MassBike Believes In Bicycle Infrastructure

You may have noticed our recent strong support for bicycle facilities, like bike lanes on the Longfellow Bridge. In the past, MassBike garnered a reputation as an organization that was “finicky” when it comes to bicycle infrastructure. For better or worse, we sometimes got wrapped up in theoretical debates about bicycle facilities that, even if not perfect, were practical solutions to real problems. And our official policies at the time did not give us clear guidance on how to move forward.

Photo by Phillip Barron

But as times change, ideas change. We want everyone to know that MassBike is 100% committed to promoting bicycle infrastructure, even if that means taking some risks on new ideas. Moving forward, we want MassBike to be on the cutting edge of promoting bicycle facilities, so we have adopted a completely new policy on bicycle infrastructure. Drafted by our volunteer Technical Advisory Committee (whose hard work we gratefully acknowledge) and adopted by our Board of Directors, the new policy definitively says “YES!” to bicycle facilities – whether they are traditional, innovative, or even experimental. So while, for the last several years, we have been working hard to turn MassBike into a lean, mean, bicycle facilities promoting machine, we now have it in writing.

You can read our new policy below. This policy will guide our future actions, and support our desire to get more bicycle facilities built and filled with happy bicyclists.

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1. MassBike supports the development of dedicated and semi-dedicated bicycle infrastructure including bike lanes, shared use paths, bike boulevards (local streets prioritized for through bike travel while discouraging through motor vehicle travel), and paved shoulders. Bicycle facilities such as these improve bicyclist safety and comfort, make roads less stressful for bicyclists and motorists, and have proven successful in attracting a larger number and greater diversity of people to riding bicycles. MassBike also encourages the use of innovative bicycle facility treatments that have proven successful elsewhere, and experimentation with innovative facilities designed to improve bicyclist safety and comfort, such as bike boxes, contraflow lanes, colored bike lanes, separated paths or cycle tracks, and marking the bicyclist’s line of travel within shared lanes.

2. Bicycle lanes and paths should form continuous routes and networks. They should not just be applied in pieces where leftover road space is available, or discontinued on approaches to busy intersections that may have added turning lanes. Because intersections are high conflict areas, bicycle safety treatments at intersections are especially encouraged. Example treatments include marking bike lanes through the intersection with dashed lines or color, protected traffic signal phasing, and advanced stop lines or bike boxes.

3. Where bike lanes are implemented, MassBike encourages more generous spacing than the minimum or standard bike lane widths found in national and state design manuals whenever possible. Wider bike lanes, or painted buffers next to the bike lane, improve bicyclist safety by providing greater clearance from parked cars on the right and from moving traffic on the left. Often, the extra roadway space that can make a lot of difference for bicyclist safety can be found by making small reductions in the width of travel lanes and other roadway elements with no impact on motorist safety or road capacity.

4. MassBike supports vigorous adherence to the state’s Bicycle Accommodation Law, which requires that bicycle accommodation such as bike lanes, paved shoulders, or separated paths be included in any project rebuilding a state highway, or paid for with federal or state-controlled funds, unless there isn’t sufficient right-of-way. However, most bicycling takes places on local streets, to which this state law does not usually apply. Therefore, MassBike encourages cities and towns to similarly adopt a policy of providing bicycle accommodation wherever right-of-way permits whenever roads are repaved, altered, or reconstructed, except on low-speed, low-volume streets that bikes can safely share with motor traffic as is.

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24 Responses to MassBike Believes In Bicycle Infrastructure

  1. Bill February 26, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Real people die when you adopt the notion that “I can do no wrong.”
    Dana Laird. Brett Jarolemek. Tracy Sperling. Bryce Lewis. There are many, many more. All were killed by this attitude.
    The English-language summary of a recent Copenhagen study conveeeeeneintly omitted the increases in their fatal accidents associated with their innovative designs.
    Who is expendable to be a loyal soldier in the velorution?
    What’s wrong with insisting on safe practices?
    What is right — or ethical — about dismissing valid safety concerns with a sarcastic remark?
    Why do you think elderly non-English-speaking drivers won’t make mistakes interpreting your innovations?
    Who is on MassBike’s technical committee?

  2. Ken February 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    Very glad to read of this statement of MassBike’s policy on infrastructure. Of course we all know that no infrastructure can make any roadway user completely safe, nor does anyone I know claim that it will. But I am convinced by the research I have seen and by my 40 years of urban biking experience that MassBike’s policy as stated above will improve safety for bicyclists throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. After many years of fighting with ourselves, I hope that the MA bicycling community can finally move forward effectively by speaking and lobbying with a single voice.

