Success in Arlington: Westward to Lexington!
Score Two for Trail Users: Lexington and Arlington React Quickly to Storm
December 21: With close to a foot of snow dumped in a day this past weekend, Trail watchers were excited to see how quickly the Minuteman Trail would be plowed and access would be restored. The Towns of Lexington and Arlington did not disappoint. As of this writing, the length of the Trail from Alewife to the Bedford line has been plowed.
But there is one major difference in the approach of the two Towns. Arlington, after implementing a successful pilot program three years ago, has integrated year-round access into it's existing municipal budget. By contrast, Lexington is currently relying on private donations made to the Friends of the Lexington Bikeway to cover the costs of plowing. To read more on the history of this effort and for information on how to donate, read this letter to the editor from the Chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee.Kudos to both communities for making the Trail accessible. We are all looking forward to the future.
Lexington Off on Right Foot; Arlington Continues Access
December 19: In a winter that has come in like a bear, and with more snow on the way today, we are happy to report that the Lexington section of the Minuteman Trail has been maintained to date and that all indications are that it will continue to be maintained through the winter.
The primary sticking point, which prompted the halt of plowing last winter, was the question of the access gates where the trail intersects Town roads. A key to these gates has been provided to the Friends of the Lexington Bikeway which will allow a truck with plow to access the trail during snow events. Previously, the Trail was only accessible by a sidewalk machine, which greatly increased the time it took to clear the entire 5.5-mile stretch in Lexington.
In addition, FoLB has hired a private plow vendor to do the work rather than relying on Town contractors which would only be able to maintain the Trail after all other commitments had been completed. This posed obvious operational issues due to the packing down of the snow and icing issues.
We are also happy to report that the Town of Arlington is continuing to maintain their section of the Trail in what is it's 3rd year of year-round access. Stay tuned for more details and if you have photos of the cleared Trail, email them to CTI for possible inclusion on this website. Enjoy the Trail and thanks to both Arlington and Lexington for their efforts!
Breaking News: Lexington Suspends Trail Maintenance
January 12: In a joint statement issued today, the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Lexington Department of Public works, and Town Manager Carl Valente announced the suspension of the fledgling pilot program to provide year-round access to the Lexington section of the Minuteman Trail.
After the first few plowable storms of the 08-09 winter season, the Town struggled to provide timely access to the Trail. In addition, the private funds that were collected to cover the cost of snow removal were quickly evaporating. At the rate of $75/hour, and using a less than efficient sidewalk clearing machine, the thousands of dollars that were raised would not have lasted the winter. The Friends of the Lexington Bikeway made the tough decision to suspend the program pending the development of a more efficient snow-removal plan.
View the joint statement here. And for a detailed list of the issues that caused the FoLB to take this critical step, visit the Friends of the Lexington Bikeway blog. More on this story as it unfolds.
It's 2009. It's time to clear the entire Trail..
Mixed Results in Lexington After First Storms
December 28: The Town of Lexington is working to make good on its pilot program to provide year-round access to the Minuteman Trail. Luckily, Mother Nature lent a helping hand in recent days in the form of warm temps and rain.
Some sections of the trail remain under ice but the ones that are clear have seen brisk use by residents. The demand is evident and the old maxim is proven true once again; 'if you clear it, they will come.'
Thanks again to the Town of Lexington for committing to provide year-round access to their section of the Minuteman Trail. If you've not done so already, please send a note of thanks to Town officials for the steps they have taken to date.
It's almost 2009..it's time to clear the entire Trail..
Lexington Pilot Program Off to a Slow Start
December 21: The first day of Winter is here and already the Trail has suffered multiple storms. The Town of Arlington has reacted as they did last year and cleared the Trail in a timely fashion. By contrast, the Lexington section of the trail has not yet been cleared. After the initial ice storm and two subsequent snowstorms, the Town will have to deal with a much messier cleanup. But we chalk this up to the newness of the pilot program and expect that things will progress more smoothly moving forward.
The Lexington pilot program is being funded entirely by private donations. See info in December 6 update below.
This winter has come in like a bear. Let's hope the Town of Lexington is able to integrate timely clearing of the Trail into its snow removal plan as effectively as the Town of Arlington has.
It's 2008..it's time to clear the entire Trail.
December 6: It's official - Lexington will undertake a pilot this winter to plow their 5 miles of the Bikeway! Lexington Selectmen approved the pilot proposal of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Friends of Lexington Bikeways (FoLB) at their November 24 meeting. However, the town is unable to commit funds for this pilot year, so the Bikeway will be plowed if the Friends and the LBAC can raise sufficient resources to see the project through the entire winter.
