DCR to bicyclists: Don't expect perfection on bike paths after snowstorms - or just move

A bicyclist's request that DCR ensure its bike paths are plowed and salted to bare pavement within a couple days after a large snowstorm has DCR officals saying enough's enough: Bicyclists with "poor judgement and unrealistic expectations" who can't find other ways to get around in the days after a snowstorm should consider moving to a warmer city.

UHub was forwarded a series of e-mail messages over three days between and about one bicyclist and DCR staffers, on the condition we excise names. It started with e-mail on Feb. 11 from somebody who rides to work on the Southwest Corridor:

The condition of the Southwest Corridor Bike Path today is absolutely unacceptable. From Boylston St. near the Stony Brook T-Station to New Washington Street, at the end of the Corridor near the Forest Hills T-Station, the path was nearly completely covered in ice. This path is the only safe route to take, and for it to be covered in ice two days after minimal snowfall is detrimental to Boston's cyclists who rely on safe travel to get to and from work every day. The path should either be plowed to the pavement or de-icing techniques should be employed.

A DCR staffer responded:

Thanks for your email. The Southwest Corridor Park bike path location was originally plowed down to the pavement, but there has been some melting and refreezing and current temperatures are not conducive to more melting, even if treated. While we do treat some high-priority crosswalks (such as at schools and T stations) with salt, we do not treat all the pathways and sidewalks throughout DCR (including on the Southwest Corridor) as this can have a detrimental effect on landscaping.

Unless you have appropriate winter bike tires that can handle normal winter weather conditions on these paths, we recommend you use alternate forms of transportations at this time of year for your own safety.

The bicyclist replied:

Thank you for your response.

I find much of your response difficult to believe. I checked the bike path every day since the storms and did not see it plowed to the pavement once. There was always a layer of snow ontop of the pavement. If this were indeed a result of melting and freezing, then why is this only effecting this bike path, and not area sidewalks as well?

Also, you mention that salt is not used because of effects on landscaping, but there are many other deicing materials which can be used in its place. To ignore these options shows to me that bike paths are a low priority, even though the Corridor is a "level 1 priority."

Please have plow operators pay more attention to how much snow they are plowing. I understand that patches of ice in certain vulnerable areas are inevitable and part of "normal winter weather conditions." For an entire section of the path to have no visible pavement, however, indicates a lack of care on the part of DCR to properly prepare the path for the winter as the State and local governments do for all other modes of transportation.

Respectfully,

At that point, the staffer forwarded the exchange to higher ups and asked how to respond. One replied:

I thought your response was a appropriate. I have a couple points to add.

A narrow linear path bordered by turf and vegetation (which is covered by snow) doesn't thaw as quickly as a sidewalk abutting a roadway. Even if we did repeatedly apply salt or chemically treat pedestrian routes, thaw and refreezing would continue to be a problem during periods of extended sub freezing weather conditions. This is why our current standard does not call for pedestrian routes to be completely free of snow pack and ice. We do not have the resources to meet that standard.

This past Saturday I walked section 3 of the Corridor from Forest Hills to the Stony Brook MBTA station and while some of the paths were covered in snow pack they were all safely passable for pedestrians - even pedestrians pushing child strollers. A tremendous effort goes into clearing the SWC pathways and our staff should be complimented for their efforts.

Then another even higher higher up forwarded this to staffers:

Hi All,

We should all be stating as a policy that DCR has no responsibility or intent of providing "safe" winter biking opportunities on any of our linear paths or sidewalks. This is impossible! Any path or walk where we do snow removal is strictly to provide reasonable continued passage for pedestrians. If anyone wants to bike our paths in winter they should assume variable and dangerous conditions, and know they are doing it at there own risk.

Frankly, I am tired of our dedicated team wasting valuable time addressing the less than .05% of all cyclists who choose to bike after a snow/ice event. Sometimes during winter in Boston you can safely bike, and I do it when it is dry and safe. This is not one of those winters! We should not spend time debating cyclists with poor judgement and unrealistic expectations, and stick with [the staffer]'s recommendation that they find other transportation. If someone is completely depending on a bike for year-round transportation, they are living in the wrong city.

Feel free to forward this to those complaining.

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    Comments

    As a year round bike commuter

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    As a year round bike commuter I actually have to side with the DCR on this case. I have tried to ride the SWC a few times this winter after snow and it's true that it's pretty impassable by bike. But the law gives us every right to ride in the road with traffic, so that's what I do.

    And when the snow is too much I take the T. People need to learn to pick their battles and determine what their true priorities are.

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    The road paralleling the

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    The road paralleling the south west corridor is one of the most frightening roads to ride on Boston, in good weather. This is coming from one of the most hardened confident cyclists out there. For 99% of cyclists the wouldn't dare go on there.... I don't even. There's no excuse to not plow the southwest corridor which is probably the most important bicycle highway in boston, only on par with the charles river bike paths.

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    They do plow it.

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    That's not under debate. But they can't plow it to dry pavement at all times and with the icy winter we've had, it's just plain foolish to expect this. There are plenty of safe alternative roadways to ride to reach destinations along the SWC but yes--biking in winter weather is challenging and no amount of plowing or salting is going to change that.

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    Why cant they plow it to dry

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    Why cant they plow it to dry pavement when they can do this to 99% of the roadways? And actually there are not a lot of good alternatives to the SWC from JP.

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    Because it's not a roadway.

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    Read the very civil explanation in the DCR's first response. It's got turf on either side, not sidewalk. It gets more melt and run off. You can't salt it the same way. And again--priorities. I say this as a member of a car-free, everyday, four-season biking household--they do a really good job of plowing this path. To expect perfection is absurd. And yes--there are many alternative routes including Huntington Ave, the Emerald Necklace, and--shocker!--multiple bus and T routes.

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    "To expect perfection is

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    "To expect perfection is absurd."

    They don't expect perfection. It's all the non-cyclists that keep using that word. There's SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW on the path on a routine basis after they've supposedly "plowed." Cut the tone argument BS.

    "It's got turf on either side, not sidewalk. It gets more melt and run off. You can't salt it the same way."

