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Bicycle Commuting:

Saving Daylight, Saving Time, Saving Lives


Now that our clocks have shifted once again and daylight savings favors brighter skies later into the day, the everyday bicycle commuters can leave our headlights at home and feel a bit safer knowing that we are more easily seen during our 6pm bicycle ride home.  I myself have been biking all through the winter, and I really considered having a party to celebrate the changing of the clocks.  To me it not only improves my safety, but it also is the signal for Spring and the wake-up call to all of the non-winter cyclists to start gearing up for riding again.  Welcome back.

The evening of Sunday March 10th we all dialed our clocks forward an hour.  We all sacrificed an hour of sleep for the promise of more time in the sun, a very fair trade if you ask me.  What surprised me the most was what happened on Monday morning.  Typically during the winter months I don't see  too many other cyclists on the road.  Usually just a handful if my timing is right, and sometimes I say hello and have a short conversation about how "it's really not that cold today" despite how cold it actually feels. On the Monday following the clock-shift I saw more than a dozen riders in South Boston alone.  It was as if everyone was anxiously waiting for the extra light in the evening and were ready to pounce at the first opportunity to ride again, and of course it didn't hurt that it was forecast to be 50 degrees and "Springy" that winter day.
I did manage to chat with one rider, Jeff, that morning who admitted that indeed he had been waiting for the daylight savings to dust off his two-wheeled counterpart.  We talked briefly about why he hadn't been riding all winter long, and his answer was that it was simply too dark too early for him.  He said that the cold didn't really bother him, and that riding actually got him to work significantly faster than the long cold walk to the train.  Visibility seemed to be his main concern.  Jeff doesn't own any super-neon reflective gear, he prefers to ride to work wearing regular clothes because he is a regular person.  Jeff doesn't really even consider himself to be a "cyclist", just as someone driving a car doesn't necessarily refer to him or herself as a "motorist".  Jeff is just a person who is commuting to his job like everybody else.  So here is a good representation of the majority of bicycle commuters, that is to say, the primary goal is to get to work quickly and safely.  Not to be extreme, not a renegade, and most aren't even all that physically fit.  Nor am I for that matter.

If you are someone who is considering riding a bike to work this year, but are a bit too timid to give it a try on your own, all you need to do is ask.  The bicycle community is a strong one.  If you know someone who rides to work at your job or on the way to wherever you work, chances are they would be willing to bike-pool with you.  A few cyclists at my office (an architecture firm) started bike-pooling together every friday as a way to encourage others in the office to give it a try.  It worked.  Our office now has about 15% regular bicycle commuters.  Now bike fridays is more about fun than it is about new rider encouragement.  So ask around, many cyclists are willing to go miles out of their way for the pleasure of rolling into the office with a fellow co-worker.

As South Boston continues to increase it's population, we are going to see a lot more people like Jeff on the road.  The safety conscious cyclist who isn't riding to prove any political or environmental point.  We will find that the increase in people riding will be more about transportation versatility than any other reason (tho there are many many other reasons to ride).  The ability to get to where you need to go on your own schedule, in a predictable amount of time, at an affordable cost, on a mode that is known for reliability, is what will entice people to select the bicycle as means of transit.

So as this every-man & every-woman bicycle commuter start taking to the streets what can we do as a community group and society in general, to help these riders get to where they need to go safely?  Studies have shown that traditional bicycle lanes offer about a 50% decrease in the likely hood of a serious injury, and that dedicated cycle-tracks offer as much as a 90% decrease.  There are a number of places here in South Boston where we can easily add standard bike lanes, and only a few where we have enough space to add a full cycle-track.  Both options are good & both options help cyclists as well as motorists get to where they are going more quickly, more safely, and with fewer incidents.  So why is a cycle-track significantly safer?  Because it removes the cyclist from the roadway all-together.  It places the cyclist between the parked cars and the sidewalk, and outside of the door zone and out of the way of motorists trying to parallel park.  It also prevents the pinch-point created when a vehicle double parks to let out some passengers or load/unload something heavy from the trunk.  The cycle-track is not a new idea.  It's used extensively throughout europe, we have a few that started to spring up in Cambridge a few years ago, and hopefully a few more coming to Boston this summer.

