Arlington Residents Vote To Reject Millions In Funding For Bike Lanes

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 08

Amazing….and ultimately sad.

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On Saturday, voters in Arlington proved themselves simultaneously foolish and shortsighted when they attempted to shut down a proposal for bike lanes on a one-mile strip of Massachusetts Avenue. They’re foolish because the vote, essentially, rejects $6.8 million in funding from the state and federal governments. And they’re short-sighted because the installation of bike lanes on some—not all—streets is the future for cities and towns.

A recap: Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington is a disaster. It’s a chaotic stretch of road with no painted lanes and few cross-walks that’s been the scene of far too many accidents. A few years ago, the town started planning an update for the street, and secured $6.8 million in funding from the state and federal governments. As state senator Ken Donnelly noted, however, MassDOT required that bicycles be accommodated in some fashion, either through bike lanes (which would eliminate one of four lanes of car traffic) or through wider outside car lanes (which would reduce the size of the sidewalks or remove parking).

Read the rest of this article, and try not to pull your hair out.

With the rest of the Boston Metro area running full speed ahead to improve cycling infrastructure, what exactly is wrong with Arlington? It doesn’t take an oracle to see that the future of urban living involves lots and lots of cycling, pedestrian, and public transportation infrastructure. Arlington is almost literally shooting themselves in the foot here. Sad. Lets hope that this non-binding vote isn’t the last one.


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9 Responses to “Arlington Residents Vote To Reject Millions In Funding For Bike Lanes”

  1. By Charlie on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    It’s really not at all unlike what’s happening on Beacon Street in Somerville. There is a subset of people who drive regularly and are afraid of the possibility of their lives becoming a little bit more difficult. In Somerville, they are afraid that on-street parking will become much harder to find when one side of parking is taken away for part of the street. In Arlington, these same type of people are afraid that reconfiguring the travel lanes will result in crippling congestion that they have to sit through every day. I know (and most of us who’ve been involved) know that neither of these things will happen. But if all you do is drive, and you don’t really care about the safety or convenience of anyone else on the road, then it’s completely rational that you would vote or take an opinion that nothing should change.

  2. By TurkeyWatch on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    Naw, man, this is great. Who wants a piddly little 5′ bike lane when you can have a full 10′ lane all to yourself? Or better yet, a full 10′ lane so you can ride next to your friends!

    More seriously, I love taking a lane in Arlington while heading to or from the Minute Man trail- it’s my way of saying “thank you” for ticketing cyclists on that 30′ stretch of sidewalk between the end of the trail and Mass Ave.

  3. By Charlie on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    I should clarify. It’s not that people necessarily don’t care about the safety of others necessarily. It’s that they are unwilling to risk sacrificing any of their convenience to increase the safety of those who are walking or biking.

  4. By bikecommuter on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    Arlingtonians sure no how to shoot themselves in the foot. It’s like the Red Line referendum all over again.

  5. By DKB on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    The vote was entirely a popularity contest, was really quite close, and didn’t get that many voters at all. There is a very vocal group of opponents of the Mass Ave plan who voted against the plan. I don’t doubt that most Arlington citizens actually support the project overall, though nearly everyone finds some fault with it. There is no reason to believe the project won’t go ahead. The selectmen are behind it and the candidate for selectman who opposed the project was defeated.

  6. By KillMoto on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    The writing is on the wall folks. Communities that continue to cater to the primacy of the car at the cost of safe walking and biking will lose their local businesses. Next to go will be the jobs. Our children and grandchildren will move to Chicago, LA, and Portland OR, and rarely visit. The tax base will decline, and health care costs will go up. And just as all those drivers become too old or ill to drive, public transportation will be in its worst state ever.

    Arlington, go ahead and build your 4 lane highway. Be a wasteland people **drive through** rather than a community people **go to**.

  7. By Marianna on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    Turkey has the stupidest part pinned down. I don’t understand why people who hate being “stuck behind bicyclists” oppose bike lanes.

  8. By Chris, who voted on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    The ballot question was non-binding. Do you not know this?

    The vote, according to unofficial results, was very close. The only candidate for selectman against the Mass Ave project was soundly rejected in the same election, a discrepancy with the non-binding project question perhaps attributable to its odd wording (i.e. a no vote meant yes for the project). With the board of selectmen unanimously in favor of the project, and close to half of those who voted in this NON-BINDING referendum also in favor, Arlington cannot be said to have rejected the project and $6.8 million in funding. “Stupid,” might be an apt tag for your uninformed post, but not for Arlingtonians, even some who, misguided IMO, oppose the project.

  9. By KT, proud Arlington resident and cyclist on Apr 9, 2013 | Reply

    I’ll also mention (as someone who was actively rallying friends and neighbors to vote “NO”) that the ballot question was extremely biased and easily misunderstood. (I have learned that ballot questions are not required to be written in an unbiased manner) So if you were just voting because there was an election (as opposed to voting specifically because of this issue) – it absolutely made sense to vote “Yes”. Honestly, it’s really a class war in Arlington between older “townie” types and their feelings about “elitist types” from Cambridge(!) and other places moving in. And nothing seems to symbolize that more strongly than bikes and bike lanes.

    As Chris mentioned, it was a NON-BINDING resolution and likely the biggest result is that the EACCC will keep caterwauling. Believe me, they are absolutely tiresome and I wish they would find a more productive hobby. But the pro-bike/walk advocates are on the right side of history and we’ll keep fighting for a sensible human-friendly Mass Ave. It’s just as much of a mess to drive on as it is to ride on.

    Anyway, obviously a big topic close to home – literally. But please don’t go painting all of our residents with one brush!

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