  3. Tom Revay February 26, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    I was on the Board of Directors that helped to draft the original policy document in 2001. Before then, there were no clear statements of what MassBike actually favored or rejected.

    Here are the full policies as of Feb 26, 2010, including the above revisions:
    http://www.massbike.org/aboutus/massbike-policies/

    Note that section 5C states, “Bike lanes should not be designed to discourage bicyclists and motorists from following the rules of the road.” Yet that’s exactly what striping lanes through intersections or to the right of right-turning vehicle lanes do when they guide cyclists into lane positions that are not appropriate to their intended destinations. Bike boxes, which have not been shown to make anyone safer, are usually preceded by right-of-right-turn bike lanes, and cyclists who use them still risk right-hook collisions.

    Furthermore, how does one reconcile advocacy of “cycle tracks” with section 6B, that clearly states that sidepaths “should be discouraged in most cases”? Did the unnamed members of the Technical Committee consider these, and other contradictions to their new policies that are embedded in the embellished document? It doesn’t appear so.

    The justifications for the new policies are equally specious, and some of them give me flashbacks to President Obama’s recent statements about criticisms of his proposed health care reform that he says are “just plain false.” For example —

    “Bicycle facilities such as these improve bicyclist safety …” — This statement has not shown by any data whatsoever when compared with simply riding in the road according to ordinary traffic principles. Data have been sought to back-up this claim for more than 35 years, yet there are none, statements to the contrary notwithstanding. There have been pieces of advocacy for certain predetermined points of view, but none of these have held up to any scrutiny. Simply put, nobody has shown that painting stripes makes any cyclist safer than just following the rules.

    ” … comfort, make roads less stressful for bicyclists and motorists …” How has this “comfort” and “less stress” been measured? Heart rate monitors? Blood pressure screenings?

    Cyclists I know who are comfortable and less stressed are those whose experience and education allow them to ride where they want to, when they desire to. If one requires facilities to ride in a comfortable and stress-free manner, then one’s choices of destinations are going to remain very few — or else one will have to tolerate discomfort by avoiding learning how to ride well on ordinary roads!

    “… and have proven successful in attracting a larger number and greater diversity of people to riding bicycles.” — If this is the primary goal, then the best, and probably the only genuine way to make it happen is to make other forms of transport too expensive, too inconvenient, or too humiliating for the bulk of the population to tolerate. Recent increases in regional cycling numbers have much more to do with the sudden rise of gasoline prices in 2008, and these numbers have fallen off as the price fell.

    But in any case, there are plenty of environmental, athletic and “city beautiful” agencies out there who champion a $6 gallon of gasoline. What does that have to do with my commute? Why do I care what other people do to get around, so long as they leave me alone? I’m not here to tell anyone how they should live, and I don’t want anyone telling me that, either, so long as I’m going about my business in a peaceable manner.

    But more than this, I want my bicycling organization to represent my interests, and the interests of cyclists **who are actually riding bicycles** — and is this primary goal not obvious? I want my bicycling organization to focus on making my commute easier, safer, and more expedient. I don’t see AAA advocating because they desire “diversity” in motoring, they advocate because they want *their members* to be able to drive where they want, when they want.

    That’s what I want my ***BICYCLIST*** advocacy organization doing for me. I don’t think we get there by cheering any old thing that’s put on the roadway in the name of “helping bicyclists,” and the old-time chorus that calls on us to agree with them, and join hands and sing “Kumbuya” as one still haven’t been able to demonstrate the validity of their of their claims of safety, comfort or the ultimate and inevitable demise of motoring.

  4. David February 26, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    We are working on updating the policies page Tom refers to. The new policy is intended to supersede the facilities statements in the earlier policies. We will clean up the page as soon as possible to clear up any confusion.

  5. matt February 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    I’m delighted to hear that MB is taking a clearer stand in supporting bike lanes, paths, etc.

    As a newbie bike commuter, I can say rather confidently say that I would *never* have attempted bike commuting if not for the presence of bike lanes and paths (specifically, the Southwest Corridor and Jamaicaway bike paths, and the lanes on Washington St. in Roslindale and Columbus Ave in Boston.

    Otherwise I would simply have been too scared of traffic. Now I ride a 13-15 mile one-way commute.

