“Any time that a really great path could connect is an opportunity for more people to commute.”
Stretching six miles over 1,000 acres, from Franklin Park to Boston Common, the Emerald Necklace is one of America’s most outstanding green rides, and for a lot of people, a critical commuting path into and out of the city.
Although the necklace is sprawling, though, it is not fully connected. Within the parks and arboretums are breaks in which cyclists have to pedal on main roads without a fully cordoned-off bike path. That’s why a top priority for the Boston Cyclists Union is to close those gaps.
“It really is especially egregious and dangerous.”
Becca Wolfson, executive director of the BCU, spoke to DigBoston about the Emerald Necklace, and particularly a break in connection by the Landmark Center. The project in that area is listed at the top of the union’s Signature Campaign list, as Wolfson and others have been advocating for the construction of separate bike paths since 2011. Their website states that the BCU “will not accept painted lanes as a solution to complete this missing link.”
The construction of bike paths along roadways between Emerald Necklace parks would complete a long, low-stress route that is important for cyclists and commuters alike.
“Any time that a really great path could connect,” Wolfson told the Dig, “is an opportunity for more people to commute.”
The project is about more than just a web of green spaces, but also improving accessibility.
“There are these really dangerous streets that flank these green spaces that make them inaccessible,” Wolfson said.
Initially, the BCU hoped that the city of Boston would begin construction on some spots in 2019, but various property challenges stalled efforts to complete permanent bike paths.
Meanwhile, the surge in biking during the pandemic has bolstered their efforts, Wolfson said. Officials are fast-tracking lanes at the intersection of Boylston Street and Brookline Ave, with some already finished.
“As more of these projects get taken up,” Wolfson said, “it’s a win for everyone.”
José da Silva is a fourth-year journalism student at Northeastern University with minors in Spanish and emerging markets. After recently completing a six-month stint as a marketing assistant, he hopes to write for more independent magazines in the future.