Bike Lanes (a couple of interesting articles)

A couple of interesting articles about bike lanes and their affect on traffic congestion (or as is demonstrated in these articles, the lack thereof.

First there is:

Bike Lanes Don’t Cause Traffic Jams If You’re Smart About Where You Build Them by Gretchen Johnson and Aaron Johnson, FiveThirtyEight.com

Then there’s this response to the Johnson & Johnson piece:

Bike Lanes Don’t Lead to Congestion, But Some of Them Should
by Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlog, USA

Posted in Bike Safety, Links | Leave a comment

March 27th: LivableStreets’ 6th Annual Boston Bike Update

I’m registered for the 6th Annual Boston Bike Update.  Join me with an RSVP to LivableStreets.

When: Thursday, March 27, 2014

Where: Boston Public Library, 700 Bolyston St, Boston

Agenda:

5:30pm Doors open – No reserved seating.
6:00pm Presentations begin
7:45pm Q&A begins
8:30pm Q&A ends
8:30-10pm LivableStreets member social @Lir Irish Pub
Posted in Advocacy, Bicycling, Boston, Boston Bike Update, Boston Bikes, Events, LivableStreets | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feb. 26th: Public Meeting for Protected Bike Lanes in Downtown Boston

Come voice your support for a vastly improved bicycling in Boston’s central core at the public hearing for the 25% design of Phase 1 of the Connect Historic Boston bike trail and Constitution Road protected bike lane proposals.

WHERE: Boston City Hall, Room 801

WHEN: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 6:00 PM

More information via MassBike.

The proposed network. Image: Connect Historic Boston 

Posted in Advocacy, Bicycling, Boston, Downtown, Urban Planning | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Biking and the Southwest Corridor

I’m not much of a winter biker. I’ve done it in the past and learned that it can actually be warmer and more comfortable than waiting for a bus. I expect I’ll do it again in the future.

But right now in my lice I drop off my daughter at daycare everyday on the way to work. Our bike commute already has it’s challenges. We live on a steep hill and when we get to the bottom we join the traffic frenzy around Forest Hills which is currently designed to support a highway interchange. The infrastructure encourage a high volume of traffic and is engineered to allow drivers to speed, and they do. Once we get through all of that, we can ride on the protected Pierre Lallement Bike Path in the Southwest Corridor Park and breath a sigh of relief. In the winter, the hill gets icy, snow mounds narrow the main roads and the drivers get testier. And, apparently, the Southwest Corridor bike path offers no refuge because the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation does not maintain it well after snowstorms, as has been reported in national news.

So, I don’t bike in the winter time. Maybe when my kids are older or if Hubway opens up year round in Boston that will change. But I have a lot of respect for winter bike riders and know that they’re in on a good thing. That’s why I find it outrageous that the DCR not only fails to properly clear snow from the bike paths, but as revealed in an email exchange posted on Universal Hub, some DCR higher ups have a dismissive view of bike commuters.  Unfortunately, Universal Hub tends to have a right-wing bias and so many of the comments there reflect the idea that motor vehicles are normal and that bicycling is done by outsiders.  They say that maintaining bike paths in the winter wastes “their” taxpayer money and that if someone wants to bike in the winter they should use the plowed city streets (of course, I expect that if they were drivers behind you on a bike they’d tell you to get off the road).

The way I see it is that the city has streets for everyone using whatever mode of conveyance of their choice, protected paths for bike riders and walkers, and limited access highways like I-90, I-93, and Storrow Drive exclusively for motor vehicles.  Their would be outrage if Storrow Drive was not properly cleared after a snowstorm and drivers were told that they could still drive on the city streets.  Similarily, the idea that bike paths are recreational  and intended for commuters.  Storrow Drive, Soldiers Field Road and other parkways are maintained by the DCR and are still expected to open for commuters at any time other than a state of emergency.  It shouldn’t be too difficult for the DCR to send a plow down the bike path regularly during and after snowstorms, or arrange with another agency to do so.  And yes, the paths are wide enough for a truck with a plow as they are routinely used by patrol cars and maintenance vehicles in the warmer months.

