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No Need To Imagine New Infrastructure, Just Copy What Works

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 13

Here is something I would love to see here.


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You Can’t Fix Shitty Design With Signs And Spray Paint

Written by Boston Biker on Jun 28

Want proof?  Ride over the Longfellow bridge “bike path.”

Every day I ride over the Longfellow, and ever day the farce that is the “bike path” gets more and more hilarious (and now that its warm, more and more dangerous.)

I started off skeptical of the paths design, noticing that the it was far too narrow, had odd turns, choke points, blind traffic interactions, lots of hazards, strange elevation changes, and most troubling thing was that the “sidewalk” was now the “bike lane.”  I thought it was horrible then, now I think its even worse.

Before I document the latest hilarious attempt to rescue this failed attempt at a bike path let me just recount some of the things I have personally seen on this path over the last couple months:

  • Crashes involving two cyclists on the Boston side of the bridge, where the path narrows dramatically while people are rolling down hill meeting folks struggling up hill
  • Crashes involving a cyclist and pedestrian on the Cambridge side of the bridge, as cyclists were heading down the hill and pedestrians were entering the “bike path” from the blind side on the left
  • Pedestrians tripping and falling from all the unmarked, and hard to see curbs and metal posts sticking out
  • Joggers with headphones not notice they are about to run into an oncoming bike until it was nearly too late
  • People with jogging strollers running into metal posts on the ground nearly throwing their child to the ground
  • Fucking Segway tours clogging up the path while they take pictures
  • Cyclists arguing with pedestrians constantly about who should or should not be on the path
  • Overheard this exchange “You can’t be on this bridge, I have a torn rotator cuff because a jogger ran out in front of me on this very path and caused me to crash, you need to go over there to the sidewalk” to which the three people responded “Too bad we are tourists!” and continued to walk over the bridge
  • I personally had to ask the construction people to remove the green dust control fencing from one half of the “path” because it blocked the view of people entering the path from seeing if people were coming down the bridge

And now it seems that someone besides me must have noticed because the already ridiculous situation on the bridge has become ludicrous.

Here is the view as you approach the Cambridge side:

20160628_171246

20160628_171248

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1 sign telling pedestrians not to walk on the bridge, 2 signs telling them where they should walk instead, and 2 signs clearly stating that this path is for cyclists only.  Someone has also taken a can of pink spray paint and highlighted all the things you are likely to run into, you can see one such example above, none of which will do any good in the dark.

Seems pretty heavy handed, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

From the Boston side:

20160628_170922


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(See that board on the ground above, it was another sign that had blown over in the wind…I flipped it back up.)

20160628_171045

(notice you can’t see who is coming down the path from this location, this happens a lot on this side)

Lets run this down… At the entrance to the path there are two giant “no pedestrian” signs using universal symbols, a giant “sidewalk closed” sign using words, two giant “bikes here” signs using symbols, stripped barriers, multiple bike markings on the ground, sharrows, a sign further down that says “bikes only” ANOTHER no pedestrians sign after that, AND a sign telling pedestrians where to walk.  Someone has also added cones to most of the metal poll sticking out into the ground (the rest got the same ineffective pink paint treatment as the Cambridge side), oh yea and the sign I flipped back up saying this path is for cyclists…

That is a lot of signs…at this point you might be asking yourself “did it do any good” and the answer would be “fuck no it didn’t do shit.”

You can see in the photograph above, the final person in a line of Segway riders blasting down the path at high speed, he was followed by a flood of pedestrians, joggers, strollers, roller carts, and all manner of non-cyclist traffic…in short you can’t fix shitty design with signs.  Short of posting armed guards on both ends of the bridge this is going to continue.

The reason why so many people are walking on a path that is clearly not for them is because…it makes total sense that they should want to!  It’s the most convenient path for them to take.  This has been a pedestrian path for years, the other side isn’t that pleasant to walk down.  This side of the bridge has a better view of the city, it is easier for more foot traffic to reach, and there is a spooky underpass detour on the Cambridge side if you go the “right” way.  They are following their desire lines.  Its no wonder the “bike path” is anything but.

All the things that make this a great pedestrian path, also make it a horrible bike path.  Its too narrow, has strange approaches, is hard to ride into and out of safely, it makes you take strange traffic diversions, puts you in conflict with traffic (cars, pedestrians, AND other cyclists), and is bumpy too boot!

What a mess…

I still think the best option would have been to close the bridge to automobile traffic, turn the portion of road that is open into a two way bike path, and allow emergency vehicles to go over the bridge both ways.

