do not accept wheel size smaller than 20 inches. To learn more about donating a bike or bike related items or other opportunities at Bikes Not Bombs, visit their website at or call them at 617-442-0004. Arlington has the closest drop off point for those unable to drive to Jamaica Plain.

Sidewalk Use In Lexington

By Jerry Van Hook

It is perhaps not surprising that bicycling enthusiasts would also want to promote better walking conditions in Lexington. After all, both are human-powered activities, good for our health, good for the environment, and good for the social benefits of being able to pause at any time to chat with friends and neighbors along the way.

Although the interest in promoting walking improvements had these logical roots, there were practical problems to its implementation. In 2002 when bicycle committee members began to talk seriously about safe walking routes in Lexington, we asked the then town manager Rick White for his opinion. He pointed out that, however desirable the objective, it was not within the charter of either the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) or the Friends of the Minuteman Bikeway (FOMB) organization to take on such a project. A committee targeted specifically to improvements in sidewalks and walking paths would be in a better position to deal with the more controversial issues that araise.

This was good advice and we embraced it with enthusiasm. We first determined whether the Town had any current information on existing sidewalks. Boston Edison had some data as did the Town DPW, but it was incomplete. Members of the FOMB decided to make a study of every street in the town, usually on bicycle with maps and clipboards, recording those street segments with no sidewalks, those with a sidewalk on one side, and those with sidewalks on both sides. While this inventory was in progress, we learned that the federal government was putting forward a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) initiative which emphasized walking to school with parental supervision, particularly at the elementary school level. This seemed the best way forward since the children would benefit at an early age and the parents would also be encouraged to participate. Taking the completed sidewalk map, we marked the location of the six elementary schools in Lexington and superimposed circles of half mile radius as a reasonable walking distance. As part of this exercise we also obtained data on the school busing districts in 2003 and marked this on our map as an indication of the residential areas from which students and parents could walk. Beyond this radius it was expected that most students would be bussed to school.

With two middle schools and one high school in town, the routes these older children would take would depend on busing or by the alternate use of bicycles. It was assumed that roadway routes for bicyclists would generally connect with the Minuteman Bikeway and other off road paths from low traffic-density roads in the individual neighborhoods.

As the sidewalk inventory and SRTS programs evolved, it became even more evident that a separate sidewalk committee would be a better vehicle for these issues. Since the FOMB had several members that were also involved in stewardship of conservation lands throughout town, many of which were adjacent to schools, it was natural to focus on the less controversial task of improving walking paths through conservation land to enhance the access to all schools and to public spaces throughout Lexington. This program, described elsewhere in the Newsletter, is strong and ongoing under the leadership of bicycle committee member Mike Tabaczinsky and his volunteers.

The Lexington Planning Board under Glen Garber was the first to use the information gathered by the FOMB on walking and bicycling routes. This resulted in the publication in 2004 of the report "THE LEXINGTON WE WANT" which incorporated the sidewalk survey and the existing bike paths and recommended low-traffic roadways for bicyclist use in this town. The Selectmen had been giving thought to creating a Lexington Sidewalk Committee (LSC) and in the Spring of 2005 the committee was formed. Its charter was to be a systematic evaluation of walking conditions and a plan for improvements which would be ongoing over the years. This LSC would take on as an early task a program fostering SRTS at the elementary schools, thereafter expanding to all the schools. Walking to centers of commerce and public gathering would also be promoted and the issues on sidewalk construction and maintenance would be addressed. The present writer was appointed as a member of the LSC and regularly reports on their activities at the bicycle committee meetings. Our committees are justly proud of their part in laying the groundwork on walking conditions in Lexington and in their continuing involvement in bringing better conditions for these two alternatives to the community.

Jerry is a member of Friends of the Minuteman Bikeway (FOMB) and the Lexington Sidewalk Committee (LSC)

Bicycling and Walking in Lexington

By Jerry Van Hook

Since biking and walking have so much in common as healthful and enjoyable ways of getting about, it is perhaps no surprise that bicycle committee members would be interested in improving conditions for walking as well a bicycling in Lexington. Since the Minuteman Bikeway was officially opened in 1992, the number of walkers and joggers has almost equalled the numbers of those on wheels along the five miles of pathway, apart from traffic noise and pollution and yet passing near the Town center for those combining local errands with recreation.

Not everyone lives adjacent to the Minuteman Bikeway and the other pathways dedicated to bicycling and walking in town. The bike committee was therefore soon involved in developing maps showing a network of recommended low-traffic roads desirable for cycling to compliment the convenience and pleasure of riding and walking along the Minuteman. As we worked on these maps, it became evident that bicycling should not be the only focus, that walking routes were just as important, and that we were lacking information on the existence or nonexistence of sidewalks in the higher population density areas in our town.

Flowers Along the Minuteman Bikeway

By Rich Spencer

In many ways the verges of the Minuteman Trail are ideal for wildflowers. Sunlight, poor soil and open areas as found along the trail are conducive to the growth and propagation of wildflowers. These wildflowers prosper without fertilizer, without weeding, and love benign neglect.

Early spring brings such blossoms as Glory-of-the-Snow and Violets while autumn shows a wide variety of Asters. In between an ever changing scene of colorful flowers can be seen.
More than 100 different wildflowers grow along the trail. Some of these are called weeds, some are invasives, and some are escapees from cultivated gardens. All of them add color and texture to the trail.

  1. Asiatic Day flower
  2. Beggarweed
  3. Blue Vervain
  4. Bouncing Bet
  5. Cuckoo Flower
  6. Celandine
  7. Crown Vetch
  8. Dame's Rocket
  9. Evening Primrose
  10. Goatsbeard
  11. Hawkweed (many varieties)
  12. Harebell
  13. Jewelweed
  14. Lily-of-the-Valley
  15. Morning Glory
  16. New England Aster
  17. Ragged Robin
  18. Spiderwort
  19. Tansy Wild Geranium
  20. Yarrow

This list represents less than one-fourth of the wildflowers that can be found along the trail and does not include the many flowering trees, shrubs and bushes also found along the trail.
My favorites include Beggarweed, Ragged Robin, and Spiderwort. If you have a favorite New England wildflower it is quite likely you could find it growing somewhere along the trail.


Welcome to the Friends of the Lexington Bikeway Blog!

This blog is for the Lexington Massachuetts cycling community. Many of the subscribers and publishers of this blog are actively involved in support, planning and recommendations for biking and other recreational activities on the Minuteman and are members of "The Friends of Lexington Bikeways" and the official "Town of Lexington Bike Advisory Committee".

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