  6. lynn February 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    i would love to see bike lanes on the prison point bridge. do you know if there are any plans for that? i often take my bike on the orange line to community college then bike over & down memorial drive to kendall square to work. it’s not too bad on the side going toward kendall, although when the tractor trailer trucks come off of 93, they cut close some times. the other side is just plain treacherous. not bike friendly at all. i refuse to go on that side. there’s no protection other than a low wall to the huge drop below. i’m sure there would be a lot more bike commuting from the orange line & charlestown to cambridge if it weren’t for that bridge.

  7. matt February 27, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    lynn: slide 24 of this presentation (http://www.cityofboston.gov/TridionImages/Presentation%20-%20Annual%20Summary%202009_tcm1-4786.pdf) will give you a sense of where the bike lanes currently are and what will be targeted next.

  8. Tom Revay February 28, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Matt wrote:
    “I’m delighted to hear that MB is taking a clearer stand in supporting bike lanes, paths, etc.”

    MassBike’s policies on these facilities were clear before now. What we said was, “If you build them, make them *good*.”

    We said, door zone bike lanes guide cyclists into dangerous positions in the roadway, and therefore, bike lane should not be striped in door zones.

    We said, sidepaths are often created as excuses to avoid improving parallel roads for bicyclists, and they can encourage harassment of cyclists who use these parallel roadways, even though it is clearly our right to do so. Therefore, we want the parallel roads improved *before* sidepaths are built.

    These standards were not created to eliminate bicycle facilities. They were created to ensure that what was built was safe to use and efficient for cycling.

    By sweeping away these simple standards, MassBike has now said that they are willing to endorse any old thing, regardless of whether it serves cyclists, or not. In doing this, they have also made specific claims of safety that they cannot justify by any scientific data or by any standards of engineering.

    I’m glad you feel more comfortable riding your bike, and I am glad you find cycling a good way to get to work. But what good is it to you, or to me, if the organization that claims to work on our behalf chooses to abandon any standards of safety or efficacy for cyclists for these facilities?

    We’ve got plenty of opposition out there towards getting bicycling accepted as a safe and efficient way to get around. Plenty of folks are just as happy to have crap bike facilities built as an excuse to get us out of their way on the roads.

    If MassBike is suddenly unwilling to stand up and say, “We deserve FIRST RATE bicycle facilities,” then who is? Tell me, and I will join them.

  9. Steven E. Miller March 1, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    Congratulations to MassBike on its new policy. “Effective Cycling” was extremely important back when adult bicycling was on the verge of disappearance in this country, the Interstate prohibition on pedestrians and bicyclists was threatening to spread to all public roads, the car was considered the only transportation vehicle worth considering, and the suburbs were believed to be on the verge of entirely replacing cities. Effective Cycling still has a lot to teach us about the skills needed to bike safely on the “incomplete streets” that most of us still have to use most of the time. But those conditions – and Effective Cycling itself – imply that bicycling should (and, in reality, will) be confined to a small number of physically fit, mostly young, overwhelmingly white male, and risk-enjoying elite riders who can handle those conditions. Today, those of us motivated by environmental, energy, livable community, public health, and other concerns as well as love of cycling realize that we need to make bicycling a mainstream activity, welcoming to a much broader spectrum of people with a broader range of athletic ability, bicycling skills, and risk-tolerance.

  10. JonT March 1, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Steven E. Miller: “But those conditions – and Effective Cycling itself – imply that bicycling should (and, in reality, will) be confined to a small number of physically fit, mostly young, overwhelmingly white male, and risk-enjoying elite riders who can handle those conditions.”

    I strongly disagree with such racial and gender stereotyping. By temperament, I tend to be risk-averse, and as a husband and father, I have become more so. My increased bicycle commuting has made me more physically fit than I used to be, but I’m certainly by no means an athlete. I think I can now count as officially middle-aged. I don’t know whether I count as white — though certainly white-supremicists wouldn’t consider me to be so. So the only part of your above stereotype that I unquestionably fit into is male.

    Nevertheless, I ride with traffic and and avoid the more dangerous forms of bike lines BECAUSE I am risk-averse. I know that I don’t have the fast reflexes and athleticism to dodge suddenly-opening car doors, so I always make sure to ride a safe distance from parked cars, whether or not that puts me outside of the bike lane. Because I don’t want to take chances, I follow traffic laws and follow predictable paths, to minimize the chance of collision.

    I am not opposed to bike facilities on principle. But like Tom above, I think a bike advocacy organization’s role in such discussions is to make sure that when such facilities are built, that they be designed to be safe for cyclists, not just that they look safe to the inexperienced. Getting more people out there is not going to help in the long run if we build facilities that seem safe at first glance but wind up causing more collisions than they prevent. Eventually, people will decide that since they or their friends got into crashes even on a supposedly safe facility, that cycling must be really dangerous, and give it up.

