‘How on earth is this a good idea’ Amid backlash, state scales back bike path closures along Orange Line

A plan to shut down the Southwest Corridor Park bike path for two weeks was quickly scaled back Wednesday after backlash from community members who were bewildered that path repairs would coincide with the suspension of the Orange Line, disrupting yet another route into Boston.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation announced midday Wednesday it would “implement moving closures” along the popular Southwest Corridor bike path starting Friday and continuing through Sept. 2. But less than eight hours later, in the face of online outrage, the state walked back the plan, tweeting that repairs would be limited to just three days.

The “rolling detours” will now take place Thursday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to an announcement from Mass DCR. Cyclists will be “briefly shifted to an adjacent path on a rolling basis with minimal disruption to travel,” with clearly marked traffic patterns and a police detail on site, the updated advisory said.

Located in the Southwest Corridor Park, the bike path spans roughly four miles, from Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain to Back Bay station. The stretch follows the Orange Line, which will be closed for four weeks beginning Friday, and has been touted as an alternative route for commuters.

DCR initially said at 12:46 p.m. Wednesday that the bike path closures would last from Friday, Aug. 19, until Friday, Sept. 2, to “accommodate repair work.”

The announcement prompted immediate exasperation on social media.

“Have you guys considered doing this at literally any other time than concurrently with the orange line shutdown?” one person wrote on Twitter in response to the department’s initial tweet.

“How on earth is this a good idea during the closure of the Orange Line? Seems like a great way for pedestrians to get hurt during a time of already heightened traffic?” another person tweeted.

“This move is coming at a time when biking accessibility is more important than ever for folks along the Orange Line!” tweeted State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, a Democrat representing parts of Boston where the closures will take place. “Heard loud and clear from constituents about how this will affect them and am working on getting more details from DCR.”

Shortly after the closures were announced, the Boston Cyclists Union tweeted that they had spoken with Mass DCR and said that they were “prioritizing fixing fall hazards and bumps on the path to make it safer for cyclists.”

“We believe their work will improve experiences there!” the group wrote on Twitter.

Some pointed out the irony of the city working with public bike share company Bluebikes to provide free passes during the shutdown — while a major biking artery would be undergoing repairs.

“Baker Administration follows Biblical advice: “let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” with DCR shutting down a bike path parallel to the Orange line while Boston provides free Blue Bikes to commuters disrupted by the MBTA shutdown,” wrote State Sen. Pat Jehlen, a Democrat who represents Somerville, Medford, Cambridge, and Winchester.

By 8:41 p.m., DCR had scuttled its original two-week plan, in favor of just three days of repairs. The timing of the closures now mostly avoids overlap with the Orange Line shutdown, which begins Friday at 9 p.m.


Anjali Huynh can be reached at anjali.huynh@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @anjalihuynh.

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