While the privately funded model is not ideal, we are confident that this pilot program will be such a success - as was the case in Arlington - that the Town will integrate year-round maintenance into the existing winter plan. To that end, we encourage all who support this effort to make a tax-deductible donation. From LBAC Chair, Peggy Enders:
"We would welcome contributions in any amount -- we hope to raise about $3,000 in addition to generous donations from FoLB and the Jack Eddison Blossom Fund. Please make donation checks payable to "Town of Lexington - FoLB" and send to Abe Shenker, FoLB Chair, 6 Stedman Road, Lexington, MA 02421."
Thanks to all who have shown support for this effort thus far. And thanks to the Town of Lexington for recognizing this support and taking the first step toward year-round access for all.
Qualified Success: Lexington Will Plow Trail, Won't Foot Bill
November 30: Last Monday the Lexington Selectmen voted overwhelmingly in support of year-round access..with one catch; plowing will be paid for with private donations, not Town funds. Thus far, according to a recent article in the Lexington Minuteman, $2,000 has been raised in support of this effort.
As evidenced during the Town of Arlington's pilot program of last winter, pedestrians outnumbered cyclists by 15-to-1. While the privately funded model is not ideal, we are confident that this pilot program will be such a success - as was the case in Arlington - that the Town will integrate year-round maintenance into the existing winter plan.
Read the Minuteman article here. Information on how to donate to this cause will follow. And please complete the circle and send a note of thanks to the Lexington Selectmen for this positive step toward year-round access for all.
November 23: With winter temps bearing down on Boston, the inevitable snow will not be far behind. In this cold backdrop, the Lexington Board of Selectmen are scheduled to vote tomorrow on whether or not to make year-round access to the Minuteman Trail a reality this winter and, if so, how to fund it. If you have not done so already, this could be your last chance to voice support for this initiative.
The Town of Arlington voted last year to fund a pilot program to measure the effects of year-round maintenance on their section of the Minuteman Trail. What they discovered was that maintaining the trail cost less than 1/10th of the projected expenditure, and this during the snowiest winter in recent years. Trail users packed the trail despite cold temps. The crucial community resource that is the 3-mile Arlington section of the Trail enjoyed thousands of users every day.
Do you want the same in Lexington? Would you like to have non-motorized access to Lexington Center? Care to take a leisurely stroll on your lunch break by the Hartwell Ave Business District all year round? Want a Safe Route to School for your children? There are two things you can do:
1. Visit our 'Take Action' page and send a note to let the Selectmen and Town Manager know that you support year-round access to this crucial community resource.
2. If you are able, please attend tomorrow's meeting which begins at 730pm in the Selectmen's Meeting Room, Lexington Town Office Building, 1625 Mass Ave. Nothing shows support like your presence.
Thanks in advance for your note of support. It's 2008. It's time to Clear the Entire Trail.?
September 12, 2008: In the wake of Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting, there is the sense that the Lexington Selectmen are carefully considering all the options with regard to year-round access on their section of the Minuteman Trail. While a slam dunk would have been preferable, this is certainly a positive first step toward the goal of year-round maintenance. Read yesterday's article in the Lexington Minuteman by clicking this link.
September 6, 2008: Positive news from Lexington; year-round maintenance to the Lexington portion of the Minuteman Trail is on the agenda for this Monday's Selectmen meeting. Ten minutes have been allocated for this discussion, which is expected to take place after 8pm. The Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee (LBAC) will deliver a presentation on the low cost and high benefit of year-round access and will cite Arlington's overwhelmingly successful pilot program of last winter.
This meeting is open to the public but this is not a Public Hearing. While attendance will certainly help show support, we strongly encourage you to send a letter of support for year-round access to Lexington Town Officials.
Are you a Trail-user that enjoyed the benefits of year-round access to the Arlington section of the Trail last winter? Please send a letter or email to Lexington Town Officials and explain how your winter was enhanced. And if you are a Lexington resident in support of year-round access, your letter will mean that much more to the Selectmen. Please visit our 'Take Action' page to send your letter today..
