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Old 08-07-2009, 09:47 AM   #81
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Re: Biking in Boston

Boston Globe - August 7, 2009
Quote:
Boston?s unruly riders
Rule-breakers challenge city?s bike-friendliness


By David Filipov, Globe Staff | August 7, 2009

Boston has launched a high-profile campaign to become a friendlier city for cyclists. Now the question is whether bicyclists will become friendlier to Boston.

On any hour of any day, Boston bicyclists routinely run red lights, ride the wrong way on one-way streets, zip along sidewalks, and cut off pedestrians crossing streets legally - even though bike riders are supposed to obey the same traffic laws as motorists. Sometimes, a bicyclist will do all of these things in one two-wheeled swoop. The city seems unable to stop it.

This week, reporters watching from intersections in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South Boston, and downtown saw dozens of cyclists violate traffic laws. Regardless of the time of day, regardless of the congestion, each location displayed a free-for-all of cycling carelessness. Crowded sidewalks became de facto bike paths. ?Do not enter?? signs did not apply. Red lights were treated as suggestions.

Even Boston bicyclists? strongest advocate expressed surprise at the frequency of violations.

?We have aggressive road conditions,?? observed Nicole Freedman, the city?s director of bicycle programs, who pointed and exclaimed Wednesday at rush hour as scofflaw cyclists rode roughshod over the rules at Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street. ?The bikers are bad, the pedestrians are bad, and so are the drivers.??

At that particular intersection, 12 out of 28 cyclists were observed ignoring the red light over the course of 45 minutes. Some cruised right through; others paused and then went forward. A dozen more rode along the narrow sidewalk, weaving their ways among joggers, people walking to work, and students toting instruments toward the Berklee College of Music. Four more cyclists rode the wrong way on Newbury Street, dodging oncoming vehicles.

No one got a ticket. Bicyclists, unlike motorists, rarely do, according to police.

That explains the impunity many cyclists apparently feel as they pedal along sidewalks and cruise through stop signs. ?Bikers who run red lights do not feel that they will be caught,?? Freedman said. After she said this, she pointed at a cyclist who zigzagged from sidewalk to roadside before running a red light.

In a refrain that is familiar to anyone who has talked to Boston motorists, errant cyclists say that because everyone else is so aggressive, they have no choice but to break the rules.

?I try to get off the road as much as I can,?? said Josh Tolkof, who was biking the wrong way on Newbury Street. ?The cars don?t watch out for you; you gotta watch out for them.??

So what about going the wrong way?

?That half a block is what I usually do, that?s about all,?? Tolkof said, shrugging.

Drivers routinely ignore and cut off cyclists, open doors in their paths, and otherwise disregard bicycles, causing some cyclists to ignore the rules of the road.

?They end up giving no quarter because they get no quarter,?? said Jeff Bradford, a frequent cyclist who was walking along Huntington Avenue in a yellow helmet and a matching weatherproof jacket. ?I think the general lack of respect and enforcement aggravates the situation.??

Bradford has faced that disrespect head on - literally. He recalled biking across the Massachusetts Avenue bridge when a cyclist going the wrong way collided with him, knocking him to the ground and injuring his shoulder.

On Wednesday, over the course of 40 minutes, 20 cyclists ran the light at Charles and Beacon streets; only one did not. Monday morning, over the course of 35 minutes at Copley Square, 12 cyclists sailed through red lights (five waited for green). Monday, during a half-hour at lunch time, 10 out of 23 cyclists ran the red light on Tremont Street at the beginning of Beacon Street, where tourists commingled with hurried business people. Ten more rode the wrong way on Tremont. Dozens more took the sidewalk, scattering walkers.

And then there was the guy who went the wrong way on Tremont, crossed Beacon, did a u-turn, ran a red light, cut off pedestrians crossing legally, then rode away on the sidewalk.

None of the bicycling violations observed this week resulted in accidents. None of the cyclists were ticketed.

Rosa Carson, program coordinator at the advocacy group WalkBoston, said the planning of Boston?s streets, which gives preeminence to motor vehicles, can put cyclists and pedestrians in trouble - and in conflict.

