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Old 10-09-09, 03:43 AM   #1
AngeloDolce
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Bicycling in Cambridge, Boston, Lexington

I'll be in Boston the last week of this month and would like to bring a bicycle to go a few places in Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, and probably Arlington.

When I lived in Cambridge & Somerville and worked in Boston from 1980-1990, traffic seemed fairly easy to deal with - follow the usual traffic paterns (chaotic), and the congestion slowed all traffic down to bicycle speeds. My questions concern 2 developments since I've left:

(1) Cambridge & Boston bicycle lanes
All the google photos and descriptions I read of the Cambridge bicycle lanes sound like they are as badly designed as every Philadelphia lane I've seen so far. They are almost all in door zones, and they are still installing new bike lanes to the right of right turn only lanes. Since a few bicyclists I know have been doored, these lanes scare me far more than congested city traffic.

Do the police in Cambridge and Boston enforce mandatory use of the bicycle lanes (pull over bicyclists outside the bike lane, automatically fault bicyclists outside of bicycle lanes in accidents, etc.)? Does Boston have any significant bicycle lanes yet?

If bike lane use is enforced, do Cambridge and Boston motorists make right turns from the right hand edge of the road (merging into any bike lanes present), or do the normally stay to the left of the bike lane and turn across the bicycle lane instead of merging? (The latter seems to be the practice in Philadelphia; turn signals are optional but not encouraged.)


(2) Minuteman Bicycle Path to Lexington
I think a friend of mine might enjoy the Minuteman Bike Path; since it was built after I moved from Lexington, I am curious to see it either Friday or Saturday (Oct 23 or 24th). My assumption is that it is pleasant if you ride slowly to share with pedestrians and walk across most of the intersections. (similar to the urban parts of the Schuylkill trail.)

Does anyone have suggestions on Friday vs. Saturday, or other points of interest near the path?

Thanks for any comments
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Old 10-09-09, 06:09 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by AngeloDolce View Post
Does anyone have suggestions on Friday vs. Saturday, or other points of interest near the path?
Saturday, if weather is good.... expect a crowd. In my experience, on a weekday, the path is not busy very early - before rush hour commute, and then just after.... between 9:30 and noon. Best to ride when it's not crowded. In October beware of wet leaves, twigs, pine needles and acorn debris.

Incidentally, from Bedford, at the end of the Minuteman, you can easily ride out Rt. 225 to a newly completed 8 mi. section of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Westford, which goes up to Lowell. I haven't ridden on it yet. Info here:

http://www.brucefreemanrailtrail.org/Phase1/index.html
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Old 10-09-09, 06:43 AM   #3
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Getting doored is my biggest fear when riding in MA towns where everyone is parked on the street - it makes for a very unpleasant bike ride just to have to keep thinking about it. My advice is get out of those towns and find a nice quiet road. There are some out by Lexington and Bedford so seek them out.

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(2) Minuteman Bicycle Path to Lexington
I think a friend of mine might enjoy the Minuteman Bike Path; since it was built after I moved from Lexington, I am curious to see it either Friday or Saturday (Oct 23 or 24th). My assumption is that it is pleasant if you ride slowly to share with pedestrians and walk across most of the intersections. (similar to the urban parts of the Schuylkill trail.)
If you are a road cyclists stay off this trail as it is a gauntlet from hell. If you enjoy riding at 7-8mph and still have to dodge joggers, dogs and the unhuman roller bladers, then do so at your own peril. I rather ride on roads and deal with cars then the troglodytes that are on this path most of the time. That is my $.02
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Old 10-09-09, 10:50 PM   #4
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welcome back!!

(1) Cambridge & Boston bicycle lanes
Expect there to be vehicles stopped in them
Expect there to be cyclists going the wrong way in them
Follow traffic laws and use signals even though nobody else does. There have been way too many car on bike crashes recently.
Bike lanes on major roads like Broadway in Cambridge can have debris in spots
Obviously, pot holes
Mass ave around Central is crazy, and mass ave by MIT you'll get a ticket for blowing lights.
Boston, there are nice bike lanes on Comm Ave and Beacon, but lots of stopped cars and trucks.


Do the police in Cambridge and Boston enforce mandatory use of the bicycle lanes (pull over bicyclists outside the bike lane, automatically fault bicyclists outside of bicycle lanes in accidents, etc.)? Does Boston have any significant bicycle lanes yet?