Anyhow, I’ve probably said too much, and I’m glad that other people and groups are working for a positive resolution as well as bringing attention to winter biking in Boston.  Check out these links for more!

There has already been a positive response as the DCR is planning a meeting to discuss winter biking issues.  More information at the ever-resourceful BCU website.

Posted in Advocacy, Bicycling, Boston, Forest Hills, Jamaica Plain | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Write a Letter to Help Fix Cambridge Street

Wednesday is the deadline to help fix Cambridge Street by signing Fix Cambridge Street‘s community letter to MassDOT at http://tinyurl.com/CambridgeStreet.

Please also send an email to dot.feedback.highway@state.ma.us with your own comments (mention “Project File # 606376″).

Keep up with news on Facebook and Twitter.

My letter to MassDOT is below.

January 27, 2014

Richard Davey, Secretary and Chief Executive Officer
Frank DePaola, Administrator, Highway Division
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza,
Boston, MA 02114
RE: Project #606376 Cambridge Street bridge over I-90, Allston, Boston
Dear Secretary Davey and Administrator DePaolo:
I’m writing in regards to the Cambridge Street Overpass in Allston, Project #606376.  I appreciate that in recent public meetings and plans that community concerns have been incorporated onto the Cambridge Street renovations.  However, the street design is still geared toward high-speed / high-volume motor vehicle traffic, increasing the risks for bicyclists and pedestrians.
I work in Allston and live in Jamaica Plain, and whenever possible I prefer to commute by work.  Any route I take to work must cross the Massachusetts Turnpike, but crossings are few and far between with the majority of them designed almost exclusively for automotive traffic with wide lanes and high speeds (this includes Cambridge Street, as well as Carlton/Mounfort St, Beacon St, and Charlesgate).  These crossings are intimidating to bicyclists at best and downright dangerous at worst.  While the Cambridge Street crossing is the most direct route, I often go miles out of the way to Massachusetts Avenue to avoid the stress and risks of biking on Cambridge Street.
With this in mind, and the concerns of Allston community members, bicyclists, and pedestrians, I would like to encourage the following modifications to encourage the goal of slowing automotive traffic speed and creating a safer street for pedestrians and bicyclists:
  • Do not install a median fence.
  • Reallocate excess space from roadway to bicyclists and pedestrians
  • The new pedestrian crossing should use a standard red/yellow/green traffic signal
  • Plant landscaping in the median between the Mansfield Crosswalk & Lincoln Street.
  • Use permanent coloring to distinguish the sidewalk and cycletrack
Thank you for your consideration and attention to my concerns and those of others who wish to transform Cambridge Street into a safe, accessible and attractive gateway to the Allston community.  Working together we can the project to remake Cambridge Street something we can all be proud of.

 

Posted in Advocacy, Allston-Brighton, Bicycling, Boston, Urban Planning, Walking | Leave a comment

Boston Bikes 2013 Bike Survey

If you rode a bike in Boston anytime in 2013, Boston Bikes wants to hear from you.

Complete their survey online.  It just takes a few minutes.

 

 

Posted in Advocacy, Bicycling, Boston, Boston Bikes | Leave a comment

Cambridge Street Overpass Public Hearing Tonight in Allston

Cambridge Street Overpass Public Hearing (via LivableStreets)

TONIGHT: Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 6:00pm @Jackson Mann Community Center,
500 Cambridge Street, Allston

RSVP & discuss the project at https://www.facebook.com/events/1446934668862883/
Join the “Allston Footbridge” group to learn more: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllstonFootbridge/

Follow “Fix Cambridge St” on Twitter at https://twitter.com/fixcambridgestr

For more information from MassDOT:
http://www.mhd.state.ma.us/default.asp?pgid=content/hearings/allston_011414&sid=hearing

I previously wrote on this topic back in July.

 

Posted in Advocacy, Allston-Brighton, Bicycling, Boston, Urban Planning, Walking | 1 Comment

New Hubway stations in Jamaica Plain!