  11. Paul Schimek March 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Steve M, did you ever attend a bicycle training class (such as MassBike’s Traffic Skills 101)? Please know of what you speak before spewing lies. I have taught 100s of students in effective cycling over the years, more than 60% female, ages 13 to 72 years, and not one Olympic material.
    Please be aware that I am also risk-averse, enough so that I am willing to risk arrest before cycling on your “cycle tracks.” (I have been threatened once already, in Cambridge.)
    Are you disavowing MassBike’s education program, which is based on effective cycling?
    Are you really suggesting that once we have “complete streets” we will no longer need to have cyclist education?

  12. Shane March 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    We realize that this is a topic that many people feel passionate about, I just want to take a moment to point out our Comment Policy.

    I would encourage you all to read it before continuing this conversation.

  13. Peter Furth March 2, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Hoorah to MassBike for taking an unequivocal stand in favor of bike lanes, bike paths, and other bicycle route facilities.

    This new policy finally echoes the sentiment of the vast majority of people, and bicyclists, that the status quo (the streets as they are) is NOT an acceptable alternative. The old policies cited in an earlier post, which favored bike facilities only if they were perfect and in complete harmony with vehicular cycling principles, in effect made MassBike the state’s #1 voice in favor of the status quo and against bike facilities. To the highway establishment that didn’t want to spend a dime or an inch of road space on bikes, the old tune from MassBike, that “bike facilities can be good, BUT …” was music to their ears. Thankfully, that music has stopped.

    What would happen if a city went ahead and built separated bike paths (sidepaths) along roads, not heeding the warning that they must be inherently dangerous? You don’t have to imagine; you can just go to Montreal and see. Immune from anti-sidepath propaganda prevalent in the US, Montreal went ahead and built a network of separated bike paths in the period 1985-1991. I went there recently looking for all the extra cemeteries they must have needed for all the bicyclists lured to their death by these supposedly dangerous paths. Didn’t find any. Instead, I found a junction where 8,000 bicyclists per day pass by on the north-south bike path, while another 6,000 per day pass on the east-west path — levels of bike use several times greater than we see in Boston. Montrealers love it; in 2007 they embarked on a new plan to double their bike path network.

    Finally, bike committees and advocacy organizations in cities & towns around the state who are trying to promote bike lanes and paths have a powerful statewide ally. This promises a bright future for Massachusetts bicycling. Bravo!

  14. Tom Revay March 2, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Peter — just as I informed readers that I helped to create the earlier, and very practical policy, they should also be told that you’ve been instrumental in creating the new “we like everything!” statement. It’s not as though either of us are disinterested reporters.

    And the earlier policy didn’t say that a facility had to be perfect. But it did say that we shouldn’t advocate for door zone bike lanes, and that we should fix the parallel roads before we install sidepaths, lest the sidepath be used as an excuse to exclude cyclists from the public roadway. The claim that we insisted on “perfection” is thus a perfect straw man.

    Finally, I am aware that you categorically ignore without refuting the bicycle crash data that bear negatively on the facilities that you champion. That’s okay, you’re entitled to your opinion, as am I. But to call the lot of it “propaganda” is hogwash. Your facilities aren’t justified by more than anecdotes, such as the ones you’ve cited. So will the real propagandist please stand up?

  15. JJ March 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    I completely agree with Peter Furth. The old policy of “perfect or nothing” did more harm than good. Tom Revay argues that saying that is a gross simplification, and that may be the case….but it’s the message I and others were getting from massbike. Every time I went to a public meeting and heard someone say “Id rather there be no bike lane if all you can offer is a 3 foot one” made me very angry. The city wasn’t about to say “oh, I guess well give you a 5 foot lane then” they’d say “well, clearly we should save some paint”.

    I believe that the biggest improvement to cyclist safety is the safety in numbers idea, which has substantial data to back it up. So even a door zone bike lane is good if it means more people will bike. If more people are biking, even in the door zone, motorists will be more careful opening doors.

    A great example is Kenmore square. Honestly, the bike lanes they painted along the edge suck. Theyre 100% door zone, and larger cars dont fully fit in the parking area. But they’ve been there over a year and I haven’t read of a single dooring incident. And as someone who walks through Kenmore square 5 times a week, and have been doing so for 5 years, it’s extremely obvious that the number of people biking in kenmore square has gone up drastically. I think it’s safe to say that the presence of bikes lanes, even door zone bike lanes, have encouraged them to hop on bikes.

