Archive for August, 2010

Dot road lists for advocates/planners

Monday, August 30th, 2010

We covered why Dot doesn’t get the respect and attention it deserves. There is certainly plenty of evidence of long term institutional blindness that gives Dot second rate or incomplete jobs when the rest of Boston isn’t. Just to add one more, what ever happened to the portion of the Harbor Trail due to traverse along the edge of the Boston Gas Tank property. The state is set to get the discussion going, but instead we hear of plans to install solar panels with no talk of providing thru access to riders forced to traverse a dangerous section of Morrisey Blvd. But I digress…

Dorchester has over 750 streets. There are a number of major streets that would benefit from some accomodation for bicycles. For our great advocates (if you read this blog) here’s my list. Forgive the disorganized riffing here… Bowdoin Street (which is being paved from Washington to Quincy St’s). Park Street (which was #1 (over 2% of vehicles were bikes) on the BOLD Teen survey in terms of bike use which is being paved this summer. Washington Street is a major north/south route that needn’t wait for paving to get accomodation. Columbia Road mostly 4 lanes when it shouldn’t be could benefit immensely from bike accomodation. Geneva Avenue runs from Blue Hill to Park Street (a block from Dot Ave) Talbot Ave and Ashmont Street (Talbot is done but we got sharos on the most dangerous section zzzzzz) Blue Hill Avenue 4 lane raceway. Quincy Street runs from Warren Street in Roxbury to Bowdoin Street. Harvard Ave runs from Washington Street to River Street in Mattapan. Glenway from Blue Hill to Harvard (was paved last year could use sharos). Neponset Avenue from Adams to Gallivan Blvd is nice wide road where paint would go on easy. Adams Street from top of Meetinghouse Hill to Lower Mills (the old Lower Road is a snake path but well travelled by bikes). Some form of accomodation please. Hancock Street from Dot Ave to Columbia Road. Pleasant Street from Hancock to Cottage Street Cottage Street. Mass Avenue from Everett Square to Boston Medical Center (probably more distance there than the part that apparently will be accomodate. Plenty wide too. They’re painting Mass Ave. just keep going! Dot Ave (of course we’re getting sharos from Glovers Corner down even though there is probably room south of Fields Corner and/or Peabody Square (another lazy missed opportunity by our planners). Morton Street from Dot Ave to Blue Hill Ave (or even Forest Hills would be cool) Another wide 4 lane street… Norfolk Street from Codman Square (Washington) to Blue Hill Ave wide enough south of Morton for sure.  Seaver Street (Roxbury dot line) from Columbia to Washington Street (in Eggleston Square) is a 4 lane ‘highway that could use some traffic calming. These are all major routes used by folks in Dorchester and/or wanting to pass through on their way in or out of down town Boston. We get enough extra traffic to make a number of intersections on these roads show up in the city’s top ten for accidents. So not only do they need attention for bicycles, they could use some major traffic calming no?

So where’s the city’s list? Are any of these roads being considered? Yes on some, but no on most. Why not? I believe we’ve opined enough on that!

Dorchester psyche is product of history

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Oh for a deepwater harbor and we’d all live in Dorchester. Beginning in 1630, Dorchester has a long and symbiotic relationship with the little penninsula that started as Boston. Originally beginning at what is now called the Seaport District, the original name for that section of town is Dorchester Flats. Southie was originally Dorchester Heights and in fact it still was when Washington and a group slogged the cannons that Henry Knox hauled down from Fort Ticonderoga in 1776 from Dorchester Common across what is now Moakley Park to the Heights. Hence Evacuation Day on March 17th… To the south, Dorchester went as far as Wrentham. Towns like Milton, Stoughton, Sharon, Walpole, Foxboro Canton and Randolph all were established as churches were set up to serve the outlying Dorchester districts. Always a farming town with too much ledge, many of the original Dotites moved onto the Connecticut River Valley for better soil. Their move set up a familiar story in Dorchester’s history. Folks move here, get settled build up some wealth and move onto new pastures. It’s the American way.

The transitory nature of Dorchester affects many of our current residents thinking today. How many times have we heard the lament that a family is ‘moving to Milton.’ This creates  a fear that colors our decision making and it has certainly made it hard for Dot to prosper in spite of itself. Fights against UMass institutional expansion come to mind as one area where this fear has played out to our detriment. If we had a bigger stronger and richer institution then the whole town would be better off no?