Lets work together to increase bicycle lanes & cycle-tracks here in Southie, build awareness about the benefits of bicycling, and remind everyone that the road is to be shared by all.

See you at the next Planet Southie Meeting





Like Hubway?


Come raise a toast in honor of Hubway's 2012 season! Gather at Middlesex Lounge in Central Square, Cambridge on Monday, December 17th from 5-7pm.  Hubway's End of Season Celebration is a straight up social designed to connect you with the team that built this groundbreaking system and the many hands and feet that keep it going. Socialize and celebrate what we as a community have accomplished together; the validation of the bicycle as #RealTransportation in Metro Boston.

There is no dress code for this event, no charge at the door, no agenda to push, and no powerpointing. Just come ready to smile and mix with the great community that has made Hubway such a success. Feel like sticking around? Once you're in, you're welcome to hang out as long as you'd like. With a capacity of just over 100 your early attendance is key to enjoying the event with us.  Cash bar and smooth "MixMaster" jams. Hope you can make it!

Hubway may not have an agenda, but I plan on making friendly conversation with anyone who will listen about getting a few Hubway stations into to our residential side of the neighborhood.   


BIKE Issues: Safety and Access



At the 10/27/12 meeting, the Bike Action Team agreed to work on:
1) Establishing more bike lanes in South Boston as transportation to and from downtown. Action Step: built a map of their bike lane ideas (here:http://tinyurl.com/8zvmnu9 )

2) Identify additional places for Hubway bike rack locations. 


3) Talk to neighbors and friends about continuing to work on the grass roots level about consensus building. 

Mark McGonagle has been in contact with Kris Carter, City’s bike guru, about incorporating the Bike Team's ideas and getting a hold of what the City has done so far for further research. 


 Downloading the meeting minutes for the bicycle group here: http://tinyurl.com/8eukdh7

Somethings you can do now to improve bike safety and access:

1)Learn how to bike more safely: http://www.cityofboston.gov/bikes/bikesafety/
2) The bike team is advocating for more Hubway bike share stations in South Boston. Southie's proximity to downtown, rapid development, and dense population (35,000+) makes us an IDEAL location for Hubway stations. There are virtually none in the residential neighborhood. Go to www.thehubway.com/stations and click on make suggestions. We deserve the same amenities as the rest of Boston...Lets get the Hubway!

For Planet Southie Bike Action Team info, please contact mark.mcgonagle@cityofboston.gov


Issues and Possible Solutions Discussed at 9/27/12 Meeting: 

1. ISSUE: Broadway Bridge -highway to residential
SOLUTIONS:
    - Lane stripes for both cars and bikes
    - Traffic cones
ACTION STEPS:
    - Harborwalk trail – get someone to come to a meeting (Matt Wall of Save the Harbor)
    - Need a return trip (to Southie)

2. ISSUE: A Street

SOLUTIONS:
    - Lane stripes and a bike lane
    - Temporary crosswalks
ACTION STEPS: Work on A street being done now, follow up after with Boston Water

3. ISSUE: Double Parking

SOLUTION: Enforcing Traffic Laws

4. ISSUE: Hubway Locations aren’t convenient enough

SOLUTIONS: More convenient locations
ACTION STEPS: Go to website and make suggestions for new locations

5. ISSUE: Lack of bike lanes

SOLUTION:
    Path: Broadway to the Point
    Path: South Station to the point
    Path 1st to the Harborwalk and Fort Point

SOLUTIONS/ACTION STEPS for all of the above (1-5)

- Bring your neighbor to the next meeting
- Grassroots campaign

Who volunteered to join together to work on this:

Joe, Bob, Steve, Josh, Bill G., Bill S., Louise, Lauren, Fred, Jeff, Elected Officials, More help is always needed, so everyone is welcome!
Please use the comments tool to suggest action steps and other issues/solutions. Please be constructive (abusive comments will be moderated).