    I’m all for separated bike lanes, like they’re putting in all over new york city. I’d love to see that in Boston. But a door zone bike lane on one road doesn’t reduce the ability of the city to create a better facility on another road. On the contrary, with more people biking, there’s more demand to make radical changes.

  16. Tom Revay March 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    JJ wrote:
    ————
    I believe that the biggest improvement to cyclist safety is the safety in numbers idea, which has substantial data to back it up. So even a door zone bike lane is good if it means more people will bike. If more people are biking, even in the door zone, motorists will be more careful opening doors.
    ————

    The “safety in numbers idea” is something that the bike facilities zealots have championed in recent years. This has happened after they’ve stopped making specific claims for creating safety with their devices (ignoring those made but not validated by the original blog posting above)

    This argument has come since people like me have decided not to be shouted down, and instead, have challenged the FZs to demonstrate how their cherished facilities actually improve safety.

    Unable to make a case for them, they’ve resorted to statistically-based claims that crash rates — not necessarily crash numbers — go down as the number of cyclists increases in a given area. This claim ignores confounding factors, notably, but not limited to the fact that they’re working with two different populations. Indeed, they hasten to point out that the “risk averse” come to their facilities once they’re built — thereby implying that those who rode before the nirvana of bikeways arrived must be made of different stuff. Is it unreasonable, then, to point out that they’re comparing pommes de terre to apples, and expecting to get applesauce when we mix them?

    But here’s a simple question for you, JJ: are you willing to give your safety over to the now enlightened motorists of Kenmore Square and elsewhere, and declare that you will ride close to car doors because you’re *absolutely certain* that the good persons within these vehicles will grant you your safe passage? Remember, these are the same people who scream at us to get out of “their roads,” who complain that we aren’t licensed (which I am) and don’t pay taxes (which I do), and who need to understand that the “roads weren’t made for bicycles” — even though most of the streets I ride on in this area predate the automobile by anywhere from 50 to 300 years.

    I won’t. And I will continue to advise cyclists like you to ride at least four feet from car doors — a distance that will put you and other such cyclists at least partly outside most bike lanes. (But of course, I’ll ride at this distance whether or not there’s a bike lane, and I’ll suggest you do the same.)

    If you think my advice to stay away from car doors is appropriate, why would you support creating a bicycle facility that says, clearly, “RIDE HERE, NEWBIES!”?

    The logic of the “safety in numbers idea” declares those who do so expendable, in the greater good of increasing the numbers of cyclists — assuming these things really do that, which is also subject to question.

    I call that program, “Pickett’s Charge Bicycle Advocacy.” Sure, some innocents may fall — says this program — but think of the greater good, dear friends! Why, if we only try hard enough, the bright, new, healthy, car-free, low polltion world will be ours!

    And I’ve heard this chorus I’ve since 1982, the year I dumped the T and started riding my Miyata 310 in Boston.

    Ultimately, the “safety in numbers idea” is perhaps the most cynical argument the facilities zealots have ever come up with. It needs to be seen for what it is. And no responsible person should advise bicyclists to ride at anything above walking speed if they’re within four feet of a parked car.

  17. matt March 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm #


    We said, door zone bike lanes guide cyclists into dangerous positions in the roadway, and therefore, bike lane should not be striped in door zones.

    Tom, I’d like to make sure that I understand what you’re saying here. Are you suggesting that bike lanes (even of the mandated 5-foot width) should not be striped next to on-street parking?

    If I’ve understood — and perhaps I haven’t — then this would suggest that the bike lanes on Washington St. from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills ought not to have been installed.

    I’m not sure I see the rationale. If I ride in the left-hand part of the bike lane, I’m pretty much out of the door zone (except perhaps for old coupes with those *really* long doors). Without the bike lane, I would feel the need to “take the lane” most of the way, which would seem impractical given how quickly the traffic moves there (and I am not one of these 20mph+ commuters).

    That said, I do agree that bike lanes as often striped may encourage newbies like me to hug the right-hand side of the lane. I would like to see some alternative designs that discourage this, such as making the right-hand line a foot thick or painting diagonal “door lines” where doors would open.

  18. Ray March 5, 2010 at 12:33 am #

    This sort of thing is why I’m longer a MassBike member.
    Loved the police training, loved the work on the cyclist’s bill of rights, but you’ve lost me here and since there’s more than enough
    movement for facilities from outside the cycling community, I figure I’ll support cycling in another way.

