Connected Bikeways: From Local Paths to Long Distance Travel, a Journey with the East Coast Greenway Alliance and MassBike

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Carl stands at the end of the Bay Colony Rail Trail in Needham, looking toward the future when the trail continues to Needham Center and on into Boston.

What do you want bicycling in Massachusetts to be like in a year? Five? Or in ten?

One day, we'll be able to ride on safe, separated, multi-use bikeways across the entire state -- from Salisbury to Somerville, Lowell to Lexington, Boston to Northampton, Worcester to Providence, and throughout all of Berkshire County! MassBike works every single day with this vision in mind: to see the connection of all our disparate pathways into a connected, seamless network that will allow every rider in Massachusetts the option of comfortable, local riding that leads to long-distance touring without the stress and danger of dealing with traffic.

But our network is only as good as it's weakest link -- or missing link! And still, after decades of advocacy by local organizations that have gotten every piece of path and trail built, we still face challenges for land acquisition, permitting, design, funding, and construction. That's why we are so vigilant to get every little piece of trail built in Massachusetts. Recently, you may have heard of the trail issues in Leominster or Lynnfield, or the challenges facing the Mass Central Rail Trail. We haven't built our trail system the way we built our highways. It has been small pieces stitched together over time and the connectivity of this system needs our attention now more than ever.

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MassBike stands in a unique position to connect the national, state, and local groups necessary to make a statewide connected network of bike paths possible. To highlight the need for connected rail trails and their benefits, and to meet with local advocates along the way, MassBike's Executive Director and East Coast Greenway's Kristine Keeney will embark on a 150 mile bike tour from Providence, Rhode Island, to Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Each day of the five day bike tour, the pair will attend and host public meetings, connect with local advocates, and will meet with local, regional, and state staff and elected officials to discuss collaborating to make bicycling and walking safe and realistic options for transportation and recreation in Massachusetts.

As we focus on rail trails, especially along the South Coast and Cape Cod, we need your support. If you want to ride connected and safe bikeways across the state, please consider making a gift to MassBike today.


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Make sure to follow along August 15 - 19 on this page and our social media for video updates of infrastructure updates and interviews with local advocates and key participants in the process towards connectivity. Join Galen and Kristine on their tour by following along as we share their experience with you!

Connected Bikeways Tour Schedule:

Thursday August 15

Meet with Rhode Island Department of Transportation and attend a public meeting (Rhode Island Department of Administration One Capitol Hill, Providence, RI Conference Room 2A, 2nd Floor) at 4 p.m. to voice the East Coast Greenway Alliance’s opposition to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s proposed cuts of $37.5 million in funding for bike/ped projects in Rhode Island. 

Friday August 16

Ride plan - try a new travel route for the East Coast Greenway through the area that better aligns with the vision for the South Coast Bikeway. They will be riding the Fall River section with Jackie Jones, Principal Transportation Planner at the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District to ensure consistency between regional bikeway plans and the new ECG route

ecga_friday_event.jpgA meet-and-greet and workshop will be held at 4-6 p.m. at the New Bedford at the James Arnold Mansion (South Lounge). The meeting will enable staff and advocates to meet and chart a course for future collaboration towards bringing the South Coast Bikeway to fruition. A cash bar and cash dinner options will be available following the meeting for those interested in continued networking. We encourage you to join us at this event! RSVP on Facebook and let us know you'll attend.

Galen and Kristine are tackling the issue of wayfinding! Check out their first video from the tour as they do some scouting work.

And see some highlights and some areas of concern from their ride in Fall River and New Bedford as they rode the Quequechan River Rail Trail.

Saturday August 17

Bourne Trail Fest - At the festival, we'll talk to local residents and visitors about biking and walking safety to engage a wider audience in an effort to build a safe and connected network in the state.

Here's Galen and Kristine heading over the Bourne Bridge on their way to Trail Fest! 

It's a tricky crossing but afterwards... it's a lovely ride on the Cape!

And afterwards... they hit 100 miles!

What does it take for this crew to do 150 miles of bike-packing? Take a look here and while they are roughing it out there, the DCR parks make for excellent camping.

Sunday August 18

We'll meet with the Cape Cod Cycling Club and Cape Cod Commission, and other local advocates who are working to extend the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Wellfleet. We will also be meeting with advocates in Provincetown to talk about their efforts to connect their town to the Cape Cod Rail Trail in the future.

First, Kristine and Galen came across some brand new, separated bicycle infrastructure.

Check out this clip where Galen talks about future rail trail extensions.

And while they had some issues finding the right turn onto the Cape Cod Rail Trail, they now know where there are needs for signage improvements..

And they found a bicycle round-about where they could turn some laps and check out wayfinding signs and bicycle amenities.

Monday August 19

We'll have more meetings in Provincetown and Welfleet, before wrapping up and heading back home to share even more stories with you.

Here, rails and trails co-exist nicely!

On the Head of the Meadow path, Galen addresses the issue of speed on pathways and how design can help with this problem.

To see the full photo album of the journey, click here.


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  • Don Burn
    One of the biggest problems in connecting trails, is there is no good map that shows all the trails and planned connections. We have the map you show in the post, we have TrailLink, but these do not reflect plans (such as new trails, extensions to existing trails, or various connections that MAPC is proposing). These definitely do not reflect the other abandoned corridors that could become trails.

    An example of this was a meeting about the Mass Central Rail Trail that occurred about a month ago. The state is doing a study of the pieces needed to finish the trail from Boston to Northampton, but had completely overlooked that the Waschusetts Aqueduct that is currently a walking trail and being looked at to be a multi-use trail came within 1/10 of a mile of the Mass Central. In this case this was critical, because the review had already identified the location where they would connect as being a challenging piece of engineering but they had not considered this additional link. This link has the ability to connect to five other rail trails, and potentially remove the East Coast Greenway from a long on road stretch.

    We need a good map for these types of plans, and for inspiring people to push local efforts to connect trails. Additionally the map needs to reflect neighboring states trails, because in multiple instances I can think of Massachusetts is the one missing a few miles to connect to other states trails.