RIP Tom Menino Just 2 miles of paint in 2014? Sadness

October 30th, 2014 by dotriderblog …

We only wish Tom Menino had found riding a bike a bit sooner in his life. He may well still be with us given the health benefits of riding a bike. Sadly he got hit by a car on River Street on a ride and that basically ended it for him.

We only wish the fervent effort of Tim Timlin and Nicole Friedman during the Mayor’s last year carried into the current administration. While the Dorchester Bike Infrastructure Deficit is down to a half dozen sharrows on the top end of Adams Street, the fact is there has been no new bike infrastructre installed in Dorchester during the the current Mayor’s term.

While we were moaning about that, we learned we shouldn’t feel bad because there’s only been 2 miles of any infrastructure installed anywhere during 2014. I might accept that, but since Dorchester covers 20% of the City’s area and houses 20% of the residents my question has to be, “Where’s our 4 tenths of a mile?”

Let’s see? That could have been Washington Street from Park to 4 Corners… Or perhaps Mass Ave from Columbia to South Bay Station… Get it? Both those areas were paved in the past year and neither of them got any new bike infrastructure. In fact Mass Ave got a host of new turn lanes. Just what a rider wants.

Anyway, back to Mayor Menino. He let his people do their work and backed them up with some tough politics. I would say his best efforts for biking was on Mass Ave as the State planners were DUG IN DEEP on the road’s reconstruction plans saying they couldn’t go back and add bike lanes.

Well not only did they pull off bike lanes, but within a year or so of their installation the Mayor spearheaded the removal of PARKING SPACES on Mass Ave in front of the Christian Science Complex. (If only it wasn’t perhaps the bumpiest crappiest hardest stretch of road just about anywhere to ride.. Oops sorry)

He let Hubway go through without any public input outside of an RFP created by the Metropolitan Planning Council which given the lack of Hubway in Dorchester as well as lack of infrastructure was just why I was against Hubway. So he’s credited with Hubway which did bring a lot of positive attention to riding.

Anyway, we’ll miss Tom Menino. He was an icon of his time and will leave a legacy for all of us to remember. We’ll hope that his legacy on support of bicycles in Boston will be mirrored and even surpassed by his replacement. It did take Menino 14 years to wake up to bikes. Let’s hope it doesn’t take Marty as long…

Less bike accomodation in Dot today than when Mayor sworn in…

October 8th, 2014 by dotriderblog

#comeridewithusAt least for now. With two roads that had Sharrows, Adams St from Fields Corner to Meeting House Hill and Ashmont Street from Dot Ave to Neponset fresh with pavement and NO SHARROWS. Why the bike paint contract is so disconnected to the paving and road line contracts makes NO SENSE and shows the second class approach of Boston’s Road Planners…

I can hear them now, “Oh yeah we need to add that pain in the ass bike stuff. Boy will it be funny when they hit the new turn lanes.” That is certainly what it feels like as a daily rider in Dorchester. It’s bad enough to deal with the lack of respect (which is diminishing btw) from drivers than from transportation planners who should know better.

Throw into that plans to add Sharrows on Geneva Avenue that are now slated for April even though it was paved in August (that’s 7 months of no direction) and it’s a wonder we continue to moan and moan and moan and moan about being dissed and overlooked when it comes to Dot’s inclusion in bike infrastructure additions.

While we’re tossing though we’ll add the other parts of Dorchester that got pavement but NO BIKE ACCOMMODATION. Gallivan Blvd. Washington Street from Codman Sq to 4 Corners are the two I travel on that immediately come to mind. Last year we saw Mass Ave paved from Everett Square to the RR Bridge. We got two turn lanes, no bike lanes on a road plenty wide enough for plenty of lanes.

The Twitter #comeridewithus campaign hasn’t generated any direct response from Mayor Walsh outside of him waving at me at the Codman Square Men of Boston Cook event. So we’re thinking he’s aware but doesn’t care? Or is he hoping that the story gets out and we’ll be happy? What story? April for something paved in August? Great story. NOT.

C’mon Marty you’re doing so well in so many areas, don’t let us all have to hear the “I voted for Connolly” from the folks who are getting the infrastructure while the folks who did vote for you get zippo. It sucks and I’m tired of it.

