Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Biker down on Beacon Street

Update: My understanding was that the woman had been hit, but a commenter says that it looks like equipment failure and not a collision. The pavement is awfully rough through the intersection, and the bike lane, unfortunately, channels bikes through the worst of it.

This broken bike sat quietly amid the sirens and flashing lights of an ambulance, fire trucks, and police cruisers. The bike and its owner were hit at the corner of Beacon Street and St. Thomas More, hit hard enough to send the woman to Beth Israel and to break the front fork into pieces.

I came on the scene just before 6:00 as I rode home. The woman was just being put into the ambulance. Nobody I spoke to knew what happened, only that the woman did not appear to be seriously injured. According to one police officer, she was complaining of some back pain.

I know the bike and the woman who owns it, in the way you know a stranger who shares a common pursuit. She is one of the regulars on my commute. I see her once every couple of weeks or so. An obviously experienced cyclist with the stars-and-stripe bike, she's hard to miss.

Can't imagine how this happened. Glad that it sounds like it wasn't serious.


Boston ahead of Newton again

Forget about Sommerville; Boston is showing Newton up big time. First was their Beacon St. bike lane that stops at Newton's doorstep; now comes a further push for bike cages at T stations.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Newest addition to the Auburndale Community Library

A bike rack! We are thrilled that our call for help on this blog did not go unheeded. Thanks goes to the Charles River Neighborhood Foundation, and its trustees John and Amy Sangiolo, for their generosity in funding this installation. Thanks also to John Howarth for expert installation!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Taking up the Beacon Street Guantlet

A previous post showed the abrupt end to the new Beacon St. bike lane at the "Garden City" welcome sign in Newton. It's time for Newton to take up the challenge of making its stretch of Beacon Street bike friendly. A good start was the "Share the Road" signs by the Bike and Pedestrian Task Force working with the city. There is plenty of further low hanging fruit between Chestnut Hill and Wellesley.

One of the first easy fixes will be to correct the biker-hostile (and pedestrian hostile, for that matter) vanishing shoulder stripe common at dozens of intersections along Beacon St. (the one shown is Tudor Rd. just coming down the hill from BC). Bikers must cross a solid line curving across their path to proceed straight ahead. The solid line cutting off the shoulder lane means cars have right of way to turn across/into bikes. What is needed in these couple of dozen intersections is a dashed line extending across the intersection that indicates to motorists that they need to be aware of bikes on their right that are proceeding straight.

Here is "the vanishing point" at Beacon St and Hammondswood Rd, approaching Hammond Pond Parkway from the east.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beacon Street Details

Here's one picture that shows many of the elements of the new Beacon Street bike lanes:

  • Wide lane next to parking
  • Stencils
  • Lane next to the curb where there's no parking
  • One of the buffer zones

Updated: The bottom picture is of the westbound lane. (It's late afternoon and the sun is ahead.) The lane ends right at the Boston/Newton border. The foreground is Boston. The background is Newton.

Also, I don't expect the sadness to last long. Newton plans to continue the bike lanes to Hammond (or start them from Hammond, depending on the direction you're traveling).

Here's a detail of a buffer zone.

And, this is the sad end of the bike lanes, at the Boston/Newton line.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Beacon Bike Lanes are Done (Boston)

The bike lanes between Cleveland Circle and the Newton line are done. And, they rock. Pictures and new videos to follow.

Next on the to-do list, from the Newton/Boston line to Hammond Street.


More Beacon Street Goodness

 Above, two Mass Highway crew put the finishing touch on stencils in the westbound bike lane next to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

Below are the painted guidelines for the striping west of St. Thomas More Rd, toward the Boston/Newton line.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Bike fun in Boston -- 9/26 & 27

Big weekend of biking in Boston the weekend of 9/26 and 27.

On Saturday, there's a big pro biking event, the Mayor's Cup race. If you caught the pro bike race through Newton Centre last summer, you know that big clumps of professionals zipping by at near 30 MPH is not to be missed. There's also a kids race for 3- to 6-year-olds, (son of NS&S will be very disappointed to learn he's too old!), a mascot race, a bike expo, and a free concert.

Sunday is the annual biker takeover of Boston streets otherwise known as Hub on Wheels, with 10-, 30-, and 50-mile routes.


Woman dies in Coolidge Corner accident

I was just thinking this morning how nice it is that so many riders have been out recently, and how many more women there appear to be. Then I read that a young woman has died after an accident on Longwood Avenue in Brookline.

Police aren't sure what happened. If you were in the vicinity of 30 Longwood Ave. in Brookline at 7:20 PM on Wednesday and have any information. Give Brookline PD a call at 617-730-2222.


From Universal Hub.


Beacon Street bike lanes eastbound

You've ridden the new Beacon St. bike lanes (virtually, at least), now here's a video of the Beacon St. bike lanes from St. Thomas More/Reservoir Rd. to Cleveland Circle:

There's more to come. There are buffer zones to be striped and the bike lanes will extend beyond St. Thomas More to the Newton/Boston line (and then all the way up to Hammond St.)

Previously: Bike Lanes 'Round the Reservoir


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Countryside biking ban

Countryside Elementary School policy prohibits all but 5th graders from biking to school. (www.newton.k12.ma.us/countryside/school_safety.html). Now, Parent Beth Israel informs us, 5th graders are also banned from biking to school, at least temporarily. Principal Emily Ostrower emailed the policy to Countryside parents on Sept. 10, explaining that the Newton Police Department failed to administer required bike safety training to the students, which it has provided in the past as a prerequisite to permitting students to bike.