There are so few cars able to make it over the bridge as it is currently configured, that it would matter little to overall traffic flow.  With the increase in walking, cycling, and public transit the traffic would quickly take up the slack as people adapted.

Instead we have this horrible design that puts cyclists and pedestrians (the main users of the bridge at this point), in dangerous conflict with each other, restricts emergency vehicle use of the bridge, makes everyone unhappy, just so we can allow a couple of cars to putt slowly over it each day.

Are we designing for people, or are we designing for cars?  It’s time to decide, because this shitty design is going to get someone killed.


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Dedicated Bike Lanes, Other Improvements On Comm. Ave.

Written by Boston Biker on Jun 22

From U-Hub


State transportation officials signed off today on a $20.4-million reconstruction project along a bicycle-unfriendly stretch of Commonwealth Avenue that will include dedicated bicycle lanes on both sides of the road and wider sidewalks on both sides.

Although only 0.63 miles long, the avenue between Alcorn Street and the BU Bridge is used by an estimated 30,000 pedestrians, 3,000 bicyclists, 27,000 Green Line riders who get off and on at the four stops along the way and 35,000 motorists.

State Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin – who formerly served in a similar role for the city of Boston – sad in a statement:

This project is an opportunity to make major multi-modal improvements to one of the main arteries into Boston. The reconstruction will make traveling to and from work every day safer and easier for all types of commuters.


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East Boston Will Get Hubway This Year

Written by Boston Biker on Jun 22

From The City:

 

The Boston Transportation Department announced plans to bring the popular New Balance Hubway bike share program to 10 locations in East Boston this year.  These stations are in addition to 10 new stations opening this summer in Roxbury and northern Dorchester.

 

“By expanding Hubway across the harbor to East Boston, we are giving more of our residents access to bike-sharing, which is good for our economy, our environment and our health,” said Mayor Walsh. “We will continue to work to provide residents with a diverse range of transportation options.”

 

The New Balance Hubway system is regional public transportation by bike, owned by the municipalities of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville.  With more than 13,000 annual members and over 100,000 short-term passes sold each year, the Hubway system will celebrate its 5th birthday this July and 5 million trips this fall.

 

“Bringing Hubway to East Boston is a major milestone for the program,” said Boston Transportation Commissioner Fiandaca.  “With these new stations, East Boston residents and visitors will have an active, fun way to get around the neighborhood.”

 

The Boston Transportation Department will work alongside the public to help plan the new stations.  Everyone is welcome to attend a community workshop on June 30 at the East Boston Public Library to talk about what makes a good location for a Hubway station and work together to identify general locations for new stations.  People will be able to prioritize specific locations via a survey conducted by street teams from the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing and the East Boston Social Center, via an online version of the survey, and by dropping by an open house on July 28.

 

Get ready to #takehubway in East Boston!

Key dates:

Community Workshop – June 30 6:30-8:00 p.m., East Boston Public Library

Community Open House – July 28, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., East Boston Public Library


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Join The Vision Zero Movement

Written by Boston Biker on May 10

Got this in the email. For far far too long Americans have had an at best un-examined relationship with the effects of the cars they drive. Vision Zero highlights the most tragic effect of our transportation choices.  We should commit to zero deaths on our streets.


 

A Tough Start to the Year: How you can get Involved

There have been more than two dozen pedestrian fatalities statewide in 2016, including the tragic death of a child near Tufts Medical Center last Saturday. Another person was hit this morning at the corner of Mass Ave & Albany Street – part of the 1.6 mile stretch of Mass Ave from Melnea Cass Blvd to Beacon Street that has been highlighted as a Vision Zero Priority Corridor. While we are seeing some positive incremental progress, we still have a tremendous amount of work to do to bring the number of fatalities and serious crashes down to zero in Boston and throughout the state.

To help you can:

  • Submit your safety concerns on the City of Boston’s new interactive Vision Zero safety concerns map. You can pick a location and comment on specific street safety concerns in Boston with this tool. Now you can report safety concerns, near misses, and incidents – valuable data that can be added to existing police and EMS crash data.

  • Read the City Of Boston’s Vision Zero Action Plan and share it with others via Facebook, email or Twitter. Spreading the word is an important first step in making sure everyone is working to reduce traffic fatalities.

  • Contact your city councilors, legislators and other local leaders to encourage them to pass and support the legislation and policies above related to Vision Zero, and to focus efforts and funding on infrastructure that is safer for people walking and biking.
  • Share this email with your friends and encourage them to sign up for updates from the Vision Zero Coalition.


