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A Perfect Example Of How Cars Don’t Work For Boston

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 03

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Yesterday our fair city got a good dose of snow, a sizable storm in its own right, but combined with the big ass blizzard we had last week, the entire city was struggling to keep up.  Today the city woke up to an public transportation system crippled by yesterdays snow, the head of the MBTA actually told people to drive to work

Anyone unlucky enough to drive into the city today (or drove in any of the cities around Boston) knows that without the MBTA to carry most of the folks to work, driving simply is not an option.  Snow or no snow, there are just too many cars, and not enough road.  There was bumper to bumper grid lock for both the morning and evening commutes today.

This truck was stuck like this, cars were backed up for a long way in both directions, I just got off my bike and walked around.

This truck was stuck like this, cars were backed up for a long way in both directions, I just got off my bike and walked around.

I have been riding through this weather, and a lot of my coworkers have been telling me just how crazy I am.  But the only thing moving on wheels today was people riding bikes.

Not only did the cars fail to get people around, but they made removing the snow a lot harder as well. They also slid around crashing into things, getting stuck in snow banks, and potentially killing or harming people or property.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  If even 20-30 percent of people rode bicycles (levels many snowy northern European cities accomplish), the roads would be relatively unclogged, allowing the folks that absolutely needed to drive the road space needed to do so.  It is also a lot easier to clear space for cyclists on the road, as they need much less of the road clear in order to cycle safely.  The lack of cars parked on the road would also allow for more area to place the snow.

Sure it sounds like pie in the sky thinking, but as today’s epic traffic jams illustrate, the current system isn’t working for anyone.


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Only Thing Worse Than Traffic…Talking All Day About Traffic

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 18

Once again Bikeyface nails it. Nothing is more annoying than hearing all your coworkers complain and complain (and complain and complain…) about how HORRIBLE their commute was, especially when you know they all live like 3 miles away and just refuse to bike/walk/take the train.

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Read the rest of this AMAZING comic, here.

My coworkers all think I am nuts but my commutes have been relatively awesome the last couple days. Door to door my 3 mile commute has been in the 20-30 minute time frame, my friend waited 45 minutes for the bus to arrive, and another hour and a half for the bus to go the same distance.

When I got home yesterday, I was warm, dry, and it had only taken 20 minutes I was like:

If we lived in a place where we had really top notch bicycle infrastructure, and the city made it a priority to clean it off when it snowed (special machines for the lanes etc.), EVERYONE could have such a stress free awesome commute, not just us “crazy people who ride our bikes in the snow.”

Cars are stress machines, especially when it snows. If you want to spend less time stuck in traffic, and a lot less time talking about traffic, give bike riding a try. See the side bar for some helpful winter riding tips. Happy snow cycling!

ps. If you have any questions about winter riding, drop them in the comments.


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Posted in advocacy, Commuting | 1 Comment »

Bikes Infrastructure Makes Traffic Run Smoother

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 22

In Manhattan they did anyway, with the help of more pedestrians and higher transit rates, as well as the new bike share program.

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After several blocks in the heart of Times Square were pedestrianized and protected bike lanes were added to five avenues in the middle of Manhattan, motor vehicle traffic is actually moving more smoothly than before, according to the latest release of NYC DOT’s annual Sustainable Streets Index [PDF].

The report, which gathers data from the MTA, the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and DOT’s own counts, also shows that the volume of traffic entering Manhattan has basically stayed flat since 2009. At the same time, transit ridership has started to rebound from the recession and service cuts.

Even with population and employment levels increasing after the recession, car traffic into the Manhattan CBD declined 1.7 percent in 2011. Since 2003, traffic volumes are down 6.5 percent, while transit trips to the area have increased 11.3 percent.

The annual report incorporates numbers on bike-share usage. Between the Memorial Day launch and August 26, Citi Bike riders made more than 2.5 million trips covering more than 5.5 million miles. There have been eight crashes involving Citi Bikes, none causing injuries classified as serious. Of stations sampled during the final two weeks of July, the busiest included those near hubs like Grand Central Terminal and Union Square.

 

Read the rest of this fascinating article here. It seems obvious that if you take a bunch of people out of cars and instead they take public transit/ride a bike/ or walk that traffic would move better, but its always nice to see some real world data to prove it.

