Monday, April 26, 2010

Rethinking Beacon Street parking to allow for bike lanes

Tomorrow afternoon at 3, there will be a Traffic Council meeting to consider an item sponsored by Aldermen Baker, Fuller, and Schnipper to reconfigure parking between Hammond Street and the Boston city line. The purpose of the parking reconfiguration is to create some room at the pinch point(s) in the stretch that aren't wide enough for travel lanes, parking, and bike lanes.

It's a really thoughtful approach to the problem. And, of course, the resolution promises to continue Boston's bike lanes from the city line to Cleveland Circle.

The following design diagrams work their way down from Hammond Street towards Boston (west to east). Click for bigger versions.


dr2chase said...

5' is good next to a curb, but not so good next to parked cars. That's a door lane, not a bike lane. Are they aware of this? Adjacent to parked cars, we need more.

And, of course, vigorous enforcement of double-parking rules in the bike lane, that would be good too.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone broached the idea of putting the bike lane nearest the curb & putting the parked cars nearest the traffic? there's less than 50% chance of being doored if you're riding on the right instead of the left--and you're protected from distracted drivers by a line of stationary metal.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered that - putting the bike lane to the right of the parked cars makes way more sense.

Charlie said...

This is awesome! So glad to see Newton is serious about bike lanes! One thing to help reduce the ever-present dooring threat is to make the bike lanes 6' instead of 5'. It looks like for most sections, this can be easily done by narrowing the travel lanes. Since the speed limit is 30 mph, 11' or even 10' travel lanes should suffice.

Jesse said...

In response to the comments regarding putting bike lanes to the right of parked cars, known as separated bike lines, the problem is that it removes bicycles from the regular flow of traffic. This can make it difficult to change lanes when turning left and it gives the impression that bicycles do not belong in the regular travel lanes. This is not the case. At intersections, bicycles in separated lanes are hidden from cars, making crossings dangerous, much the same as it is when bicycles travel on sidewalks. Cars are not expecting fast moving vehicles to appear from a lane of parked cars. None of this is to say that separated lanes can't work. Indeed, they have proved to be successful in European cities, and I've seen a few in Montreal. Making them work requires additional infrastructure, such as independent traffic lights for bike lanes, to make intersections and turning safer and more feasible. Absent this, separated lanes are more dangerous. In general, we should be encouraging sharing the road between motorists and cyclists, who are equals under law and need to be regarded that way for any bike lane to work. I think separated lanes discourage this mindset change.

Steve R said...

Jim Danila's done a fabulous job designing this stretch of lanes. A round of applause for Jim!

Dr2Chase: yes, 5' next to parked cars means watching out for doors. Let's make sure we educate people (bike on the outside edge of that lane!), and moving forward, let's make sure Newton's engineers are aware of the problem & can give more room where available & not stick religiously to 12' car lanes, which are excessive in areas with speed limits below 40 mph.

We should also remain open to alternatives to the 5' curbside (or parking-side) bike lane: sharrows in areas to narrow for a 5' lane, and separated tracks where busy traffic demands them and room allows them. Jesse, I understand the concern about separated tracks, but I appreciate concerns of timid bikers too. Fit, aggressive bikers can "take the lane" whenever necessary. Realistically, timid, less fit bikers can't or won't, and need more accommodations in the infrastructure. Let's not rule out separated lanes on principle, especially when that principle only works for a small minority of (potential) bikers.