The fact that folks move out for something ‘better’ has also helped to contribute to Dot’s inferiority complex. Even if the folks moving have trouble they always have to rationalize their move as a positive step. Hence those of us who don’t take that step may be viewed as losers…

Add to that what I call the Urban Fairy Tale. With more han half the folks living out in the suburbs now the ogres and bad folks who used to live in the forest can’t live there anymore. Instead they live in the abandoned and decayed city…

The funny fact is that Dorchester isn’t abandoned at all. When one family moves out it creates room for the next one. Today there are over 60 languages spoken in Dot. We have one of the most diverse ethnic mixes in America. Which leads to another problem. Despite our vast population, the divesity makes it harder to organize us as a group. Eveyone goes to their own church (temple or mosque), hangs with friends from where they were etc etc. While we may live next door to folks we don’t always party with them. Dot’s future is America’s for we need to figure out how to reach across our cultural boundaries and work together. For after all the last time I checked all my neighbors want the same thing I do….A safe place for their family, a nice home, good schools, handy location and good shopping. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, that’s all our bottom line.

So add a transitioning population, the fear and inferiority it engenders, and scores of ethnic enclaves and you can see why it is hard to generate the political voice required to overcome the 1,000 pound gorilla that is down town with it’s huge institutions and moneyed residents, or other neighborhoods that are more concentrated ethnically and remain more controlled when competing for services. So someone has to get left out and as a result we get the short end of the stick.

The Mayor’s Bike Program is only one example of same. Sharos on Talbot Ave versus a lane taken out under Mass Ave and painted bike boxes on Commonwealth Avenue is the most obvious illustration. Perhaps we’re giving too much play to the big picture, but dotrideblog has been watching this since 1984 and in fact was on the other side of it growing up out on the South Shore and it explains a lot about Dot and how things happen here.

dotbike as a group has been very sensitive to spanning our ethnic range. I’t’s hard though as many of our new residents come from places where the government wasn’t something that necessarily worked for you instead being something to be feared and avoided. Hardly the roots for a politically active populace. Just give me a job and leave me be and I’ll be happy. We’ve had our successes and the flickr site helps to reveal the fact that everyone is out there riding as much as the spandex clad inteligencia of what was once called New Town (Cambridge) of which we house our share as well. Only we house the guy who is cleaning your office or washing your dishes as well. With an above average adult bicycle accident rate and the highest among our children, there’s tons of clear evidence we’re out there. It’s just that we won’t show up at a meeting or thank someone for doing the obvious. Hence we get swept to the back and given easy half-done responses.

Talbot Ave cop out…

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Well the city wimped out and put sharos on the most dangerous stretch of Talbot Avenue from the Lee School (Barnard Street) to Codman Square (Washington Street). We’ll put a post to the dotbike flickr site here that shows clearly that over HALF the stretch is either cross streets (no parking so a lane would help safety) or bus stops (another stretch that can share with a dedicated lane). Add to that three private businesses with off street PARKING and another car repair business that routinely uses the spots in front of their business for their repairs and the span of parking is amazingly small. A rough count of both the north and south side of Talbot yielded an estimate of 47 spaces on each side in that span which Google maps as just less than half a mile.  Finally on top of ALL that is the proposed Fairmont Line Talbot Station where there shouldn’t be ANY parking ulitmately. If the City was thinking they would do it, they haven’t worked much with the T as I would suggest the odds that dotriderblog will be DEAD before they finish that station are more than 50/50… (20 years puts me over my life expectancy) 

By the way that spot would be a good spot for the bike share no? (If we have to have it, that would make a lot of sense)

We’ll come back next week with our sales trip of Dorchester. Just a tidbit though….Dot has two Olmstead Parks covering over 700 acres. What other neighborhood can boast that? We also have the longest stretch of river front of any other neighborhood and coastline… Who knew?

He’s back…

Monday, August 16th, 2010

I’d posted this in the comments section in response to a comment… (It got spammed)….