What I think is the real take home from this study is that peoples lives are improving.  They are being more healthy (even public transit is healthier than driving).  They are saving money, they are reducing their impact on the planet, and even the people who are still trapped in their cars are happier because traffic is moving smoothly.  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they were happier as well.  Its a win win win win.

People defend cars, and get very upset when you try to make it harder to use them, but they really have so very few benefits and so very many drawbacks.  I think what we are seeing is that this fact is finally sinking in.

Thanks Ben for the heads up on this.


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Now We Know Who To Blame For All That Traffic

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 18

The dark blue on the map shows the neighborhoods whose residents spend the most time stuck in traffic. The red outlines identify 15 census tracts whose drivers disproportionately clog traffic, because they all tend to travel on the same small number of roads at the same time. When commuters from these census tracts clog the roads, the congestion ripples throughout the entire metro area, making everyone’s commutes longer.

The dark blue on the map shows the neighborhoods whose residents spend the most time stuck in traffic. The red outlines identify 15 census tracts whose drivers disproportionately clog traffic, because they all tend to travel on the same small number of roads at the same time. When commuters from these census tracts clog the roads, the congestion ripples throughout the entire metro area, making everyone’s commutes longer.

A recent study by MIT and UC Berkely using anonymous cell phone data and gps have determined that it is just 15 areas in the Boston metro area (out of 750 tracked by the census) are causing almost all of the traffic jams in Boston.

What they found, perhaps surprisingly, is that during rush hour, 98 percent of roads in the Boston area were in fact below traffic capacity, while just 2 percent of roads had more cars on them than they could handle. These congested roads included short stretches of I-495 southbound and Route 128 southbound, a number of downtown streets, and a wide scattering of suburban arteries, such as Bridge Street in Lowell (southbound) and Water Street in Haverhill (northbound). Each of these roads has what the engineers term a high degree of “betweenness”—that is, they’re essential for connecting one part of the metropolitan area to the others.

The backups on these roads ripple outward, causing traffic to snarl across the Hub. Marta Gonzalez of MIT, one of the lead engineers on the study, explains the effect this way. “The analogy we make is of your circulatory system,” she says. “When you have one artery that is blocked, it will affect your entire circulation.”

By tracking the cell records, they found that it’s just a small number of drivers from a small number of neighborhoods who are responsible for tying up the key roads. Specifically, they identified 15 census tracts (out of the 750 in Greater Boston) located in Everett, Marlborough, Lawrence, Lowell, and Waltham as the heart of the problem, because drivers from those areas make particularly intensive use of the problematic roads in the system.(via)

What this says to me is that, if we could connect these areas to decent public transportation and cycling options we could eliminate large amounts of traffic in this town. By working smarter, not harder, we could burst the bubble of traffic with laser guided improvements to our infrastructure.

The study demonstrated that “canceling or delaying the trips of 1 percent of all drivers across a road network would reduce delays caused by congestion by only about 3 percent,” MIT wrote. ” But canceling the trips of 1 percent of drivers from carefully selected neighborhoods would reduce the extra travel time for all other drivers in a metropolitan area by as much as 18 percent.”

The effectiveness of this “selective strategy” is attributed in the study to the facts that “only [a] few road segments are congested” and that these road segments are clogged by people originating largely from only a few areas. Even though data was anonymous, researchers were able to infer drivers’ home neighborhoods “from the regularity of the route traveled and from the locations of cell towers that handled calls made between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m,” UC-Berkeley said.(via)

If we can get drivers in these targeted areas to bus/train/cycle to work, we could dramatically reduce traffic in the rest of the town. Combined with some sort of congestion tax to keep otherwise non-car drivers from filling in the empty space made by the reduction of traffic, and using the money from that and a re-organized tax system to fund improvements in public transportation infrastructure, we could be living in a very pleasant city devoid of most single occupancy car drivers.

Science!


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Posted in advocacy, Commuting | 6 Comments »

Give A Better City A Hand Collecting Craigie Bridge Information

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 25

The good folks at ABC are trying to keep tabs on the Craigie Bridge construction (which PS. starts next Friday).

Got this in the email

————

Dear Boston bicycle and pedestrian community,

Anybody commute or ride regularly on the Craigie Bridge? If so, can you get in touch with me? Here’s what I’m trying to find out:

1. Start and Destination?
2. Do you take an alternative bridge / route?
3. The construction on the Craigie is starting the night of Friday, Nov. 5th. Like the BU bridge, the Craigie is supposed to remain open to bikes and peds throughout construction. Can someone confirm this?

