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.
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.
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.