8 new Hubway stations opened in Boston yesterday including four in Jamaica Plain! Now one can pick up a bike at Egleston Square, Hyde Square, Centre Street, the Monument. This will be a huge advantage for my commute as we go into the colder days of fall when I may not be up for peddling all the way to work.

New Docking Station by the Jamaica Plain monument (Photo via JP Bikes Facebook page)

Posted in Bike Share, Boston, Hubway, Jamaica Plain | Leave a comment

Separated Cycle Lanes on Columbus Avenue?

Columbus Avenue is one of the major arterial for bicycles connecting Downtown Boston to the outlying neighborhoods.  A few years ago, bike lanes were added to the street and it is a very popular route for local bike commuters.  The Southwest Corridor bike path runs parallel and close by Columbus Avenue but it ends at Darmouth Street in Back Bay whereas Columbus Avenue continues into the heart of the city near Park Square.

photo (1)

A cyclist commutes downtown via Columbus Avenue.

I’ve written how the proposed Public Garden cycletrack would create a hub that could be the center of a citywide bicycle network.  It would be very easy to connect the Columbus Avenue bike lanes to the Public Garden cycletrack once it’s complete.  The main problem is that the bike lanes on Columbus Avenue are painted in such a way that it puts bike riders in the door zone of parked cars.  While many inexperienced bike riders are nervous about passing cars, they are much more likely to have a collision with a door suddenly opening from a parked car or a driver pulling out of a space.  Having the bike lanes in this position can exacerbate the problem.

photo

The bike lane is too close to the door zone. Perhaps the cobblestone median can be removed to make better use of space on the street.

Luckily, there seems to me an obvious solution.  Much of Columbus Avenue has a cobblestone median running down the center.  When I first moved to Boston, cars would actually park on this median but it appears that this dangerous practice has been put to an end.  If this median were taken up, the through lanes could be shifted into the center of the street, allowing the parking lane to also shift over with the result that between the parked cars and the curb would be the space needed for a buffered cycle lane!  I think this would be a great solution because no one (bikers, drivers, or residents) would lose anything and it would create a safer arterial that would encourage more Bostonians to commute downtown by bike.

 

Posted in Advocacy, Bicycling, Bike Safety, Boston, Roxbury, South End, Urban Planning | 2 Comments

Cycle Tracks around the Public Garden

A few months back, old rules against bicycling on Boston Common were suddenly back in force, leaving bike riders in downtown Boston with no good alternatives.  At the time, I suggested the best thing to do would be to convert parts of the overly-wide one-way streets surrounding Boston Common and the Public Garden into segregated on-street bike lanes.  I won’t pretend that my blog is all that influential but others have had the same idea.

Next Wednesday, the city will present a proposal for cycletracks around the Public Garden.  The presentation takes place September 18, 2013 from 6-8 pm at the Firehouse at 127 Mount Vernon Street.  If you care about improving bicycle access in the heart of Boston I suggest you attend this meeting and/or writing your support to the city.  The Boston Cyclists Union also has a petition where you can offer your support.

Obviously, I support the cycletracks and think they will be a great improvement.  If you read my previous post, you’ll also be aware that the city’s proposal is only a portion of what I’d hoped.  The Walking Bostonian posted a great history of how the streets came to be like they are now and analysis of how they could better be used.  The key quote is:

The proposed cycletrack is a better use of all this excessive street space than current conditions. But there’s an even better solution: Two-way complete streets. There’s simply no sense in having a high-speed one-way loop around the Public Garden. It’s incredibly irresponsible on the part of BTD. This aggressive engineering of multi-lane one-way streets here, and in adjacent blocks, is ridiculous, reckless and unjust.

While I’m in agreement that complete streets are the ultimate goal to making Boston a safer, more accessible, and equitable city for all types of commuters, I also stand by incremental improvements.  My hope is that the cycletracks will be a such a success with bikers new and old (not mention regular motorists and others who may think they’ll be a nuisance) that expansion along Charles Street and to Columbus Avenue and elsewhere around downtown will follow naturally.  One way or another the complete streets model will be the ultimate evolution of Boston’s streets.

Posted in Advocacy, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Bicycling, Boston, Downtown | 1 Comment