For the first time in 21 years, riders on the annual Bike to the Sea Day Ride were able to pedal their way through Saugus off-road, away from vehicular traffic. Last year cyclists for the first time on this ride were able to travel off-road through Malden and Everett. And next year, Revere may be added to the list as construction on that part of the trail may begin in the spring of 2014.
About 50 people turned out for the 21st annual ride Sunday, June 2, 2013 from Everett to Nahant Beach.This year’s ride included portions of the Northern Strand Trail that were built over the past year or two in Everett, Malden and Saugus.
Although temperatures were in the 90s, sunny skies were a welcome change from the last few years when participants had to ride in the rain. A few riders got flats but were rescued by the Bike to the Sea’s sag wagon, which fixed the flats on the spot so riders could finish the trip.
Bike marshals and police officers on bikes and in patrol cars helped lead the group of cyclists through intersections, blocking traffic along the way. As in years past, the biggest cheers of support came from Lynn residents sitting on their stoops or walking along the street. The City of Lynn is the only municipality along the route that still hasn’t approved plans for the trail.
The annual ride is designed to bring attention and support to efforts to complete the trail. Work that still needs to be done includes:
- Getting the City of Lynn to approve plans for the trail so that it can be built there.
- Paving the trail in Everett, Malden, and Saugus. The Malden portion is expected to be paved within the next month.
- Building the Revere portion of the trail, which is expected to start in the spring of 2014.
- Finishing a small portion of the Saugus trail.
- Building community gardens along the trail. Plans for this in Malden are underway but more volunteers are needed.
For the past 21 years a tenacious group of dedicated volunteers has brought the dream of a community walking and bike path connecting the Greater Malden area to the beaches in Revere and Nahant to fruition. Some of the main challenges over the years included:
- The trail follows an old railroad line and so the owners of that line had to give up their rights to the line.
- Then each municipality along the trail had to accept the land.
- Federal funds for the project had to be secured.
- A non-profit company then ripped up the tracks and built a gravel path.