The Latest From BostonBiker.org
News, Events, Updates
Got this in the email, if you want to add your thoughts get in touch with the email in the message.
Hello, I’m preparing a video shoot about a recent Boston City Council initiative to expand bicycle infrastructure in the city of Boston. I’m looking for knowledgeable cyclists who would be interested in speaking on camera, about what investments the city of Boston should make to create a safer and more accessible city for cyclists, as well as any testimony about the condition and safety of the cities bike paths as they stand today. If you’re interested in participating or have any questions, please get in touch with me at [email protected]
Tags: bike infrastructure, interview, video
Posted in advocacy, news | No Comments »
Got this in the email today (thanks Ron!)
The Boston Transportation Department, working with the National Park Service, has launched an initiative to connect certain transit hubs in Boston with new pedestrian and bicycle paths.
The effort, called Connect Historic Boston, will join MBTA transit stations and National Park Service sites in downtown Boston, including North Station, the Aquarium and State Street, and visitors’ centers at Faneuil Hall, the Charlestown Navy Yard, and the Harbor Islands Pavilion on the Greenway.
The goal is to create safe paths that allow visitors easy access between sites, according to Sean Hennessy, public affairs officer for the National Park Service.
“The mayor has made a substantial commitment with the bike-sharing programs and bike lanes, and this project blends in beautifully with that,” Hennessy said. “Connect Historic Boston is an effort to identify and remedy the need for safe bike and pedestrian paths in Boston.”
Funding for the design project will come from a $400,000 grant from the National Park Service — the “Paul Sarbanes Transit in Parks” grant — to the city of Boston. (read more here)
I used to work downtown, and still ride through there on a regular basis, and every single time I think to myself, “man this place would be a whole lot more pleasant if we got rid of most of these cars.” While that wont ever happy, making it easier to bike and walk between these highly visited sites will go a long way to making the downtown area more friendly and useful, not only for tourists but for everyone that lives and works in the area as well. The added draw of these locations will also spur more local business opporotunities, and help to keep and expand the vitality of the region. People driving through that area in their car never stop to buy anything, because there is a lack of parking, pedestrians and cyclists however will stop and visit local shops.
Tags: bike infrastructure, boston, national parks
Posted in infrastructure, news | No Comments »
I am looking for some help. I want to create a google map of every single piece of bike infrastructure in Boston and the surrounding area. Every bike lane, every bike box, every cycle track, every off road path, the works. I will be including large bike parking facilities like the bike cages at T-stops, but skipping (for now) individual bike racks.
To do this I need all of your help. I have created a map (see below) that ANYONE can add to. Simply click on the link here, or below the map and add away. Try to label your points/lines/shapes with something useful, and also try not to delete anyone’s information.
I figure if we all add our little parts we will have the whole business mapped up in no time. Then we can use this map to show new bikers where all the bike lanes etc are.
The map is getting a lot of attention! Which means it takes a while to load, to speed up the page I have put it below the fold. I noticed that some lanes are on there multiple times, feel free to prune them off if you accidentally double up.
If you want to see the entire map continue reading.
If you want to see the whole map with all the edits on one page click here.
Tags: bike infrastructure, maps
Posted in infrastructure | 21 Comments »
Got this in the email today (thanks Jenny) looks like a fine talk.
Bike Super Highways: Infrastructure Catches Up With The Dream
The 2010 Boston Symposium’s theme is “Infrastructure: the 21st Century Challenge for Cities and Citizens.” This capstone course features four weekly panels of guest lecturers chosen by students. This final panel features four of the nation’s foremost experts on urban biking and transportation studies. Speakers include Anne Lusk, a research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health, David Watson, executive director of MassBike, Peter Furth, a transportation planner and engineer specializing in transit, traffic, highways, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and David Loutzenheise, a transportation planner with MAPC since 2008. Attendance is free & open to the public, but priority during the Q&A period will be given to students enrolled in the Boston Symposium course (UA805).
6:00pm on Monday, April 12th 2010
School of Hospitality, 928 Comm. Ave., SHA Auditorium
Tags: bike infrastructure, Bike Lanes, bike super highway
Posted in advocacy, fun, infrastructure | 1 Comment »
Something has been bothering me for a couple years now. Why is there on street parking in major cities? The answer might seem obvious. “because people need some place to park their car if they want to drive into the city.” Duh, right? Think about that statement a little more and you can see there is a lot wrong with it.
For instance why are people “driving into the city”? Shouldn’t they live in the city? If you have a majority of your people driving in from the burbs to work in the city, your city is probably a hollowed out husk that no one wants to live in. Perhaps your city has failed to address crime, or poverty, or drugs, or gentrification, or some other problem. On street parking is just the fever, the cause of the illness is something else.