    And whose fault is it that the paths weren't constructed properly to account for runoff? And what about sand, which doesn't hurt the poor trees/grass? (and what about the roads that run through wooded areas yet we still salt them?) And what about environmentally-friendly ice melts?

    Yeah, I didn't think so.

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    seriously?

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    Do you not know what sand is used for around here?

    Hint: the next time you get to a roadway today, bend over and look down. Whoa, sand. That stuff road crews spread to help give traction on ice!

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    For cars, yes.

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    But most cyclists will tell you that sandy roads are treacherous for bikes. Many of my near-falls can be blamed on sand at the side of the road--early spring when road sand has washed to the sides are the worst. But thanks for playing.

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    sand

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    Yes, DRY sand on the road is far from safe, but sand over snow will definitely give you more traction (in this case more is not better). The problem comes in the spring when the roads dry up and now you have all that sand that needs to be swept up.

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    Agreed

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    But there's obviously a contingent here demanding clear pavement. I've found, given the icy conditions we've had here the last ten days, that it's easier to walk on the snow rather than shoveled sidewalks since there's so much ice . As far as biking goes, I think in some cases the same rules apply but I'm sure it depends on conditions and on your tires. And then yes--dealing with the sand once the snow is gone could be an issue.

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    dear cyclists: here's a novel idea -- use public transportation!

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    If weather conditions make it impractical for me to walk to my destination, I take public transportation, aka mass transit. You can handle it, trust me! Sorry, but I'm more concerned with safe sidewalks for the elderly and disabled than perfectly cleared bike lanes and paths for abled-bodied persons who make the choice to cycle after a snowstorm. Try to think about someone besides yourself for once! Selfish.

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    I drive

    By on

    and take public transportation five days a week (and sometimes on weekends).

    And your point is?

    *sigh*

    By on

    My point wasn't directed at people like you, only at those who decide to clog our city with their vehicles when they could get up earlier and take public transit. I didn't realize I was being cryptic.

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    All allies welcome when it comes to access for everyone

    This thread popped up in disability circles, it's so refreshing to see DCR staff members sneering about cleared walkways/bikeways. Disabled people, elderly people, we try to advocate, but no one listens. DCR has no money, doesn't care, and even after receiving calls from state senators, doesn't bother to do anything about it. Until it gets funded properly, until it's snow clearing responsibilities are either met or taken away from them, we will have the same problem.
    For two weeks now, I have not been able to travel either direction on my service road along the Fenway, controlled by DCR. Meanwhile, scores and scores of plows have scraped the roads.
    Bicyclists and disabled people have the same overall interest – safe, smooth, and wide enough so we don't run into each other. Access regulations have changed the natureof bicycling, so many people line up to use those sidewalk ramps at intersections, we can barely get on them.:-)
    So, we are after the same things, and it's a pleasure to see bicyclists advocate for something that would benefit disabled folks too. That Southwest corridor though? It's horribly accessible, huge cracks and pits and changes of level, how about if we get it repaved, and keep it beautiful all year around?

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    There are plenty of other

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    There are plenty of other side roads to take. Even in good weather I (an experienced and assertive cyclist) would not ride on Columbus Ave.

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    Because old German dudes are heavy

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    I don't think he could hang on very well, either. Wearing Helmut while riding a bike would be very unsafe! Much better to put him in the bucket of one of those utility bikes.

    IMAGE(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F074398-0021,_Bonn,_Pressekonferenz_Bundestagswahlkampf,_Kohl.jpg)

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    A Good Job, But Sometimes Way Too Much Salt!

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    Although I'm not always the greatest fan of everything the MDC/DCR does, I must say they do a good job of clearing the Revere Beach Reservation pathway. It's typically cleared sooner and better than my local neighborhood streets, but sometimes they use way too much salt. These pictures taken a couple of storms ago show a ridge of wasted salt that ran the entire length of the pathway, and one of the huge piles of salt that sat in several places. My bike chain needed an extra serving of WD-40 after that!
    IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/img_6481.jpg)
    IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/img_6482.jpg)

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    No environmental risk

    Given all the salt in the ocean, use of salt here isn't going to damage the ecosystem - a greater concern of theirs than bikes of people choosing to ride in the dead of winter. Safety trumps added maintenance you might need. Consider the extra salt pre-treatment for the next storm.

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    Of Course, Salt Isn't An Environmental Issue Along The Ocean ...

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    ... but it's a needless waste of public resources. Furthermore, whoever was operating the equipment was oblivious to it malfunctioning. It caused the salt to be all deposited in a narrow ridge, rather than spread evenly across the pathway; not just in a short area, but continuing for miles! I don't really care what it does to my bikes, but too much salt will cause the concrete walkway to deteriorate sooner than necessary; resulting in even more waste of scarce public resources.

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    If you want to protect your

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    If you want to protect your bicycle, you shouldn't use wd-40 on your chain, it's essentially a penetrating solvent and will destroy your drivetrain components. Use a lubricant instead.

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    For High Performance Bicycles, I'm Sure You're Correct ...

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    ... but my strategy is to have a collection of junky "Franken-bikes". I buy them used and broken, and then piece together parts from multiple bikes to make some that work. Often times, the chains are rusted and have frozen links, but a liberal application of WD-40 will get them loosened up and working again. Also, on most of my bikes, I completely remove the Derailleur mechanisms and shorten the chain, fixing it on the highest possible gear. This eliminates most of the troublesome drivetrain parts.

    Whether riding in the saltwater of the ocean surf, or on the over-salted MDC/DCR pathways, the bikes are bound to be affected by corrosion. For me, WD-40 works just fine for keeping them going and it's much cheaper than specialized bicycle chain lubricants. I don't really care if it ultimately destroys something or other; it seems like the junkier my bikes are, the longer they keep working!

    I love the powerful feeling of freedom that comes from not worrying about something bad happening to an expensive bike (or car) because I've always got a couple of spares ready to go when needed. I'm not going to bike across the country; just a couple of miles from home to the Ⓣ station each day. A junky bike gets me there quickly, reliably, and with far less hassle than any other form of transportation!