?Just as cyclists are relatively invisible to motorists, pedestrians are often invisible to cyclists, and it can certainly be a problem,?? she wrote in an e-mail. ?I certainly do not want to be run down by any vehicle - motorized or not! - when I?m crossing the street. The only time I don?t mind seeing bikes on sidewalks is when the cyclist is a little kid.??

Making the city better for cyclists, Freedman said, will create more awareness between drivers and cyclists for each other - and pedestrians. Boston is planning miles of bike lanes, and considering a citywide bike-sharing program that would allow anyone with a credit card to rent a bike the way Zipcar members can rent a car.

At the moment, she said, the cyclists who ride in Boston are ?the most competent and aggressive.??

?As cycling becomes more mainstream, you have people who are much more law-abiding, much safer and you see the general behavior gets much better,?? she said.

David Watson, executive director of the statewide advocacy group the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, said focusing on the cyclists? violations misses the point.

?A lot of the behavior you see is people who believe what they?re doing is safer for them,?? he said. ?Everybody?s trying to get wherever they?re going in one piece, whether you?re driving or riding a bike.??

Watson?s group is planning to conduct a survey of bicyclists and motorists to see what people know about the rules, and why they drive or ride the way they do.

?Everybody is making a lot of assumptions about why people do what they do,?? Watson said. ?But no one really knows.

A man who rode on the sidewalk along Massachusetts Avenue Wednesday morning knew why he was doing it. He felt safer, sure. But he also felt a sense of impunity.

?There are no bike lanes here,?? said the man, who called himself a recent Boston University graduate. ?If I?m driving on the street I?m kind of squished.??

?I always run red lights, too,?? he said. ?The cops don?t care.??

He did not give his name.

David Filipov can be reached at filipov@globe.com.
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:05 AM   #82
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Re: Biking in Boston

Well someone could get all the Critical Mass(holes) on a narrow bridge and run them into a river like Illinois Nazis. But the state already spent so much money over the years cleaning up our riparian environments.

This article also suggests sidewalk riding is illegal, which isn't true outside of central business districts or areas with marked bicycle lanes.
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:40 AM   #83
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Re: Biking in Boston

I used to bike down Mass Ave from Harvard Square to the Pru every day. Passing 5 crowded #1 buses was one of my great joys. Nearly getting rammed into the curb by them rather often was not so much of a highlight.

Of course if I had obeyed traffic laws, stopped at red lights, not woven around stopped vehicles and so forth, I might have had much fewer near-death experiences - but I would have passed maybe only two or three crowded #1 buses, hardly as much sense of accomplishment.

Let's not discuss how my breaks barely worked and how my gears routinely got stuck.

Thankfully my clunker of a bike was stolen a few weeks ago off a quiet street in Brookline (incidentally, my much more expensive and new scooter was stolen in Brookline last year too). In any case, I feel relieved that I am now saved from myself.
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:30 AM   #84
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Re: Biking in Boston

Oh my gosh, is it true? People don't obey all the traffic laws? In Boston? Since when?!

I encourage the reporter to stand at the same intersection and note the following:
* How many motorists run red lights?
* How many motorists changes lanes or turn without signaling?
* How many pedestrians cross when it says "Don't Walk"?

I agree with the quotes in that article that bike lanes will help. As someone who travels by bike in Boston (as well as by foot and by T), I can attest that being at the front of a line of cars at a red light isn't so fun when the light turns green, because you know everyone behind you is waiting for you and will probably want to pass you. Hence why many bicyclists stop, look, and then go when it's clear before the light turns green, so they can get ahead of the motorists. When there is a bike lane, when the light turns green, the bicyclists can start up at their own pace and the motorists can as well. It's simply a lot less stressful for everyone.
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:54 AM   #85
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Re: Biking in Boston

After watching how bikers operate in NY, Boston and in Europe I have to say the root cause is one of culture. Reading that article you could have taken out "Boston" and replaced it with pretty much any American city. Bikers in American cities bike like that because they feel that they have to, which then creates a biking culture that doesn't obey street laws, which then makes people hate bikers, which makes it more dangerous for bikers. It is a downward spiral.

