View Full Version : Help me commute to work! (Massachusetts)

08-02-2005, 11:51 AM
For those of you familiar with eastern MA/Metrowest Boston, can you help a sista' out? (also posted on the MassBike forum)

It's a haul, but I'm thinking about all my options. And I'm not sure how long each will take. From downtown Lowell...

Option A) Ride 110 to Rt 4 to the Minuteman Bikeway in Bedford, then take that to Arlington Ctr, then down Broadway to Cambridge Street in Cambridge. Probably 25 - 30 miles?

Option B) Drive to Bedford, then option A.

Option C) Bike to the Alewife T station, then take the T. How's the bike theft situation there? Anyone know?

Option D) Take the path all the way to Alewife... but then I'm not sure of the safest way to get from there to Cambridge (around the Galleria Mall area). Suggestions wanted.

Thanks in advance for any input or suggestions.

08-02-2005, 12:29 PM
If your commute is 25 to 30 miles each way, you're looking at 50 to 60 miles round trip - wow! Is this going to be an everyday ride, or are you planning to commute only part of the week? My commute (from North Andover to Burlington & back) is usually shorter than what you are thinking about. I have a 34 mile minimum (16 miles in, 18 miles out), but I often add some miles on the way home to bring it up to around 40 miles. I believe I'm quite a bit older than you, but I think that 50 to 60 miles plus working all day would not be something that I could sustain. If it were me, I'd probably need to drive part way...

That aside, on to some of your questions. Oh wait - I have another question for you. Have you ridden on the Minuteman bike path? I haven't, but in my experience bike paths in this area are overutilized and are not the safest places to ride. A mix of bicycles, runners, walkers, roller-bladers, folks with baby strollers, etc. - and people usually don't have a clue what to do if you call out "on your left"! It may be rideable on your way in to work, but I'd be concerned about its state in the afternoon.

I've ridden on Memorial Drive before, but only on the weekends. It seems like that would be a natural end to your ride if you're heading to the Galleria Mall area, but it may be possible to cut through north of there on somewhat quieter streets. I would bet that Spazzdog has some ideas for that area (just based on where she lives!). Spazz?

I think you have a lot of guts to even be thinking about riding in to Cambridge, and I'm assuming you are talking about semi-normal work hours. Any options to avoid the heavier traffic times?

I'm afraid I wasn't very helpful; sorry, I tried! I'll definitely be interested to hear how your commute shapes up - please keep us posted!

--- Denise

08-02-2005, 01:02 PM
Hi Anaphase,
I used to live in Arlington and used the bike path from there to commute to Harvard Square and now my boyfriend lives in Bedford, now I ride it to work occasionally (MGH/Charles Street) and from Brookline. Let me see if I can succinctly give tips.

I can't comment on Lowell to Bedford. But the ride from Bedford using the Minuteman trail to Mass Ave, Mass Ave to Porter Square, Somerville Ave-Beacon/Hampshire/Inman/Kendall Square, to Charles St. is about 18 miles one way. The ride from Bedford to Arlington Center at 7am is pleasantly empty. In fact I feel like I'm going the wrong way: lots of riders heading out for early morning group rides. Sigh.

Anyway, at A. Center, cross Mass Ave and pick up trail at Carberry's bakery (and pick up a pastry if they are open. Try the Hekla with frosting) The trail from here to Alewife is busier with morning walkers and foot commuters.

At Alewife, take left on road at end of path, ride with cars and take right onto path marked by huge stones (just before underpass). Pass the playground, stay left under road. Pass other T entrance. Stay left around football field. Cross deadend road. Ride path to end at Mass Ave.

From here ride into Porter, left on Somerville, right then left to stay on Beacon. Shoot down thru Inman to Kendall. From there, don't know how to suggest to get to Galleria, but I'd sneak over on 1st or 2nd street.

Keep in mind the bit from Mass Ave on, means comfort with cars, car door watching, and taking left turns. It does get easier over time. And "bike lanes" are officially marked on this bit of the route, but sometimes it just means a line with a bike symbol.

The path in the evening tends to open up (less people) once you get out of Lexington. I find it to be a nice winddown after work, and commuting through Cambridge.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

08-02-2005, 01:08 PM
...I've tried the so-called "bike path" on Memorial Drive from H. Square to BU Bridge, and frankly, it frightens me. Too narrow. Manhole covers, etc. The Esplanade path from BU to Science Park ain't bad but also not recommended--crossing over Storrow requires dismounting in some locations and foot traffic irratic.


08-02-2005, 01:36 PM
Thank you both so much!

I am not sure how this will work out, but I at least want to try to ride SOME of it. If I rode the whole thing, it would be once a week. I used to work with a guy who did the whole thing from Chelmsford about 3x per week. Crazy.

The option that is looking the best is driving to Bedford, then riding from there.
If I map it out on the google pedometer site (http://www.sueandpaul.com/gmapPedometer), it's about 15 miles. I would be trying to come in early and trying to leave early.

SpinSis, I will try to ride that this weekend and to check out the dead end road part. I can't really visualize what happens when you get to Alewife. :)

Ideally I'd like to get onto Beacon St, to Cambridge St, to 2nd St.

08-02-2005, 01:47 PM
SpinSis, I will try to ride that this weekend and to check out the dead end road part. I can't really visualize what happens when you get to Alewife. :)

Ideally I'd like to get onto Beacon St, to Cambridge St, to 2nd St.

Yeah, good idea to try it on the weekend. It is hard to explain in writing what you do at Alewife to stick on the bike path. So with extra time, just ride around and look for "bike path" type areas. Your goal is a big football field/construction site "behind" the T Station. Wind your way around that, following your "bike path" instincts and you'll get to Mass Ave near the bus depot.

You can turn onto Cambridge Street off of Beacon/Hampshire (the name changes with the town change) in Inman Square, but the left turn is hairy.

Good luck!

08-16-2005, 06:04 AM
Hey Anaphase! Any luck with the commute to Cambridge?

I thought of you this weekend when I road home to Brookline from BF's in Bedford. I also wanted to let you know that the connector trail from Alewife to Mass Ave in Cambridge is closed (with a miserable detour) due to construction. I'd advise hopping over to Mass Ave on Varnum Street from the bike path, just before it gets to Alewife.

Good luck!