“My customers need to park if they want to use my store.”
We have already seen in Boston (see here and here) that having high density bike parking can fit far more potential customers into a small space than car parking (with better conditions for people using those business’s to boot). Having your store near a bus or T stop would also dramatically increase the number of potential customers, far far more than you could ever get from on street parking.
“Residents of these homes need parking.”
Most city based housing is either high density or high end. There simply isn’t enough room in a big city for suburb style houses with lawns, and where there is these neighborhoods are often very compacted and close to public transit (or should be). In either case, reserving that much room for the parking of cars doesn’t make sense. Imaging how much more green space, or bike lanes, or heck more housing could be built if we took all the space we are using to store cars and used it for something else. Having a park, or green space, or a public meeting location, or anything but empty space to park cars also increases property value and adds to the quality of life for residents. With a vibrant public transportation system, and bicycles the rest is handled. Having high density populations on bike/transit/foot also means that local business will have a loyal customer base, which in turn keeps the money local and the local economy healthy.
“But if we built more parking, the city would have more business and the city would thrive!”
That’s not what Hartford Connecticut found. (note that they give a shout out to Cambridge for its efforts to reduce on street parking!)
For the past half-century, city leaders in Hartford have worked hard to satisfy what they deemed to be a critical need — the need for more parking, so that downtown Hartford could compete with suburban office parks and shopping centers.
This summer the Center for Transportation and Urban Planning at the University of Connecticut conducted a detailed study of the cumulative effect on the city of 50 years of providing parking. What we found was startling: Since 1960, the number of parking spaces in downtown Hartford increased by more that 300 percent — from 15,000 to 46,000 spaces. This change has had a profound and devastating effect on the structure and function of the city as one historic building after another was demolished.
And what did the city gain from this assiduous drive to provide sufficient parking? Was it able to grow more prosperous by providing more jobs and housing for more people? If this was the desired outcome, we can consider the past 50 years to have been an abysmal failure. Over the period that parking was being increased by more than 300 percent, downtown was losing more than 60 percent of its residential population, and the city as a whole lost 40,000 people and 7,000 jobs.
Yet the perception of Hartford as a city perennially short of parking and in need of more parking has never slackened. How could this be?
Well, the simple answer is that parking and transportation policy in Hartford has had the perverse effect of inducing an unending cycle of more demand for parking. Like a dog chasing its tail, the city is constantly playing catch-up — the more parking provided, the more parking is needed.
In 1978 the city council went further in expressing its strong support for a moratorium on construction of parking garages in the central business district. But we were able to find no evidence that any such forward-looking idea was ever actually implemented in Hartford. Fortunately, there are some clear lessons from a handful of cities nationwide that did understand the price of destroying value to accommodate parking. These cities embraced ideas to curb the voracious appetite of the automobile for space. Cities including Cambridge, Mass., Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., and Seattle developed policies to limit the amount of parking, to re-convert parking land to productive use, and to increase walking, biking and transit use for people going to work.
The contrast between, Say, Portland and Hartford is stark in terms of economic vibrancy and social vitality. Hartford looks more like the hundreds of other American cities that have hollowed out their core to accommodate automobiles.
With more that 700 parking spaces for every 1,000 employees, Hartford has the dubious distinction of being near the top of the list for parking — up there with cities such as Detroit and Buffalo.
In contrast, more vibrant cities like Washington get by with much less parking (250 parking spaces for every 1,000 employees). The need for so much more parking for each job in Hartford compared with more competitive cities is a significant physical and financial drag, limiting the potential for growth in the city.
state government provides parking for more than 90 percent of its employees in Hartford. The result is that less than 10 percent of state employees in the city travel to work by transit, walking or biking.
Thus, the state ties up some of what is potentially the most valuable land in the city in parking, costing the city and the state millions of dollars in tax revenue.
(read the rest of this fascinating article here)
(hat tip to Andres for the heads up on this article)
On street parking also makes it harder to put in bicycle infrastructure, puts us in danger of getting doored, gives pedestrians a place to hide while they jay walk (making it harder to avoid them), and covers our streets with oil and other dangerous chemicals that leak out of cars parked there. They obstruct the view of patrons at street level cafe’s, introduce air pollution when the cars idle, and in general make a city feel cramped and closed in. They hinder snow removal, and street sweeping, and create a nuisance as people try to get into and out of tight spaces.