In Europe more people bike but also more people follow the rules. We could install all the bike infrastructure we want (which we should) but what we need to do more is get serious with EVERYONE who uses the roads, motorists, truckers, bus drivers AND bikers.
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:40 AM   #86
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Re: Biking in Boston

Quote:
August 9, 2009
Boston Tries to Shed Longtime Reputation as Cyclists? Minefield
By KATIE ZEZIMA


BOSTON ? In a city known for its aggressive drivers, flummoxing street layout, confusing rotaries and overall rudeness on the road, what is a cyclist to do?

Start pedaling, some say.

Boston, long known as a minefield for bicycle riders, is feverishly working to shed that reputation by creating bike lanes, installing bike racks, restoring bike paths and urging residents to switch from horsepower to pedal power. Plans to link the city?s existing bike paths and create a bike-share program are also in the works. One already exists for city employees.

?The grand plan is to change the culture, which is an incredible task,? said Nicole Freedman, a former Olympic cyclist who was hired as the city?s ?bike czar? in 2007.

This is not the first time Boston ? which offers a stark contrast to its bicycle-friendly neighbor, Cambridge ? has tried to be more accommodating to cyclists. The city government hired a bike consultant in the late 1990s, only to eliminate the position two years later. The move was cited by Bicycling Magazine, which named Boston one of the nation?s ?Worst Biking Cities? three times from 1999 to 2006.

But about four years ago, Mayor Thomas M. Menino got on a bike for the first time in decades. He was quickly hooked, and decided to share his new hobby with the masses. In 2005, Mr. Menino started Hub on Wheels, an annual cycling event, and vowed to make Boston a biking destination.

?We want to encourage people to ride in the city,? said Mr. Menino, who rides a Globe hybrid bicycle for about 50 minutes around his neighborhood each morning, starting at 5 a.m.

The first step, Ms. Freedman said, was to attract recreational cyclists who were nervous about riding on city streets and to solicit ideas from the city?s cycling community. The city surveyed residents to find the neighborhoods where many bicycle riders live (Jamaica Plain had the most in the survey) and had engineers look at city streets to see where bike lanes or protected bike areas would work.

Even some of Boston?s largest streets barely make the 40-foot width necessary to include a bike lane, so the city must experiment with different types of bike accommodations, including shared bus and bike lanes and protected bike lanes.

Since 2007, the city has installed four miles of bike lanes, with plans for an additional five to 10 more miles by the end of this year. Also by year?s end, there will be 500 new bike racks scattered throughout Boston. The city also plans to work with the State Department of Conservation and Recreation to repave trails along the Charles River and to link them to the Emerald Necklace area, completing Frederick Law Olmsted?s view of an integrated park system.

?We firmly believe if you provide a really safe, healthy environment, people will bike,? Ms. Freedman said. The city is also establishing educational programs on bike riding and bike safety.

City and state officials are also backing up their efforts to turn Boston into a bike-friendly city with a crackdown on bad behavior against cyclists. The legislature recently passed a law holding drivers liable if they open a car door in the path of an approaching cyclist and injure a cyclist. And the City Council is considering a fine for motorists who park in bike lanes. There are few legal penalties ? at least so far ? for cyclists who ride recklessly and do not obey traffic signals. But Ms. Freedman said city officials hoped more bike lanes would lead to more riders? and drivers? following the rules.

?Bike lanes will give cyclists a legitimate place to be, and behavior will improve,? she said.

On a recent Tuesday morning, Ms. Freedman rode in a newly installed bike lane from Kenmore Square part of the way up Commonwealth Avenue, through the Boston University campus. The ride was smooth and problem-free until the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Carlton Street, a notorious choke point for drivers looking to get onto Storrow Drive or the Boston University Bridge, which leads to Cambridge.

The traffic was thick. The bike riders were stopping and starting. Many just got out of the bike lane and rode on the sidewalk. A sign is needed, Ms. Freedman said, to get cyclists to loop around a side street to avoid the traffic.

?Do we have problems? Yes,? Mr. Menino said. ?We?re an older city. Most of our roads were cow paths.?