You don't have to ride in the bike lane
Always expect drivers to try to hit you.


(2) Minuteman Bicycle Path to Lexington
Go on Friday
It's beautiful in Bedford where the path ends... you can buy "pocket rides" laminated route cards at the bike shop at the end of the trail--Bikeway Source.
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Old 10-13-09, 08:38 AM   #5
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There's a lot more of an awareness of bicycles all over Boston & Cambridge now than there was in 1990. It's gratifying to see bike advocacy efforts come to fruition.
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Old 10-16-09, 09:17 PM   #6
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Re the Minuteman Trail, I have a post about it here with lots of photos and commentary. In the summer, I would say to avoid it on Sundays like the plague. But now the number of cyclists has reduced considerably and any day should be fine. Even the Charles River Trail was nearly empty over Columbus Day weekend. So yes, go for it on any day you like.

As for cycling in Cambridge/Somerville... I live right on the city line and cycle through both on a daily basis. There is a great deal of variance depending on the neighborhood, and in general there is no consistent standard of behavior on the part of either motorists or cyclists. I don't want to rant about it here, but it really can be chaotic and frustrating at times!

Last edited by Veloria; 10-17-09 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 10-17-09, 06:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by AngeloDolce View Post
mandatory use of the bicycle lanes
Everyone in Cambridge -- motorists, cyclists, and police alike -- completely ignores the existence of the bicycle lanes. The wits that you developed cycling here in 1990 will serve you just as well 20 years later.

The relatively new lane on Comm Ave in Boston is, by comparison, pretty well respected by cyclists and motorists and much of it is far away from door-zone, though cargo trucks constantly park in it when they unload. Still makes Comm Ave a better place to bike than it used to be. Police won't care whether you use it or not, but you might as well.

Last edited by pocky; 10-17-09 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 10-19-09, 08:02 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies, they are helpful.
I'm not surprised everyone ignores the bike lanes; my recollection was that there was minimal enforcement for both motorists and bicyclists. I don't expect any problems stopping at stop signs.

I saw the entry on Lovely Bicycles; I think my friend will like a 7-8 mph ride for 1-3 hours on the trail; we'll see if we return on the trail or just take Mass Ave. (I suspect Mass Ave may be a little busy for her.)
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Old 10-19-09, 11:48 AM   #9
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I found this ride on Bikely if you were interested in doing a century...

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...ge-to-Cape-Ann

The north shore needs more bike paths. The closest one to Cape Ann is in North Reading, ugh.
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Old 10-19-09, 05:15 PM   #10
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I found this ride on Bikely if you were interested in doing a century...

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...ge-to-Cape-Ann

The north shore needs more bike paths. The closest one to Cape Ann is in North Reading, ugh.
All of the Metro area requires more bike paths. Actually, the only places with an active trail are such as Concord and the area surrounding there.

There are no bike paths south of Boston until you reach the cape.

The "Bike path" in scituate is actually a SIDEWALK. I will pass.

Bill
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Old 10-22-09, 02:40 PM   #11
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Everyone in Cambridge -- motorists, cyclists, and police alike -- completely ignores the existence of the bicycle lanes. The wits that you developed cycling here in 1990 will serve you just as well 20 years later.
i agree. the motorists hate the cyclists, the cyclists hate the motorists, and the police hate both, more or less. cambridge has more bike lanes on more streets than boston or somerville, and somerville is rapidly adding bike lanes throughout the city, but don't let that create the illusion that the police in those cities are also bike-sensitive. neither the cambridge nor somerville (don't know about boston) police care much for cyclists and see them more as a nuisance than a legitimate vehicular entity worthy of the protection of law. most police in cambridge and somerville don't want to get involved in responding to accidents involving cyclists, and do the minimum they have to to avoid being sued (arrive on scene to do nothing, basically). they rarely fill out meaningful and helpful police reports and then fail to respond to emails and phone calls inquiring about missing police report details. they do very little because they want to avoid being called in as witnesses.

i witnessed a cop in cambridge (central square) open his car door into the bike lane without looking (technically a ticket-able violation in MA). he very nearly caused the cyclist in front of me to slam into it, and the only way the cop responded was by muttering some expletive about "damn cyclists get in the way". i very nearly got into a shouting match with the cop but decided to keep cool and continue on my way instead, as nothing had actually happened.
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