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    BoShield

    By on

    Pick up a can or a bottle at any marine store. BoShield is >>>>>>>>> WD-40.

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    Wax On Wax Off

    By on

    Just because one has a bicycle that is not expensive is no reason to treat it poorly when good lubricant is just as cheap as bad lubricant.
    Lubricant used on bicycle chains should be wax based, never oil based. Such as White Lightning.
    http://www.whitelightningco.com/

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    Never oil based?

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    Never oil based?

    You are mistaken.

    It really depends on conditions and what you prefer for a maintenance routine.

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    Thank You For Those Tips!

    By on

    Both White Lightning and Boeshield sound like good products, although they're both quite a bit more expensive than plain old WD-40. The bigger issue for me, particularly with the White Lightning, is that it requires the chain to be perfectly clean before applying. Since I'm starting out with chains that are already very dirty and rusted to begin with, it doesn't seem practical (if even possible) to get them that clean.

    The next time I put on a brand new chain, I might consider trying out the White Lightning; especially if it was for a bike where I wanted to keep the Derailleur mechanism instead of fixing it to a single gear. However, new chains only cost $10, which is less expensive than buying either of those lubricants. Since I've rescued these bikes from the graveyard and resurrected them back into useful service, I don't really feel guilty for using cheap lubrication, and I'm not about to spend any time cleaning my bikes' chains after every dirty, salty or wet ride. Just spraying them down with WD-40 whenever the links start to freeze up seems like the quickest, easiest, and least expensive solution for me. Of course, YMMV.

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    Chains are $10

    The problem is that penetrating lubricants get into hubs and other mechanical systems that cost considerably more, and carry in whatever crap is on your chain.

    I second Boeshield ... costs more, but you use less.

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    But If I Only Paid $5.00 For The Bicycle ...

    By on

    ... and its hub is all rusted and frozen so it won't turn, shooting some WD-40 into the center of the hub will get it moving again. The same thing goes for chains that are badly rusted and have frozen links; I need something with the penetrating effect of WD-40 to get the links freed up.

    Does Boeshield free up rusted parts like WD-40 does? Also, does it require the chain to be perfectly clean before application, like White Lightning does. In other words, is it worth using on bikes that already have badly rusted and/or damaged drive components?

    I value your recommendation of the Boeing product, SwirlyGrrl, so I might be tempted to try it out. I've got to admit, it's intriguing to imagine spraying it on my bikes and having them start running like the LRVs that once graced the Green Line!

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    Never use WD-40

    By on

    Never use WD-40 on your chain. It's not a lubricant. It's a water displacer. You need to use a bike specific chain lube (triflow, t-9, pedro's, finishline...)

    I hope you greased your chain

    By on

    I hope you greased your chain after the WD-40, since WD-40 is just for removing rust and water (WD = Water Displacement, it is NOT lubricant).

    wow, nice circular logic

    By on

    So basically: the DCR doesn't maintain the path. You found it impassable. So they're "right" that we shouldn't want to use the path.

    THE WHOLE POINT OF THE EMAIL TO THEM WAS THAT THE PATH IS NOT MAINTAINED AND PEOPLE RELY ON IT.

    " But the law gives us every right to ride in the road with traffic, so that's what I do. "

    Would that be the same road that narrows by 4 feet on each side because the city won't plow to the curb and drivers park further into the street as a result? And because of that, we're now more likely to get doored, as well as blocking traffic...causing drivers get all ragey - honking, screaming, throwing things as us, sideswiping us?

    Oh right, sorrrrry, I forgot to tow the line: bicyclists need to share the road with motorists.

    "And when the snow is too much I take the T."

    And if the T doesn't service your area, or your commute takes 3-4 times longer? Fuck you! Or you can't afford the $60/month a T pass costs, nearly $1k a year? Fuck you! Or you need the exercise? Fuck you!

    I love how a guy asking "hey, can you plow and salt the paths like you do for cars?" is portrayed as entitled, unreasonable, etc. Even though he specifically says he doesn't expect perfection and understands there could be trouble spots...

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    "And if the T doesn't service

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    "And if the T doesn't service your area, or your commute takes 3-4 times longer? Fuck you! Or you can't afford the $60/month a T pass costs, nearly $1k a year? Fuck you! Or you need the exercise? Fuck you!"

    I'm not disagreeing with you, but I just want to point out that taking the T in crappy weather does not require a monthly T pass. If you are only using it a handful of times a month, maybe 20 or 30 dollars tops, and ONLY in months where we get snow like this. That "nearly $1K a year" figure is simply not relevant here.

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    What area along the SWC is NOT served by the T?

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    Curious to know because last time I checked it ran alongside the entire Orange Line. Trying to think of anywhere in Boston actually where a DCR pathway was the exclusive way of getting safely from point A to point B.

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    yeah, and everything along the mass pike is serviced by amtrak

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    So why do we need the mass pike, huh? Are you really that dumb?

    SWC, Paul Dudley White, Minuteman, and Olmstead paths are like 495, Mass Pike, 128 for cyclists.

    You just proved to me that you're not actually a cyclist who bikes for transportation.

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    And you just proved to me yet again that

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    Anonymous posters aren't worth spit.

    Seriously dude--if you're standing at Forest Hills Station now in tears because you can't figure out a way to get in town without using the bike path, then good luck to you. Call a cab. Call your mom to come get you. I give up.

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    But, where would I leave my bike?

    By on

    Now, if they had a cage for me to store my bike a Forest Hills, then I could intermodal the trip. But since they don't (since I'm some kind of anon troll who has no clue what is at Forest Hills) I don't know what I'd do with my bike

    (sarcasm off)

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    Wrong answer

    By on

    The great thing about a bike is it goes places that aren't within walking distance of a T stop. So unless the Orange Line is going to let bikes onboard during all service hours, and operate around the clock, it's useless to many bikers.

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    Cyclist in Boston

    By on

    Are probably the biggest group of yammering douchebags.

    Cry me a river, it snowed!

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    I'm a coward

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    So I'm assuming your legal name is "cinnamon girl". Mine is mike!

