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Old 05-15-2019, 09:31 PM   #2941
Arlington
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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But... inducing bike trips is a good thing, as it means people are choosing a bike over personal vehicles or transit, or are choosing a healthy activity (which benefits others as well via lower overall health care costs).
Improving access to the GLX itself is a good thing...and a thing that's going to get use 50,000 times a day. Why isn't that the headline: what incremental bits can we squeeze into this project that increase transit use? Like bigger platform shelters and double-ended platform access?

And health benefits? Really? Plant some extra trees for probably 10x the public health benefit per dollar.

Somehow the bike position went from:
1) Build a path alongside (atop retaining walls) where feasible
2) Build a continuous path including flyover bridges
3) Build it wider

We've long since left the "its practically free" to "I want my stuff, regardless of cost or relevance to a transit line"

Why is 10 feet "unsafe"? As far as I can tell it is because cyclists are insisting on the same sort of accommodations that we find ridiculous when motorists make them concerning their commutes: (1) I want to be able to pass (2) I don't want to get stuck behind someone in front of me in the HOV lane (3) I want to go faster, but heavy traffic is slowing me down.

Or, how about that thing we offer to motorists: Organization before Signals before Concrete. Organization is: paint a double yellow and enforce moderate speeds. Signals is a that the whole bridge-over-rails part is rush-restricted: Maybe all 10 feet on the bridge are inbound 6am to 10am and outbound 4pm to 8pm?
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:26 AM   #2942
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

Itís funny that there are detractors to the idea of an ancillary commuter bike path being tacked onto a transportation project, yet no similar anger or concerns expressed toward the Mass Pike viaduct rerouting and the addition of another project (elevating SFR) that will be extremely expensive and have absolutely nothing to do with transportation. Actually, also noting that the SFR project adds a few feet of park where a public park already exists, and the Somerville project actually is adding a whole new path where one did not exist at all. Smh.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:14 AM   #2943
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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Itís funny that there are detractors to the idea of an ancillary commuter bike path being tacked onto a transportation project, yet no similar anger or concerns expressed toward the Mass Pike viaduct rerouting and the addition of another project (elevating SFR) that will be extremely expensive and have absolutely nothing to do with transportation. Actually, also noting that the SFR project adds a few feet of park where a public park already exists, and the Somerville project actually is adding a whole new path where one did not exist at all. Smh.
Elevating SFR is about grounding the highway to save on long-term maintenance. It has nothing to do with the bike path.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:28 AM   #2944
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

I'm sorry, but I just can't take seriously any argument that posits induced cycling demand is a bad thing. It's absurd on the face of things. If we were to validate such thinking, then we would have to argue against all bike infrastructure. People biked before bike lanes, therefore adding bike lanes is induced demand. Yes, yes it is! That was the entire point. The argument is that more cycling is a net positive for society, therefore let's design and build facilities to induce that result.

Now if somebody wants to argue that 10 feet is fine and that 12 or 14 is a cadilac, that's a discussion worth having, which is why I asked yesterday about the widths of some other paths. But to argue we should not do something that encourages more people to bike is just bizarre.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:11 AM   #2945
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

I use the SCP pretty much everyday and since this 10 vs. 12 feet debate has begun, I've started paying closer attention to use.

I'm not convinced 10 feet is going to prevent the extension from being extremely useful/capable of carrying relatively rapid bike/pedestrian traffic. I'd prefer the wider path, but I don't think that a 10 foot path with retaining walls on either side are going to be a big issue. Here's why:

1) I think the retaining walls and physical barriers (fences, etc.) will reduce some of the more leisure activity you see on the narrower sections of the path. The people lounging on benches on the side, the people walking dogs, people going to/from playgrounds, etc. won't be as present on the new segments. To start, even if it's 12 feet, it's still along a rail right of way with retaining wall(s) on the side(s). The current path passes by back yards, parks, playgrounds, and has benches for rest and a lot of space off the side of the path for leisure use. The new section, regardless of the width, won't have that. Pedestrians seeking those uses (parks/green space) will likely leave the path and walk on side streets rather than deal with the gauntlet of bikes/commuters.

