For years, my bicycle has stood in a dark corner of our barn, languishing. Every so often I see it and wish it were easier just to hop on and go for a ride. But the street where I live is far too busy for that. And the thought of strapping the bike onto my car’s roof, so I can drive someplace to unload and then finally get on it, pretty much negates the notion of the carefree ride I have in mind. Alas . . . I know I’m not the only one in this predicament.

The South Shore has plenty of beautiful roads, many of which might seem even more lovely when regarded from the seat of a bicycle, rather than from behind a car’s windshield. But we take our lives in our hands attempting to ride the hills and curves of Route 3A in Duxbury for example, or the tight corners of Jerusalem Road in Cohasset, or the narrow lanes of Union Street in Marshfield. Not to mention the ubiquitous potholes.

But things are looking up. Sustainable South Shore, a multi-town advocacy group committed to helping area residents conserve energy, protect the environment and live sustainable lives, has been working with the Conway School of Landscape Design to craft a South Shore Greenway. This network of walking and biking paths in Hull, Hingham, Cohasset, Norwell and Scituate would connect destinations such as train stations, parks, schools, libraries and shops. Scituate has already made significant strides in this direction.

Thanks to Community Preservation funds, Scituate now has two distinct bike trails. One, in North Scituate, runs for close to a mile along Gannett Road, from Gannett Pasture Lane (near the MBTA station) to the corner of Hollett Street. There are plans to expand it farther on Gannett, to the intersection with Hatherly Road.

The other trail, on the south side of town, runs along the entire length of the Driftway, beginning near the rotary on Route 3A, passing the Greenbush MBTA station, and continuing to New Kent and Kent Streets. From there, the bike trail ends, but a sidewalk leads all the way to Scituate Harbor.

The bike trails run adjacent to the street and provide a wide, paved surface for pedestrians, cyclists and those who use wheelchairs. This benefits not only walkers and riders, but also automobile drivers. The addition of bike trails makes it easier to share the road, and thus safer for everyone.

In North Scituate, the bike trail offers picturesque views, including glimpses of the salt marshes and The Gulf. When completed, it will provide access to the village of Minot and its beach.

On the Driftway, the bike trail connects with scenic and recreational areas such as the A.J. McEachern Memorial Trail, the Driftway Conservation Area, and a walking path that extends along the old railroad bed into the North and Herring River marshes.

Here is one suggestion for a fun way to explore the Driftway Bike Trail and its environs. If arriving by bicycle is not an option, bring it along and leave your car in the large public parking area on Cole Parkway in Scituate Harbor. Head south along the harbor’s edge, crossing First Parish Road. You can access the sidewalk at Kent Street, and farther down you’ll be able to get on the bike trail.

Stop at the Driftway Conservation Area, lock up your bike, and spend some time exploring. There’s an old dock overlooking the Herring River, and you can climb a tall hill to get a great view of the marshes, looking out toward The Spit. Check out the A.J. McEachern Memorial Trail as well.

When you’re ready to leave the conservation area, continue south on the bike trail (on foot). Look for a walking path that leads behind the James Landing Condominiums. Follow this path along the marsh, and eventually you will arrive at the old railroad bed, behind Dunkin Donuts. If you miss it (or as an alternative) you can remain on the bike trail – on wheels or on foot. The railroad bed is now a walking trail that leads way out into the marsh. It’s elevated, so the view is quite nice, and you won’t have to worry about getting your feet wet.

When you’ve had your fill of the terrific scenery, you can retrace your route back to Scituate Harbor, where there are plenty of options for drinks and snacks.

The Scituate Bike Trails are but one of the numerous examples of Community Preservation Funds at work on the South Shore. A small tax surcharge, matched in part by the state, is slowing development by protecting open space lands in almost every town in the region. In addition, Community Preservation Committees have used CP funds for preserving historic sites, creating affordable housing and building new recreational facilities — like the bike trails, or Marshfield’s new, eco-friendly town playground. Please help keep Community Preservation active in your town!

by Kezia Bacon-Bernstein
October 2010

Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 13 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com.