David Watson, executive director of MassBike, an advocacy organization, said change in Boston, particularly in the number of miles of bike lanes put in each year, is slow compared with improvements in other cities. ?I think on balance we?re moving in a positive direction,? Mr. Watson said. ?During my commute in peak travel times, I?m running into bike traffic jams that are stacking up six to eight deep at lights, and that?s something three years ago I was never seeing.?

But some of the changes are lost on riders like Eric Fernald, 49, a researcher from Belmont, Mass., who rides to his office each day.

?I don?t see any bike racks,? said Mr. Fernald, who rides along the Charles River and tries to cycle on as few city streets as possible during his commute to an office near South Station, preferring to ride through Boston Common, which has no traffic. ?Since I know of no bike-friendly roads, I try to avoid them completely.?

Chris Ditunno, who founded Allston-Brighton Bikes, a community organization, and who sits on the mayor?s Bicycle Advisory Committee, said that while some in the biking community are reserving judgment on the changes for now, others are thrilled at the new focus on biking.

?I think with Nicole?s arrival there?s a new energy and infusion of effort to make a really wonderful improvement and really change things around,? Mr. Ditunno said of Ms. Freedman.

Even Bicycling Magazine is cutting Boston some slack, putting it on last year?s ?Five for the Future? list.

?They?re coming from a more holistic standpoint,? said Loren Mooney, the magazine?s editor in chief. ?The lines of communication are open, and they?re working more closely with advocacy groups. But instead of thinking of just serious cyclists, they?re going at it for improving life for everybody, and that?s a critical change.?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/us...ml?_r=1&ref=us
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:14 AM   #87
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Re: Biking in Boston

This is getting exciting!

http://www.boston.com/news/local/bre..._selected.html

Vendor selected for Boston area bike-sharing program

Email|Link|Comments (34) August 12, 2009 12:42 PM
By Matt Collette, Globe Correspondent

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council announced today it had selected a vendor for a bike-sharing program that will allow Bostonians to borrow bikes for short trips around the city as soon as next summer, officials said.

A Canadian company, the Public Bike System Company, was selected to bring a network of bike-sharing stations to Boston, and plans to expand the system into Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline shortly afterward. Each city still has to finalize contracts with the company before the program can begin, said Amanda Linehan, a MAPC spokeswoman.

?This will make it easier for people to use bikes to do errands, to attend meetings during work hours, and to visit friends,? Marc Draisen, executive director of MAPC, said in a statement. ?It will take cars off the road and improve our air quality. The Public Bike System Company already runs a great system in Montreal, and we?re pleased to provide the municipalities the opportunity to enter into a contract with them.?

The Public Bike System Company operates a bike-sharing program, called Bixi, in Montreal. Bikes are stored at stations across the city, and riders scan a credit card to access a bike.

David Watson, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, a statewide advocacy group based in Boston, said the bike-sharing program has the potential to give people a choice over driving or public transportation when it comes to short trips within the city.

"It creates a great opportunity for people who don't identify themselves as bicyclists, and who don't ride in the city, to shift some of their shorter trips from driving to biking," he said.

Watson said he had not used the Bixi program in Montreal, but said he had heard good things about the program, calling it easy to use.

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/gree...ring_proposal/

How Boston's bike-sharing program might work:

The city envisions making available between 1,000 and 3,000 bikes at stations 300 or 400 yards apart, located at subway and bus stops, main squares, tourist sites, and areas across city neighborhoods.

▸ One proposal would offer daily passes costing $2.50 or annual memberships for $40 that would allow for discounts. After the cyclist pays for a pass or membership, the first 30 minutes of any ride would be free, but longer rides would be charged at an hourly rate.

▸ The average bike-share trip is less than 2 miles and 30 minutes long.

▸ Less than 1 percent of Bostonians commute by bike, according to the US Census.

▸ In Lyon, France, which has a bike-sharing program and is similar in size to Boston, 13 percent commute by bike.

▸ According to the International Bicycle Fund, cyclists who begin commuting on average lose 13 pounds in the first year.
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:57 AM   #88
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Re: Biking in Boston

Since 2001 I've lived in Dedham and at least once per week ridden to Wilimington (full time job when not traveling, typically with at least one Commuter rail leg each way, but not always) and once per week to Kendall Square on weekends (part time job).

