A task group has been formed to explore possible sites and opportunities for increasing mountain biking in Arlington. The task force has visited a range of sites, including the Crusher Lot woodland, Hill’s Hill, Menotomy Rocks Park, Turkey Hill and McClennen Park, and will present its findings and recommendations at a future Parks and Recreation meeting.
Park and Recreation Commission Asks No Unauthorized Trail Building
Post Date:08/17/2020 6:00 AM It has been reported to the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission that there has been some unauthorized trail building in the Crusher Lot property, the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission would like to remind residents that unauthorized trail building is prohibited on Town property. If anyone would like to build new trails or improve upon existing trails in our parks we ask that you please contact Director of Recreation Joseph Connelly at email@example.com for approval.
The Friends of the Crusher have become aware that there is a proposal before the Park and Recreation Commission to change the Crusher Lot woodland into an “Official Mountain Bike Park” (MBP). The Friends support uses of the Crusher that preserve the natural environment and more passive uses, and believe that a MBP is incompatible with this use. Therefore, while Arlington might be a great location for a mountain bike park, we do not believe that the Crusher Lot is an acceptable site. Below is a more detailed explanation of what has happened so far and our specific concerns. The Friends has distributed a flyer to the surrounding neighborhood to notify those who might be impacted.
At the January 28, 2020 meeting of the Park & Recreation Committee, the issue of mountain biking in Menotomy Rocks Park was discusssed, followed the week after by a letter from the Friends of Menotomy Rocks Park (FoMRP) noting that “the Park has sustained damage incurred by young bikers”, and objecting to the construction of any trails for bikes. At the February 11 meeting, it was agreed to invite a representative of the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) to discuss usage of multi-use paths at MRP. It was noted that “all pathways in Arlington are multi-use”, with advice not to block bicyclist use of existing paths. At the meeting of February 25, a Commissioner suggested that the Crusher Lot “may be a better alternative”. At the PRC’s March 10th meeting, a representative from NEMBA participated in a discussion of mountain biking and representatives of FoMRP shared their concerns. The Crusher Lot was again recommended as an alternative.
In May 2020, neighbors of the Crusher Lot began to notice that trees were being cut down and undergrowth scraped away to clear trails for mountain biking (MTB). Since then, numerous trails, jumps and banks have been cut through the woods, intersecting and in some places replacing the old walking trails. Photos of the damage are below on this page.
Building new trails and damage to the ecosystem by volunteers are prohibited by the Arlington Conservation Commissions “Policy on Volunteer Projects on Conservation Lands“. The “Stewardship Manual for Arlington Conservation Land Stewards” calls for the police and conservation agent to be notified if trees are being cut or plants damaged or removed.
In late June, a petition on Change.org was created to “Make Crusher Lot an Official Mountain Bike Park“. The petition claimed that the Crusher Lot was a good site for a mountain bike park because “it doesn’t have many walkers or other visitors for the land, and it’s kind of a dump.” The Friends of the Crusher disagree with that premise. Although we are not opposed to a mountain bike park in Arlington, we believe the Crusher Lot is the wrong location, due to its stated status as wooded conservation land, its frequent use by children, dog walkers, and folks looking for a nearby stroll in a natural setting. (Note that many of the signers of the petition are from far away: the 2nd signer is from Sheffield, VT, the 4th signer is from Bethesda, MD, The 5th from Cold Spring, NY, and so on.)
At the Park and Recreation Commission’s meeting on July 14, 2020, a proposal to create an “official” mountain bike park in the Crusher Lot was presented to the commissioners. The proposal included a number of uphill and downhill trails, a “pump track”, a “skills park” and a “jump line” directly adjacent to neighbors’ properties. (See the videos below for what those are.)
On August 17, the Park and Recreation Commission issued the following statement on the Town’s web site “It has been reported to the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission that there has been some unauthorized trail building in the Crusher Lot property, the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission would like to remind residents that unauthorized trail building is prohibited on Town property. If anyone would like to build new trails or improve upon existing trails in our parks we ask that you please contact Director of Recreation Joseph Connelly at firstname.lastname@example.org for approval.”.
A few Friends stated their objections, and the Commissioners assured attendees that, although they received the presentation as being very well done, they were far from making a decision on whether to create such a park. A task group has been set up to study the proposal, including residents from different opinions on the appropriateness of the proposed change of use. The proposal did not include any restriction to use by only residents of Arlington, causing concern that a new mountain bike park would be advertised for use by non-residents, as many are on the NEMBA web site.
In the meantime, the local bikers who have been constructing the bike trails have been told to stop any unauthorized trail building or improvement.
Park and Recreation Commission Asks No Unauthorized Trail Building
Post Date:08/17/2020 6:00 AM
It has been reported to the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission that there has been some unauthorized trail building in the Crusher Lot property, the Arlington Park and Recreation Commission would like to remind residents that unauthorized trail building is prohibited on Town property. If anyone would like to build new trails or improve upon existing trails in our parks we ask that you please contact Director of Recreation Joseph Connelly at email@example.com for approval.
And now a word from a young Friend of the Crusher
The Friends of the Crusher believe that the Crusher Lot is the wrong location for a mountain bike park in Arlington, for reasons including the following:
- Mountain biking by nature involves high-speed travel down steep trails, with jumps and turns. (See the video below.) Any conflicts between bikers, pedestrians, dogs and wildlife could easily result in major injuries. There is no safe way to mix MTB with casual walking and playing use in such a small area.
- Construction of MTB trails would severely damage the natural systems in the woodland, including trees, plants, wildlife, and the mycorrhizal network, and result in erosion, washing humus and topsoil into the Ottoson parking lot. See photos below of some of the damage which has already been done, without the required review and permissions.
- Other passive, quiet uses of the park, such as nature walks by students from the local nursery school, the Friday-afternoon games, dog walking and simple casual strolling would be seriously disrupted.
- Construction and use of “jump trails” and “skill tracks” adjacent to the neighbors’ properties would result in noise, dust and violation of privacy, and reduce the resale value of those properties. See the videos below.
- Promotion of a new bike park to non-residents could result in a large increase in vehicle traffic, with its attendant safety and parking problems.
- The Crusher Lot is home to predators of rats and other rodents. If these predators (hawks, owls, foxes and coyotes) are chased out, coupled with the likely disruption of rat burrows, rat problems are likely to increase in the neighborhood.
- Conflicts between bikers and pedestrians could escalate into serious arguments, as happens frequently on the Minuteman Trail.
- The Crusher Lot is simply too small for safe mixed use. Local parks with mountain bike trails are generally hundreds of acres, with enough room for everyone.
Mountain Biking through the Crusher Lot
The video of someone riding through the Crusher Lot has been made private.
MTB pump track
A pump track is a continuous loop of dirt berms and rollers that you ride without pedaling, using body motion “pumping” to propel the bike. They are generally built in a loop on level ground with engineered features. (This is an example of a pump track – this is NOT in Arlington.)
MTB skills track
A skills track or skills park includes jumps, tables, berms, drops, gaps, bridges, stone paths and other obstacles. (This is an example of a skills track – this is NOT in Arlington.)
MTB Jump Trail
A jump line is a fast downhill trail with a series of jumps and tables. (This is an example of a jump trail – this is NOT in Arlington.)
Photos from August 28, 2020
Photos from May 20, 2020
Photos from July 19, 2020
Taken July 26, 2020
Photos from July 30, 2020
Photos taken August 18, 2020
After the Park and Recreation Commission issued their notice to cease trail building without approval. Note that the cut branch below has green leaves on it – it was cut very recently.