Principal Ostrower noted that recently, a student on a bike accidentally ran into a grandparent on school grounds, underscoring an apparent need for the policy.

Is it within the authority of a school principal to set rules on how parents and their children choose to travel to school? Are only police or teachers, not parents, qualified to teach their kids biking safety? What are the relative safety risks to schoolyard pedestrians from kids on bikes compared to cars? Would we ban cars if there were an accident in the drop-off/pick-up zone? What message are we sending to kids about environmentally sustainable lifestyles when we ban them from biking?

Here are some reasonable alternatives:

- Prohibit bike riding on school grounds. Students must walk bikes when on school grounds and on approaching sidewalks.

- Place bike racks in locations that promote safety for both pedestrians and bikers.

- Urge parents to conduct or arrange bike safety training, and for younger kids, to accompany them on bikes to school.

The bottom line is that there has to be a better solution to biking safety issues than banning biking altogether. Parents, teachers, school administrators, bike advocacy groups, and the Newton PD should get together to formulate a safe and sensible policy.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Comm. Ave. Presentation

These are the slides presented by the Northeastern students last night.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Towards a Better Comm. Ave. Carriage Road

Spent an hour at City Hall and heard a bunch of college students suggest some great changes to the Comm. Ave. carriage road that would make it a much more attractive bicycle facility. Friend of NS&S Professor Peter Furth's Northeastern Civil Engineering students identified 4 (or 5?) types of obstacles to happy, two-way bicycling the length of the carriage road and proposed a suite of solutions.

One of my favorites was a solution to the problem of the carriage road ending at four major intersections (Centre, Walnut, Lexington, and one other). Car traffic is diverted off the carriage road back onto Comm. Ave. because the intersections would be unworkable with two separate car crossings. And, the sidewalks continue from the carriage road to the crosswalk across the major road. But, bikes are in limbo: can't go on the sidewalk and it's a particularly tough place to bike on the road.

The students' solution was simple: on those short stretches between the end of the carriage road and the crosswalks, widen the sidewalk to make it a multi-use path, with two-way bike traffic.

And, I also loved a road-diet solution for Rowe Rd. in Auburndale, just west of the Pike. And, their proposal for the last bit on the western edge, by the Marriot and the Charles River Canoe & Kayak boat house. And, ...

I hope to get the presentation and explore some of the problems and solutions in a little more depth.

Kudos to Lois Levin, Helen Rittenberg, and Nathan Phillips of Bike Newton for engaging Peter and his students to take a look at the opportunities along the carriage road.


Herrick and Union construction

DPW crews are digging up the street today to construct the new curb line at Herrick and Union in Newton Centre. Gives a great indication of just how much of an improvement the new curb line will be ... though my amateur pictures don't really capture the reduction in the crosswalk.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

15 great bike rides

Boston.com has a gallery of pictures and descriptions of and route maps for 15 great local rides. They look great.

Note: this feature has been on boston.com for months, but I'm just getting around to it. The routes haven't changed, the weather is perfect for riding, so why not?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bike lanes 'round the reservoir

Rode home along brand, spankin'-new bike lanes on Beacon Street from Cleveland Circle around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Lots more to be done. Boston will stripe up to the Boston/Newton border. And, there are stencils, signs, and striped buffers to come.

Exciting little treat from Nicole Freedman and the folks in Boston promoting biking. Here's a very noisy first look.


Biker for Balser

Grabbed this nice, unscripted photo riding home from work today:

My sentiments exactly!


Comm. Ave. Promenade

A group of Northeastern professor Peter Furth's students have been working on a design that will turn the Comm. Ave. carriage road (and related) into a more formally defined multi-use promenade. This is a very exciting project that Bike Newton recently instigated.

The students will be presenting their design ideas and recommendations Thursday night (September 10) at the City Hall War Memorial Auditorium at 7:00 PM.

Come see their presentation.

Update: Come participate and contribute your ideas to the project.


What's going on here?

 What is this?

Answer to come. Soon.

Very exciting.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time to do the right thing on Walnut Street

Click through to the TAB's disturbing picture of a bicycle run over by U-Haul van. According to the TAB report, a woman cyclist was hit by the van as she pulled onto Walnut Street from Lakewood Ave. Fortunately, it doesn't sound like the woman was seriously injured.

The driver told the TAB that he "didn't see her." While there are plenty of aggressive, bike-hostile drivers out there, this is what I fear day-in and day-out: the driver who's just not paying attention. The driver who isn't looking out for bikes and pedestrians.

Would bike accommodations have prevented this accident? Tough to say. But it seems unlikely that it would have hurt. And, on Walnut Street, it's not an academic question.

Reconstruction of Walnut Street has been held up for years by the city's request for a waiver of its obligations under state law to provide bike accommodations as part of the state-funded project. For years, the Newton Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force has been lobbying the city and state for a bike lane or striped shoulder on Walnut Street. The city has, instead, sought to preserve on-street parking, which studies show is primarily used by T commuters. We're still waiting for the state's review of the latest city application.

It's tempting to say that such an accident should not be used as an opportunity for political commentary. But, politicians will determine the extent of bike accommodations on Walnut Street. Ruth Balser has encouraged a meaningful compromise that would have preserved some parking while making meaningful provisions for bicyclists. Ken Parker has been a strong advocate of preserving ... and even extending ... parking on Walnut Street. See this post about his vision for Walnut Street.

Perhaps this incident will serve as a wake-up call on the need for meaningful bike accommodations on Walnut Street.