It's 2008. It's time to clear the entire Trail
September 2, 2008: One day past the unofficial end of summer and our thoughts turn to the Minuteman Trail. Will the Trail remain open and accessible through the coming winter? The Town of Lexington is taking steps to emulate the successful pilot program implemented by the Town of Arlington last winter. Not only did the accessible trail attract thousands of users that would otherwise have no option but motorized transit, the pilot program actually came in under budget. This despite one of the most snowy winters in years.
The Winter Access Initiative is pleased to announce that on Monday, September 8 at 7:00 P.M., the Lexington Board of Selectman Meeting will include a discussion on plowing the Lexington portion of the Minuteman Trail this coming winter. Please voice your support for a safe and accessible Trail this coming winter by attending the meeting. And please spread the word..
It's 2008. It's time to clear the trail.
June 28, 2008: The numbers are in and it's official; the Town of Arlington pilot program of year-round access cost roughly one-tenth of the original estimate. And this during one of the most snowy winters in recent history. A small sum for the enormous benefit the access provided from December to April in Arlington.
In all, there were 12 plowable storms this winter. After each one, contractor Brian Warren plowed the trail from end to end, using sand only once, which was found to be unnecessary. The tremendous support for this initiative was evident in the brisk use in the days between storms. CTI trail-watchers counted hundreds of users per hour during peak times throughout the winter.
On June 12th, the Town of Lexington's Bicycle Advisory Committee held a meeting during which they drafted a letter requesting that Lexington institute a pilot program modeled after Arlington's. And theTown has responded positively, announcing that a pilot program should be added to the 08/09 Goals and Objectives list.
While all signs to this point are positive, the success of the Lexington Initiative is not a forgone conclusion. Your support must be demonstrated for your voice to be heard. Please visit our Take Action page where CTI has compiled a list of officials to contact, drafted a letter template, and inlcuded quick links for easy emailing.
It's 2008.The time has come to clear the entire Trail.
June 8, 2008: With temps hitting the 90s recently, thoughts of snow and ice are probably the furthest from your mind. But don't forget where you live..we all know the snow is just a few short months away. Luckily, the Town of Lexington is taking the initiative. Having monitored the progress, and success, of the Arlington pilot program of year-round access on the Minuteman Trail, Lexington is interested to provide the same access.
This Thursday, June 12th, Lexington will host a meeting of the communities that host the Minuteman Trail. After witnessing the overwhelming success in Arlington this past winter, both citizens and town administrators alike are asking "Why not in our Town?"
Do you support year-round access to the Trail in Lexington? Come on out and voice your opinion. And if you reaped the benefits of access in Arlington this past winter, share your experiences at Thursday's meeting. View the flyer here.
Meeting of Minuteman Bikeway Communities
Arlington, Bedford, Cambridge, Lexington
Thursday, June 12, 2008, 7:30 pm
Lexington’s Cary Hall, Lower level
1605 Mass. Ave.
It's 2008.The time has come to clear the entire Trail.
April 26, 2008: After the amazing weather we had last weekend, you can't deny that winter is over. Nor can you deny the throngs of Trail-users that have emerged from their winter slumber. This is the busy season on the Trail to be sure, but it is important to note how busy the Trail was over the winter, the first in which it was maintained after each snowstorm. CTI volunteers performed trail counts after each storm and the results were amazing; hundreds of users per hour took to the Trail for exercise, access to Alewife and schools, or just to get out to avoid cabin fever. In addition, pedestrians outnumbered all other user groups 10-to-1.
It's clear that the pilot program, which came in just under the allocated funding of $2,500 for the entire winter, has been an overwhelming success. It's now up to you, the Trail-user, to reach out to your elected officials and let them know that year-round maintenance needs to be official Town policy. Let's finish this initiative..
Check out the recent wrapup article in the Arlington Advocate.
And keep your eyes on www.clearthetrail.org for more information as we turn our sights westward to Lexington. CTI advocates have had several productive meetings to date and will continue to work for year-round maintenance on the entire length of the Minuteman Trail. Join us, won't you?
February 25, 2008: Just look at that beautifully maintained Trail. This shot was taken by a CTI advocate this morning where the Trail crosses Lake St. This section of the Trail serves a neighborhood, an elementary school and Alewife. Great job Arlington!
February 24, 2008: It may be counterintuitive, but having as snowy a winter as we've had in Boston is a great thing for the Clear the Trail Initiative. With nearly 10 plowable storms this year, and with the Town integrating Trail maintenance into their snow-clearing plan, residents of Arlington and surrounding towns have been able to utilize the Trail as never before.