This got added later: Thoughts while counting bikes in Codman Square. One woman an hour. One helmeted rider every 20 minutes. The other 74 riders all rode on the sidewalk and none wore helmets. 210 vehicles ran the light or turned right on red where it is clearly a no turn. That includes T Vehicle 2226 The Ride, buses #22125, 2715, 2098, school buses WB072, Hs214, B308, HS057 and MS125 as well as the Safety Supervisor for BPS in MB765. I didn’t even count the folks not stopping at all coming out of Norfolk or running any light down in that part of the Square. Nor did I count the folks who went straight in the right turn only lane. Yeah it’s all those scofflaw cyclists that make it suck.

#comeridewithus Twitter Campaign to @marty_walsh as well as any elected officials

August 28th, 2014 by dotriderblog

So Dotriderblog has been evolving in our involvement in Twitter. It has been about six months or a year of being in the Twittersphere and we’re learning our way. The other social media format is fun but it is more social to this writer than Twitter. Twitter is more news and political, as much as the other primary option has its fill of politics.

Where Twitter has revealed itself to be effective is in drawing a response. You can send e-mails to government officials, elected or appointed, and it is as though there is not a return button on their e-mail. Off into the digital abyss of unreplied to e-mails. Meanwhile on Twitter, the very public nature of it tends to stimulate some form of response.

So, we are here today to promote our new hash tag. #comeridewithus.

The original inspiration to #comeridewithus was the last Boston Bikes ride of the season on August 29th. We remembered when Mayor Walsh had indicated he would go for a bike ride with Alston Bike guru Galen Mook. We checked and Marty has yet to go for his ride. What a perfect way to get him to ride? Invite him to his own event? Offer to pick him up at the door?

The invite went out via several digital modes and by golly we got a response. “Sorry Marty’s down the Cape on vacation. Perhaps another time.”

Well Saarrrright! Fired up by that the general membership of Dot Bike got fired up and invited City Councilors, State Reps and Senators to join us. Dot Bike has been joined by Rep Russell Homes before, so this isn’t unprecedented. However given the recent slide back on improving transportation alternatives for non-automobile users in the city, it’s time to get organized and raise our voices to remind our elected officials of the commitments made by their predecessors and current associates.

We got another “out of town” response from a local City Councilor. Now if we only knew where Marty is and who is hosting the Labor Day party down the Cape. What a hoot to crash that one on a bicycle? Nahhh… may be next year if we really need to get his attention. We’re hopeful that won’t be necessary.

For now we troll our Twitter feed daily to find a piece or link that argues for the efficacy of bicycles in terms of being a viable transportation alternative and a vehicle for economic development and growth. #comeridewithus graces every Tweet to @marty_walsh or other local politicians and transportation groups. If you’re there and you see them, please Favorite them and Retweet them with abandon. Thanks!

So folks, if you’re on the Twitter thing, #comeridewithus!!!! Beyond my daily Tweet use it with anyone who we send a cycle informative related Tweet. We only have like 300 followers, so we aren’t going to generate Shaq-like results, but hey! let’s try it!  If our local elected officials want to come join us for a ride, please do! We want you to see first hand what it is like to ride a bike in Dorchester. You can see for yourself how recent paving projects have not included any bike or improved pedestrian infrastructure. Instead we get new turn lanes.

I was noticing a new turn lane on Granite Ave this morning and had right arrows with ONLY underneath. I imagined CARS to be painted in the space between the arrows and the ONLY as looking at it that’s about ALL the arrows were intended to instruct. Bikes? Nothing.

It’s time we speak to our local officials and point out how that undermines a lot of their visions for a better, healthier, wealthier and less polluted city. They need to direct their planners and engineers to go back to the drawing board and use their brains to include more bicycle and pedestrian accommodation in EVERY road project!

Oh yeah, if you want to follow us @Lindsaywoolguy is my Twitter Handle… See you there!



While a home run is great working on your singles hitting stroke yields more long term results (Mayor Marty Come Ride With Us!)

August 21st, 2014 by dotriderblog

Dotbike met with the Boston Cyclists Union one week and representatives of the Mayor’s Boston Bikes the next. This blogger pressed the approach that “if it gets paved it gets painted” on both fronts. Even from among the ranks of Dotbikers, it is obvious that not everyone shares that view. We’ll endeavor to outline why this argument is one all bike advocacy and regional planning groups should adopt.