As others have said, the gratification to cover a certain distance appreciably faster than nubbins busses is outstanding! On a good day with favorable wind, it only takes 40 minutes to get to North Station from my house. If I was to stop at every red light and walk my bike across every intersection, I might as well walk.

Sure it would be 'safer' to do this, but let's beam back to reality for a minute . . . the few people that do commute without a car now (espcecially people who have the option of using a car) will become fewer still if their commute times [without a car] are made substantially longer.

Bottom line, if cars and bikes just pay attention to what they are doing (distracted drivers scare me a lot more than discourteous ones), they can coexist in reasonably safe fashion.
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:14 PM   #89
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Re: Biking in Boston

"▸ One proposal would offer daily passes costing $2.50 or annual memberships for $40 that would allow for discounts. After the cyclist pays for a pass or membership, the first 30 minutes of any ride would be free, but longer rides would be charged at an hourly rate."

I dont think this is in the Bixi proposal, but they may prove me wrong.
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:50 PM   #90
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Re: Biking in Boston

I really wonder how they are going to combat theft. I swear sometimes anything which isn't bolted, well even when it is, to the ground eventually finds itself pilfered in this city.
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:20 PM   #91
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Re: Biking in Boston

The bikes would locked at their stations and the users given locks I reckon....they would probably be required to give their CC info before signing up so that would eliminate loss from user-theft....
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:24 PM   #92
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Re: Biking in Boston

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I really wonder how they are going to combat theft. I swear sometimes anything which isn't bolted, well even when it is, to the ground eventually finds itself pilfered in this city.
Note: The bixi specifics have not been made public yet, these points are general.

Bikes are locked to terminals
To unlock a bike, you must be a member, which requires a credit card. if you steal the bike, you get charged 300-600
Bikes may come with an additional lock for temp use at bike racks

Even so, Bixi SHOULD expect 15-30% of bikes will be stolen or vandalized.
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Old 08-15-2009, 10:06 AM   #93
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Re: Biking in Boston

I'm not worried about renters stealing the bikes. I'm concerned about the bikes being rented and improperly secured by people whom aren't experienced with such things. I wouldn't be apt to rent something, I knew I could be liable for paying the cost of, given a high frequency of theft.
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Old 08-15-2009, 01:18 PM   #94
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Re: Biking in Boston

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I'm not worried about renters stealing the bikes. I'm concerned about the bikes being rented and improperly secured by people whom aren't experienced with such things. I wouldn't be apt to rent something, I knew I could be liable for paying the cost of, given a high frequency of theft.
That was a problem when paris launched, people thought they returned it but didnt lock it properly. As such, most systems are aware that the locking process needs to be extremely obvious.
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:08 PM   #95
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Re: Biking in Boston

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Old 08-24-2009, 04:09 PM   #96
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Re: Biking in Boston

^^ Subliminal ninja alert at 1:12 !!!
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:33 AM   #97
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Re: Biking in Boston


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Forty-two. It takes forty-two Brompton folding bikes to fill a parking space.
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:47 PM   #98
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Re: Biking in Boston

Columbus Avenue now has bike lanes.

Now if only something could be done about coffee house hipsters forsaking personal and the safety of others by riding brake-less fixed gear monstrosities.... and the stroller mafia.... then perhaps my neighborhood could be more complete.
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Old 08-26-2009, 03:40 PM   #99
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Re: Biking in Boston



Street-side solution, Shibuya, April, 2006
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:11 AM   #100
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Re: Biking in Boston

I'm still in awe at how quickly the city added these bike lanes to Columbus Ave. I biked down Columbus from the South End to Ruggles last night and there were 0 stripes heading westbound for bike lanes at about 9:30pm. This morning, I'm looking out my window down the entire stretch and it's completed! And they did the same thing for eastbound lanes two nights ago.

Someone tell me, why hasn't the city accomplished this sooner? I mean, they make it look so easy--why aren't there dozens (if not hundreds) more miles of bike lanes throughout Boston?
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