Of the original $2,500 budgeted for the pilot program, just under $2,000 had been spent up until this last storm. The proven low cost of the initiative coupled with the obvious popularity of the open Trail as evidenced by the hundreds upon hundreds of daily users, demonstrates that this is an initiative whose time has come. But if we've learned anything over the years it's that the fight isn't over until the fight is won. We urge you to take a few moments and send a note to the Town to thank them for the steps they have taken and to ask that they make year-round access to the Minuteman Trail offical Town policy.
January 15, 2008: Another month, another storm. Despite the volume of snow received thus far, the Town's pilot program of winter trail maintenance is being implemented wonderfully by contractor Brian Warren. One trail watcher who went end to end on the Arlington section today, said the trail "looked the best yet."
The plowing stopped again behind Mal's towing, which leaves trail users blocked from Bow Street in Lexington a few hundred feet away. However, this did not deter the many happy trail users seen out there today.
Have you enjoyed the fruits of Arlington's pilot program over these last snowy six weeks? Please send a note of thanks and voice your opinion that year-round access to the trail should become official Town policy. While we encourage you to use our easy email template, in order for your note to be considered 'official Town correspondence', it's necessary to mail a hard copy in as well. To that end, CTI has designed a printable, tri-fold PDF flyer which is pre-addressed and easy to send. Simply fold, stamp and send. Voice your opinion today.
January 7, 2008: After checking in with the Town Clerk, Clear the Trail Initiative learned that in order for your letters of support for year-round access to the Minuteman Trail be officially noted, email is not enough. The Town will only consider hard copy correspondence 'official' and thus note it during meeting of the Selectmen. If you plan to write and email, please print out a copy and mail it to the Arlington Town Hall, 2nd Floor, Board of Selectman Office, 730 Mass Ave,
Arlington, MA 02476. CTI has a tri-fold flyer and a postcard campaign currently under development and we'll post info as those efforts come online. In the meantime, printing out a copy of your email and mailing it in will be best. Thanks again for your support and, above all, your action in this matter.
January 6, 2008: With one of the most snowy Decembers in recent years, winter has sure come in like a bear this year. Luckily, the efforts of Arlington's contracted snow-removal specialist, Brian Warren, have kept the trail clear for all users. And those users have come out in force to take advantage of 'Arlington's Busiest Sidewalk'.
Indeed, Clear the Trail Initiative has taken spot observations of the Trail at various points, in various weather, at various times of various days. One clear trend is this: of the hundreds of daily users, 90 percent of them are pedestrians. Some have dogs, others walk with children. Some walk for leisure, others for exercise. But the common theme is gratitude that such a crucial community resource is open and accessible to all. If you haven't sent a note of thanks to the Town of Arlington officials who have made this access possible, please do so now. Visit our 'Take Action' page for easy instructions.
With so much snow this early in the season, CTI is concerned that the original $2500 that was authorized for this program will not last the winter. Based on numbers provided by DPW Director, John Bean, $1,584 has been spent to date. It is important to note that this is a trial program to both assess the costs and results. When the cumulative cost has reached $2,500, the program will be evaluated for possible continuance. Again, please send a note of thanks if you've not done so already. Every voice is crucial and all opinions are counted.
December 16, 2007: Another storm down, another great clearing job by contractor Brian Warren. In a winter that has come roaring in, Warren's efforts have provided the access that hundreds of users have taken advantage of. In addition, the trail was cleared all the way to Bow Street after the most recent storm, allowing unfettered access from end to end in Arlington. Check out the great writeup on the pilot program from the Arlington Advocate.
December 4, 2007: After the year's first round of heavy wet snow, trail users waited and watched. Will the Town make good on its commitment? If so, how long would it take? We're happy to report that within 24 hours of the storm, the entire Arlington section of the trail had been cleared.
It is unclear if this work was done by Town employees or farmed out to a contractor. What is clear is the response of the public that uses this crucial community resource. Traffic on the trail was brisk in the days following the storm and the Arlington message boards lit up with praise over this action. Once again, we ask that you let the Town of Arlington know that you appreciate the step they have taken. Complete the circle by sending a note of thanks today.
One issue for several trail users was the abrupt end of snow removal on the Town line with Lexington behind Mal's Towing. Rather than continue the last few hundred feet to Bow Street, the plow blades were lifted and trail users were essentially blocked from exiting the Trail at that point. While this is in accordance with the letter of the Town's commitment, it is not in line with the spirit of accessibility. We hope that this issue will be addressed after the next storm.