2) Bi-directional traffic volume is not even. Yes, the current SCP serves both commuters and leisure users, but during peak times in the morning/evening, traffic flows much more heavily in one direction rather than the other. Things will change a bit when the extension opens and links new stations, but traffic will likely still be skewed heavily in one direction rather than two ways.

3) The placement of multiple stops along the route will decrease congestion along the length of the path. I walk and ride from Lowell St. to Davis. The volume of traffic increases significantly each time I cross a street. At Lowell, I can be nearly the only person on the path (along with a few dog walkers). By the time I cross Willow, it's pretty packed. Having new GL stations at at least three points along the route will induce usage of the path, but the number of stations will prevent congestion over long segments of the path.

4) I think the physical restrictions will force people to make better use of the space. Frankly, I notice pedestrians on the SCP tend to leave a lot of room between the edge of the path. Losing a foot on either side, combined with more bike traffic will force people to be more cognizant of the space. Combined with the fact that you'll likely see fewer dogs on leashes, groups of 3+ walking side-by-side, families with little kids on scooters or training wheels, etc. in the narrower sections, it'll probably be fine.

Again, I'm fully supportive of 12 feet. But I'm not convinced that 10 will be an issue, let alone the disaster some are making it out to be.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:13 AM   #2946
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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I'm sorry, but I just can't take seriously any argument that posits induced cycling demand is a bad thing. It's absurd on the face of things. If we were to validate such thinking, then we would have to argue against all bike infrastructure. People biked before bike lanes, therefore adding bike lanes is induced demand. Yes, yes it is! That was the entire point. The argument is that more cycling is a net positive for society, therefore let's design and build facilities to induce that result.

Now if somebody wants to argue that 10 feet is fine and that 12 or 14 is a cadilac, that's a discussion worth having, which is why I asked yesterday about the widths of some other paths. But to argue we should not do something that encourages more people to bike is just bizarre.
I don't think that's the main point. The main point is this project is meant to extend the Green Line. The bike path is an add on, but it can't become a too expensive add on. Therefore it needs to conform to the widths available to it as part of the overall project.

Beyond that, having lived and walked on the minuteman quite a bit people are waaayyy underestimating the amount of bikers who think its their own personal race track. 10 feet and some traffic calming steps seem like the right way to go here.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:40 AM   #2947
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

I believe the original version of the bike plan was this nice-and-wide path so wide that it even had separated trails for walking and bike with barriers and everything. It even had on ramps and off-ramps.


Of course, it was super expensive. I remember I was even shocked at the per mile cost with a citation of comparing to the bike path of "bike to the sea" trail in Malden/Everett. But in hindsight, I can see the big difference in cost between the version of like just laying 10 feet wide asphalt versus what is essentially the bike version of a fully lit highway.

That version have been pulled back a lot, but I find it perfect reasonable to do it as wide as possible. This argument we shouldn't do it because of "induced demand" I have to agree with everyone that it's a terrible argument. This is why I hate the "induced demand" argument. For cars or for any mode. That's idea is an observation of behavior, but it used as an justification that we should not build or remove capacity.

For any mode, throughput matters, whether the number of lanes in a ride, space in a bike trail, or frequency in a train, more is still better. It's not always good not because it brings more users, but because of things like we want to avoid scope creep, cost, and spatial limitations. If it brings more users, if it pulls cyclist from other street - that's a good thing.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:43 AM   #2948
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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Again, I'm fully supportive of 12 feet. But I'm not convinced that 10 will be an issue, let alone the disaster some are making it out to be.
This section of bike path, along the northern edge of Alewife garage, is probably the best example of my concern. I do not know the actual width here, but I suspect it is 10 feet. It may be smaller, I would be interested if anyone can find out. The point is that it is narrow and constrained on both sides.

This is a terrifying space to share between bikes and pedestrians. Producing miles and miles of this is a very bad idea.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:44 AM   #2949
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

I know HenryAlan mentioned this already, but how wide is the PDW path coming up to the River Street Bridge where there's a railing on both sides?

That is something I'd argue is unsafe to ride on with any volume of 2 way traffic or even much in pedestrians, largely because of the barricades on both sides. Have to ride closer to the middle than you otherwise would, because you'll smack a handlebar or leg against the railings, making for less usable width.