The BCU meeting saw us go over the tiresome often repeated exercise of choosing what streets needed attention. Like all of them was too much. Let’s focus on a few things and get a win. Meanwhile BCU’s general view is to work for cycletracks to be scattered across the city not to far from anyone. That’s a great goal and I’m all for that. However the Boston Bikes meeting revealed why striving for incremental gains is the best policy for today. Not that we won’t keep swinging for the fences where we can, but let’s play for some hits. The homers come when you’re hitting good.

Boston Bikes had few if any announcements of any significance to please any riders in Dorchester. There’s a hope that funding for Hubway to the rest of the City will be found and a plan installed in one fell swoop. Hazzaa! Otherwise sharrows on Geneva Ave. and new paint on Ballou Street as part of the Urban Trail are about it. That in spite of a huge state project on Gallivan Boulevard and Morton Street, paving on Washington from Codman Square to 4 Corners and any number of other DPW projects. NO PAINT NO NOTHING.

We got a sense that Boston Bikes hasn’t found its voice in the new Walsh Administration and the old line road planners sans Commissioner Timlin and Mayor Menino’s insistence have fallen back into their “find more speed and preserve parking” ways. It was brought to our attention that the overwhelming number of requests politicians here are for more parking and more room for cars. Bike advocates voices get drowned out even in the face of logic that says they are 100% right when it comes to creating a more sustainable and healthy transportation environment for all of us.

Given the situation above then why the paint everything approach? Data suggests the ridership increases when the perception of safety increases. The Field of Dreams, “Build it and They Will Come” mantra is true. So how do we get more riders who in turn will become advocates for further improvements to bike infrastructure? You start with what is easy and unobjectionable for the politicians to sell. A sharrow? What’s that? No problem, put it down is the thinking.

Why is this the best conclusion? This writer has been active in community life for all his life. His mother had him at the dump sorting bottles and piling newspapers in the 1960s. My mother’s efforts were directly attributed to the dump, which became a land fill, to remain open many years longer than projected thanks to the recycling that was done. My first introduction to small actions yielding big results.

During high school I got tired of offensive cigarette smoke in the bathrooms and watching my friends get suspended for smoking. As a student representative to the School Committee I brought forward a proposal to allow students to smoke at school (funny how times change huh?). We crafted it with 5 options beginning with being able to smoke at school events where adults could smoke with parental permission, to between class smoking at designated smoking areas in school. When I graduated we had before and after school smoking allowed and I learned that it got to the point where students could smoke at lunch but not study halls before anti-smoking for everyone turned that back. Yet for a time we had nearly smoke free bathrooms at my school and a lot fewer senseless suspensions.

Finally as a Dorchester resident, we worked a monthly volunteer staffed drop off site for FIVE years before the Menino Adminstration finally brought a full scale curbside recycling program to all of Boston. We had up to 800 cars a month and we parlayed that into a loud voice they newly elected Mayor couldn’t ignore even in the face of his cynically resistant Public Works Director. We learned about incremental improvements and being coopted from Mayor Flynn, which we took but we never lost site of our ultimate goal of a city-wide curbside program.

So, how do we get the Mayor and transportation planners to move to a more pro-active pedestrian and cyclists approach with their road planning? Give them the lowest bar to reach so they can at least get on the ladder. Then they will have more constituents looking for more improved pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. That will make it easier for them to say yes to more demanding requests in time.

This is especially true in Dorchester and other outlying neighborhoods that have a history of actually being suburban rather than urban. The Ashmont neighborhood I live in was one of the first ever Street Car suburbs and many of my neighbors thinking remains stubbornly 20th century suburban when it comes to transportation. Car first, last and always. Community groups are especially resistant offering up incorrect assessments of the impact of improved cycling infrastructure and firmly believing them. After all it is the prevailing wisdom in America. Cyclists are a minority. There are more of us every day, but not enough yet.

Incremental change will serve to entice new riders, educate drivers which will increase the number of advocates and weaken auto-centric resistance as we all get used to more bikes on our streets.

So Dotbike has a great approach working now. Let’s work with the entire community to bring as much biking infrastructure as we can. Let’s begin installing fix it stations around the community. There’s already plenty of bikes around, but it is true that a lack of access to repairing bikes is an impediment to regular riding. So donate NOW to their fix it station near Fields Corner.

