Thursday, June 17, 2010

Newton's easiest bike facilities

We need long-term plans, but also paint on the ground now. Where to start? Where it is most needed. But also, where it is easiest: the most politically non-controversial and cheapest. We sorely need to declare small victories and begin a culture shift. These are so easy they can be done without losing focus on other projects. So let's grab some easy victories and declare success!

Two examples:

- Bike lane on Beacon St. between Beethoven Ave and Walnut St. Why? No street parking is already in place; painted shoulders are already in place; few abutters, who don't use Beacon St. for parking anyway. An exception could be made for the Farmer's Market. For the most part, just needs stenciling. A no-brainer.

- Sharrows on Langley between Centre and Beacon. No removal of parking needed. No approvals from abutters needed. All that is needed: paint, stencil, and the will to do it. At risk of presumptuousness, I will even volunteer Bike Newton/BPTF to pay for the gallon of paint.

Where are your candidate locations for quickly implementable bike facilities?


dr2chase said...

Not a location, but a proposed facility. There are routes that suck less for cycling, than others, even if they are not bike routes. Finding those routes and remembering them is half of getting there; if I think I am going to be stuck riding in horrible stuff, I'll drive instead.

So for example, coming from Waverley Square (Belmont), to get to Harris Cyclery, I end up crossing the Charles on Bridge St, continuing on, right on Linwood, not-stopping at one or two not-busy intersections, and stopping at a pair of busy intersections, till I get to Watertown Street.

Even if there are no lanes, it would be helpful if it were signed in some way or another. Maybe those green directional arrows on the street? Not sure what we pick as waypoints; I don't recall the name of the Newton neighborhood that contains Harris, but that's the obvious choice.

The advantage here is that it helps, paint is cheap, and you get minimal pushback from people who fear change. The only downside is that, at least for now, the best and most direct routes have already been claimed by cars, and this does nothing to change that.

Anonymous said...

at the risk of being obvious--the carriage lane on Commonwealth Avenue?

There's also tons of unused capacity on Allen Avenue from Woodward to Beacon (it could be a four-lane street, and very little on-street parking), and Evelyn from Beacon to Comm. Ave.

I'd LOVE some paint on Woodward, which is a good biking route BTW, just not all the way to Rt. 9, which is hellaciously dangerous there. Lincoln west to Beacon!!


khs said...

I'm not sure I understand the point of painting/striping/stenciling roads that are already safe for bicycles. I'd prioritize improving hazardous roads that are likely to cause injury without improvement.

A high-leverage example: a utility has had Chestnut St open for weeks, just north of route 9. I'm not sure what they're doing and what the plan is, but when they're done they clearly intend to leave a very hazardous longitudinal patch 1/4 mile long on this key route across route 9. So perhaps NS&S can use the opportunity to educate Newton Engineering and DPW about longitudinal hazards and bicycle-safe road maintenance in general, and have them do a proper job on Chestnut St.
The City's legal dept might be interested as well.

khs said...

Andreae, I ride Woodward->Eliot across Rt9 all the time (not on Rt 9 though). I wouldn't say it's "hellaciously dangerous" but obviously takes care. Again, I think the effort to improve such intersections for bicyclists is much more valuable on a $-per-injury-avoided basis than painting safe streets like Woodward.

Anonymous said...

I think we should go with yellow triangles labelled "cyclist on board" suctioned onto the bike frames. Those "baby on board" signs have probably saved thousands of lives, you know, with everyone else being so much more careful driving next to them. Of course, some folks might hit us trying to get close enough to read the sign. Sorry, just a little vehicle humor I couldn't resist.

dr2chase said...


No, I think what Newton needs is signs at its borders, informing everyone that Newton is a Crash-Free Zone. Little graphic of "NO!" circle-bar superimposed over a car running down a cyclist, a couple of meaningless resolutions, and you're done. Mission Accomplished!