My gut feeling is that it's less than 10' wide, but if anyone knows, it'd probably be useful to this discussion.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:46 AM   #2950
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

^ Great analogy, fattony. The Google Maps "Measure distance" tool (which is far from exact) puts that stretch at 10 feet wide.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:03 AM   #2951
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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This section of bike path, along the northern edge of Alewife garage, is probably the best example of my concern. I do not know the actual width here, but I suspect it is 10 feet. It may be smaller, I would be interested if anyone can find out. The point is that it is narrow and constrained on both sides.

This is a terrifying space to share between bikes and pedestrians. Producing miles and miles of this is a very bad idea.
I'm not familiar with riding or walking on that space, so I'll take your word for it.

It would seem to me that the larger issue is the fact that it's constrained on both sides. Would the 2 extra feet make that much of a difference?
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:10 AM   #2952
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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I'm not familiar with riding or walking on that space, so I'll take your word for it.

It would seem to me that the larger issue is the fact that it's constrained on both sides. Would the 2 extra feet make that much of a difference?
I think the constraints matter a lot. On a typical section of SCP you can put your bicycle tire within inches of the edge of the paving because you have plenty of "elbow room" if you will. When you are constrained on the sides, your shoulders/elbows/knees need to be far enough away from the walls for comfort which puts your bicycle tire a good foot or more from the edge of the path. Riding like that along a wall is a white-knuckle experience, there is no room for error. Now put a fallen twig or rock in your way that tweaks/twists your handlebars just a little.

In essence, I'm proposing that with vertical constraints you loose 1 foot or so on either side, so that 10 feet of constrained path is equivalent to 8 feet or less of unconstrained path.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:12 AM   #2953
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

The point of bike paths is to encourage people to bike more. The point of encouraging people to bike more is (in part) to get them to drive less. Intentionally making bike paths narrower in order to reduce demand will just put people back in their cars, which is the opposite of the point.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:19 AM   #2954
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

Okay, using Google maps distance measurements at several points along the SWC, I'm getting anywhere from 8.5 to 11.5 feet. Acknowledging the retaining wall issue, I'm thinking an 8.5 foot path with soft shoulders is probably similar to a 10 foot path with no shoulders. It's viable, especially if LrFox' observations about usage play out. But I would definitely not try to ride at full speed on such a path.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:21 AM   #2955
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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I think the constraints matter a lot. On a typical section of SCP you can put your bicycle tire within inches of the edge of the paving because you have plenty of "elbow room" if you will. When you are constrained on the sides, your shoulders/elbows/knees need to be far enough away from the walls for comfort which puts your bicycle tire a good foot or more from the edge of the path. Riding like that along a wall is a white-knuckle experience, there is no room for error. Now put a fallen twig or rock in your way that tweaks/twists your handlebars just a little.

In essence, I'm proposing that with vertical constraints you loose 1 foot or so on either side, so that 10 feet of constrained path is equivalent to 8 feet or less of unconstrained path.
So you have to be more respectful of other people and can't just do what you feel like? Again, we're not dealing with open space and a bike path in Kansas. Bikers will, and should, deal with what's available as a result of the larger project. If we're going to jack up the cost by an extra 500M in order to widen the path by 2 feet, then I think bikers should pay extra to help bear the burden of that cost. Perhaps a statewide bike registration fee similar to a car registration?

To be clear, I'm all for building a bike path alongside the extended green line. But at some point we need to draw a line in the sand on cost.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:51 AM   #2956
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

Watch this obsolete video for a sense of what we're (me, anyway) mostly talking about: the mile-long viaduct-and-bridge section.

This 2014 animation shows the "too expensive" version and is not of the current "add on budget"

Even back then there were obvious pinch-points where to make it wider you'd have to put it on some kind of bridge or carve into (and retain) the adjacent hillside. Some of that's been solved, but not all.

