Archive for October, 2010

Let’s be nice…drive 100% right? Probably not.

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Wow! I usually ride alone but when I end up riding with my partner Maggie it always seems that I get myself into some scrape with an idiot driver who beeps and yells at me to get off the road. Typically I’m tailing Maggie and I’m hanging a bit into the street more than usual in a purely defensive position to protect my partner from any aggravation. Sadly she gets more aggravated when I get into a spat with a car. She doesn’t care that I’ll give them a Massbike Same Road Same Rules hand out. TS!

So…thinking about the domestic consequence I started thinking about all my bike habits. They’re probably very similar to my driving ones only no one hears me when I call the guy who cut me off an asshole… However when I see other riders being aggressive against automobiles I don’t like it either. I’ve gotten to the point in my car when I ride with Maggie that I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. I find it is permeating into all my driving…

Now to translate it into my bike riding. Why? Let’s see if I yell at someone they’re NOT going to HEAR what I say? That’s all it takes I guess. Just that realization that being an aggressive noisy guy only alienates drivers from any openess to riders. So… I guess we’ll be looking for our own “Hi Cars!” sign… and try to keep our mouth shut whenever someone beeps, cuts me off, turns in front of me, speeds by too close, races past me with a few yards to go before the red light, or whatever anti-social move they’re bound to make during my meager 4+ mile commute between Dot and JP…

Next? Ride correctly? Doubt it. I counted 10 (soon to be 11) traffic signals that I pass through everyday on my way to work…2 in Peabody Square (take a right on red and go thru the next one even if its red if no cars are in the Tedeschi lot). Codman Square at Mellville (often stop but run as I know it is a delayed red with southbound getting the green before the north). Park Street nearly ALWAYS stop if red although we’ll move off if we see NO CARS in sight after we stop. 4 Corners ALWAYS stop although take off as it turns. Next light on Washington NEVER stop as no right side egress and it is really a STUPID polically motivated light). Washington/Columbia ALWAYS. Columbia and Seaver (ALWAYS but I’d go before the light changes if all the cars clear). Columbia and Blue Hill ALWAYS (there’s an average of 8 cars running it on Blue Hill EVERY DAY). Montebello & Washington (ALWAYS although it’s a three cycle light and I’ll run through if the Forest Hills Ave light is green and all the cars have gone) (We’ll review the ride home another time although I’d say there are less lights). Would I ever be a total complier? Doubt it. How about you?

Oh and would declaring that I’m going to be nice on the road curtail my outspokeness related to the progress of bike development in Dorchester? I would say I’ve already toned things down a little, but don’t expect me to clam up altogether in that arena. At least not until the bike share is tabled for 5 years and one job in Dorchester gets done right the first time and beyond our hopes and expectations….(That might be happening too as I saw what looked like bike lane outlines on Mass Ave just north of South Bay so…)

Fall back

Monday, October 25th, 2010

We’re sorry about the political post. We had a larger agenda there…Wish us luck!

The clocks fall back soon and then those of us that are on the road before 7pm will get some well deserved light. Most of us however will be sentenced to riding home in the dark. Time to get your lighting and light clothes organized. We’re used to not being seen anyway, but it is far worse this time of year. It’s fun to ride through Franklin Park even though parts of it are closed after dark…No worries Bernie and his minions all leave by 3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car parked in the Parks employee lot after 4. But hey they start early.

We went riding with Dotbike on their art tour. For those who have been on it before and noticed the loop was about the same you missed a lot of NEW art! The Everett Square installation is more than art it includes a wonderful representation of history as well. Thanks Laura for your fine efforts in this regard. We’re not sure if it’s too late to donate for a brick, but if you notice the Edward Everett Square committee anywhere be sure to ask. The new moon in Peabody Square is pretty wild too.

What we noticed on the ride were the hundreds of other folks out and about on two wheels. Biking in Dot has grown this past year. We haven’t been nearly as agressive in collecting photos of folks riding but they come anyway. The dotbike flickr site has spent a lot of time chronicalling bike lane installations or not quite done installations. Oh yeah we posted some shots of the art ride too! Check em out!

