PRESS RELEASE - August 30, 1999

New edition of Boston's Bikemap warns cyclists about "Big Dig" area

The new 8th edition of Boston's Bikemap is hot off the press and now available in local bike shops and book stores. This map, the Boston area cyclist's guide since 1978, has never before needed so many changes, due primarily to the massive Central Artery/Tunnel project, aka the Big Dig. Other substantive changes include new bike paths and new or updated bike routes in all parts of Boston as well as Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Medford, Watertown, Belmont, Waltham, Brookline, and Newton. Additional map features have been brought up to date, including bike shops, cycling organizations, the Minuteman Bikeway map, intermodal information (bikes on trains, buses, planes, and ferries), pothole repair phone numbers, etc. The map includes an illustrated article "How to Ride a Bike in Boston Traffic" by veteran cyclist John Allen, and information about taking bikes on the MBTA subway and commuter rail (click here for details of the Bikes on the T program, or call 222-3200 x1555). (for details visit, or call 222-3200 x1555)

Rubel BikeMaps owner, Andy Rubel, personally bicycled the Big Dig area and had just three words for it, "What a mess!" He and BikeMaps employee Madeleine Noland spent many hours and miles investigating the area by bicycle, including taking a guided bicycle tour given by Big Dig public relations employee Dan McNichols. They found most of the roads in the construction area to be nasty and dangerous for cyclists -- narrow lanes, no shoulders, and heavy, sometimes fast traffic. The pair had a scary moment while cycling south on Summer Street, a once reliable route from Downtown to South Boston. Noland recounted the incident,

"Suddenly what we thought was Summer Street led us directly into the Ted Williams Tunnel. There were no signs indicating the upcoming tunnel or that Summer Street had ended, and a state policeman parked on the corner didn't even try to warn us as we inadvertently rode our bikes into maw of the tunnel [which is prohibited to bicycles, pedestrians, and horses]. We had to quickly back out, squeezing against the concrete jersey barriers as the traffic whizzed by us."

Needless to say, this part of Boston's Bikemap needed some serious revision and Rubel and Noland got to work. They shaded the entire Big Dig area in pink and added a strong warning notice. They removed parts of Summer Street as a bike route and added a new route to South Boston that avoids the tunnel entrance. They removed Purchase Street and part of Atlantic Avenue as suggested bike routes and added the pedestrian path along the waterfront from Columbus Park (north of Long Wharf) to the old Northern Ave Bridge. Rubel said, "This is mostly a pedestrian area though it is bikable (slowly) and I added it reluctantly as a shared ped/bike route because of the lack of connections for cyclists in this area -- I really don't want to guide cyclists new to Boston to Atlantic/Purchase in that area."

In addition to the multitude of Big Dig changes, other changes were made "all over the map". The map adds the new Charles River bikepath extensions in Watertown and Waltham, as well as new or updated paths around Columbia Point (at JFK/UMass area), along the Mystic River, Melnea Cass Blvd., Leverett Pond, and the pedestrian crossing of the new Charles River Dam. Changes to the map's on-road bike route information are extensive, with new routes added and old ones modified. Many bike routes have been "downgraded" (from primary to less-pleasant secondary) or removed altogether due to increased traffic volume or loss of road shoulder (usually done to add another lane for cars). For the first time, a previously downgraded road was upgraded to a primary bicycle route: Concord Avenue in Cambridge from the rotary to Blanchard Road now has three travel lanes with a shoulder bike-lane. Previously it was four narrow lanes with inadequate width for sharing the lane, forcing cyclists to claim an entire lane or find another route. "This is encouraging," said Rubel, "but there are dozens of downgraded routes for this one upgrade, sending us scurrying for alternatives that don't always exist. Boston has a lot of work ahead to become more bicycle-friendly."

"We put a lot of careful attention into this map," Rubel says. "I hope to encourage more people to bicycle for more reasons, to help reduce our dependence on cars which pollute and congest our communities. I try to give people all the information they need to give cycling a try."

Rubel BikeMaps has bicycle maps for all of Massachusetts, available in local bike shops, book stores, and map & travel centers. For other purchasing options or more information about the maps, visit their website at, write them at P.O. Box 401035, Cambridge, MA 02140, or send email to

For on-line purchase information, click purchasing options or mail-order form.

back to Rubel Bikemaps Home Page

Last update: 1999 August 30