Monday, December 29, 2014

Bike Friendly Waterfront




The current plan for the South Boston Waterfront is weak on biking. Our city planners are not doing enough to ensure the safety of cyclists along the Seaport / Innovation District's exceedingly wide roadways, and their new draft plan to expand development & improve roadways misses the mark for people who want to choose a healthy & environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Please take a moment to comment on the South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan. Comments are due on December 31st, 2014 and it's important to the future of cycling in Boston that our voices be heard.

Below is our reaction to their recommendations. Please feel free to include some of our sentiments with your own unique comments.


We need a protected bikeway the length of Summer Street
Standard bike lanes are not enough on this high-speed truck route (see rendering below). There is ample space to separate bikers from moving traffic without other road users making any sacrifices. Boston Bikes, the City's agency for biking, shows a protected bikeway along Summer Street as part of the Bike Network Master Plan.  So what is the holdup? Apparently the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center has plans to build a new hotel on Summer Street, and for some reason the BCEC believes that will create a conflict for hotel pickup / drop-off functions.  That's right, a single hotel, that hasn't even been designed yet, which may or may not have a pickup / drop-off conflict with the protected bikeway is going to prevent the safe travel of Bostonian cyclists along the entire length of Summer Street.

Rendering of two-way protected bikeway on Summer Street, image courtesy of Boston Cyclist's Union



In Chicago, a two-way protected bikeway was installed on N. Dearborn Street. This bike facility goes directly in front of the Westin Hotel's pickup / drop-off space without any conflicts... and it looks exactly like the one we could have on Summer Street.

(image source: Google Street View)



We need a protected bikeway needed on D Street 
D Street is the link between residential Southie & the Seaport, and it's undergoing dramatic change. In the past year two new dense residential buildings, two new hotels, and a parking garage all broke ground on this street, and soon the BCEC will expand by about 30% with new addition facing the D Street side. These new buildings include all sorts of amenities like retail, restaurant, commercial spaces that will attract people from all of the city and all over the world. We expect this "new" street will bring new traffic conflicts such as double parking, pickup/drop-off, & valet services to the existing bike lane. Why not avoid these problems before they start by including a protected bikeway as part of the plan?  There is ample space for the gold standard in biking here.


Construction of new hotels on D Street (image source: Google Street View)


Protected bikeway needed on Seaport Blvd / Northern Ave
Anyone who has had the displeasure of biking along Seaport Blvd / Northern Ave has likely encountered conflicts in the bike lane.  To start, its incomplete. The bike lane disappears in certain locations along the route.  The new plan shows a continuous bike lane, which is an upgrade, but really it only solves the smallest of the problems. The bigger problem is the complete disregard that a bike lane even exists. Currently, the bike lane is utilized for all sorts of non-bike activities, such as pickup / drop-off, overflow parking for valet services, taxi stands, and even parking for our state troopers & Massport police. We understand that these functions need to occur, and we also believe that these functions can be designed into the new plan while also providing separated space for cyclists.  Seaport Blvd has a wide median in the center (for portions of it anyway) which could be removed to narrow the roadway and provide enough space for a separated bikeway.  This also helps pedestrians have a shorter crossing distance and avoid getting trapped on the median.

Seaport Blvd / Northern Ave is a truck route. Trucks & large vehicles account for 11 of the last 12 cyclist fatalities in the Boston area, which is why we must separate cyclists from truck routes. In the image below it is easy to see the problem.  Drivers pull into the bike lane to drop off their car to the valet crew.  There is a recessed drop-off space for the valet, but they are nearly always filled with cars and drivers often overlook the drop-off spaces.  So bikers need to swerve into the travel lane to get around the vehicle that is blocking the bike lane. Meanwhile a large truck is travelling right behind the cyclist, which is a very unsafe situation. Made worse by a car door that could open at any moment.

(image source: Google Street View)


The Seaport Blvd Bridge & Northern Ave Bridge both tie into the Connect Historic Bike Trail which is an interconnected protected bikeway that is already funded and slated to break ground next year. By creating a protected bikeway on these roads, we would be inviting cyclists (tourists & commuters) to come into the Seaport without a car.

Northern Ave bike/ped bridge be restored
Walking across a bridge congested with honking cars is no pleasant experience. People go out of their way to use the Northern Avenue bridge because it is pedestrian & bike only, and a much more lovely experience for humans.  On a regular basis, you see couples posing in the scenic beauty that is the Northern Ave bridge.  When was the last time you saw someone taking wedding photos on the Summer Street Bridge? Replacing the bridge with one that includes car lanes will ruin the character we have come to love.





The estimated 4% of trips being made by bike is woefully low
We expect much higher numbers even without protected bikeways. With the addition of good bike infrastructure, the percentage of bike trips would likely reach double digits, which would provide the much needed relief on the over burdened Silver Line.


The tech industry has a high percentage of cyclists
In order to compete with Kendall Square in Cambridge, Boston's tech heavy Seaport / Innovation District needs to accommodate cycling if we hope to attract top talent.

 Cyclists waiting at the light on Hampshire Street near Kendall Sq (image courtesy of CycleStyle Boston)
20130514-182128.jpg



Please don't forget to provide your valuable feedback to the City by using the comment form.  

Without your comments we will be stuck with a bike infrastructure plan that is less than ideal, and in some cases downright dangerous.

Southie Bikes




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mobility Hub


Southie & South End cyclists, we need your help in speaking up for improved cycling infrastructure at the MassDOT owned property at the base of the Broadway & West 4th Street Bridges. As you know, there are precious few ways in & out of South Boston, and since this area is going under construction soon we will have to live with whatever gets constructed there for a long loooooooong time.

