BOSTON — Cyclists will need to be particularly dedicated if they want to get from Boston to the starting line of this year’s Midnight Marathon Bike Ride in Hopkinton.
The MBTA announced that no extra commuter rail cars will be added to accommodate the hundreds of riders trying to get from South Station to Hopkinton for the 26.2 mile ride along the Boston Marathon course on the eve of the race — a service the transportation agency has provided in the past.
“There will be not be a special train for bikes this year,” MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said in a statement to WBUR, adding that the decision came at the request of public safety officials.
In an interview with The Boston Globe, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Peter Judge said the reason for not allowing extra space for cyclists and their bikes is not a result of security measures implemented after last year’s marathon bombing, but has more to do with general safety concerns around the event, which has grown in recent years.
From the Globe:
“Because this has grown to be such a big event, it’s something that basically we’re trying to discourage — not from a Marathon bombing security perspective, but from a safety perspective,” said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
“God forbid there is a major issue or accident — there are [responders] who will be dealing with all that through the night who were supposed to be somewhere at 5 in the morning,” Judge said.
In the past, adding extra cars to the commuter rail helped with communication between event organizers and participants, but without them, says James Cobalt, founder of Boston SOS, which organizes the Midnight Ride, they may not be able to keep things operating as smoothly as they have in the past.
“The benefit of having the train ride was that we at least had a place where we got two-thirds of the participants together,” Cobalt said. “There were captive audiences on this train, we could walk up the aisles on the cars telling them everything they needed to know … now we’re not going to have that opportunity. It just seems really counter intuitive.”
Cobalt says doing away with commuter rail service will only inspire more cyclists to participate, and expects there to be still a good turnout.
“It’s just going to be tons of people with vans and carpool.”