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    Well, "cinnamngrl"

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    Any time you want to publish your real name, address and where you are employed, then we're all pretty much anonymous here, aren't we?

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    anon is nothing. I

    anon is nothing. I completely respect that you have a right to privacy. I can respond to you dvdoff in this or similar forums, and you can respond to me. But Anon is just is pretty much just mean lazy graffiti in an otherwise interesting difference of opinion.

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    Serious question

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    Wildly off topic, but I see these comments often and always genuinely wondered.

    How is using an internet alias, such as cinnamngrl, so much more daring and resolves any issues regarding transparency as to who you actually are? How exactly does this provide any accountability when the true identity of the person is still unknown? Remember, this is not actually the real world where we're meeting face-to-face...we're on an online forum, right? Just checking...

    I get that you can't directly address an "anon" user's post at times and are mostly used by "trolls" (which is what I will inevitably be called, well, that and a Herald reader because of having differing view), the comments of which makes me cringe as much as someone hiding behind some clever alias.

    Though using the "cowardly anon/Herald reader/troll" trifecta of retorts seems a bit overused at times. Just because you're hiding behind your chosen internet moniker doesn't somehow elevate you out of the "keyboard warrior" realm.

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    Branding

    Even if pseudonymous, a registered user has a "brand" which is recognizable. This is valuable -- knowing a person's real name isn't all that much more useful in the context of forum interactions. (though I prefer knowing people in "real life, personally -- and have met a number of other posters).

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    Filter out the anon posts

    I think you would find a higher level of discussion. if only for the bother of having to create an account. I don't presume to elevate myself in any way.

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    Actually dink

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    I ran 5 miles this morning. Which is what, the equivalent if biking about 20 miles at full speed. Ya buddy I'm half your age and probably half your weight ( seeing how much time you spend on UHub).

    Anon - Mike

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    Ha!

    By on

    Calm down, kid. Grow thicker skin and stop crying. Friggin cry baby.

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    Cry baby?

    By on

    You should re-read some of you comments KID.

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    Are they or are they not transportation facilities?

    By on

    If they treat them as "linear paths" then they should not legally be designated as bikeways.

    And while I think their response to bad weather is reasonable, they cannot state that they provide transportation facilities to cyclists if they fail to maintain them. They cannot have it both ways. They need to take responsibility for their bikeways OR do not nominate them as such.

    That said, I ride on roadways AND get studded tires to handle the ice in winter.
    If you use a bike for transportation, you need to make investments in equipment if you want it to work out well.
    You cannot depend on the DCR or other public entities to provide decent facilities... yet.
    Take care of the situation yourself. Take a Cycling Savvy course, get good gear. Have fun and look out for yourself!

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    Thank You Mr. DCR Manager and

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    Thank You Mr. DCR Manager and Staffer. These bicyclists are a demanding unreasonable bunch. I applaud everyone who stands up for the regular normal folks. Again, Thank You.

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    and someone riding a bike isn't "normal and regular"?

    By on

    Please do go on about how a person stops becoming "normal and regular" when they get on a bicycle.

    Please do go on about how their response "stands up" for these supposed 'normal' folks.

    Please also do go on about how asking the path (ten feet wide, and barely a few miles long) be plowed, sanded and salted...when the city does that for thousands of miles of road in the city for drivers.

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    Hoo-boy!

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    That's some mighty fine click bait you have cooking next to the French toast!

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    DCR too lazy to even shovel their curb cuts

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    Yeah people shouldn't be expect to be able to walk or bike along paths on state property.

    BUT YOU LITTLE PEONS BETTER SHOVEL SIDEWALKS IN FRONT OF YOUR PRIVATE PROPERTY OR THE STATE WILL CRUSH YOU FOR VIOLATING ADA ACCESS LAWS IN ADDITION TO LOCAL FINES.

    oh and,

    THE ROADS BETTER BE CLEARED BY OUR CREWS FOR ALL THE PRIVILEGED DRIVERS OR HEADS WILL ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111

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    Ya and

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    59% of the remaining 60% use public transit (me). Whom most of us are sick of the entitled whining cyclist. Take a fucking bus it just snowed.

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    Then where will you sit?

    By on

    Maybe I will, and the buss will be too full for you. Wait outside in the rain for the next one, suckah

    Those in suburban glass

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    Those in suburban glass houses with minivans and driveways shouldn't throw stones...

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    Are you sure? The January

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    Are you sure? The January 2014 issue of the Atlantic re: households without a car in large cities put the percentage of Boston households WITHOUT a car at about 35%
    If your 40% car ownership figure is correct then Boston even beats NYC in the % of carless households........ which seems unlikely.

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    This is the problem with that %

    By on

    Me and my girlfriend shar a car, so technicaly speaking only one of us is a "car owner," however we share in the financial obligation of owning said vehicle.

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    Swirrly, citation needed

    By on

    Swirrly, citation needed please. If you're going to cite statistics, don't be lazy -- provide the link. 40% of what portion of the population of the city of Boston? 40% of those eligible to drive, in other words, 16 and over? 40% of the entire population of Boston? Also, plenty of people may not personally own a car, but they frequently rent zipcars or are students driving their parents' car in Boston, so may not necessarily be represented in the 40% which you are noting but nonetheless drive here regularly.

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    US Census

    Census 2010. Look it up. Car ownership is lower than "has access to car", but people with "access to car" tend to not be the primary user of a vehicle, be it ZipCar (which does not comprehensively cover the city) or MomCar or RoomateCar.

    Interesting, but not true

    By on

    The Census Bureau only asked about age, race, sex, relationship to head of household, and tenure in house in the 2010 Census. That's it.

    The American Community Survey comes closest to your statistic. In 2012, 43.8% of workers living in Boston drove or were driven (carpooled) to work. 34.6% took public transit. 15.5% walked. 2.8% used "other means." The remainder work at home.

    The Census Bureau does not ask about car ownership. The Commonwealth has data on car registrations, but the Census Bureau does not ask. We're a 2 car household (for some reason) but the two workers in the household do not drive to work (public transit, though walking does sometimes take up the majority of my time.)