Next, let’s invite Mayor Marty to go on a ride with us to get a sense of our perspective. He had agreed to one with Galen Mook. Galen did you ever collect? Let’s do it! We’ll pick you up at your house Marty and ride to City Hall. How about that?

Meanwhile let’s turn up the heat so we can get Boston Bikes the administrative support it needs to get back on track toward instituting the Toole Design 5-30 year transportation plan. Instead of waiting for a complete redesign with each street, let’s take what we can get. The easy ask. Hear that Marty? We want cycle tracks on Comm Ave sure. That would be great. We also want sharrows on both Washington Streets, lanes on Mass Ave, a new look at Dot Ave. We have other dreams, but we’ll take our time on those and take a commitment from the Mayor to instruct his planners to include some form of bicycle infrastructure in EVERY major paving and road restoration project.

So, y’all Let’s Do It!

Time to turn up the heat on new administration (Dotriderblog’s rant)

August 13th, 2014 by dotriderblog

So the overall bike and pedestrian movement is all up in arms thanks to the lousy job done by city planners on the stretch of Comm Ave in front of BU. The City did a cozy deal with BU and left everyone’s comments in the trash bin. We get a wider T thanks to Fed regulations and more turn lanes too. Less pedestrian and bike accommodations are the result.

That resulted in this from Dot riders:

Hello Mayor Walsh? Nobody home? It’s time to wake up on this issue. It’s time to tell your man Gilloughly to wake up and realize it’s the second decade of the 21st Century, not 1975.

Boston Bikes has agreed to meet with Dot Bike and Boston Cyclists Union to discuss. Haven’t we done this before? Isn’t there a plan? Whatever happened to it. I guess it’s in the Mayor’s wash room as tissue paper. I recall no less than THREE meetings where we marked up maps of town with our dreams. Well none of that has changed.

What has changed is Washington Street (one in Dot and the other in JP from Egleston to Forest Hills) were paved w/o any bike paint anywhere. So was Geneva Ave. So was Warren Street. So was Gallivan Blvd. Last year we saw Mass Ave from Everett Square to South Bay get paved and painted. What’s new? Two turn lanes under the bridge. Thanks for nothing. We can go on, but only when we think of a street that has been paved. I’m sure the City has a nice list of them. We talked about that last time in moaning about the low hanging fruit theory that seems to have been long forgotten.

Hey whoever got the Mayor to say he would go for a ride with them, should pick up on that. Then we can show him all these places where his planners fell asleep. He can see for himself the benefits of riding around town. I’m ready. Anyone else? C’mon Mayor reach out and join us.

Well dotriderblog is feeling fired up. He is recalling the fire that lit a flame way back 20 years ago when the newly elected Mayor originally demurred to his infamously stubborn Public Works Director, Joe Cassazza. Joe brazenly told a City Council hearing he was going to wait 240 days to start a full scale curbside recycling program instead of the 60 days in the Mayor’s campaign promise. He suggested the heat from us advocates would be less than from the folks complaining that he did a lousy job. My reaction to others asking what we should do? “Turn up the heat!” was my response. A month and nearly 10,000 signatures later the phone rang with the Mayor’s Chief of Staff on the other end asking us to meet and learn of his plans to institute a full scale recycling program in 90 days….

Having to explain the same needs over and over again remind me of the time the Flynn Administration tried to Coop me into being the volunteer Block Captain Coordinator for Dorchester’s new bi-weekly newspaper recycling program. Once I realized there are 750 streets in Dorchester, I figured it was the City’s job. No more being coopted here.

We will begin by relaying any piece we see chronicalling the health and economic benefits of installing bike infrastructure will be heading your way. We’ll be pasting things everywhere in an effort to get you see that your dedication to improving the economic situation of us residents in the neighborhoods REQUIRES you to invest as heavily as possible in the best bike and pedestrian infrastructure possible.

So Mayor? We’re looking for the knob. Unbutton that collar and loosen your tie. It may be mid-August but it’s about to get hotter not more autumn-like.

What happened to low hanging fruit?

July 24th, 2014 by dotriderblog

Way back when Bostonbikes was just getting started, there was talk of a four pronged approach to developing bike infrastructure and pushing along the bike agenda. The one that has been sticking in my head lately was the supposition that the city would continue to go after the ‘low hanging fruit’ when introducing more bike infrastructure.

