By Peggy Enders
The Friends of Lexington Bikeways (FoLB) is a nonprofit 501c(3) volunteer organization that promotes and supports biking and the shared use of bicycle routes in and around Lexington. FoLB was established in 1991 as the “Friends of the Minuteman Bikeway” at a time when the building of the Bikeway was underway but still had many residents concerned about possible negative impacts, including the loss of backyard privacy and declining home values. Those fears were never realized, and today the Bikeway is considered one of the most popular recreational (not to mention economic) resources in the area.
Today, the Friends work closely with the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee (LBAC) to preserve and enhance the Bikeway and other shared use paths and serves as the focal point for social, educational, and stewardship activities of both groups.
The cost of plowing the Bikeway in Lexington is paid for entirely by private donations solicited by the Friends. We work with the LBAC to hire the contractor and monitor winter conditions along the Lexington section. During other seasons, the Friends organize periodic trash pickup days, brush cutting and clearing, Bikeway user counts, boardwalk repair and construction, etc. We work with the DPW to plan for and publicize the periodic Bikeway closures when paving or other maintenance work is underway.
Education and Information
The Friends’ website is www.folb.net. The Twitter account @bikeminman, firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Bike-Lexington yahoo newsgroup were established by the Friends to communicate with users as well as to provide forums for exchange of bicycling-related issues, ideas and information. The Friends manage a Facebook page as well.
The Friends are involved with planning for Lexington’s annual Bike Walk ‘n Bus Week; we sponsor what’s now an annual Bikeway “commuter breakfast”; a bike safety program for fifth graders; and a program for women riders to build biking confidence.
We sponsor of a semi-annual “Bike Donation Day” at Lexington’s Discovery Day to benefit Bikes not Bombs.
We host a booth at Lexington’s Discovery Day, where we provide general biking advice, encouragement, and freebies, including free helmets and fittings to all children who visit our booth (80 helmets last year, courtesy of a Boston law firm).
We posted “Burma Shave”-type signs along the Bikeway in Lexington. Sample signs: “One if by land/Two if by sea/Say something please/When you’re passing me!”
We wrote, published, and mailed a “Bike Lexington” brochure to all residents with the 2015 spring tax bill, containing information about state laws, bicycle road markings, safety tips, and resources.
We host monthly Bicycle Corrals at the Lexington Farmers’ Markets, where bicyclists are offered $2 market coupons to encourage bicycling to the market.
We posted “Burma Shave”-type signs along the Bikeway in Lexington during the summer of 2015 with lyrical reminders about user courtesy and safety. Sample signs: “One if by land/Two if by sea/Say something please/When you’re passing me!/Or just ring your bell/So you won’t have to yell!”
The latest version of the Minuteman Bikeway map was published in Spring 2015. The Friends and the LBAC would like to improve mapping of other major bicycle routes in Lexington and surrounding areas, with guidance about the best and safest routes for different ability levels. The last such Lexington map was published in 1999 and is out of date.
We continue to press for improved signage and information kiosks on the Bikeway in Lexington; working with the other Bikeway towns, a DCR grant started the process five years ago, and we continue to work with the Lexington DPW and the Bicycle Advisory Committee on this.
Lexington has very little in the way of bicycle education and safety for school children, and the pilot we do during Bike Walk ‘n Bus Week only underscores the need for it, since children really do need to learn about riding safely.
The Friends of Lexington Bikeways welcomes anyone who is interested in what we can do for bicycle advocacy and safety, on streets as well as shared use paths, for riders of all ages and abilities. For more information visit www.folb.net or write to FoLB Chair Bob Hausslein, email@example.com.
Peggy Enders has chaired the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee since 2008. She is a member of the Friends of Lexington Bikeways.