    The Boston Transportation Fact Book from 2002 has an estimate (based on the 1990 Census SF3) of 62% of homes in Boston owning cars. Is it germane to the discussion? Probably not, but those are the stats.

    Call me Stat Boy!

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    1990 is a bad comparison

    By on

    Car ownership has actually dropped in major cities in the last 20 years.

    In any case, Boston spends a lot of money clearing space for cars, but not for pedestrians. Given even the survey figures, communities either need to spend more money to more fairly allocate resources and/or do some thinking about their priorities beyond "look over there - hate bikes!".

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    Stat Boy a bit wrong

    By on

    ACS does ask about vehicle access.

    In 2012 36.9 of households in Boston did not have access to a vehicle. That means that 63.1% did have access (they break it down by 1, 2, or more than 2, but I didn't want to)

    My bad. Still, not Census 2010. Also, not germane IMHO to whether or not the DCR should plow to a certain way.

    Thanks for the Corrections ...

    Except the 1990 census figures are significantly out of date - car ownership has peaked and is trending downward nationally, and dropping fast in a number of cities, including Boston.

    I was actually looking at the data from the community survey, and I was off by a bit wrt the sources that you cite. Unfortunately, the numbers that I had been looking at were from preliminary data released within an environmental justice working group and it has a bigass DO NOT CITE on it. My apologies that I didn't realize that it had not yet been released.

    The numbers are actually that 35% have no access to a car, and car ownership has dropped to 43% when Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville are aggregated.

    These are very recent numbers ... and may be subject to correction before they are released in the aggregate files. However, the point stands: Boston is not a driving city, and driving miles and car ownership have peaked nationally and are starting to decline (and the auto people I work with are getting kind of worried about that - particularly younger people not driving).

    That's where the 1990 figures of 60-something percent come in: they show that things have changed dramatically as people who like/need cars have moved out, and people who want to be car-light or car-free have moved in.

    The DCR and Boston and surrounding communities really need to reconfigure their snow removal priorities to reflect this changed and changing reality.

    40% seems a bit low...

    By on

    but car ownership is down, in part, due to the recession, and folks not being able to afford a car and all that it entails. It does not mean all those folks jumped on riding bikes...but you probably know that.

    My white neighbors with two

    By on

    My white neighbors with two bikes and no cars who work at non-profits and always talk about how great commuting on a bicycle is seem a bit more privileged than my neighbors who drive their 1996 Carolla to work at 4 in the morning.

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    Nope.

    By on

    Nope.

    and maybe they're going to work at 4 in the morning

    By on

    ....because they have to travel 2+ hours out of their day in their car? Also, what does their being white have to do with it?

    Non-profits pay pretty shit salaries unless you're executive-level. But since the couple don't own a car and don't have to pay for insurance, gas, maintenance etc, they can afford to have lower salaries.

    Of course, it's a lot easier to whine about your white neighbors who bike, than the day-laborers and below-poverty-line workers who get around on bikes and need them because they can't afford the $720/year a transit pass costs, they definitely can't afford a car, their neighborhoods are not well connected to transit, and the transit system doesn't accommodate shift workers because it shuts down at midnight and doesn't kick up until about 5am.

    You also don't see them, because they don't live in your neighborhoods and don't go to work or come home from work when you do.

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    My point was that a car in

    By on

    My point was that a car in America in 2014 is not exactly an indicator of immense privilege. But yeah I'm sure most of the people inconvenienced by the DCR not plowing the bike paths are immigrant day laborers riding back to East Boston at 3am.

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    On the Minuteman, at least

    By on

    I do see a small but steady number of people who I think work at one of the yard services along the MM bikeway using it to get to work. I have not checked after the most recent couple of storms (I've been working from home and shoveling and roof-raking) but Arlington generally does a good job plowing, meaning that with studded tires the path is smooth sailing, and even with regular tires it would probably be fine. Lexington is trying to do a good job, not quite getting it right. At the same time, there are some areas in both Arlington and Lexington where drainage is not the best and freeze-thaw leads to puddles and/or ice.

    I use studded tires and a bad attitude. There's a bike/pedestrian bridge in our town that is regularly blocked by plowed piles of snow, and for the last four years I have personally shoveled it out. That both requires and sustains a healthy bad attitude.

    They ARE privileged because

    By on

    They ARE privileged because they save a crapload of money by not owning and maintaining a car.
    It's a choice. If feasible it makes hella sense.

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    Wow these people are jerks.

    By on

    Wow these people are jerks. Especially the higher higher up who claims to bike yet is saying only .05% of bike riders ride after a snow event. Thousands of people in this city bike all year round and the city/DCR could do a much better job of plowing paths after snow storms. Few people stop riding now because of the cold. Most people who stop riding in the winter is due to perceived danger due to unplowed bike lanes, paths, risk of falling on ice in front of motor vehicles, etc. To add another example, the charles river bike paths are very important commuter paths and are not plowed enough to permit riding in certain long sections. I don't get how every street can be 100% safe with like <1% chance of even black ice here DURING a snow storm but paths like this are just left neglected during and after storms until it naturally melts away. One of the most annoying parts is that the City/DCR (whoever is in charge) DOES plow most of these paths but they do it so inconsistently that its impossible to predict the conditions on the paths in advance.

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    Then bike on

    By on

    The street or take the T.

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    Thousands?

    Got any data to support that claim? Any bike counts? How many unique users (not trips) does Hubway record on Cambridge bikes in winter, or anytime for that matter - they far prefer to use the larger number of "trips" which individuals make multiple in a single day. "Thousands" is befitting of nice summer days.

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    These cyclists...

    Need to wake up a little earlier and hop on the bus. Even if DCR took the time to clear bike paths, they probably wouldn't safe to ride on in the winter with cars potentially sliding all over the road.

    On a side note, why must all these young people be so demanding in the way the speak to the city workers? Have you ever seen the City of Boston twitter page? It's an embarrassment - some twit was demanding that the sidewalks in the Back Bay be cleared in the middle of the storm last week. The snow sucks, not just for the little entitled brats, but for everyone in the city, including it's workers. So please, have a little patience or shut the fuck up about it.