Well I interpret that as adding bike paint, even if it just be sharrows, whenever a paving project happens. Well that happened a little in Dot, but lately the fruit has been left to rot.

The starkest example of course is Mass Ave from Everett Square to the bridge at South Bay. That was torn up and paved last year. It is a four lane road with dividers at parts and parking along most of it. In other words, PLENTY WIDE ENOUGH FOR BIKE LANES. What did we get? Two new turn lanes and the train station under the bridge. In other words, more dangerous conditions for bike riders.

This summer there’s the irony of the Washington Streets. For those who know history, you may recall the Red Lining that was done during the 1970s for a Federal minority home ownership program that used the Washington Streets as the boarders (Red Lines) to contain the program. Take a look at a map of Boston and  you’ll see how convenient that is and you’ll also see how they mark the edges of the parts of town that suffer from the most neglect and lack of city services. Well this summer there’s no line not a red line.

Washington Street in JP from Egleston to Forest Hills was just paved. Did it get any bike infrastructure? NOPE. It is probably only fit for sharrows, but I can tell you as someone who rides it every day they would be welcome.

Washington Street in Dot from Codman Square to 4 Corners is repaved this week. No lines yet, but no reply from Boston Bikes to e-mails asking about it’s disposition. Wanna bet there will be NO Sharrows there either?

While I rarely ride there and don’t see a lot of value myself, it didn’t go unnoticed that bike lanes were put on Route 203 (Morton Street in JP by Franklin Park) but NO ACCOMODATION at all was included in the recent repaying from Neponset Circle to Washington Street.

Meanwhile we read of efforts to build separated bike lanes and all kinds of wonderful stuff in the parts of town that happened to get bike lanes, sharrows and all kinds of stuff already. I guess as a result the low hanging fruit in the neighborhoods is being left on the ground to rot.

I sound like a broken record no? Then why is it continuing? Our Mayor is from Dot. C’mon Marty kick your staff in the butt and tell them we deserve the same level of services from government as someone in another neighborhood. Jeesh… We thought it would turn, but so far nope. Too bad. Otherwise Marty has been doing a good job.

Suburban riding

May 21st, 2014 by dotriderblog

This past year I sold a house in Dorchester. I’d been part of the place for 25 years and even ran my wool business out of it even through last year. While we had moved much of the actual wool handling out of the barn, all the scales, two wheelers, wool baggers, shelves and material for a wool showroom and warehouse were left there gathered dust.

When the sale came through I was planning to rent a storage unit or two and let thing lie. My brother in Philadelphia had been doing all the wool shipping and eventually I figured he’d want to retire and I’d be back to shipping wool. That was the plan anyway.

Then we found 28 Draper Lane and the old Draper Felt Mill in Canton. The Draper family has been there for almost 200 years and we hit it off. They rented us one end of the old finishing room for a nice cheapo rate and suddenly R.H. Lindsay Company was reopening a Boston warehouse/showroom.

How does that relate to the head line topic? Well Canton is in the suburbs. 28 Draper Lane is 10 miles from my home in Dorchester. Does that sound like a nice ride? It sure did to me and I bought a nice Fuji touring bike from Ashmont Cycles to accomplish it. We’ve only made the ride a few times as it always seems I’m lugging stuff out there or back, but as the weather has improved and the chore and carry lists are getting shorter and I’m getting more established riding is bound to occur in a more regular fashion.

Hence I’m now a suburban rider. Having grown up in the suburbs I knew what it meant, but after 30 years of riding primarily in Dorchester or Nantucket, the wide open streets of Milton and Canton provided an entirely different challenge.

First the road sides suck! Even before the winter sand and salt, the sides of the roads were full of trash, sand, stones and totally rutted and bumpy. I thought Mass Ave in front of the Christian Science Center was bad. YUK! Send out a sweeper eh? What a mess.

Then the extra distance changes the clothing requirements. During the winter you have to make sure you can stay warm for an hour. During the warmer weather you don’t want to get so hot you’re a ball of sweat. Certainly a different challenge than my 4 mile jaunt from Dot to JP. Shunning the back pack looks like a move I’ll have to make.