We’re onto week three for the Talbot Avenue job to actually get completed. Boston Bikes is on vacation (or out of town on business) so we’ll see if transportation and the Mayor’s office is aware of the issue. We still haven’t gone the length of Columbia Road but while more Bike Chevron guys showed the paint in the lanes hasn’t. We heard one comment though that they liked it was it helped give a mental picture of the ‘door zone.’ OK. Blue Hill Ave lanes are taking shape and they look to be running north from Columbia Road through Grove Hall (as long as the paving job went). We’ll take a ride there as well as down Columbia Road soon just for kicks. Being cynical about the painting companies professionalism and ability to actually finish a job isn’t hard nor is it ill-placed. Sheesh! One would think someone could put down a line or a logo where the engineer puts a signal to put it no? I’m not there, but what I see afterward is just more of the same BS that Dorchester puts up with on all services.

WGBH is doing a series on Blue Hill Avenue at 7:50 each morning. Educational opportunity here. First one was okay. Listen up and you’ll learn some history to support dotriderblog’s supposition that Dot is underserved and we have been for a long long long time…

Biking and politics

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Today let’s muse on the gubenatorial candidates and how they fit the “I bike to work!” agenda. Typically grass roots movements don’t care who is in office. We’re fighting to change how everyone looks at an issue no matter their affiliation. If there is an obvious civic will politicians of any persuasion will follow. Everyone likes a winner…

Cycling is usually a lone activity, so the thought that it is a lefty issue shouldn’t be taken for granted. After all riding a bike is really a conservative activity. It conserves energy, conserves our roadways and conserves time as cyclers are excercising while getting somewhere. Sadly that’s not today’s version of being conservative, which in today’s ‘Fox Skews’ world seems to mean being greedy and selfish. Let us review!

The Patrick Administration has been slow to grasp bike culture. Judging from what MassDot SAYS they are learning. What they DO makes dotriderblog wary. Are we seeing actual change or lip service? The project on Mass Ave is a great example. The planning began years ago and the stated goal was to improve driveability. A huge political effort ensued to include better bicycle and pedestrian accomodation. While MassDot finally relented and redesigned the project to include bicycle and pedestrian access, autocentricity still permeates the job. There are still the ‘Lights timed for 30 mph’ signs at each intersection which is ludicrous from a bicycling perspective. So, we see changes but its like watching the Titanic making a turn…

Jill Stein doesn’t appear to grasp the bicycling agenda outside of identifying it as being a green activity. It’s popular in Cambridge so it must be good. My interaction with her was disapointing and as someone who identifies as Green, Ms. Stein doesn’t get my vote this time.

Tim Cahill? It’s hard for dotriderblog to imagine that he might even be able to ride a bike let alone understand today’s biking issues. We’re not sure he would want to do anything but make it so more cars could go faster. Can’t see him doing much, although he might keep a lot of the Patrick administration if a miracle does strike. Dotriderblog has his own bias against his ilk which we would describe as ‘Reagan Democrat.’ Dot has two precincts that voted for Scott Brown and we imagine they might side with Tim. Not dotriderblog though…

Charlie Baker is trying to catch the Scott Brown buzz. While Scott Brown rides a bike, he got elected driving his pick up. Besides, anyone who reads this blog regularly knows  dotriderblog  doesn’t automatically identify folks who ride for exercise as commited to the urban cycling agenda. Baker wants to make government smaller and cut taxes so we wouldn’t expect much more than lip service here…

Reflecting on the above, perhaps we’ll take election day off and go for a nice long recreational ride instead of voting. However with a close race shaping up it might be one of those rare times when my vote might feel like it really counts. Given the progress seen in the Patrick administration, dotriderblog will be casting his vote early and often for Deval Patrick!

Build it and they come!

