No Love For Bicyclists In Charlestown

We were shocked to learn that the bike lanes installed on Main Street in Charlestown just weeks ago were removed last week. Especially when the City of Boston has been doing so much to encourage bicycling and improve bicyclist safety. Apparently, there was some sort of public process snafu. We’ll give the City of Boston the benefit of the doubt that the problem was serious enough to warrant removing the bike lanes immediately rather than resolving the problem another way, but this is a very troubling development. We need government to stand firm on the need for bicycling infrastructure and neighborhoods that encourage biking and walking – even in the face of opposition to change. In this particular case, this is a community’s Main Street (literally), and cyclists want to travel that street and patronize the local businesses safely, just like everyone else. (See our comments to the Charlestown Patch.)

Public participation is critical to the success of all infrastructure projects, not just bike lanes. Neighborhood residents should be fully informed and have the opportunity to comment on infrastructure projects. But just as there should have been public participation in the decision to install bike lanes, once the bike lanes were in, there should also have been a public process to discuss removing them. Because the City went to the trouble and expense of removing the bike lanes, getting them back on Main Street seems unlikely, but local cyclists need to speak up in support of bicycling improvements in Charlestown, particularly cyclists who actually live or work there.

MassBike is reaching out to our members and contacts in Charlestown to urge them to get involved. We’ve also offered our assistance to the City of Boston to help them resolve this situation.

Here are the people you can contact:

Nicole Freedman, the City of Boston’s Director of Bike Programs.

Mike Ross, Boston City Council President.

Salvatore LaMattina, Boston City Councilor for District 1 (includes Charlestown).

Tom Cunha, Chairman of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council.

Your Precinct Representative to the Charlestown Neighborhood Council. Find your Precinct Representative here

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9 Responses to No Love For Bicyclists In Charlestown

  1. Ray December 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    Bikes are not banned from Main Street.
    The “No Bikes” graphic is inappropriate.

    Please point me to any studies that confirm safety benefits or confirm safety losses regarding bike lane presence or absence.

    AFAIK, the safety results are neutral.

  2. Timmy December 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    I actually find most bike lanes (of the kind that was on Main Street) to feel more unsafe than no lanes at all. If there’s not enough room in Boston’s narrow rights of way for a cycle track or the like, then don’t cram us into an unsafe part of the street just for the sake of creating a lane. I ride on Main Street in Charlestown all the time and am frankly happy that lane is gone.

  3. David December 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    We’re not trying to re-ignite the perennial bike lanes good/bad debate. Whether bike lanes increase safety is not the only factor. Bike lanes reserve space for bicyclists (and you can always ride in the travel lane if you prefer). Bike lanes send a message to motorists to look for bicyclists. Many people feel safer riding in bike lanes. And a very large number of people who are interested in bicycling simply don’t want to ride in the travel lane with other traffic, even on narrower roads. We want those people to get out and ride, and bike lanes are one way to do that.

  4. Cat December 8, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    As a former resident of Charlestown (7+ years), I used Main Street as part of my regular bike commute for many years – even after I left. It made sense to create a bike lane, since Main Street is a very wide, and probably the widest in Charlestown. I’ve cited a study in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY for those naysayers, but the main thing is, what an incredible waste of money and manpower only to be gone a few weeks later by a disgruntled few. So glad the City of Boston has money to waste like this. Everyone was unhappy with the cycle lane below, but it turned out to be a good thing – too bad Charlestown couldn’t have waited a couple of months to see that.
    http://transportationnation.org/2010/12/08/nyc-defends-controversial-ppw-bike-lane-with-data/

  5. David Chesler December 8, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    We’re not trying to re-ignite the perennial bike lanes good/bad debate. Whether bike lanes increase safety is not the only factor. Bike lanes reserve space for bicyclists (and you can always ride in the travel lane if you prefer). Bike lanes send a message to motorists to look for bicyclists.

    You’re doing a good job re-igniting.

    You can ride outside the bike lane, but it’s sometimes a ticketable offense.

    Bike lanes send a message to motorists that bicycles aren’t first-class vehicles with the same rights to the roads (other than freeways) as motor vehicles, but that they should be restricted to bike lanes; and they send a message to bicyclists that riding in the regular traffic lanes isn’t safe or proper.

  6. David December 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    It is never an offense in Massachusetts for a bicyclist to ride outside of a bike lane. Bicycles are legally vehicles in Massachusetts and have the right to use the road just like any other vehicle. There is no law that requires bicyclists to use bike lanes, it is the bicyclist’s choice. There are, however, some local ordinances to keep motorists out of bike lanes, such as in Boston.

  7. Ken January 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Misunderstandings about bike lanes seem to be perpetual and so the debate, I guess, is inevitable.

    For my part, I’ve been bicycle commuting into Boston for 30 years and my route (Newton to Boston) has recently seen the addition of bike lane striping from Brighton all the way to my office downtown as well as substantial (and on-going) improvements to the bike path along the Charles. I’m very pleased with the infrastructural improvements. I signal and move out of the bike lane if it doesn’t serve me for any reason and find my commute a much more pleasant ride with the lanes than without. As does my wife, who’s commute from Boston University has also been improved with bike lanes.

    There are no studies or surveys I am aware of that would indicate what changes bike lanes create in driver attitudes and while, I’m not a mind reader, my own experience has been far less driver aggression on the same roads now that they have bike lanes. BTW, for the most part I ride pretty much in the same location on the road with the bike lane as I did w/out- to the far left of the lane but within the stripe- so I don’t feel “crammed into an unsafe part of the road”. And, again, when necessary I have no hesitation to move out of the bike lane but on most of my ride it gives me a clear unimpeded path past traffic.

    I am especially pleased with the left side of the road bike lane that runs on Commonwealth Avenue under Mass Ave to Arlington. I no longer have to contend with the plethora of double parked cars and delivery trucks that forced me to constantly jockey between lanes.

  8. Ken January 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    sorry about large quotations in my post! I attempted to us the xhtml’s tags and obviously failed miserably! ; )

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