Then there are the drivers! No matter how crazy they are in town, most cars are restricted to the point where you don’t encounter many folks going faster than 30 or so. Not so out there. 30 means 50 to many suburban drivers. The same passing on the right, going over double lines, pushing past folks who are ahead of you occurs out there only at a higher speed. YIKES! Oddly though the same slow but steady pace works nearly as well in the suburbs as is does in the city despite the relative speed of the demons. It only takes me about 5 minutes longer to ride out there than to drive.

A big area where cars are a huge threat is where the road is 2 lanes each direction going over the highway. The exit on and off ramps have cars angling double crossing lines blasting out or into them with no regard for smaller slower moving things like bicycles. You need to be doubly aware.

So now I have a lot more empathy for folks I see out riding in their stretchy gear. Good luck surviving with crazy fast drivers darting around and crappy dirty sides of the road. It won’t stop my ride, but it has proven to be a different challenge than I expected.

How riding a bike has changed my driving…

February 25th, 2014 by dotriderblog

Despite my daily devotion to urban bike riding, I do own a car. I drive a lot of miles too logging between 12-14,000 miles per year over the past five years. While most of it is highway, I figure though the riding I’ve done extended the life of my last car at least a year. The fact the driving I avoid is the city driving which is the hardest on my car in wear and tear and the worst for mileage only helps that case. Anyway, let’s get to the title of this piece and examine how riding my bike has changed my driving.

First understand I’ve been a resident of Boston since 1981 and I grew up in the suburbs during the frenetic period of constant highway construction. I know Boston’s streets as well as anyone. The same goes for just about anywhere on the South Shore or Metrowest. While I’ve only lived in the Fenway or Dorchester, my kid went to schools and programs in Hyde Park and Brighton so traversing the city is old hat. Most of that time I would compete with just about everyone to get to the next light first and be the first one in line anywhere. Short cuts, u-turns, slides down lanes that are closing, honking often, sliding through lights and Stop signs all done as a matter of course like a majority of drivers. Outside of town I traveled for work calling on customers from Woonsocket, RI to Lawrence, MA. We know a lot of variations on how to get just about anywhere in between.

Today however I find myself going the speed limit in the city at the most, even 25 or 30 on roads that ‘feel’ like you could go much faster. I use my encyclopedic knowledge of light cycles and variable routes instead to glide to a stop without my foot being on the gas or break pedal. Yeah, coasting. Just like riding my bike.

This gliding creates a new kind of interface with my fellow drivers. In other words the rushers who climb up my butt in the vain hope they might persuade me to go faster. Yeah dream on. I know if they find a way to pass me I’ll be sure to return the butt hovering favor at the next light. At least 90% of the time anyway. And folks do find remarkable ways to pass. I’ve had them pass on the right in a bike or parking lane. I’ve had them go around lane dividers down the wrong way. Seeing that I’m amazed there aren’t more accidents in Boston than there are now.

On the highway the gliding continues, although I will speed it’s never more than 5-10 over the limit. Then I defer as much as possible to using the cruise control (more coasting and better mileage) as much as possible. I’m always looking ahead of the folks directly in front of me trying to ascertain how to gauge my speed in the case a sudden stop is required. In jams I’m the one who has loads of space in front of me where folks cut in and out. I always seem to be the one moving though. I’ll also get off the limited access highway and take an old state road with a slower speed limit if I can save enough distance. Knowing how to go pays off.

I still slide through most yellow/pink light as in my riding coming to a complete stop is the enemy of making good time. For my motto in riding is the same as in city driving, “It’s not how fast I go, it’s how little I go zero.” Of course I can often avoid that on an open street by knowing to speed up or just slow down and coast as my chances of making the light are slim.

One other way my driving reflects my riding is that I rarely, if ever, pay for parking anywhere in town.  While riding is easy in that you pull up to your destination and chain your bike to what is handy, there’s no way I’ll reveal how to Park for a Red Sox game or down town show for free. I can say where it’s different is that free car parking is never right in front. However, knowing where the spots are is actually enhanced by what I see when I’m on my bike. Often I notice a soft spot one day on my bike, only to use it for a show at the Huntington or elsewhere.

So the advantages of being a daily rider pay off in a lot of ways, even when I’m driving.

Response to Joan Vennochi

December 27th, 2013 by dotriderblog

Joan Vennochi hit on some interesting points related to bicycling in the city and its position in the political landscape. While her auto-centrism shouts out from behind her attempt at neutrality, she’s right that cycling shouldn’t be a conservative or liberal issue.

