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.


Anonymous said...

good. the moron who drove up and down the Lexington section completely ruined it. HOW do you drive up and down it in 4 inches of slush and not remove one inch of it ? all they did was make slushy chunky tracks, which froze hard, and now are covered in 4 inches of fluff. rendering the path : difficult to ski, dangerous to run (ankle injury, falling) and impossible to ride a bike, either with 4 inch snow tires or studded snows. When you get to Bedford section, which is untouched and all natural, it becomes skiable, ridable, and runnable. the arlington section of course is fine. god, this so called attempt at making the path better backfired hard, and ruined it, probably for the rest of the winter until that moronic frozen slush. THANKS FOR NOTHING.

Please leave the path alone. it is fine without ruining it for the rest of us thanks. man, you know how many people are completely and utterly furious about the lexington section now ? r-u-i-n-e-d

-abe said...

Just to make it clear, we're not sure who drove the tractor on the bikeway and packed the snow. At first it was thought to be a sidewalk plow, but we've had conflicting reports. We will try to address it... so if you spot a vehicle on the path doing this, please try to identify it and let us know.

Anonymous said...

well, the tracks were identical to the lexington sidewalk equipment, and they drove in the same manner as the first time snow was removed, and they started and ended at the town line arlington and past hartwell in lexington/bedford lemme guess...??? hmmm, typically rogue hooligans don't go that far on the path and use identical equipment.

look, just leave it alone. Many hardcore athletes love the untouched minuteman, and we know how to deal with frozen footprints from winter. In fact we look forward to it. XC skiing loves it. bikers love it. walkers can handle it. now, with the buried 4 mile long ice ruts it ...garrr I already told is -broken-

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly disagree with the previous commenter.

I have been a strong supporter of plowing the Minuteman Trail since I moved to Massachusetts 3 years ago from Minnesota where we had reliable access to plowed sidewalks and trails all winter long. In the winter, I believe that we need a safe location for exercise and non-motorized transportation, even more than during summer months, since poorly cleared sidewalks and roads are often quite hazardous.

I am very disappointed that the Lexington section of the trail will not continue to be plowed this winter, but I also have been very discouraged by the reliability of the plowing thus far, and hope that donations will be used to remedy the situation instead of fund poor performance. I still believe that plowing the trail is of significant value to the community, but without prompt and reliable plowing, users will not be able to count on the trail and the value diminishes significantly. Despite the acknowledged differences, please look to Arlington as an example of excellent execution; they have found a way to make it work well.

Anonymous said...

Good decision on the suspension. Surely, we can learn how to do this better from our neighbors in Arlington. While I can understand the sentiment to leave it alone, I've found that in previous years this resulted in hard frozen footprints and bike tracks that made even running too hazardous. The way that the Arlington section is now (mid-January) works fine - very few hard frozen footprints and a nice coating of an inch or so of snow to make it feel like winter.

Michele said...

My friend Jim started posting on Twitter about Minuteman Trail conditions. He rides from Lexington Center to Cambridge and back 2-3 times per week in the winter.

Anonymous said...

I ran the Arlington section of the path today (2/4/09) after yesterday's snow, and it was perfect. They had cleared it overnight, but there was still a nice layer of snow that provided traction - even over the icy spots. This isn't that difficult. Lexington should just duplicate what Arlington is doing.