Curly Suze…Thanks for all your cool advice, but I think you may have missed much of the point of I Ride to Work. We’re speaking from a perspective that the neighborhood of Dorchester is underserved by the Mayor’s Bike Program and that isn’t ANY different than just about any other city or state service coming here. If you consider that Dorchester is 20% of the city’s area and population. On it’s own it would be the third largest city in Massachusetts. It houses a hospital, university our #1 newspaper, a Presidential Library has 750 streets with nearly a third of the schools in the Boston system and there is a chronic LONG TERM shortage of services and follow through and NOW you understand my plaint. Big dig we were to get sound barriers…oops forgot. New PJP Neponset Park was to get a canoe/kayak rental…oops forgot… had 4 stations to be renovated… that started over 10 years ago and one station the T wanted to have a completion party even though they hadn’t completed the ceiling…oops forgot…so now we’re in the throws of all kind of infrastructure improvements and we get half assed solutions with NO advocacy to do it the right way…oops we forgot. So when they run out a bike share program that the original map left out ALL of Dorchester and other neighborhoods south…oops we forgot and includes Cambridge and Somerville (not part of Boston) you can see why we’re suspicious. Why? Let me rephrase that, we’re not suspicious, we’re convinced we’re getting the short end of the stick LIKE WE ALWAYS DO. Any program building job or government improvement has always been done less than what was originally promised. That on top of countless services having been cut as a result of Propsostion 2 1/2 and the racial redlining done in the 60s n 70s and we have a LONG history of getting the short end from City Hall. The latest is the bike lane that was supposed to be installed on Talbot Avenue which is a major east/west road in Dorchester. Well we got some lanes, but for the most dangerous and treacherous stretch of the road we get sharos… Anyone who is a true advocate for biking wouldn’t have compromised and gotten the city to give up one side of the street for parking and put in two lanes. With three bus stops in the said stretch two commercial properties three side streets we’re not talking about that many spaces. Instead I get yelled at (even with the sharo just today in fact) to ‘get out of the road and up on the sidewalk.’ So you can see the effectiveness of a sharo in Dot. NONE! Hence my dismay.

By the way, my driving was multi-passenger included moving an entire load of someone’s possessions, included a business stop that also had material picked up and dropped off and was in a 1991 SAAB that unless I took it for free would be in the junk yard. While on the trip we recovered three chairs, a couch and a microwave out of the trash which we only could have recovered with our car (it fit the couch perfectly). We got 25 mpg on the trip. Any major parts have been recovered from junk cars and it RARELY gets used for city trips and almost exclusively for longer distance trips where public transportation options are nil or untimely. Sorry to be a waste, but hey it is America afterall. I’ve ridden over 2000 miles so far this year isn’t that enough?

Next! We’ll sell Dorchester some more with things most folks have never considered or thought about the place we call Dot!

10 days and 1400 miles to think…

Friday, August 6th, 2010

OK! I’m off on a auto-driving trip for the next ten days. The best thing about them is that I do my best thinking after 4-5 hours in a car. When we return we’ll have decided on a plan (or to do nothing) to get the Boston City Council involved in finding out WHY the City has embarked upon something that no one but two people have ever indicated they wanted (bike share). While the Mayor is a powerful guy and Nicole’s the apple of his eye, he is an ELECTED official and we’re VOTING citizens who he should have to answer to for his reasoning. Of course Nicole’s title has her as part of the BRA which answers to no one so… Anyway, keep it real! Peddle on!

Uh oh! Bike share an international plot?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

David Bernstein posted this link to his blog on facebook today…  which was really inspired by this link..  that reports the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado is indicating bike share is part of a United Nations plot to end the American Way…I guess that would explain everything, the lack of process, the bull headed push despite increasingly longer odds with each turn, the ignoring of local advocates plaints etc. as the Mayor and Nicole Freedman vainly pursue a Bike Share program. Sadly, having a right wing Republican insisting bike share is a UN Plot might actually convince me to be for it… Why didn’t Nicole just say so from the beginning? Well, probably because it’s a bunch of baloney… just like the bike share plan itself. On the anti-front we’re considering contacting City Councilors to insist on a public hearing. Any thoughts on that? I’m sure we can get a couple of our esteemed councilors to support that idea.

So what to do?

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

As an advocate who cannot support the public policy (bike share) Dotriderblog is left with a sense of helplessness. Why get involved? Our opinions are already short shrifted. Our issues are on the back burner because something no one asked for is being promoted a the expense of what a majority of advocates believe is the number one priority. We’re being told there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish what we think should be the main priority. As one who is typically FOR something being done and getting something accomplished, considering revving up an ANTI anything group gives me a headache. It was so bad I blew off Bike Friday even though I was in town. Think the Mayor’s Bike Program is in trouble? D’uh! Come to think of it we did work on anti-graffitti for a while in the 90s. That was fun though covering over people’s mess. The city liked it so much they set up their own anti-graffitti program… So…an anti-bike sharing group doesn’t have the same feel. Too bad! Judging from the comments on my previous posts we might have a pretty big meeting if we did…