But driving cycling into the local political landscape is important. The common ground we share is our local streets. For too long automobiles have had the sole franchise on street planning, parking and infrastructure investment all at the cost to others. It’s no wonder the demographic of today’s early adopting riders are young men as the number one thing preventing more folks from riding is their fear for their own safety from the preponderance of automobiles clogging and hogging our streets.

Vennochi almost makes the connection that for every rider there is one less person in a car or truck clogging the streets, but alas she failed. She also failed to realize that parking isn’t what local businesses need in order to thrive, but better friendlier street design that provides safe access for everyone especially pedestrians and cyclists. There is a growing mass of evidence of the economic benefits of complete street design and there are examples where conservative elected officials recognize it and they’ve begun to adopt complete streets as part of their agenda.

Besides if today’s conservatives truly lived up to the meaning of that word, they’d be all for saving money, time and resources for little cost to the government. After all most riders motivation isn’t politics, but saving time and money while getting free exercise. It certainly isn’t to irritate “driver seat” liberals like Joan Vennochi.

Neighborhood groups impediment to expanding bike infrastructure

December 6th, 2013 by dotriderblog

We attended the community meeting on Seaver Street to finalize the plans for traffic calming and installing bike infrastructure. Apparently it was a reboot of an effort that was torpedoed by a few vocal local community members representing various local community groups. The word out of that meeting was that cycle tracks were doomed.

The DPW and Boston Bikes did a little more homework and political background work between meetings in hopes of turning things around. They met with the local nay sayers and developed an alternate plan that answered the immediate concerns. Then they quietly lobbied to get a good cadre of local bicycle supporters to attend. Mission accomplished.

The biggest fear was a misplaced one that believed a cycle track and parking outside of that put the parker at risk far beyond anyone else. That issue alone proved to be a stumbling block for the most resistant and vocal attendee at this meeting. We love the man’s sincerity, but we hope that he can open his eyes to the big picture.

The rest of the local biking community showed up and did an awesome job of arguing for bicycle infrastructure. Some very good grass roots folks from the Y’s Roxbury Bike showed and made compelling arguments for the double track (Option 2) plan the City obviously preferred. I nearly took my hand down as both the big and small pictures were well presented and argued.

The most inspiring testimonies however were from two young men who had obvious connections to Bikes Not Bombs. Wow! Boston is going to be a great city with fine young men like the two that stood up and gave compelling intelligent and soulful reasons why Seaver Street should have cycle tracks. Wow! (Did I already say that?)

Meanwhile Boston Bikes and DPW weathered the noise of one of the most cantankerous meeting participants I’ve ever encountered. YIKES! I would have been physically afraid for my own safety had I been in Nicole Friedman’s shoes. What a contrast when the guy basically pushed her aside (6 foot + 220 lbs+ of angry man versus 5 ft? Nicole?) and took over at one point.

Boston Bikes stood their ground though, kept things civil and the crowd did the rest. Anyone who hadn’t decided before they got there obviously came down for Option 2 in the end as only a few hands went up when Option 1 was offered as a choice, while a preponderence of hands soared in proud defiance when Option 2 was offered.

So now one victory in the neighborhood. Perhaps the T and DPW should take the lesson learned here and apply it to a reboot of the cold nasty response the city got from the Mattapan Community about making a Silver Line like stretch up Blue Hill Avenue.

Certainly they can take what they learned home in preparation for more encounters with rabid community folks. We already hear the auto-centric resentment toward bicycles and accomodating them in the neighborhoods. While I love my neighbors who show up at constant meetings and volunteer their time and toil to making their neighborhood a better place, I’m tired of those folks sometimes feeling so entitled that they actually block progress.

But neighbohood backers of bicycle infrastructure be warned. That we need to show up at these meetings and be cool calm and positive.

I got up and spoke of the economic benefits of cycling. I also contrasted the Seaver Street proposal to the crap Dot Ave got out of state planners when instead of increased bike capacity we got more turn lanes at the major intersection.

Given the tension in the room I didn’t ask my Dot-centric quetions. The first being, what about the part of Seaver Street on the Dot-side of Blue Hill Avenue down to Erie? Lanes? Continue the love? The other? How about making it a lane not a sharrow again from Columbia Road to Seaver. It was installed as a lane, but made into a sharrow later. With a cycle track that turns into a real weak point as a sharrow.