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    How do you know it's young

    By on

    How do you know it's young people? People of all ages can and will be demanding and rude.

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    Wake up a little earlier?

    Doesn't do much good when the daycare doesn't open any earlier. Also doesn't do any good when you can't leave work before 4:30 regardless, yet have to get the kids at daycare by 6 ...even on a good day, taking the T can take 2 hours versus 45 minutes to bike.

    I know this because I used to cycle year round to get from my home in Medford to the medical area when I had small children in child care in Arlington.

    Stop pretending that "hopping on a bus" is a viable option for some commutes. It simply is not feasible for some commutes that are also ridiculous by car.

    The DCR needs to stop making shit up, too ... and boy is that "poor judgement and unrealistic expectations" hypocrisy just so hilarious. Anyone remember the school children who were run down in the street because they didn't clear their property? It isn't as if cyclists are the only ones out there.

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    Hmmm...

    Millions of people have to deal with the inconveniences of a snow storm and the resulting after effect. If you have to get the kids to day care, I would hope that your employer is sympathetic to that issue and is willing to work with you. If not, you need to speak HR.

    If you're living in an area with a 2 hour T commute on a good day, I would suggest you're living in the wrong area. I know moving may not be an option, but things like commute times should absolutely factor in to where you choose to live.

    If riding a bike is your only option, by all means, ride your bike, however, you assume all the risk that comes with it. So, don't complain.

    I know you know this because you seem like the type who knows everything, has done everything and experienced everything.

    p.s. Who are we fooling anyway? The majority of people complaining about bike lanes in the winter are not your typical 9-5 type with children.

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    You know this how?

    Who are we fooling anyway? The majority of people complaining about bike lanes in the winter are not your typical 9-5 type with children.

    You might be surprised at how many are taxpaying family folk. Our local cycling committee is probably about 90% homeowners with kids. But, hey, ignorance is bliss, right?

    Oh, yeah ... and how many times have you seen someone in a wheelchair in a bike lane this week? I've seen this about 10 times. You know why they are out there, right? They have an unrealistic expectation of being able to get to buses and trains so they can get to work and back - silly, entitled people!

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    The local community where?

    In Medford? Yes, that I can believe. I'm talking about the residents of the city where I'm sure 90% (or whatever bullshit number you want to throw out) is not "family folk".

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    Perhaps...

    Swirly, let me clarify my thoughts/feeling clear enough for you to understand:

    Sunny, warm, good conditions = safe biking

    Dark, cold, snow, sleet, ice and rain = not safe biking.

    Perhaps you don't know anything about me and I am so glad I don't know you.

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    What does living in JP counter-argues

    What does saying he lives in JP counter-argues his point? JP has lots of college student/20-something people.

    This is all anecdotal, if I have to rely on my experience, I would have say most bikers college students to 20-something people. But it would a perfect reasonable rebuttal to say my experience is because the sources of my exposure is riding with Critical Mass people and the BU campus. As yours is your fellow Medford people, whom many would be older and probably with a family.

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    Trading anecdotes, not all that useful

    I'm a Boston resident, home owner, father, and I bike. I'll just use your logic and extrapolate from there that all cyclists match my profile. Or maybe they don't. The reality is that we are a subset of all the people you might find in this city. We are all ages, professions, religions, and colors. Don't generalize or impute stereotypes, it obfuscates whatever point you think you're making.

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    Thank you swirlygirl!

    Swirlygirl is the only commenter I have seen at this website who really gets disability (there may be more, hope to read your comments :-) –), and I really appreciate her linking the causes of bicyclists and disabled people.
    Bicycle riders have a lot more clout than disabled people, that's why we are now riding in your bike lanes– against traffic!

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    You're Welcome

    I've seen chair users in the lanes year-round and it makes perfect sense to me. I just happen to see them more often during snowy times, which makes the need for clear rolling-ways all the more obvious.

    Disabled use of Minuteman

    By on

    I see very few wheelchairs, but there's a least one blind person who uses it, not sure if it is to get from point A to B, or for recreation. Not sure if she uses it when it is like this, where there is the possibility of patches of ice, but I have seen her walking, also chatting on a cell phone, in the dark (which does not affect her, but does affect people on bikes). She seemed pretty comfortable sharing space. Yes, she had reflectors on her cane, anyone with half a brain (and a headlight) could figure out what was up at a great distance.

    Daycare at work

    Swirly,

    Consider taking kids on the T to work with you and using a daycare near your workplace instead of one near your home. Just think of all the extra time you get to spend with them should the T run late. Win-win solution.

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    One question

    How many kids do you have and how easily did you find daycare near work?

    Something tells me that this is just a theoretical problem to you, given that you think it would be some sort of ideal situation to haul small children on the T for four hours each day.

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    As Dixie Carter said: "we don't care"

    If you can't manage job, kids, daycare, home, commute, don't blame others.
    Did ya ever think:
    -Maybe you live in the wrong place?
    -Maybe you work in the wrong place?
    -Maybe you have too many offspring?
    -Maybe you're l i v i n g b e y o n d y o u r m e a n s ? ! ? !
    -The world doesn't owe Swilly a damn thing.

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    You really are a stalker,

    You really are a stalker, aren't you?

    Do you have any other hobbies to fill your time? Or just stalking me.

    I'm not flattered either. Seriously - get a life.

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    Okay then

    Have you posted anything in the last month that hasn't been a specific personal attack?

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    Dude, we are still waiting

    For some facts to substantiate your claims that the DCR is plowing private driveways. Maybe this is just YET ANOTHER load of swilly BS foisted upon the fine family folk at U-Hub.

    Dude

    By on

    How long have you lived in Massachussetts? Please.

    You think these people pay for snow removal? Out of their own pockets? Get with the program.

    Stalker much?

    By on

    You realize that we can, uh...see your posts, right? And that virtually all of them are creepy, pointless attacks on other posters, notably Swirly. If it walks like a duck...

