Eternally Green: Bike to Work 200 Miles in May

April 26, 2017

When I started working at Mount Auburn, a good friend suggested I ride my bike for my 5-mile commute to work. At the time, I had an older bike that I only used occasionally. Encouraged by my friend, and by the prospect of not being stuck in traffic for an hour a day, I gave it a try. I discovered a series of bike paths that made my commute safe and accessible, and after a couple of years of riding regularly, I invested in a new bike, saddle bags, and lights. Since then I’ve been committed to riding every day that I can, mostly in the warmer weather and on days when I can arrive home before sundown. It’s been a great way for me to get exercise, as my commute takes 30 minutes each way. Plus, it feels good to save gas, money, and the environment from co2 emissions.

I’m not the only person on staff who bikes to work. Gus Fraser, Anna Moir, Kelley Sullivan, Ryan Devlin and Rozman Lynch have all commuted to Mount Auburn using pedal-driven single track vehicles. If you’ve thought about biking to work too, May is a great time to start. Bay State Bike Week is May 13 – 21 (visit for more information), and there are lots of fun events and incentives to get you out of the car and onto to your bike!

Mount Auburn encourages visitors and staff to use sustainable methods of transportation, however please leave your bikes locked to the bike rack at the Mount Auburn Street entrance gate.  Enjoy your stroll through the cemetery grounds. 

Mount Auburn has a long history of bicycles in the cemetery.  A letter written by Superintendent James C. Scorgie on August, 11th 1898 outlines the Trustee vote on admission of bicycles in the cemetery:

Dear Sir:-

The following is the vote of our Trustees governing the admission of bicycles.

Voted; that the Secretary under the direction of the President, be authorized to issue yearly passes to Proprietors of lots to enter the Cemetery upon a bicycle, under the following conditions:-

1.  The bicycle is to be used upon Avenues only.
2.  The rate of speed not to exceed 5 miles an hour
3.  No ‘coasting’ to be indulged in,
4.  The rider in no case to pass a funeral procession or near to any lot where funeral exercises are taking place, unless he shall be dismounted.
5.  The pass to be shown whenever used.
6.  The pass to be cancelled upon a violation of any of the above conditions.

So many pleasure seekers pass the cemetery that the general admission of those on wheels would prove an annoyance to lot owners.

Respectfully yours,

James C. Scorgie, Supt.

**Since 1898 Mount Auburn’s rules have changed and biking is no longer allowed on grounds.**


  1. Claudia Thompson says:

    Interesting… I would like to see bicycles allowed in the Cemetery once again. If we have cars, why not bikes?

    • Jennifer Johnston says:

      Thanks for your message Claudia. As a sacred place where people bury their dead, the Cemetery must remain a place for quiet, contemplation – a peaceful place for families to commemorate their loved ones. Our founders disallowed single riders on horseback while allowing carriages, and our ban on bicycles (and motorcycles, skateboards, and rollerblades) while allowing cars follows the same spirit.

      Although many people are increasingly using bicycles for transportation, enough others would see Mount Auburn as a destination for recreational rides that it would change the spirit of the place. There are many wonderful bike paths in the area, so cyclists are not being deprived of beautiful places to ride.

      Also, the Cemetery is not a safe environment for bicycles because of many twisting roads, and the hazards presented by monuments. Even if we did allow bicycles using the conditions as outlined by Superintendent Scorgie in 1898, which I think would still be relevant today; Mount Auburn has almost 400 catch basins that do not have ‘bike friendly’ grates. “Safety first” is one of the staff mottos. We on staff, do understand your sentiment. Many of us would love to ride our bikes along the avenues, but alas Mount Auburn just cannot allow bike riding especially now with the increase in car traffic. Yes, we know. It’s ironic. – Your friends, Candace, Regina, Jessica and Jen at Mount Auburn Cemetery

  2. James Ferguson says:

    With your reply I have a little more understanding of the bicycle ban, though some of the rationale, like twisting roads and monuments, is very tenuous. While I don’t particularly disagree with the rule in isolation, it then leaves me baffled with permitting motor vehicles with little restriction, since most of the same arguments apply, only more so, to them.

    Those with mobility issues or other specific needs requiring a motor vehicle must of course be allowed access in motor vehicles, but the tranquility and safety is compromised much more by cars than by bicycles in general.

    The cemetery would be much more pleasant and tranquil if most of the cars were absent.

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