Boston City Councilors Support Lowering the Speed Limit to 20 MPH

Vision-Zero-logo-transparent-2.pngBoston city councilors held a hearing two weeks ago to lower the default speed limit to 20 miles per hour on city streets.

The measure would decrease the speed limit from 30 miles per hour in residential areas and thickly populated business districts where there are no posted signs. In school zones, the speed limit would be lowered from 20 miles per hour to 15 miles per hour.

Several members of the Vision Zero coalition spoke at the hearing: Jackie DeWolfe from LivableStreets, Wendy Landman from WalkBoston and Becca Wolfson from the Boston Cyclists Union.

The City Council has unanimously passed the proposal, which now goes to Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The measure will also also require the State Legislature’s approval, because speed limits are set by state law.

Giving communities the option to set lower default speed limits is one more tool that can help make our streets safer for everyone.  It should be paired with real infrastructure improvements to change driver behavior and force driving at safer speeds.

We’ll keep you updated as this progresses!


Boston Commits Funds to Vision Zero

Just a few days ago, the City of Boston announced they would set aside $3.1 million for Vision Zero in their 2017 budget, a significant increase from the $500,000 that was in this year’s budget. Another $9.3 million will go toward the project over the next three years.

“The underlying philosophy of Vision Zero is that our streets should be welcoming and safe,” said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina Fiandaca.

Increasing the Vision Zero budget was one of the key recommendations the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition made to the city. Click here to read the full list of recommendations.


Cambridge Announces Commitment to Vision Zero

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Joe Barr, Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation for Cambridge, announcing the commitment to Vision Zero

In March, the Cambridge City Council unanimously passed resolutions to formally adopt Vision Zero and Complete Streets policies! Cambridge follows more than a dozen other cities nationally that committed to Vision Zero.

To read the full text of the resolution click here (resolution starts on p.54)

We are excited that Cambridge has committed to Vision Zero and hope that other towns and cities throughout the state will follow suit!


Video Shines Spotlight on Dangerous LMA streets

Check out this great video highlighting the often dangerous streets conditions for people biking in the Longwood Medical Area.

Recent studies show that more than 20 percent of rush hour traffic in the LMA is on bicycle. The video highlights the needs for better street designs that will accommodate emergency vehicles as well as everyone moving to and through the LMA no matter how they get around.

Thank you for helping make our streets safer for everyone!


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Cambridge Participatory Budget Bike Projects!

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 26

Three bike projects won! (for those of you who don’t know what the Cambridge Participatory Budget is check this out)

http://pb.cambridgema.gov/sepbikelanes

9. Separate Bike Lanes from Traffic

Committee: Streets, Sidewalks & Transit

Cost: $50,000

Location: Citywide

Short Description: Improve safety for drivers and bikers by moving bike lanes to be between street parking spots and the sidewalk, reducing car-bike interactions and potential collisions.

Long Description: Moving existing bike lanes to the stationary side of parked cars has been implemented in many cities and countries, including New York City, Portland, and throughout Scandinavia. In fact, Cambridge has successfully piloted this idea on Ames Street in Kendall (see photo A below). A current issue is that cars, unfamiliar with the striping, park in the bicycle lane. The Cambridge Traffic Department suggested that with more than one location, cars would become more familiar and park only in the designated spots. The design possibilities, ranging from simple to decorative, can work to keep out cars using minimal street space (see photo B).

The fact is that traditional bike lanes are good at making cyclists feel safe and do improve visibility, but they do not protect cyclists adequately from harm from dooring or moving vehicles. Protected bike lanes, on the other hand, do reduce conflicts and stress for cyclists. Such an improvement to the bike lane would benefit all cyclists in and around Cambridge, because improving one road improves connectivity throughout the region. This project benefits car-drivers by removing the potential to open a door into a bike lane, as well as reduced stress from not having bicyclists slipping past a blind side. Studies consistently show—and experience corroborates—that for many people, dangerous road conditions is the reason they don’t bicycle. With all of the environmental and social benefits of bicycling, making it accessible to all comfort levels must be a high priority.

A: Aerial view of Ames Street’s protected bike lanes on both sides.

bikelanes1.png

B: Minimal extra space required for a safer bicycle lane.

bikelanes2.png

—————-

http://pb.cambridgema.gov/massavebikers

Make Massachusetts Avenue Safer for Bikers

Committee: Streets, Sidewalks & Transit

Cost: $70,000

Location: Along Massachusetts Avenue

Short Description: Improve safety on Massachusetts Avenue by adding shared lane markings for bicycles, along with signs saying “Bike Route,” “Bicycle May Use Full Lane,” and “Watch for Cyclists” where bike lanes are not already present.