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    Cry me a river

    By on

    Guess what, everyone has a shitty commute when it snows. Get up earlier, get on the bus and go to work like everyone else - the city isn't going to waste millions just so a few beautiful and unique snowflakes can take their sweet time eating crunchy granola and drinking kombucha before going to work during or after a major snowstorm.

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    Weather conditions

    By on

    Prevent getting around sometimes no matter what form of transit you use. Get real.

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    My point is the main

    By on

    My point is the main alternative road out of JP to the north, if not taking the SWC, is a deathtrap in bad weather. Not good to be in a bus, bike, or car on south huntington in wet conditions. Redo that road, plow the SWC. Problems solved.

    Ummm

    By on

    Orange line? Green line? If all else fails, FEET?

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    Orange and Green Lines

    By on

    Also known as "unreliable" and "even more unreliable".

    The T being full of extreme fail is a big reason people cycle in the first place. Adding more people into even more extreme T fail in bad weather is ... priceless.

    Way to go,

    By on

    DCR! A response that is well thought out and respectful. If you want to cycle, use the street where they plow and salt. I'd love it if DCR still has money in their budget come summer for parks and camping.

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    Ok just dont beep at me when

    By on

    Ok just dont beep at me when I'm taking the lane because the side is all icy. No you cant pass me because Ill just have to pass you again next time the traffic backs up.

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    I won't

    By on

    Beep at you. You have the right to take the whole lane.

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    You're right - the DCR budget should be mentioned

    By on

    DCR’s overall operating budget has been reduced by nearly 30% since FY2009.

    The Environmental League of Massachusetts just released a report called "The Green Budget," which shows where the state is budgetwise now and where it has been in previous years.

    Page 14 of the report (which is page 18 on the PDF) talks about DCR funding / snow clearance.

    link with overview; link to PDF is on that page. http://www.environmentalleague.org/news.php?news=322

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    DCR Official Needs To Lose His Job

    By on

    I was just in New York last weekend and noticed that all bike lanes on main roads were fully plowed--and full of cyclists-- two days after a heavy snowstorm. So it's not too much to ask that the comparatively miniscule area of bike commuting paths and lanes in Boston also be cleared. Any chance we can have the name of the DCR official who wrote that last email? I, for one, would love to cut loose from a taxpayer-funded position someone who has so little interest in serving the public.

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    Really?

    All bike lanes? So you traveled around Manhattan and every single street had a bike path cleared? Highly unlikely. If you are referring to the avenues, well, that makes sense. It's a lot easier to clear a bike path on two lane, one way avenue than it is to clear bike paths on Boston's narrow, single lane, two way streets, no?

    Oh, and yes, let's go on a witch hunt and take away someone livelihood because he dared to suggest cyclists use an alternate form of transportation when there has been inclement weather. Seriously, get a fucking life.

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    It's unbelievable.

    By on

    When these people don't get what they want, look out. Step one is to make an unreasonable, self centered demand. Step two is to call for the head of whatever unfortunate soul is unlucky enough to be the one to deliver the message that the demand can't be met. It's pathological, anti-social behavior and should not be tolerated.

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    Last 5 years

    By on

    Is anyone paying attention to their surroundings? This "incompetent" agency getting attacked, the DCR, in partnership with DOT has spent more money on pathway infrastructure over the past 5 years than perhaps the previous 30 years! Can anyone point me to ONE discussion anywhere where cyclists and pedestrians are thankful or appreciative of these major, complex, costly improvements? Didn't think so! Maybe if the DCR got thanked now and then for bringing incredible complex improvements to fruition, they would not be as frustrated with irrational complaints about snow/ice from the advocacy they are investing millions to benefit. Recent project examples: Nonantum road narrowing (MAJOR upgrade to Charles river pathway and a huge safety improvement - $7,000,000). Northbank bike and ped bridge (awesome, key link between Charlestown, Revere Park and North Point Park in Boston - $25,000,000). Neponset River Greenway- Over $20,000,000 invested to date on off-road, stunning bike and ped facility... More connections coming soon! Watertown Greenway - 1st phase completed 2 years ago behind watertown mall, 2nd key segment purchased by DCR last year - this is a visionary effort to connect the Charles River to the Minuteman and Alewife Greenway totally off-road ($3,000,000 invested to date). Alewife Greenway - another visionary project providing awesome off-road link on both sides of Alewife Brook between the Minuteman, Alewife T, and the Mystic River... Another $4,000,000 for bikes and peds! Norwottuck Rail Trail in northhampton/amherst - currently being fully restored ... Another $5,000,000 investment! Blackstone River Greenway (Blackstone and Millville - $20,000,000, 3.5 mile greenway featuring 7 new bridges and a tunnel) - under construction - will connect via off-road bike paths all the way to Providence! Yes, these are some of the recent and on-going efforts of an agency with no concern or respect for cyclists and their needs. An agency with no sophistication or vision. Many of the comments posted here remind me of young children... They take for granted how much one does for them, underestimate how hard the work is, and are preoccupied with what they are presently not getting. I guess it is true, that some of us just never grow up.
    Note: I learned about all these projects by exploring my surroundings and attending highly, professionally run meetings hosted by DCR/DOT!

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    Where is the maintenance budget?

    Thanks for listing the many new bike/walk projects. These are capital spending projects. The problem is that money wasn't budgeted to maintain these things! The same problem hits road projects with added landscaping, benches, trees, bushes, bike racks, lighting etc. For example the $6.5M road narrowing project in Arlington to start this spring includes $730,000 in added streetscaping with 40x $4,000 pedestrian scale lights and extra traffic lights that use electricity, lots of planters with shrubs, lots of trees, trash cans, benches, bike racks and that's not counting benches and bus shelters already bought by the MBTA for the project. The town of Arlington will pick up the tab for all the maintenance. Meanwhile, parking spots were lost in the highest demand locations.

    The Minuteman path in Arlington gets little to no maintenance beyond snow plowing. Near my home, part is washing out from loss of soil underneath where a retaining wall should have been originally made 20+ years ago. Is there any money to preserve the investment? No. Any money to fix anything seems to need a project, such as one finally to smooth out one section. Really poor financial policy when an inexpensive fix sooner prevents an expensive one later.

