Friends of the Minuteman Bikeway Participate in “Stakeholders Ride” to Assess Pathway Needs

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

Bedford Day, 2011

Brian O’Donnell and Terry Gleason, members of the Town’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and of Friends of the Minuteman Bikeway, participated in a four-town tour of the bike path, which spans the distance between Bedford’s Depot Park and Alewife Station in Cambridge. Representatives from Lexington and Arlington, the other two communities traversed by the pathway, rode along with O’Donnell, Gleason and a consultant to examine the condition of the path and how signage and crossroads could be improved.

“We rode down to Alewife and met with Arlington, Lexington and the consultancy engineer,” said O’Donnell. “Each town had its own little quirks. . . .We all noticed various places where signage doesn’t naturally lead people, and also the plethora of signs. The instinct is to address a problem with another sign. There are already a lot of signs out there and some are not set in the right direction or positioned correctly…The lack of a center yellow line that’s reflective is getting to be a problem. At night, when you’re on the bike path, in certain sections when there’s a curve and there’s no line, you find yourself off the path.

It was noted that as of next year, Bedford will be the only town of the four that has not renewed the surface of its section of the bike path. According to Gleason, the life of the surface pavement is about 20 years and that milestone has been reached. Arlington resurfaced years ago and Lexington is scheduled to do so within the year, after putting it off for some time. Bedford’s section is on the DPW’s radar, Gleason says, but, when compared to the conditions on some of the town’s roadways, the bike path seems to be assigned lower-priority status.

“Mr. Warrington is keeping his eye on it. The Minuteman has to be repaved within the next five years, no question. . . .I’ve counted 13 roots [on our section that are buckling] the pavement. It’s becoming dangerous,” reported Gleason.

Gleason added, as an aside, that Lexington’s intra-community transportation service, Lexpress, recently added bike racks to their buses.

The Friends of the Bikeway are also working on a map of the bike path that will include Bedford businesses and amenities for those from out of town using the Minuteman. Potential benefits of having such a map will increase once the Reformatory Branch from Railroad Ave to the Concord line is complete.

Dave Enos, another member of both bike groups, pointed out that there is a comprehensive state bike trail map on the website of the Massachusetts Area Planning Council. The map can be downloaded or you can request a hard copy at

To visit the Bedford Friends of the Minuteman Bikeway website, go to:

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9 years ago

To clarify: Concord does not intend at this time to pave their section of the path.

Ron Newman
9 years ago

The Reformatory Branch becomes a muddy mess after a rainstorm. Any improvement that will alleviate this problem would be welcome.

9 years ago
Reply to  Ron Newman

To walk or bike on the Reformatory Branch Trail in its current state is to return to an older, slower time. Contrast with a walk or ride on on any stretch of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway where one deals with high speed cycles and other 21st century annoyances. Asphalt pavement encourages speed and increased use. Is that what Bedford and Concord want?

One pro-paving argument raised is “the Reformatory Branch becomes a muddy mess after a rainstorm.” Well, simply stay off it, take an alternate route. It will dry in due course. You see, gravel is permeable; asphalt is not. This is the key. The trail transects conservation lands a place for meditative perambulation rather than speeding to the urban centers to the east.

If one must ride on asphalt there are plenty of back roads from which to choose. “Pave it because it is not” is not justification. Would the pro-pavers next be in favor of “improving” Reformatory Branch Trail with lights, Duncan Donuts and other modern conveniences?

I guess it all comes down to how one defines “improvement,” A fully functional raised dirt trail that transects conservation lands is a treasure that has existed In its current state for decades. Take a slow approach, think it over before you pave it over and consider which option, a meditative path or a paved commuter bikeway, is in Bedford’s and Concord’s best interest. I suggest it is the two towns’ societal responsibility to preserve this unique resource in its current state.

“Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

David Bean
David Bean
9 years ago

I find the Reformatory Branch trail pretty good just the way it is. I really enjoy the rolling humps along some parts of it. That pair of concrete bumps that span the route could use a bigger notch busted out of them, but it is very enjoyable right now. I ride it on relatively skinny tire road bikes, not a mountain bike, and have no particular problems. I oppose paving it. Any available money would be much better spent on eliminating bumps on the MInuteman Trail.

Tom Thumb
Tom Thumb
9 years ago

Yes! This section should be paved, my kids and I would love a paved trail to use.

9 years ago

Can anyone help me to understand what is meant by “The Friends of the Bikeway are also working on a map of the bike path that will include Bedford businesses and amenities for those from out of town using the Minuteman. Potential benefits of having such a map will increase once the Reformatory Branch from Railroad Ave to the Concord line is complete.”
I rode that section several times this past Summer on trips from Arlington to the Old Manse for its Sunday afternoon music series.
The trail seemed pretty complete to me.
I hope there are no plans to “improve” its current state.

9 years ago

Having searched for a Facebook open group for discussion of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway and finding none, a couple months ago I created “Minuteman Bikeway Users Group –, an open forum where its members get to network, know one another and share information. “Minuteman Bikeway Users Group” has no formal ties with “Minuteman Bikeway America’s Revolutionary Rail-Trail” –, the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee – – or any other organization.
The origin of “Minuteman Bikeway Users Group” was a discussion on the Arlington List titled “No lights / excessively bright bicycle lights on the Minuteman Bikeway.” Read in origianal format at
An extract can be read in this group’s “files” area.”
I will add to the “about” statement.

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