You call this a commuter bikeway?

The Minuteman Bikeway is an 11-mile, “year round” asphalt pathway occupying a former rail line in Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford.  It is supposed to provide “an easy way for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel to subway and bus lines, serving to reduce automobile traffic in the area.” How does that translate to reality?

Minuteman Bikeway, under snow

Minuteman Bikeway, under snow

In some ways, not so well.  “Year round?” This being New England, if there is no snow removal then the path is useless four months out of the year.  Arlington only started removing snow last year.  And Lexington?  That’s still beyond Lexington’s abilities.  Lexington residents would be outraged if a single automobile road went unplowed for even a day.  But for some reason different rules apply to the bikeway, which has not been plowed for years.  So much for “year round” bicycle transportation.

No riding on sideways, dangerous traffic, no lane setoffs.

No riding on sidewalks, dangerous traffic, no lane setoffs.

Not to let Arlington off too lightly, what were they thinking with the route through Arlington Center?  Or more to the point, what route through Arlington Center?  The signs prominently warn against riding on sidewalks.  Okay, no riding on sidewalks.  The traffic pattern makes it dangerous, cumbersome, and illegal to ride on the road with a bicycle to continue the trail.  To reach the western trailhead riders have to go on the sidewalk or ride against traffic.  And there are no fog lines or bike lanes to provide a buffer against traffic.  In short Arlington Center pretends that there is no bikeway.  The blue sign at the top of the picture appears to instruct that riders levitate through shrubs and buildings rather than follow any path or roadway.  What is “easy” about this setup for bicyclists?

Not even close to “year round;” in Arlington Center in particular, far from “easy.”  It’s super recreation, but is this really an example of our transit future?