Dotrider was one of six panelists at the WGBH studios this week for their upcoming special exploring the interaction between motor vehicles and bicycles. It was a somewhat varied group. Two of us were from Dorchester and a third worked there (note that City of Boston bike planners). They have way more tape than they could ever use as we had a wide ranging discussion directed by reporter Adam Reilly. Here’s some of my impressions.
My dismayed feelings about the immensely popular Hubway bike share program was generally shared among all regular riders with one panelist piling on by describing it as “putting the cart before the horse.” Yeah, if you’re suffering from the slow pace of improvement in to bike infrastructure outside of down town it is still plainly obvious that the time, talent and effort put into that program has detracted from the potential progress elsewhere despite’s its surface success. There was also a conclusion that it may have only helped to add to the tension between drivers and riders.
Most of us were car drivers as well with one panelist trapped in a suburban life that requires driving everwhere. The suburban riders suggested the perils of riding in the city are nothing compared to sparring with the high speed rushed drivers out there. We all agreed that there is a growing, if not grudging acceptance of bicycles on the road. Many emphasized that cars should get used to us and recognize the fact that as cyclists we take up a lot less room than if we were in a car and they should celebrate every bike they see as one less car.
We also were pretty unanimous related the approach taken by the Boston Public Health Commission when they brought out their wear a helmet campaign. If you want to encourage more folks to get active you don’t raise the bar. Besides, the more folks out riding the safer it is for all of us (at least statistically).
One of the riders was hit while riding on Seaver St and we got a chance to promote the cycle track ideas there as well as on Malcom X & around the Public Garden.
There was a lot of talk wrt riding strategy, like taking off early at a light to avoid the turning cars or taking a lane in an intersection. Certainly if drivers had an idea of cyclist thinking it might help them.
The overwhelming conclusion though was that it is hard not to be grumpy if you’re a driver in Boston. After all the streets are clogged, there are choke points where no matter how fast you drive elsewhere you just have to wait. Despite short distances it can take a painfully long time to get anywhere. Well d’uh! Wonder why I ride more and more? It’s mostly because after a half mile in my car I start honking and getting frustrated and wish I’d ridden my bike.
Anyway, I don’t envy Adam Reilly and his producer at trying to distill down over an hour of wide ranging excellent discussion into a 20 minute segment. There’s a chance that nothing I wrote here will emerge at all while they chose something else as more appropriate. Here’s hats off to the attempt and hopes that they do a good job.
Bike-car-T Commuter Challenge idea!!! We sent a fb message to Liveable Streets (as yet no reply) suggesting they take a fresh angle on their annual race across Somerville and Cambridge to a place in Boston via bike, car and T. As good as it is, it’s sort of becoming trite and the big gains in bike infrastructure only make it more so. My suggestion was that there be a race from a Boston neighborhood to downtown. Imagine the options of a ‘race’ from Mattapan Square to Down Town Crossing… T options 28 to… or Trolly to Red Line… or the new Purple Line? Car options…which way through Dot or Roxbury or JP? Bike options? Water front, through Franklin Park or straight line?? There could be a dozen racers and a myriad of results that would give us a lot to think about. We hope Liveable Streets would join us and help.
Anyway, the idea has been put through the Dotbike planning and it got a tepid response with the idea that we try to get Liveable Streets to join us next year and promote one. Other ideas included having a ‘race’ in a different angle, like from Southie to Hyde Park to accentuate a lack of options for those of us not working down town. But hey! if anyone is interested in this idea please let me know. I’d be willing to do the work it would take to get this done.
May has begun with some super weather and we see more new riders on our route everyday. If you’re not now and have been thinking of riding now’s the time!! We’ll be looking for you. Pedal on!!