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Wow! It seems as though the new bike lane on Columbia Road has created a surge in ridership. We’ve seen it each day, especially in Franklin Park on Circuit Drive. The esteemed Park’s Department Asst Commissioner Bernie Lynch might even have to agree that there are folks riding in the park, just about everywhere. We saw a cyclocross guy crashing through the woods today in fact. Tuesday was cool as there were two cycle-groovers (in full kit, yellow reflective vest etc..) heading one way and then two ride-to-work types (no helmet, flattish tires, low end mountain or road bike, often, but not always minority) headed the other. Measurable %’s of the folks biking in the park now. Rode up with one guy (pictured on the dotbike flickr site) who is a true beneficiary as he lives in Uphams Corner and works in JP by Forest Hills. As we see Dot Ave getting paved and hear that the T and city are planning to pave Dot Ave at Ashmont Station (will that job EVER get finished?) this weekend we’re getting dangerously close to perhaps seeing the mysterious paint truck with the bike sharrow chevron and the bike chevron guy go the entire length of Dot Ave… That said any ride up Dot Ave meets more and more riders of all ilks, (groover/worker/combo) as well as the dominant local neighborhood rider (most sidewalker) just chillin on the street corner without the paint, so watch out we might start looking like Cambridge once the lines go down.

Just to prove I’m not on some kind of weird pharmacutical that is skewing my mood here’s a few things to think about. We’re on the second week of waiting for the contractor to return and finish the pieces they missed on Talbot Avenue… The Columbia Road job remains done in half-assed typical job received in Dot-like status, although a few more chevrons showed… We were looking at Bowdoin Street getting painted and were wistful for a surprise lane or sharrow chevron… This isn’t Dot, but hey the “Lights are timed for 30 mph” signs on Mass Ave are IDIOTIC! It only encourages cars to speed to 30 to try in a vain attempt to hit the light and 90%+ of the time there’s too much traffic to reach that speed safely especially with bikes in the road. For example, the typically snail-like dotriderblog did set off the radar sign on Talbot Ave at 18 one day and 21 the next, but 30? May be down hill somewhere but doubt it. How do we get those signs ditched?

A good day in the neighborhood!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Dotriderblog was already in a good mood riding to work on this beautiful October Wednesday. He was smiling, thinking about today’s post extolling the hard work and community connection of Meeting House Bank’s President Tony Paciulli. It was he who said OK to putting a bike rack in front of his branch in Lower Mills. He indicated he took a rack after quite a hoo hah was stirred up by Dotbike’s request to put one in front of the Ice Cream Smith at the other end of the block. Dotbike’s request seemed reasonable given there’s a sign in the window indicating that there are bike maps for sale… We know we took photos from there for the dotbike flickr site with bikes strapped to sign posts in front of said establishment, but they haven’t shown up (we have a couple more hard discs to search…). Sadly the property owner isn’t the same person as the business owner and the property owner strenuously objected. Well we’ll keep on working on Tony to find a way to get to his testy neighbor so he may relent one day… But back to why I was REALLY smiling by the time I got to work in JP… It would appear as though Columbia Road has bike lanes! Here’s a link to the dotbike flickr site which may be the first to hit the digital world. More later! Columbia Road is basically an east west spur (although it heads southeast from its origin in South Boston all the way to Blue Hill Avenue in it’s completeness) through Dorchester. Historically and in pure Dorcester manner it is the unfinished link in the Emerald Necklace. We’ll have to take a ride down to see how far the lanes go, but now another two block segment of dotrigerblog’s ride from Dot to JP is covered by lanes! In the past two years dotriderblog has seen a sharo installed on the 100 yard segment of American Legion Parkway we ride, installed lanes on Circuit Drive in Franklin Park, added lanes and a segment of dangerous sharrow on Talbot Avenue and now added the segment of Columbia Road we ride. Slated are sharrows on the segment of Dot Ave we ride each morning…(Gotta measure that stretch for sure…). For all dotriderblog’s complaining something good is happening! We’re happy today, but of course we want more to be satisfied!