Long Description: Massachusetts Avenue is part of the Bicycle Network Plan. Commuters, shoppers, families, and students all bike on Mass. Avenue, competing with heavy traffic, including large trucks and buses. But two stretches of Mass. Avenue have no accommodations for bicycles. The most recent 2015 Bicycle Network Plan ranks Mass. Avenue as unaccommodating for all but very experienced cyclists, and community input maps show that Mass. Avenue is a place where cyclists would like to see improvements. As a solution, we propose painting shared lane markings (approximately 100) and installing more signs (approximately 45) to improve conditions for bicycles on Mass. Avenue.

Specifically, we propose painting shared lane markings in the center of the right lane in both directions, where Mass. Avenue is currently too narrow for bike lanes: from Central Square to Harvard Square, and from north of Porter Square to the Arlington line. We also propose adding frequent, large signs that say “Bike Route,” “Bicycle May Use Full Lane,” and “Watch for Cyclists.” The shared lane markings and the bicycle awareness signs will benefit drivers by making them more aware of cyclists, while also giving cyclists more confidence to use the road. According to the 2015 Bicycle Network Plan, shared lane markings reduce by half the proportion of cyclists who feel “very uncomfortable” riding in commercial areas.

This is currently the only bike signage on Northern Mass. Avenue.

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Here you can see a cyclist riding on northern Mass. Avenue, where there are no bike lanes, no shared lane markings, and no bike route signs:

sharrow2.jpg

——————

http://pb.cambridgema.gov/paintedbikelanes

 

Shape Up Our Squares!

Committee: Streets, Sidewalks & Transit

Cost: $40,000

Location: Central and Inman Squares

Short Description: Paint green bike lanes through the intersections on Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square and Hampshire Street in Inman Square to improve safety for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.

Long Description: The main intersections in Central and Inman Squares have high volumes of cars, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians on a daily basis. The City’s policy and practice with regard to painting bike lanes is to use green paint where there are potential points of conflict, such as at intersections and some street crossings. This proposal is to paint the bike lanes green at the primary square intersections – Mass. Avenue and Prospect Street in Central Square, and Hampshire Street in Inman Square. To increase awareness of bicycle presence further, the Mass. Avenue and Hampshire Street bike lanes should continue through the intersections with dashed lines. An example of the recommended treatment exists on Main Street at the intersection of Vassar Street in Cambridge, as well as on Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University.

Part 1: Inman Square video:

Intersection on Main Street at Vassar Street: Example of bike lanes continued through the intersection.

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Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University, notoriously dangerous for bicyclists. The green paint here helps cyclists assert themselves in this difficult intersection.

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Inman Square: To demonstrate scope of repainting.

bikelanes3.png


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Temporary Closure Of The Paul Dudley White Bike Path

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 21

Got this in the email, if this is part of your commute you might need to change some things up:

 

DCR Recreational Advisory: Temporary Closure of the Paul Dudley White Bike Path in Boston

WHAT:           Beginning on Monday, December 21, 2015 and continuing to Friday, January 22, 2016, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will be implementing a temporary closure of Paul Dudley White Bike Path along the Boston side of the Charles River between the Boston University Bridge and the River Street Bridge, to accommodate repairs to the pedestrian bridge.

 

WHERE:         Paul Dudley White Bike Path, Boston, between the Boston University Bridge and the River Street Bridge

 

WHEN:           Monday, December 21, 2015 and continuing to Friday, January 22, 2016


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“Share The Road” Don’t Work, Somerville Gets That

Written by Boston Biker on Nov 05

People seem to be confused when they see the words “share” not just around here, but everywhere.  Which is why “share the road” signs are often less helpful than you might think.  I think the Boston interpretation of those signs is something like “everyone else get out of the way!”

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It’s gotten so bad that at least one state has stopped using them all together.

 

Via BikeDe.org:

Comprehension of the familiar “Share the Road” signage as a statement of bicyclists’ roadway rights has been challenged, based on arguments that it is ambiguous, imprecise, frequently misinterpreted, and not designed for that purpose…In fact, the US state of Delaware discontinued use of the “Share the Road” plaque in November, 2013.”

– From “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” Signage Communicates U.S. Roadway Rules and Increases Perception of Safety, North Carolina State University, August 28, 2015

In November of 2013, Delaware formally discontinued the use of the “Share The Road” sign, the first (and so far still the only) U.S. state to do so. The sign was interpreted in diametrically opposite ways by cyclists and motorists and failed to prevent conflict and hostility between motorists and cyclists. Arguably, the sign may actually have been causing conflict.