So to recap, on street parking:
Wastes space, hinders economy growth, creates pollution, is dangerous, is ugly, lowers property values, depletes the tax base, hinders municipal functions, hinders the installation of bicycle infrastructure, makes people fat by facilitating driving, is inefficient, facilitates the removal of money from the local economy, and is dangerous to cyclists…
So why exactly do we put up with it? What are we getting? I thought hard about this, here is what I came up with:
On street parking allows handicapped access to places, is good if you need to pick up something huge and drive it off, provides a spot for delivery trucks to drop off stuff…and that’s about it. All of which could be provided with a special spot or two in front of certain stores. A shared loading unloading zone that several businesses could share, along with a couple handicapped parking spots.
In my opinion the benefit of on street parking is far outweighed by it’s draw backs. It’s time we start taking back the space in our cities. Almost every single street in Boston could have a bike lane if the on street parking was taken out. We could build amazing linear green parks, grow urban gardens, have high density bicycle parking, reduce pollution, increase livability, and in general make a healthier population, all while encouraging dense urban living that results in healthy local economies.
If you own a business, call up the city and tell them you want to take out one of the parking spots in front of your business for on street bike parking. If you are a member of a condo association, lobby to remove all the on street parking. If you own a cafe, perhaps you can ask the city to remove one or two spots to improve the view of the people sitting on patio (maybe you could replace them with some nice plants). Ask the city to begin a long term policy of slow gradual reduction on on street parking (perhaps 2% reduction a year for the next decade). Perhaps we lobby for new building codes that mean that all new construction must provide on site parking if they want it, this would force the builders to choose between houses/business or parking, instead of making the city streets take the burden. These are just a couple ideas of how we can rid ourselves of this scourge. If you have more ideas put them in the comments.
I guess what I am trying to do here is plant an idea in your head. A city without on street parking would be a vibrant and healthy place to live, good for the quality of life, good for business, good for bikers. Boston would be the perfect city to manifest this vision. Our narrow streets and dense layout lends itself perfectly to on street parking removal. In a very real sense this would be a returning to our roots, no one had to figure out how to parallel a hummer when Paul Revere road off to warn of the British.
Now it the time, let’s kill on street parking, the enemy of a healthy city.
Tags: bike infrastructure, enemy, healthy city, on street parking
Posted in advocacy, infrastructure, video | 6 Comments »
I would love love love to see something like this from the city, it would be great.
Also did you notice, they talk about door zones in bike lanes? A little education goes a long way toward safety.
Also how not to cross the street (this video is completely unrelated to the above, but o..m..g..)
Tags: bike infrastructure, Bike Lanes, street films, video
Posted in education, infrastructure, video | 4 Comments »
According to this (pdf), Boston will be getting:
The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) awarded $142,000 in April to support four transportation demand-management (TDM) projects that will help improve air quality in the region by reducing transportation- related emissions. The largest award, $67,000, went to the City of Cambridge for the launch of a pilot social-marketing campaign
aimed at encouraging Cambridge residents to switch from driving to using other transportation modes. The City of Boston received $40,000 to start a bicycle pool that city employees can
use to reduce driving trips within the city.
Could this mean that not only Mayor Menino but a whole train of city employees will be riding bikes to meetings, riding bikes to events, riding bikes to lunch etc? I sure hope so, the best possible way to clue in city planners to some of the problems facing bikers is to experience them first hand. We can only hope they actually use the bikes.
The PDF is a good read, it also states that T stations in Boston have seen a 79% increase over the last 4 years…
The Boston Region MPO has posted online the results of its most recent inventory of bicycle parking spaces at MBTA facilities, which was conducted in 2005 and 2006. The previous inventory was done in 1999, 2000, and 2002. The MPO staff collected data on the number of MBTA-owned and municipally owned bicycle racks and the number of bicycle parking
spaces being used at 123 rapid transit stations, 124 commuter rail stations, 4 commuter boat terminals, and 3 major bus stops in the region. Since the previous inventory had been done, the number of bicycle parking spaces at MBTA facilities increased by 79 percent and 25 more stations had bicycle racks. The inventory also identified locations of underutilized racks. MPO staff made recommendations for improving bicycle parking at those stations. Both the recommendations and the inventory results can be found at www.bostonmpo.org/bostonmpo/resources/CMS/cmsbpark.htm. This work was conducted as
part of the MPO’s Mobility Management System, a program for collecting data for use in analyzing the performance of the region’s transportation system.
Of course they didn’t really start off with much bike parking (and much of it was poorly lit, in corners easy for thieves, and inconvenient), but an increase is an increase. Hit this link to see the hard numbers.
It’s progress, small progress, but progress none the less.
Tags: advocacy, bike infrastructure, MBTA
Posted in advocacy, news | No Comments »