Riding up Dot Ave with Victor

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Or was it Vincent…I’m bad with names. Anyway, he knows who I am and I know where he lives now. Lucky guy moved to Dorchester from Brookline and thinks we’re all a lot friendlier over in Dot…But that isn’t the point today (sorry Brooklinites, they don’t call the Green Line the Mean Line for nothing). Anyway, I caught up with Victor weaving in and out of the hopeless mess of traffic on Dot Ave that was stymied by today’s construction blockage. Whew! Anyway, here’s what I discovered today. Anyone thinking to DRIVE up Dot Ave until the construction is finished should think of another way to go there. My plaints earlier about no bike chevron guy doesn’t matter to the regular cyclist…at least Victor who rides Dot Ave every day had never noticed the sign on the dotbike flickr site at all (of course he waded through the red) Finally, there should be some accomodation for bicycles on the 4th Street bridge and for that matter on East Berkley Street (as it is called on the South End side) all the way to the Back Bay! Cars are crammed in and they dart quickly when given any space. There is space available there. So? What’s the plan? Connecting that would integrate a lot of bike routes from Dot Ave in the East to Comm Ave heading east and west… Just thinking, so if anyone is advocating for that part of the world check it out and you’re sure to agree.

Call me paranoid…

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Dear Mr. dotriderblog,

Thank you for emailing the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Our mission is to provide the highest quality customer service to residents and visitors, with a focus on safety and efficiency.

There is a plan to stripe bike lanes on this project by the end of the season. (Dot Ave from Old Colony to Broadway)

Thank you again for your email. Please contact MassDOT if you have additional questions, comments or if we can be of further assistance.

Best Regards,
MassDOT, Highway Division

Crazy thoughts:
Does one paint company have a monopoly on the bike chevron guys?
When will bike lanes be integrated enough to be put down automatically with car lanes?
Why do I always think the worst will happen in Dorchester? (Because we don’t usually get the best?)
And we got a reply wrt the missing paint on Talbot Ave. Contractor to return when weather permits! Why does it have to feel this hard?
Were they planning on coming back until we ask about it or not?

Uh oh…Where are the bike lanes on Dot Ave?

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

It was certainly a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Boston. Virtually everyone was outside. Dotriderblog started by doing a turn at Franklin Park with the Williams Gate group cleaning the sand patch as well as cleaning up a few camp sites. Then I thought about climbing a tree with a rope until a red tail hawk started squawking on a branch of the beautiful oak that was strapped out with a dozen or so lines for young and old to try. The Franklin Park Coalitions event was gearing up with a nice crowd of young families finger painting and going on a series of nature walks as well. For us however the lure of the Sustainable Food Festival down on the pier behind the Children’s Museum was irresistable. So mid afternoon we tooled up Dot Ave for the first time in a while. Stimulus had the effect of splitting what was meant to be a full scale rehab of Dot Ave into 16 micro-jobs that are more like oases in the desert of bumps and pot holes. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t the 50 or so of my neighbors who had gone to the dozens of meetings the past four years before this came up working on the Dot Ave master plan. But I digress. Perhaps the longest segment of Dorchester Avenue that was covered by the Stimulus was from Broadway to Old Colony Boulevard in South Boston. Anyway the job appears to be completed with nice new curb cuts and light poles and a brand new paint job…sans bike lanes. I guess the state must have been using the old plans, or the ones we see online that don’t include ANY bike lanes. So we’ll see what the explanation will be.
Here’s the link as we’ve posted a half dozen or so on the dotbike flickr site… By the way. I’d love it if someone could explain the point of the sign with the only reference to a bicycle in that entire stretch… “To request green — Wait on… (with a bike chevron guy ) what does that mean please????
The Food Fest was crowded with enthusiastic eaters. There must have been hundreds bicycles just strewn around any fence or sign post within a block or two of the event. We suggested to the organizers that they contact Massbike to arrange for bike valet service. They liked the suggestion. I know I would have appreciated it. Hey it was the first one, so may be next year!