Now a study published on Friday by researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) has confirmed what Delaware already knew: “Share The Road” is a problem.

The authors of the new study – both NCSU faculty – surveyed nearly 2,000 people and found that there was “no statistically significant difference in responses between those who saw ‘Share the Road’ signage and those who saw no signage” whatsoever in terms of their comprehension that cyclists are permitted in the center of the travel lane; that cyclists do not have to move right to allow motorists to pass within the same lane; or that motorists should wait for a break in traffic before passing in the adjacent lane.

In sharp contrast to the complete uselessness of “Share The Road”, survey respondents who were shown the “Bicycle May Use Full Lane” sign showed uniformly high understanding of permissible cyclist lane positioning and appropriate safe passing behavior for motorists.

Which was why I was so happy to see this gem in Somerville yesterday:

It’s a little hard to see, but the giant blinking sign reads:

 

“IMPORTANT! IMPORTANT! IMPORTANT!”

“CYCLISTS MAY USE THE FULL LANE”

“ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, IT’S THE LAW”

This is the same intersection that recently got new bike boxes (which still sadly are not working all that well, drivers are ignoring the signs)

What also makes this sign so useful is that this particular stretch of road is just too narrow to safely “share” you have to take the whole lane or you will be squished. This road is so narrow that a bus and a car can’t pass going opposite directions if there is a parked car. It’s so narrow that a bus can’t fit in it’s own lane, even if there is no parked cars…so the sign is a good reminder to asshole drivers that cyclists need to take the whole lane, because otherwise they would get hit.

(There is also a cop who likes to hang around this intersection, he will give you a ticket for running this red light on your bike, but he is really nice guy, if you don’t sass him he will give you a warning, also don’t run red lights on your bike)


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Michelle Wu’s Editorial on Biking in Boston July 22, 2016
      TweetThe Boston Globe recently published Boston City Council President Michelle Wu’s thoughts on improving bicyclist safety and promoting bike commuting in Boston by way of protected bike lanes.  It’s been passed around quite a bit in Boston cycling circles, but … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • I Am Heading Out To The Corn! July 22, 2016
      TweetI am going to be doing my 5th (!) RAGBRAI next week. It’s going to be hot, and fun, try not to break anything while I am gone.   Read some past RAGBRAI stories here.
      Boston Biker
    • Newbury Street Closed To Car Traffic One Day Next Month July 22, 2016
      TweetIn an effort to make it more like downtown crossing Newbury Street will be closed to cars one day next month (Aug 7th). The city’s decision to shut down Newbury Street to vehicular traffic on Sunday, Aug. 7, is drawing … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Councillor Michelle Wu Wants Your Help To Find Places For Better Bike Lanes July 18, 2016
      TweetSo lets tell her!   From Facebook Need some crowd-sourcing help to move protected cycling infrastructure! Can we generate a list of all the road segments in Boston where there’s already a painted bike lane next to parked cars? i.e. … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • No Need To Imagine New Infrastructure, Just Copy What Works July 13, 2016
      TweetHere is something I would love to see here.
      Boston Biker
    • Babes Bike Boston 2! July 9, 2016
      TweetIts happening AGAIN. The Babes Bike Boston race is back! From Femmechanics: Femmechanics (https://femmechanics.wordpress.com/) is hosting our 2nd annual alleycat next Saturday July 16th! BBB is an alleycat for FTW (femme and/or trans* and/or women) riders of all biking abilities, … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Awesome Ad Featuring Boston Bike Polo Players! July 9, 2016
      Tweet Let the Games Begin from Rule Boston Camera on Vimeo. If you have never watched or played bike polo you are missing out, lots of fun, one of the most fun things you can do.
      Boston Biker
    • Cambridge Fast Tracks Inman Square Redesign June 30, 2016
      TweetThe city of Cambridge has decided to fast track the redesign of Inman square after the recent death there. Sigh…seems the best way to get shitty infrastructure fixed is to have someone die in it. We saw the same thing … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Jeff Jacoby Is A Dirty Sleaze Bag Who Tries To Get Attention When Cyclists Die June 29, 2016
      TweetIt seems Jeff Jacoby, resident murderous goon at the Globe, likes to make stupid public statements after cyclists are killed to try and squeeze just a little more attention for himself and his horrific view points.  I wrote way back in … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Drunk Driver Gets 12 Years For Killing Cyclist In Dorchester June 29, 2016
      TweetIn a rare turn of events a motorist was actually sentenced to jail time for killing a cyclists. All it took was him being drunk and driving without a license.  Nothing will bring back young Fritz Philogene, but at least justice … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker