Because I’m out so many evenings and weekends, I try to reserve a couple of mid-week hours to bike with the Wednesday Wheelers. This week the weather was fabulous and a small group of us did a great 40 mile ride through the beauty of the approaching spring. Afterwards, I sat with Stan Sabin and his wife Susan at lunch. Stan Sabin was a former Pulmonologist, a sweet and careful man who probably never ran a red light or jumped in front of traffic in any of his 74 years.
When we finished eating and chatting, Stan smiled, kissed Susan, waved to everyone, then left ahead of the rest of us to get home in time for the free health clinic that he ran in Framingham.Read more
This post continues the list of specific suggestions for improving the bikability and walkability of our streets. Some are quick and easy, others more complicated but with more long-term impact. A few are focused on Metro-region municipalities but most require action by MassDOT or DCR. They include suggestions about:
- Including Bicycles on the Rose Kennedy Greenway
- Safeguard Pedestrian Crossings on Congress St.
- Create Better Connections Between the JFK/UMass Red Line station and Mt. Vernon Street
- Create a Metro Greenway Network
- Set Modal Share, Pollution Level, Transit Use, and Single Occupancy Reduction Goals
- Increase the Standard Size of Bike Lanes
- Set Aside the Full 10% Allowance of Highway Funds For Transportation Enhancement (TE) Projects
- Require that any Municipality Receiving Chapter 90 Road Funds Must Have a Volunteer Bike/Ped (or a Bike and a Ped) Citizen Advisory Committee
- Expand the T-station Catchment Areas
- Install Bus Priority Technologies
- Improve the Southwest Corridor Intersections
- Pass a “Safe Zones for Vulnerable Populations” Enabling Act
- Allow Municipalities to Install Red Light Control Cameras
This is my list – please suggest others!Read more
Grand visions and long-range analysis have enormous power to frame issues and create an actionable context. But they don’t lead to anything unless operationalized by specific, preferably simple, do-able steps forward. When I’m consulting with organizations on strategic planning I say that they need at least 2 solid action ideas in each of these three categories:
Symbolic – things that may not make a big difference but send key messages.
Quick– technically easy, low cost, very visible, preferably non-controversial and begin to actually change things.
Fundamental – the more complicated and challenging, long-term, but foundational changes that make a significant difference and create a new context for future actions.
So, in an effort to follow my own advice, here is the first of two posts, this week and next, describing concrete actions listed along with the city or state agency most capable of implementing them. This is my list – please suggest others!Read more
It’s New England. It’s February. We’ve had multiple snow storms and the enchantment of the white landscape is getting swamped by the aggravation of shoveling. It’s time to think about safe cycling in winter.
This post contains my thoughts, but it is also an invitation for all of you to add your own insights. We need to begin aggregating what we’ve learned about winter cycling because so many of us are still out there, day after day, even in the worst conditions. What a change from even the recent past! Without studded tires, I tend to avoid bicycling during or immediately after a snow storm, or when it’s raining on still-frozen pavement. Snow makes the world enormously beautiful, but I feel better looking around at it all when I’m on foot. Still, no matter how bad the conditions, I see people bicycling by!Read more
How do we make cycling safer? It will never be perfectly safe – nothing is. And despite all the cultural anxiety about the riskiness of bicycling, there is a lot of evidence that it’s much less dangerous than people think. In any case, the overall health (and environmental) benefits of bicycling so totally outweigh the likely problems that it should be a no brainer choice. Still, safety is always job one. We need to do what we can to make bicycling as safe as reasonably possible. But it turns out that deciding what to do depends on knowing what we want to accomplish – and it turns out that there are several different kinds of safety. The first part of this post explores the different kinds of safety and the types of actions needed to address them. The second explores the open question of the relative safety of riding alone or in a group.Read more
On behalf of LivableStreets Alliance, I have been participating in a 45-person Task Force representing a wide range of interests assembled by MassDOT to make suggestions on the design for the Longfellow deck surface. MassDOT will submit these ideas, along with its own analysis of which should be the “priority alternative,” to the Federal Highway Administration for review. Unfortunately, the bridge is not wide enough to include the entire list of facilities desired by pedestrian, bicyclist, car, and transit advocates – so the challenge is how to best divide up the burden of limited space among the various modes. The following is based on comments I made at the public meeting held near the end of the Task Force process.Read more
Some more thoughts about how to make it safer for cyclists to get through intersections, how we walk/ride on paths, and how to speed bus traffic through congested streets.
IMPROVING INTERSECTION SAFETY — Let Bikes Go When an Early Walk Signal Flashes
GETTING PEOPLE OFF CENTER — Paint Center Lines in Multi-use Paths
THE VEHICLES OF CHOICE – Why Buses and Bikes Are the Only Modes That Will Solve Urban Transportation Problems.
SPEEDING UP THE BUS: PrioritizationRead more
I love it. As the air warms I emerge from my cold-weather focus on commuting as quickly as possible, and start stretching out for glorious long rides through the countryside. I am repeatedly amazed at the beauty of the forests and fields I pass through. And I think about life but also about the interaction of cycling with the world – particularly cars.
- How Should Car Drivers Let Bicyclists Know They’re Coming Up From Behind?
I know I’m supposed to be listening for the motor, but often you simply can’t hear things over the wind and noise. The ones that drive me crazy are the people who wait until they’re right behind me and then honk loudly. I nearly jump off my seat or off the road. Of course, I instantly assume it’s a hostile attack by some idiot – until I steady myself enough to look around and realize it’s just some nervous old lady who thinks she’s being helpful (unless, of course, it actually is some hostile idiot).Read more
The Charles River is one of the defining features of our region. From the time humans first arrived, we have used it for sustenance, pleasure, and travel. While the basin feels like a refuge of nature in the midst of our urban lives, nearly every inch of the river – from the shore to the deepest channel – has been shaped by human activity. The river and the structures around it need to be managed to preserve their value to the life cycle while maximizing their human functionality.
In particular, the bridges over the river can help connect our communities, provide access to the riverbank, and be an aesthetic asset. Or they can make travel difficult, even dangerous, block us off from the river, and serve as walls preventing movement on or beside the water. As the state begins a once-in-a-lifetime process of repairing and improving almost every bridge along the Charles, we need to make sure that it’s done right.Read more
Aren’t we already walkable? We’ve got short blocks and a decent amount of mixed-use development, which encourage using your feet. Nearly 5% of our adult population walks to work, second only to New York. But most of our advantages are the dwindling remains of our colonial and immigrant inheritance – narrow winding streets, buildings fronting the sidewalk, three-decker density, scattered neighborhood business districts. Unfortunately, we have done our best over the past 50 years to catch up with the rest of car-centric America.
It should not be surprising that pedestrian accidents in Boston have jumped by 21 percent since 2006, reaching 776 last year according to police statistics. Fatalities have increased to 20 in 2008 from eight in 2005. Jaywalking is a local sport, and no one feels safe.Read more