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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
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
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/
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/
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.
Issues and Possible Solutions Discussed at 9/27/12 Meeting:
1. ISSUE: Broadway Bridge -highway to residential
- Lane stripes for both cars and bikes
- Traffic cones
- 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
- 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
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).