Details:
Attend the public meeting and speak up for safer cycling!
Monday February 24th, at 6:00pm
Project Place - 1145 Washington St, South End, Boston MA (above Myers & Chang restaurant)
Check out our Facebook Event where you can easily invite your cyclist friends to attend.

Background:
MassDOT is building a 400+ car parking lot called the "Mobility Hub" which will improve the desolate, crime ridden area known as The Stacks below the elevated highway. The parking lot will offer a measure of improvement over the current eyesore because it will add much needed lighting and help activate the space which should reduce the rampant crime in that area.  What we need to do is make sure this 'hub of mobility' doesn't become a place for cars only. We have a copy of the current schematic plan, and there is a lot left to be desired for cycling improvements.

Anyone who wants to hang out and talk bikes afterward is welcome to enjoy post meeting dumplings at Myers & Chang!

See you at the meeting!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks

Late November is the time of year when we pause to remember the things we appreciate. As people who choose pedal powered vehicles to get around Boston, we have much to be thankful for.

Today we reflect back to the past year in cycling here in South Boston, we are most appreciative of the improvements to bicycle infrastructure around the neighborhood, and the support we have received by the people who live here.

Here are some of the noteworthy highlights:

  • Bike lanes on A Street 
  • Buffered bike lanes on D Street
  • Contra-flow bike lane in two places on D Street (allows cyclist to legally & safely ride the opposite direction of motor vehicle traffic.... first contra-flow in the city of Boston!)
  • The friends, family, and complete strangers who attended the ride to remember fallen cyclist Tanya Connolly.
  • Fundraising donations for local charity.  Members of Southie Bikes rode the Rodman Ride, proceeds went to benefit the kids at the South Boston Neighborhood House.
  • HUBWAY stations! (among the most heavily used in all of Boston!)
  • Proposed cycletrack slated for Summer Street next year.
  • Bike supportive businesses. (Foodies installing bike racks, and MyBike for moving to a more visible & convenient location).
  • The proposed cycletrack, which is a bike lane that is physically protected from motor vehicle traffic) that will be installed on Summer Street next year.
  • Very very very thankful that no cycling fatalities occurred in South Boston this past year.
  • We are thankful every time we see drivers using extra care when sharing the road.
  • We are thankful every time we see cyclists riding safe and obeying the traffic laws that keep them safe.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 
Southie Bikes

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Candidates Bike Agenda

The field has been narrowed down to two mayoral candidates: Marty Walsh, & John Connolly.  Both are clearly strong candidates for the position of Mayor, and both genuinely care about this great city. 

As a cycling advocacy group, we are compelled to point out each candidate's bicycle infrastructure agenda. 

Here is the only snippet on bicycles that we could find on Marty Walsh's website:

"Promote a Livable City – projects will be designed to ensure that residents live in communities where they can walk, bike, or take public transit to essential services. Other goals are to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are safe in our neighborhoods and on our roadways, and that congestion is reduced by eliminating cut-through traffic."

We are a bit concerned when we bicyclists & pedestrians are listed as a barely a footnote and lumped into "other goals" in his transportation priorities.  Barely a half sentence of Walsh's attention go to safer cycling and no mention on how he intends to make any safety improvements.  We sincerely hope that Walsh will come forward with more to say on bicycle improvements in Boston before we all vote in November.


John Connolly has more to say on the subject of bicycling, complete streets & transportation choices:

"A bright future for Boston depends on having a true mix of safe, reliable, affordable transportation options, so that residents and visitors will have choices about how to get around town. My transportation plan will help to strengthen our economy and make our city more environmentally sustainable.

As mayor, I will:
- Prioritize ‘Complete Streets’ planning;
- Prioritize cycle tracks in the city’s capital budget;
- Expand the Hubway bike share program;
- Promote transit-oriented development;
- Improve safety at intersections for pedestrians;"



John Connolly hits the nail on the head. The point here is "Complete Streets", Safety, and providing a transportation network that will allow people to have CHOICES on how they get around in the city.

There are many issues to consider before casting your vote.  Transportation equality & safety is a high priority for cyclists.  If you are a cyclist, or if you have friends / family who ride bikes, then please consider their safety before casting your vote in November.  So the question is: Which candidate do you believe will do the most to ensure the safety of our more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians & cyclists?


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bike Lane Meeting - CANCELLED


It has always been the position of Southie Bikes to listen to the constructive feedback from the people in the neighborhood. We received plenty of great ideas for how to make bike lanes work well in Southie, and we look forward to incorporating those ideas into the design going forward. There is more work to be done, and given Boston's rapidly changing political landscape the meeting will be deferred to a future date.

Planet Southie, Southie Bikes, Chamber of Commerce, and City Councilor Bill Linehan have more work to do toward common understanding.


Ride safe everyone! 
Southie Bikes

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Second Public Meeting for Bike Lanes on Broadway

Southie Bikes is preparing for a second public meeting for bike lanes on West Broadway, and we NEED YOUR HELP.  The only way to get this much needed safety improvement is to have a large showing of support from everyone who sees the value in making the road safer for everyone.

Meeting is Monday September 16th, at 6:00pm
200 D Street in South Boston (Condon School)

We are expecting a larger turnout from the opposition than at the last meeting, which is why we are asking that you please make time in your busy schedule to make it to the meeting.  Attendance is key. Democracy is for those who show up & speak up.

See you there,
Southie Bikes