Bike infrastructure takes front seat

This morning The Boston Globe published an op-ed by Boston City Council president Michelle Wu called “The road to fear-free biking in Boston”. The same day, the Boston Transportation Department had a demonstration of a protected bike lane on Beacon Street near the intersection with Massachusetts Avenue.

With new cones and a Hubway station pulled away to buffer the lane from cars, the lane was not impeding traffic at all. However, few cyclists were using it as the Hubway station was being dismantled and its pieces were laying in it. The station was being dismantled so that the lane could be restriped.

Earlier it was clear and well-received by cyclists, who have been demanding the City take action on that intersection for years. According to The Boston Globe, it’s the most dangerous intersection for cyclists in the City. Both streets carry a lot of traffic, including buses and trucks making deliveries, and Beacon Street is one-way with two to three wide lanes. The set-up encourages drivers to speed, compounding the danger from buses and trucks and cars cutting through the unprotected bike lane to park or drop off passengers.

Doug Johnson of the Boston Cyclists’ Union tweeted “Make this permanent” and tactical urbanist Jonathan Fertig, who placed cones with flowers along a nearby stretch of Massachusetts Avenue after Anita Kurmann was killed last year, was similarly enthusiastic.

Wu’s editorial was also enthusiastically shared. In it she described a recent trip to Copenhagen as part of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s climate innovation study.

There she discovered how safe cycling lets the Danes be relaxed and lycra-free on their rides, in contrast to “silent prayers as cars zoomed by too close to comfort” cycling in Boston. She wrote that 45 percent of commuters in Copenhagen now get to work by bike, plus more seniors and young children are biking.

“To get non-professional riders on bicycles, cities must make bike commutes safe and convenient,” Wu wrote.

Fertig tweeted that the op-ed was a “watershed moment.”

“The explicit call for safe infrastructure, even if it comes at the expense of parking or treavel lanes, is extremely exciting,” he posted.

Interestingly, the cones BTD used to buffer the demo lane this morning belonged to Fertig. They confiscated them from him on a previous occassion.

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