  19. Mark March 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Go Massbike! I agree completely with Peter Furth’s assessment of the situation. For every effective cyclists who quits MassBike, you’ll gain an army of new members as more bike infrastructure is built.

    I had given up on Massbike due to the rabid effective cyclist contingent. Now I’m excited about the possibilities.

    In case the effective cyclists missed it, the LAB has now seen the light too:

    http://www.bicyclefriendlycommunity.org/Images/smart_cycling_and_bike_lanes.pdf

  20. Peter Cole March 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    This is encouraging news. I have ridden the streets of Boston and Cambridge since the 60’s. I have raised 2 children to ride them, also. I have never had a cycling accident, despite 10’s of thousands of miles in the saddle. I think I’m a competent cyclist.

    Up until now, I have seen no progress in urban cycling here in 40 years. I understand “vehicular cycling”. I have read “Effective Cycling”. I have read the studies and the white papers. I have engaged in many arguments on the Internet. I think I’m a well informed cyclist.

    I let my MassBike membership lapse many years ago. I saw no reason to support an organization that I felt worked against my interests. I firmly support bicycle facilities. I even more firmly support traffic calming and reduction of automobile facilities in densely settled areas. I won’t bother with a reprise of the arguments, the positions are well established, I won’t add anything new.

    Vehicular/Effective cycling is an experiment that has been tried and failed — like Reaganomics. Time to move on. I’m sure that there will be many alternate un-facilitated routes available for the foreseeable future, more than enough to accommodate the faithful. Don’t worry about the rest of us, we’ll be fine.

  21. Dan March 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    Glad MassBike clarified their position on this. Literally one day earlier I had a discussion with some friends of mine who were still of the belief that MassBike’s position was ambiguous and split on this issue.

    You can FEEL the difference in biker awareness from motorists in cities like Cambridge that have had bike infrastructure in place for awhile vs. those that haven’t such as Somerville. I live in Somerville and am fairly confident in my ability to read tea leaves to figure out what motorists are about to do… but if I were a less experienced biker there is no way I would begin riding amongst that sort of adversity.

    Bike infrastructure breeds ridership and ridership and clear boundaries breed biker awareness on the roads. From there GOOD ridership can be emphasized but it matters not if you’re riding as you ought to and every other driver blindsides you because they do not expect your presence.

  22. Paul Schimek March 17, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    If only we had two-way urban bike paths between parked cars and the curb like in Montreal, we would think we were in heaven. But don’t take my word for it, here is a description of one Montreal bicycle blogger:

    —————————-
    For some strange, possibly insane, reason we took the Rachel street bike path last night.

    This path is insane, and insanely dangerous.

    It crosses many side-streets, is next to a sidewalk full of people who step off on to the bike path frequently without looking, is full of aggressive and not-traffic-law-obeying cyclists who pass with no bell-ringing or even space to pass, has roller bladers going side by side blocking the whole path, has dogs, kids, and a line of parked cars making cyclists invisible to the passing (and turning!) cars. There’s probably a few more ways to die on this path that I didn’t notice, but I was only there for ten minutes.

    Basically this path is a nightmare.

    http://cyclingfunmontreal.blogspot.com/2008/05/rachel-street-and-lachine-canal-unsafe.html

  23. Ken Cheeseman April 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    I have to agree with Peter Cole’s post completely. As an avid, year round, cyclist with over 40 years of bike commuting, racing, touring and recreational riding in the Boston area I long ago grew tired of the “vehicular/effective cycling arguments” and moved away from advocacy groups and club riding for that reason. I feel that debate stymied the growth of cycling as a more mainstream acceptable means of transportation- and I am a very capable road rider with 100’s of thousands of miles of riding on the roads.

    The vehicular crowd held cycling in it’s grip and minimal growth has occurred since the 1970’s. I have also lived and ridden in NYC since the 1980’s and it’s been amazing to watch as infrastructure has completely changed the cycling environment in that city. The same friends, who 20 years ago used to call me insane for riding in the city, are now every day cyclists and all of them attribute the West Side Bike path and bike lanes for their change of heart. And the NYC infrastructure is by no means “perfect” but bicycling related deaths and injuries have not skyrocketed with the increase in cyclists.

    I agree with those that say that with the loss of every strict vehicular cyclist/infrastructure naysayer MassBike can expect an increase in membership. I, for one, am only too happy to support these new, more open minded efforts to support infrastructure.

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