The strongest "make it wider" case would be *IF* the previously engineered footings and spans can support a bikeway that's been widened (but concrete and rebar aren't free...making it wider does have a cost, just not as much as making it longer)

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Old 05-16-2019, 11:03 AM   #2957
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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Elevating SFR is about grounding the highway to save on long-term maintenance. It has nothing to do with the bike path.
That's a post hoc justification: as far as I can tell, that was never, ever part of the original plan and only has been added due to the advocacy of people who want a better park (I haven't followed super closely, so I could be wrong, but give me data if I am). Don't get me wrong, I support it, but we can go back to another project (the Casey), where at one point the state claimed it would speed up traffic if they grounded it, which was obviously ridiculous (again, I supported it, but the numbers were just plain silly).

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If we're going to jack up the cost by an extra 500M in order to widen the path by 2 feet, then I think bikers should pay extra to help bear the burden of that cost.
Yeah, maybe the T riders should pay for the extension itself.

I'm assuming the 500M is made up since we have yet to see a cost breakdown of each component. I know this thread is going to go on and on, with everyone levying their opinions, but it's all pointless conjecture until we know each segments' widening cost. Until then, it's just empty statements, ya know?

Either way, the arguments of people who are against this are missing the point, here: this project would connect major, major pieces of bike infrastructure. It's not just a path to nowhere, and in fact would be one of the most important path connections built anywhere in Mass, for that reason. It also sounds like this isn't the kind of project that can be built in such a way so as to allow for revision later, so it's now or never... So if the cost isn't absurdly prohibitive, the state really should find a way to make this happen. If the cost is ridiculous, then so be it, forget it. We need to know the numbers before reaching that conclusion.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:08 AM   #2958
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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I'm sorry, but I just can't take seriously any argument that posits induced cycling demand is a bad thing.... But to argue we should not do something that encourages more people to bike is just bizarre.
That's not my point. Inducing demand is great. Committing to endlessly accommodate it by widening is stupid.

The solution for cars is: get used to behaving differently on I-93 during rush hour than you do at other times--not keep adding lanes so as to maintain free flowing traffic.

The solution for the physically-and-budget-constrained part of the bike path is the same: get used to riding slower and more cautiously during rush hour than you do on that 20mile ride out the Minuteman to Bedfor-wherever--not keep adding width so as to maintain free flowing traffic.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:13 AM   #2959
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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I think the constraints matter a lot. On a typical section of SCP you can put your bicycle tire within inches of the edge of the paving because you have plenty of "elbow room" if you will. When you are constrained on the sides, your shoulders/elbows/knees need to be far enough away from the walls for comfort which puts your bicycle tire a good foot or more from the edge of the path. Riding like that along a wall is a white-knuckle experience, there is no room for error. Now put a fallen twig or rock in your way that tweaks/twists your handlebars just a little.

In essence, I'm proposing that with vertical constraints you loose 1 foot or so on either side, so that 10 feet of constrained path is equivalent to 8 feet or less of unconstrained path.
That's fair.

Again, I agree with you and wish it was 12 feet. And 12 feet of constrained path is still not ideal. I'd love to see a detailed proposal of what they're planning. I'm hoping we can get good with throughout most of it, even if it does mean a few bottlenecks at points.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:19 AM   #2960
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Re: Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

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The point of bike paths is to encourage people to bike more. The point of encouraging people to bike more is (in part) to get them to drive less. Intentionally making bike paths narrower in order to reduce demand will just put people back in their cars, which is the opposite of the point.
"It's so crowded nobody goes there anymore"

Nobody's saying: don't build it. Nobody's saying make it narrower. I *am* saying that just because the thing is going to be a "victim" of its success is not sufficient reason for building it wider (more $$$), it is more like a sign that bike bridges are also subject to diminishing returns and the design goal can't be "it should feel like the Minuteman at midday"

"calming" is a technique which would get a not-any-wider path closer to (1) Vision Zero and (2) its maximum capacity (a safe steady parade of bikes moving at moderate speed, rather than disparate-speed mixing)

Bike advocates are saying "make it wider"
Engineers are saying "this is what we can afford in-budget"

As seen in the video above there are two kinds of sections:
- Close-to-station "local' segments where pedestrians naturally dominate
- Long "expressway" sections where bikes will naturally dominate, but where cyclists should accommodate their riding style to the infrastructure we can afford, because at some point any gloriously-wide capacity at rush hour is going to be "so crowded nobody goes there" and need to be used differently, and that there's a limit to what we can afford.
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