Charlestown Cyclists Want Their Bike Lane Back!

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 14

I wrote before (1, 2, 3) about the completely silly response Charlestown had to having some bike lanes installed in their town. I was pretty unimpressed with their logic at the time, and it seems most everyone else was similarly pissed. The Charlestown Patch reports that many many cyclists showed up to tell the city just what they think about the removal of the bike lanes.

Dozens of residents in Charlestown want bicycle lanes returned to Main Street, and they want answers about why they were removed in the first place. They packed the basement of the Knights of Columbus on Thursday to tell the Charlestown Neighborhood Council just that.

For a solid hour, members of the council heard public comments about bike lanes in Charlestown — all of them strongly in favor. Not a single person spoke against bike lanes, but several criticized the council and the Charlestown Business Association for what they perceived as a position against the lanes.

“We had a bike lane on Main Street. Then it got taken out. Why did that happen? What was the cost? I had a bike lane and now I don’t,” Monument Avenue resident Patrick Murphy said at start the meeting. The crowd applauded, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.(read the rest here)

Bravo C-town riders, and bravo Charlestown patch for keeping an eye on this.

I wrote before that this was possibly the stupidest way Charlestown could have dealt with this entire situation, stating that they could have had some public process before wasting money to remove the lanes. Seems the people of Charlestown agree.

Hopefully this will show the Neighborhood Council who supposedly “spoke for the people” when the vote was taken to remove the lanes that “the people” want bike lanes, and they wont put up with wasting money to install and then remove perfectly good bike lanes.

I highly suggest you read the rest of the patch article as its got some great quotes. Here is a tiny taste

“[The] lesson to learn here is that two wrongs don’t make a right,” Elm Street resident Nate Blanchet said. “It was wrong for the council to decide to take the bike lane out without further public process.”

Council member Bill Galvin clarified the Neighborhood Council did not remove the lanes — the city did. The decision came from the city.

“One of the things we do is protect the process,” Galvin said. “There were a number of people in this community who thought there was a negative impact from the bike lanes.”

“Where are they,” someone from the audience asked out loud.

No one in attendance had any complaints about bike lanes.

Hopefully I will be reporting soon about the new lanes being re-installed.

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Posted in advocacy, infrastructure | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Charlestown Cyclists Want Their Bike Lane Back!”

  1. By IsolateCyclist on Jan 14, 2011 | Reply

    Some of the most telling lines in the Charlestown Patch article are:

    “We were concerned bike lanes were strictly for commuters traveling through Charlestown,” Galvin said. “I think this meeting dispels that concept. I think support in community is much broader than the Neighborhood Council anticipated.”

    The decision to remove the lanes was motivated by the perception that the bike lanes were being used primarily by commuters (“outsiders”). The CNC made assumptions about who was riding the bikes they saw on Main Street and made a value judgment about the type of cyclist on the bikes.

    What difference does it make who the cyclists are or why they are in Charlestown? No motorist would ever be scrutinized in this way or denied access to a road anywhere in MA for being an “outsider.” This reeks of bias against cyclists – no surprise there. None of us have escaped the wrath of drivers who stereotype all cyclists and want them banished from the roads.

    The Charlestown incident sounds like a case of someone with clout gaining the ear of the CNC, in an anonymous manner, and demanding removal of the lanes for reasons which were not made clear to the public. Despite the local cyclists’ outcry, it may come down to catering to the demands of those with enough power to sway the course of events in Charlestown. In any event, those in authority handled this situation in a ridiculous manner, without forethought, consideration for expense, or knowledge of public preference.

  2. By Charlie on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    IsolateCyclist, I think you’re right that there were some misperceptions about just who would be using the bike lanes. But I can say that the attitude of keeping commuters out of Charlestown is not limited to bicyclists. When the City of Boston held extensive community meetings about the redesign of the Rutherford Ave and Sullivan Square corridors, there was a lot of talk about keeping car commuters on Rutherford Ave and off of Main St and other neighborhood streets. I think for some people this extends to bicyclists as well. They would rather see commuter cyclists accommodated along Rutherford Ave. (In the upcoming years, they will be with a new multi-use path/greenway, similar to the Southwest Corridor.) But unlike car traffic, which really can add a lot of congestion to Main St, having commuter bicyclists there can be a GOOD thing for Charlestown, since bicyclists would be able to easily stop and patronize Charlestown businesses without taking up valuable car parking.

  3. By IsolateCyclist on Jan 16, 2011 | Reply

    Charlie, I agree with everything you’ve said. Thanks for pointing out that some residents want to keep car commuters out of Charlestown as well. As I see it, one difference between the two scenarios (car and bicycle) is that the CNC made assumptions about who the cyclists were. And, as you’ve pointed out, having cyclists on Main Street is a positive thing because they are good for business, without impacting parking.

    In my view, there is no comparison between diverting the car traffic flowing through town onto Rutherford Ave. and the Sullivan Square corridors and removing bike lanes with the intent of preventing cyclists from using Main Street. One relates to congestion, the other does not. And, even if Charlestown wants to keep car commuters off of Main Street, it’s doubtful that anyone will be checking motorists’ credentials to see whether they are residents or not. Where do you draw the line? Do you prevent Charlestown residents, who are driving down Main Street on their way to work, from using the road because their purpose for using it is commuting? The goal for Charlestown should be to improve the flow of car traffic, not to remove bicycle facilities on the pretext that the wrong people are using them.

    As you mentioned, the problem will work itself out for commuter cyclists when the multi-use path/greenway is constructed. But, what will the multi-use path/greenway do for local cyclists who want to shop on Main Street or travel through the neighborhood? This is a matter of principle; and a question of how cyclists are perceived with respect to using the roads.

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