October 31, 2007: In a surprise turnaround, the Board of Selectmen, believed to have only two solid votes in support of year-round maintenance on the Minuteman Trail, voted unanimously in support of a pilot program to do just that. Funding the initiative up to $2,500 for the coming winter, the Town will plow and sand the trail from end to end.
For a great writeup on the meeting, check out Shauna Staveley's article from the online version of the local paper, The Arlington Advocate. The article states:
"Year-round plowing has been a hot topic, resulting in hundreds of e-mails sent to the selectmen, a plethora of survey submissions, petitions and a heavy turnout at a public hearing at a Sept. 24 Board of Selectmen meeting."
Thanks to everyone who contacted the Town regarding this crucial issue. After this pleasing vote, we ask that you send one more email; let the Town of Arlington know that you appreciate the step they have taken. Complete the circle by sending a note of thanks today.
The hard part is over, now our role shifts to that of watchdog, to ensure the Town executes the pilot program in accordance with the wishes of the vast constituency that has called for it. We will continue to monitor this initiative and be sure to keep you all in the loop. Thanks again for your support and, most importantly, your action. Your voices have been heard.
October 17, 2007: After more than an hour of public debate - overwhelmingly in support of year-round access - the Town tabled the issue at last month's public hearing. The Selectmen of the Town of Arlington are expected to revisit the issue of year-round access during their October 29 meeting.
At the public hearing, Town Administrators pushed back against the idea of year-round acces. Town Manager Brian Sullivan quoted clearly inflated numbers provided by the DPW head, John Bean. According to Bean, winter access to the Trail will cost $26,000. When pressed in the days after the meeting, he explained his numbers:
- each storm would require 5 hours of work at $75/hour = $375
- Bean assumed 24 storms for this coming season = $9,000 (That's one plowable storm per week from now until April!)
- $4,000 for salt and sand. (Salt and sand are not used on the trail around Fresh Pond just beyond Alewife so it is unclear why this cost is necessary in Arlington)
- Bean doubled the overall estimate from $13,000 to $26,000 citing "a higher level of maintenance" needed for the trail. Since users will access the trail using streets and sidewalks that are maintained at current levels, it is unclear why this is necessary.
Assuming all of the above numbers are correct, total cost for trail maintenance will be around sixty cents per resident per annum. CTI believes the cost will be significantly less. Furthermore, the revenue generated by an open trail will offset the nominal cost of maintenance.
The varied and numerous groups that are in support of year-round access include:
- The Arlington Commission on Disabilites
- Hardy Elementary School Principal, Deborah D'Amico, for whose school the Trail is both a Safe Route To School and an Evacuation Route
- The Arlington Housing Authority, which has two units that abut the Trail
- the majority of abutters surveyed
The Monday, October 29 meeting is another opportunity to display the overwhelming support for this initiative. Gather your friends and come down to Arlington Town Hall at 7pm and help defend this crucial community resource. Can't be there in person? Please send a letter of support today.
July 14, 2007: Here is one from the archives; the text of a guest editorial that we had published in the Arlington Advocate last summer. Our efforts continue and we believe this is the year that Arlington will institute a policy of regular maintenance on the Trail during the winter. Help make that happen.
July 10, 2007: Just because it's the middle of summer doesn't mean we're taking a break here at the Clear the Trail Initiative. Indeed, this is when most of the heavy lifting is done. Thanks to the efforts of uber-advocate Jeff Roth, CTI is picking up steam as we look ahead to another winter. Efforts will include on-trail canvassing, an official poll of abutters and continued meetings with Town officials to press the case for year-round access. Join our email list for up to the minute notifications and information on how to get involved.
Since our launch in 2006, we have received messages of support and examples of best practices from across the country and even internationally. For example, Jeff Gruttz, the Outdoor Recreation Coordinator for the City of Calgary Parks system, sent a resource rich email concerning how Calgary got their Trails maintained year round. Visit the transportation section of the City of Calgary's website for a look at the results of a balanced transportation policy. I recommend the Pathways map in PDF format, which highlights plowed routes and also the extensive pages on cycling in particular.
The Clear the Trail Initiative has developed a list of frequently asked questions to separate the facts from the myths regarding trail maintenance. We have also compiled a contact list for town officials so that you can voice your support for Trail clearing. In addition, we have links to other community groups around New England that have successfully lobbied to have their local Trails cleared of snow, to great community benefit. Want to stay informed? Join our email list.
It's 2007. It's time to Clear the Trail.