Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To villages, not between

Updated to cure some imprecision pointed out by a commenter.

In about every discussion of bike lane priorities, there seems to be consensus about one point: wouldn't it be nice if we had bike routes connecting one village center to another. I must confess I don't understand this sentiment. It's a nice goal, but it doesn't represent the highest priority.

Among the first priorities we have to solve is how to get to the village centers. What good is a route between village center A and village center B if people can't bike to village center A in the first place (except, I guess, those who live along the proposed inter-village route)? Are people going to put their bikes on the back of their cars, drive to one village center and then bike to the next?

If we want to encourage people to bike to do some of the errands they currently drive to do, it needs to be a high priority to provide multiple routes to get to each village center from the surrounding neighborhoods. It has to be possible to get to the Newton Centre commercial district comfortably, for instance, from the residential areas of the village: from Beacon Street east and west, from Langley Road, from Parker/Cypress, Centre, &c. Once you get there, it has to be safe to bike within the commercial district. And, there needs to be adequate bike parking.

Once we make biking a safe and attractive alternative for getting from homes in the village to that village's center, then we can focus on getting from village to village. The good news is that the second order problem will probably be relatively easy to solve. The paths to each village will likely connect up to create paths between them.


Anonymous said...

I'd rather have a path between villages along smaller roads. Much better for kids, good for meeting neighbors in and around the area. Why spend all the money on paths for adult riders who have experience biking on the major roads. I'd be far more inclined to visit the other village centers if I could bike there with my kids and avoid some of the major routes. Your comment about having to get to one of the villages doesn't make sense, the people you're talking to already live in one of them, and want to get to the next. I think you're spending too much time thinking about how nice you can make your commute, and, of course, listening to a consensus has never been your strong point. Why not make it nice for the kids with some routes that would make it easy and safer for them to visit friends in other parts of the city?

Sean Roche said...

Perhaps I was insufficiently precise. When people talk about routes between villages, they talk about routes between village centers. Not everyone who lives in a village lives in the village center. To get to a route between village centers, you need to first get to the village centers.

Otherwise, you're absolutely right, the best bike route between village centers would be those that are on secondary roads -- or are sufficiently separated on primary roads.

MamaVee said...

to anon who asks why spend money on adult riders...

B/c Adult riders beget children who ride. And it seems clear that the marker for a biking friendly town/city is when Women IE MOTHER"S ride with their children. If you can get women to ride on their own and then with their children, their children will ride. If we just say we'll leave this issue to the kids for their "toys" and recreational biking, biking will never have room to grow in a utility manner. basically- you keep me riding, I keep my kids riding. People- see me riding and see how happy I am and how safe I am and they ride.

forest- trees.

Anonymous said...

Sean, you ran a bunch of sentences together that clouded the issue but nevertheless seeemed to end in you saying that you're right again. It was pretty clear before, the consensus is that people would like routes between village centers. Most people can get to their village center pretty easily. Stop pushing your separation on primary roads and LISTEN to the fact that people would find the connection between village centers useful. And the preference might be on secondary roads.. for kids and Moms doing some errands. Not necessarily for the commuters in spandex.

Sean Roche said...

Anon, please see MamaVee's comment. Most people would not say that they can get to their village centers easily.

I remain unclear what commuting has to do with this.

Anonymous said...

Secondary roads for going between village centers can be used by both kids and adults. The concern and comments about commuters has to deal with the fact that people are asking for routes between village centers and Sean doesn't see the need for them them because he is too concerned about spending the money for routes along beacon st. that make it nice for him and others to commute to work. Not necessarily a bad objective, but please stop dismissing what you see as the consensus. If there are useful paths around, I think they will be used whether drivers see bicyclists on the main roads or not. With more bicyclists on the side streets, it might help keep traffic on the main roads, preventing cut through traffic by those drivers in a rush. I didn't actually see anything in Mamavee's comments about people not being able to get to their village centers.

MamaVee said...

Well I guess as a mom who rides with kids I don't understand anon's point that well. I don't understand a special bike path between villages? what would this look like. why focus there? I fully agree with side road usage and I tend to use side roads whenever I can. However I do need to take other roads as well. To get to Newton Highlands I must ride walnut street. It isn't horrible and I can do it but I tend to not go that way b/c it isn't the easiest ride traffic wise.

I guess whatever- put bike routes where ever and often. But "limiting" bike lanes to village to village seems short sighted. It reduces biking to a recreational action. As a mom who rides with kids I don't just go to village to village. I need to ride all throughout Newton. I want to go to the Cove playground and then stop by the Knotty Pine for lunch and then head back homeward but drop by newton center for some shopping errand things and then head back to my neck of the woods. To do this is simply not easy traffic wise and I would appreciate striping and infrastructure. If we cater to the lowest common denominator of people driving their bikes to villages to take a fun ride to JP licks, we won't grow as a biking city. Why are commuters to be left out in the cold? If we make it easy for me to do the above- then the recreational biker will be in good stead and may slowly venture out more and further and who knows- start to spend a few days like mine on bike.

Again- let's look at the big picture. it isn't about recreation vs commuting. let's all work together and ride.

Anonymous said...

Given the relative distances and travel times involved, people walk from their homes to village centres. They >bike> from village centre to village centre to village centre and beyond. In choosing where to allocate scarce bicycle infrastructure resources, inter-village upgrades promise far higher impact per resource unit than intra-village collectours. This argument by SR baffles. Do readers agree or disagree? Reginald.