Friday, September 28, 2007

Boston bike czar

I know I'm late to this, but a few thoughts on Mayor Menino's latest push to lift Boston from the depths of the bike-friendliness ratings:

  • Great.

  • All the grassroots in the world can't beat the influence of a mayor to get things going. (See also, Chicago.) Fortunately or unfortunately, progress in Boston may end up being more a function of the Mayor's new-found love of biking than all the good work by MassBike and other groups.

  • I hope that Boston takes a coordinated regional approach, recognizing that many of Boston's bikers come from the surrounding cities and towns, which are on a spectrum of bike-friendliness.

  • Matt Viser's report in the Globe is nicely researched and balanced.

  • There's a great opportunity for incremental improvement to be had with bike racks. Every block that has more than 3 bikes locked to meters or fences ought to get a bike rack. (There's another great small opportunity along the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.)

See also this piece in BostonNow, which quotes friend of NS&S Peter Furth.


This is promising

Governor Deval Patrick is going to introduce a comprehensive overhaul of the Commonwealth's transportation policy before Thursday's Turnpike Authority board votes on toll increases.

Not so promising? Patrick is against a gas tax increase and says "user fees" (presumably using a congestion pricing-like automated system) are at least ten years off.

Meanwhile, the Turnpike Authority has scheduled a public hearing about toll changes on October 10 in Newton at 6:00 in the Veterans War Memorial Auditorium at City Hall.


By the reservoir

I'm getting some good feedback to a nascent effort to get some sort of bike accommodations striped on Beacon Street along the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

It seems like an easy and valuable win for the City of Boston.

  • The stretch of Beacon is plenty wide, even near Cleveland Circle where there's resident parking.

  • Along a reservoir is a good place to promote biking.

  • It is a well-used bike commuting route.

  • While a short stretch, it would connect to and extend Brookline's good work on Beacon Street.

  • It would connect BC into Brookline's bike-friendly Beacon.

  • It would nicely tie into Newton's efforts to make Beacon bike-friendlier.

The timing couldn't be more right. Mayor Menino has pledged to improve biking in Boston. The DCR has a project on the boards to improve access to and the paths within the reservation itself. Bike accommodations on Beacon (which is Boston's in that stretch) would be a nice complement. The near completion of the Waterworks construction seems to promise at least a partial repaving effort.


Kids love their cars

She's only one young woman, but Newton South senior Katie Sander's spirited defense of kids driving to Newton South is depressing:

You can take away my soul but don’t take away my car.

Perhaps I’m being a bratty, entitled Newton kid, but driving to school and work has significantly improved my quality of life (and that of my parents, who no longer have to lug me around). And Sean, I am suprised that you’re surprised that high schoolers aren’t bigger proponents of self-propulsion. If anything we’re leading a call for more parking spots.

Ms. Sanders thoughts are in the comments to a TAB blog entry about a student hit by a car in a school crosswalk.

At who's expense comes the improved quality of life? The neighborhoods along her route to school, particularly those close to the school? Her future self who will suffer the effects of climate change? Not to be too dramatic, but the soldiers dying in the Middle East because we want to protect our oil interests? The kid hit by the car?

It's also depressing that school traffic, much of which is unnecessary, is perhaps impossible to regulate, short of some sort of congestion-pricing scheme. So, the only hope is to convince kids and parents to alter their behaviors.

Based on Ms. Sander's comments, it won't be easy.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Take a chance

Is this likelier to encourage or discourage auto use?

From today's Globe. (Cartoon won't be there if you follow the link after a more recent Wasserman cartoon is posted.)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Grossman's and bikes

As reported by the TAB, there is proposed development on Washington Street in Wellesley, right over the Newton border on the former Grossman's site.

One bike/ped hook to the project (and there are sure to be others): Wellesley is looking at the project to provide mitigation funds that might be used to rehabilitate an old bridge on a proposed rail trail. (Search on "Trail Project" for the relevant entry.)

I'm just learning about the rail trail project. It's currently on hold while abutters litigate claims to the rail right-of-way.

Apparently, it would be a great way to get folks to the Riverside T station.

More as I learn more.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Funding imbalance

Next year, the Federal Transportation Agency is going to dole out $42 billion in highway aid v. $1.4 billion in transit aid.

Imagine what would happen if the numbers were switched. Imagine what could be done if transit aid were merely doubled by shifting $1.4 billion from highway.

Figures from a Washington Post article that notes not only the funding discrepancy, but the regulatory hoops that transit projects have to jump through to get federal approval (via Ryan Avent).