10 comments:

  1. I have been working on ideas for biking as well as traffic calming measures on West Broadway. - Jon

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  2. Replies
    1. Sorry I couldn't attend the meeting last night night. Here are some of my thoughts, I hope they help.
      The bike lane program is excellent, but it needs to continue on a consistent footing. Police need to keep these lanes clear (which they appear not to be doing on the Waterfront). One particular item I've noticed is the city has used parallel grate sewer covers along a few stretches of roadway in the bicycle lane, placing the openings parallel to the direction or travel. The openings are just wide enough to potentially grab a narrow bike tire flipping the bike. Poor planning!

      John B.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts John!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Jon--

    One of the things that I've been trying to get is a dedicated bike route down First Street, isolated from traffic, with the option of moving then onto the Harborwalk along Fort Point Channel. Can this be put in as part of the bike advocacy package?

    Fred Gordon

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Fred,
    You are not alone in your desire for a cycle-track down West 1st Street. Cycle-tracks are segregated from motor traffic as well as pedestrian traffic, and are among the safest ways for cyclists to make their way through urban areas. The map that we worked on at the last meeting identified First Street as one of the roads we would like to advocate for. It's an ideal route because of its potential to connect the waterfront areas, as well as its easy to navigate terrain (no hills). Cycle tracks are a difficult to achieve especially where on-street parking is a premium, but I believe it could be done on many sections of First St, if not all of it.

    Come out to the next meeting to show your support. To achieve anything we need momentum and a unified voice.

    Here is a link to the map & meeting minutes generated from the bike portion of our last Planet Southie meeting.
    Map: http://tinyurl.com/8zvmnu9
    Minutes: http://tinyurl.com/8eukdh7


    Regards,
    Jon Ramos

    ReplyDelete
  6. One great way to help us get bike lanes in Southie is to get Hubway Stations in our neighborhood. Sometimes these things go hand in hand. Go to http://thehubway.com/stations and use the map to pick up to 5 locations where you would like to see The Hubway installed. The Planet Southie Bikes group identified a few locations that we felt would best serve the neighborhood, so feel free to refer to that or choose your own.

    A tip for the tech savvy: The Hubway website creates a cookie that remembers your choices. They do this in an attempt to limit how many times each person votes. But if you have multiple computers at your disposal (home, work, laptop, ipad, etc) you can use each one to vote. Or if you use multiple web browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, etc) you can vote using each one. Or, if you are really ambitious, you can clear the cache & cookies of your browser and vote as often as you like!

    GO VOTE! (even if you only vote once!)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Quick Update for the Bike Task Force:

    I heard from Mark McGonagle that Kristopher Carter, the Interim Director of Boston Bikes, will be attending the Planet Southie meeting tomorrow night. He will be bringing the current plans for bicycle lane improvements that have been funded / planned / approved.

    We also hope to get a meeting / social gathering to drum up membership for Boston Cyclists Union sometime soon. We hope to hammer out some of the details at the Planet Southie Meeting... Social Wines seemed eager to let us use their space for a fundraiser.

    Please come out and get involved! We can't do this alone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few updates for the bike group:

      1) I attended the Boston Cyclists Union for their strategic planning meeting, where much was discussed, including the possibility of Planet Southie Bikes becoming a node in their boston-wide network (other neighborhood bike groups have already done this). With that, we gain a much greater voice, but we need to champion our own ideas and let BCU know what's important to us and our area.

      2) I attended the Bike Safety hearing at City Hall today. Most everyone was in agreement that bike infrastructure is a necessity... to me it seemed like a formality to have this meeting... I had to leave before any "next steps" were identified. It was a good turnout, and I will see if I can get my hands on a copy of what happened toward the end of the meeting.

      3) We need to build our voice. Which means collecting names and contact info of cyclists in Southie, so that when proposals and campaigns start we have a unified voice behind them. Please share your ideas on how to do this.

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  8. I got my hands on a study done for sidewalk improvements & bike lane installation on Broadway. Its UNBELIEVABLE how detailed this grad student work is. I will bring it to the next Planet Southie Meeting. This could kickstart a campaign for huge improvements from Broadway station up to L street. traffic calming, outdoor cafe space, and overall a "more complete street" approach to our area.

    ReplyDelete

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