A Better City is working on a bridge construction / traffic advisory website for all forms of transportation. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

I assume you can contact them here or you can leave them in the comments here and I will have them take a look.


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Posted in advocacy | 1 Comment »

Tom Vanderbilt Talks “Traffic”

Written by Boston Biker on May 10

Thanks to Erik for pointing this out to me.

It’s great, watch it twice and think hard. Also read this book its fantastic.


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Traffic Advisory: BU Bridge

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 29

DCR CREWS WORKING ON BU BRIDGE

Cambridge-to-Boston traffic will be detoured to the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge

WHAT: Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) crews will be installing barriers in preparation for the first phase of construction on the BU Bridge, which carries traffic over the Charles River between Cambridge and Boston. During the work, all Cambridge-to-Boston lanes will be closed and traffic will be detoured to the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge. Only buses and emergency vehicles will be allowed in the Cambridge-to-Boston direction. One lane of Boston-to-Cambridge traffic will remain open.

WHEN: Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night October 28, 29, 30 7 p.m. – 5 a.m. each night

WHERE: BU Bridge Between Cambridge and Boston


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Traffic Advisory: Craigie Dam

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 27

This will probably be relevant to you if you bike over this dam, be warned.

DCR CREWS WORKING ON CRAIGIE DAM

Expect occasional delays by the Museum of Science

WHAT: Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) crews will be making repairs to the Craigie Dam Bridge Road by the Museum of Science. During the work, traffic will be stopped occasionally to allow the movement of machinery.

WHEN: Friday, Monday, Tuesday August 28, August 31, September 1, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. each day

WHERE: Craigie Dam Bridge Road between Cambridge and Boston. Near the Museum of Science


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • a little back ground March 1, 2015
      Tweetplease excuse my grhamer and spelling i was never a shakespear,or a hawthorn. for the past eight years i have been working in paper mill’s throught mass. and on and off i have substituted my income working for a security … Continue reading →
      intentionalmessenger
    • City Of Boston Bikes Program Update February 26, 2015
      TweetLots of good stuff in here: ——————– Boston Bike Week Festival & Bike Fridays From April-August, on one Friday a month we’ll host a party on City Hall Plaza for cyclists. In May we’ll hold a special Boston Bike Week … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • I Feel Like I Need One Of These, Fake Bamboo Cars For Bikes February 26, 2015
      TweetJust because you can slide past me with an inch or two to spare, while you race forward to get to that next red light, doesn’t mean you should. Maybe if we all drove around with these car’s would afford … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • London Approves City Wide Bike Super Highway February 26, 2015
      TweetThis is exactly what Boston needs. From the web Catering to some of the 170,000 cyclists that ride across London every day, this segregated bicycle lane will stretch from west to east, pass through the heart of the city and … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Power To The Pedals Screening February 25, 2015
      TweetWenzday and the folks at Metro Pedal power are awesome, check out this great movie about their efforts to revolutionize the way goods are delivered in big cities. Power to the Pedals: Wenzday Jane and the Culture of Change Trailer … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • This…This Is Awesome, 40 ft Snow Tunnel Built By Cyclists February 25, 2015
      Tweet From Youtube: The MBTA blocked access to a bike path with a giant snowbank when they plowed the parking lot at Wellington Station. We decided to do something about it! more awesome back story here. This is a great … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Cycling Adds Redundancy To A Transportation Network February 18, 2015
      TweetI sometimes have odd thoughts on my ride into work.  Today’s were mostly around how nice the sun was, and how great it was to be riding, but as I locked up my bike (after an effortless commute), I realized … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Protected Bike Lanes Coming To Comm. Ave. Redesign! February 12, 2015
      TweetCurrently the world is drowning in snow, but this is huge news!! From Livable Streets. ———- We did it!    Example of a protected bike lane. After years of advocating for a balanced redesign plan for Commonwealth Avenue,the city has now … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Bikes Not Bombs Winter Update February 12, 2015
      TweetLots going on over at BNB, check it out below! ———————————– Youth Programs Accepting Applications The next session of Earn-A-Bike will be March 23rd – April 30th, Mondays through Thursdays from 4:00m-7:00pm. The program is open to youth ages 12-18 … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Hello world! February 10, 2015
      Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging! Continue reading →
      thecommunityspoke