    By the way, the Alewife Greenway path was 100% paid for by the federal recovery act, went way behind on schedule, has some stone dust washing out issues, and it looks like the contractor has finally agreed to repair the private road they chewed up bringing heavy equipment and materials for the project.

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    Um, no

    repair the private road they chewed up bringing heavy equipment and materials for the project

    That would be the same road that got chewed up by flooding in 2006 and a couple other years, no?

    Not saying that the equipment didn't help damage it, but it has been in a pretty bad state for quite a while before the Alewife Greenway went in.

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    What a

    By on

    bunch of entitled morons. Snowstorms, floods, hurricanes, etc., are "acts of God" (the insurance industry's term, not mine, didn't mean to offend atheists, agnostics, wiccans, etc. and tart another thread). Would you expect a nice and clear path the morning after a hurricane or a flood? The DCR didn't cause the snow. They can only remove so much of it after large storms or numerous storms. If you are foolish enough to think otherwise, then good luck with that ride. I hope your mason jar full of coffee and your organic beard oil don't break along the way.

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    You know,

    By on

    My dog wants the DCR to just stop spreading salt on the bike paths. Unless a DCR worker wants to come home after walkies and clean the salt from each and every one of her paws, this insensitivity towards our furry friends must stop! Think of the children!

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    I been seeing more and more

    By on

    dogs in booties, walking in the snow. I have to say, it looks like a great idea, although I don't know how the dogs feel about it.

    low priority

    I am well aware that bicyclists are last on the list for many people. But I think this letter reflects a common malaise of government employees. They engage in ass coverage. where they do the minimum effort to protect their jobs. All people are seen as barriers to covering their tasks as effieciently as possible. this requires reducing their "responsibilties" as much as possible.

    it is possible, that making the bike paths safe won't serve the public as a whole. However, Impassible bike paths artificially reduce bicyclists and forces a fake impression that .05% of the public care about this.

    frankly, DCR is not providing adequate snow removal for sites in Dorchester. I am just talking about a safe sidewalk to the bus stop. These are sidewalks that line their parks.

    there is a school of thought that prioritizes bicycle needs because in the big picture we will all have better air and health. For the $ and effort, bicycles are a very effiecient way to travel.

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    Not Just About Cycling

    The MDC/DCR has a very dim history of properly clearing pathways that are used by all manner of people and modes (including wheelchairs). Of course these asshats want to MAKE it about cycling so they can then blow off their responsibility to clear public ways without a backlash - at least until another bunch of children get hurt or killed. Much easier to whine about cyclists than demonstrate the least bit of awareness of accessibility issues on your property - at least until the ADA complaints mount.

    How soon we forget what happened when they tried this "WAHHHHHH WE'RE THE DCR YOU CAN'T MAKE US CLEAR PATHWAYS WAHHHHHHHH IT'S NOT FAIIIIRRRRR" bullshit as their policy previously:
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/02/08/2d_official_ousted_...
    http://ne.transportation.narkive.com/zs4fHR7k/dcr-commissioner-forced-to...

    What they need to do is shut up, stop whining, stop scapegoating cyclists for advocating for the needs of all path users and do their jobs.

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    The disability community

    By on

    Seems perfectly able to advocate for themselves, so don't pretend you're taking on their cause when it's really about yours.

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    They can and they do

    Which is why this dope chose to rail against "THOSE EVILLLE CIKLISLTSSS1!!!!!!!!" in order to not justify serving anyone (see comment about ramps and bus stops, below).

    Somehow, a memo saying "fuck you crips stay home and be disabled already" wouldn't have the same divisive political cachet as their usual idiotic war against cyclists - even if that IS their attitude and IS the end result of their no-clear policies.

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    Come on.

    By on

    That was so clearly NOT the tone of the response and claiming it was OR comparing the situation of an able-bodied JP cyclist with MULTIPLE other modes of transportation at hand with someone in a wheelchair is absurd and shockingly insensitive. And makes us bike people look, collectively, like a bunch of pouty a**holes.

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    She does cyclists no favors.

    By on

    Swirly is not a consensus builder. Not someone with a skill for bridging gaps in viewpoints and providing opposing camps with the impression that she understands where they are coming from and is interested in reaching a solution that addresses everyone's needs. She's a bomb tosser. And it's getting pretty fucking old to see it play out weekly here.

    Developing bike and transportation infrastructure is critical to the continued vitality of the metro boston area. People like swirly give bikers and public transportation advocates a bad name.

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    Anon is a doofus

    Can't make up their mind, or post from a consistent viewpoint. Just look at all the anon posts and you'll see that!

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    Miss the point much, Sally?

    I didn't say that cyclist access is equivalent.

    I'm saying that DCR bullshit attacks on cyclists requesting clearing of the pathways is a red herring.

    They don't give a shit about people with disabilities, either, but they don't dare say that. So they instead renew their long running attack on cyclists as a strawman target. Which makes people like you take their side without further evaluation of the impacts of their refusal to do their job - including the impacts on people who need to use the sidewalks and ramps and bus stops on other uncleared DCR property.

    And then they avoid spending their precious budget for snow control on anything other than their own parking lot and personal driveways.

    Homework: red herring; strawman; diversionary tactic; divide and conquer

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    I'm not seeing any "attack" here.

    By on

    And this is "my" local bike path we're talking about so I know the conditions of it very well. The DCR's response was thoroughly polite and sensible--only the last expressed what I consider an utter reasonable level of frustration. Demanding "perfect" conditions and throwing a hissy fit when your unreasonable expectations aren't met is NOT the way to either get what you want (that would be "springtime") or garner public support for more reasonable requests.

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    DCR plowing private driveways on our dime?

    By on

    Please provide facts that substantiate this claim.
    If true this is a gross misuse of state resources and should be penalized.

    I'll wait. Thanks.

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    Huh?

    By on

    Unless this is a weird joke post whose subtleties are escaping me, what are you talking about?

    Thanks!

    By on

    I thought it was directed at my referring to the bike path as "mine." Mine, mine...all mine. Bwahhahaha!

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