Archive for December, 2010

Response to Dorchester Reporter request

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Local news weekly the Dorchester Reporter had a piece in Friday’s paper looking for our dreams and visions for Dorchester Avenue… Here’s mine…

Dear Reporter

Thank you for the opportunity to present my dream and vision for Dorchester Avenue.To start however, I’d like to point out that the Avenue is nicer than when this ‘newcomer’ moved here in 1984. While having 33 bars on the Avenue might have been an attraction back then, I can’t say I miss any of the ones that are gone. Most of the ones that have stayed are much nicer than they were then as are most of the businesses on the Avenue in general. I guess if pressed I miss 40 cents Shaefer’s at the Town Field Tavern and at times I have pangs for the Adelphia which was the only Greek Cowboy bar I’ve ever seen anywhere. The menu at its current replacement, D Bar, is much better though.

The City of Boston gathered dozens of my neighbors to meet and develop a plan for Dorchester Avenue. The plan was partially scuttled thanks to the Stimulus Money which is only for intesections and had to be designed by Mass Dot. So we’re in the middle of a two year project that will leave Dorchester Avenue done at 15 separate points. The practical solution would be for the city to pick up the ball and complete the entire project as orignally designed thanks to my neighbors work. We’re not enthusiastic about that possibility and besides it doesn’t match my vision

My vision would scrap the redesign and start over again. I wouldn’t use the Mass Dot designers since all they seem to be about is increasing traffic flow. Who needs 15 foot wide traffic lanes?  Besides, guess what increasing traffic flow brings? How about more traffic!?! Does anyone want more traffic on Dorchester Avenue? You might want the ability to traverse it in less than half an hour at rush hour or on a busy Saturday, but more traffic wouldn’t help to reach that goal.

Instead we should develop and institute a design that would increase pedestrian and bicycle access and safety. The ultimate solution would be to take out one lane of parking the entire length of the Avenue and replace it with a divided cycle track and wider sidewalks with more cross walks. I mean the entire length of Dorchester Avenue, all the way to Congress Street. Get that GMA Postal Facility out of the last stretch and re-open that to all traffic too.

Then I’d take every C-11 cop out of their car and put them on the street on foot or on a bicycle. It’s hard to fight crime while glued to the computer screen in your cruiser or if you’re stuck in the office filing reports. I’d assign the cops to ticketing the scofflaw parkers and drivers that plague the Avenue.

After that, I’d do more of the same on Washington Street, Blue Hill Avenue, Norfolk Street, River Street, Neponset Avenue, Adams Street, Freeport Street. Ashmont Street, Talbot Avenue, Harvard Avenue, Bowdoin Street, Geneva Avenue, Hancock Street, Columbia Road, Dudley Street and Mass Ave. Then I’d watch the automobile traffic disperse and the air quality improve along with our overall health and well being as more of us ride our bikes or walk instead of jumping in the car to run a local errand.

Finally, we should find a way to get Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Foodies to ignore their demographic studies and find a spot in the area. Certainly no one has gone broke thinking the best of Dorchester’s fine taste and consumer needs since I’ve lived here. The successful businesses on the Avenue are generally testament to that.

For those who want more auto-centric answers, I would suggest there are plenty of nice towns on the South Shore to check out. If you go, good luck getting down Route 53, Route 139 or Route 3A during rush hour or on a Saturday afternoon. Dorchester Avenue is tame by comparison and easier to fix too!

Dear Santa

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Dear Santa,

I’m sorry I’ve been such a grump this year. I really don’t like being a grump but I’m getting older and my patience is wearing thin as I’m tired of seeing things that should take a short time taking too long. I hope I haven’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but you know me I just want what is best for Dorchester and the community in general. I’m sure you’ll agree that our officials try hard but sometimes they need reminding of their weak spots.

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s my Christmas wish list. Don’t worry if it takes most of 2011 to accomplish. I believe in you so these needn’t be delivered on Christmas. Also, please forgive me for straying from a strict biking agenda in my requests.

Dotbike gets a call indicating that the reason the contractor never returned to Talbot Avenue to finish the 2 Sharrow and 2 Bike Chevron guys and the stretch of line is that they’re going back in the spring and eliminating parking on one side from the Lee School to Codman Square and installing bike lanes in that stretch.

The City decides that the half-baked Stimulus funded 15 intersection solution for Dot Ave is insufficient and a new complete streets plan with all new traffic plans including bike lanes the entire length of the street will be installed. The Mayor stands firm on the announcement that parking will be eliminated to make room for a bike lane. Plus the contractors won’t be paid until this job is complete with the bike lanes.

The City decides to give up on its ill-fated bike share program.

The City has worked out that the Stimulus funds for the bike share program have been parlayed into installing the ‘not to be called Missing Link’ section of the Neponset Bike Trail by the Dot Gas tanks and construction will begin by the end of the 2011 season.

The town of Milton begs for the other segment of the Neponset Bike Trail to be installed in the most sensible place and anyone in town against it should consider moving to Norwell. Then the town sets off to fund raise for embellishments to the Trail unseen on any bike lane in America.

Mass Bike decides that not everyone riding a bike has a graduate degree and they highlight some minority and/or working folks who ride in their I ride series online.

The City decides to put lanes and sharrows on Bowdoin Street, Washington Street (in Dot), Park Street (in Dot), Neponset Avenue, Morrisey Blvd, Morton Street, Glenway, Adams, Ashmont, Fuller, the rest of Blue Hill, Olney, Geneva Ave, Melville, Centre and any street slated for paving that is remotely used as a through street in Dorchester.

Mass Ave has a bike lane installed its entire length beginning at Everett Square in Dorchester all the way to its end in Concord.

Automobile drivers in Boston suddenly become solicitous and careful around bicycles. They never race past to take a right in front of any rider. They don’t yell at anyone to get off the road. They don’t run through nearly as many lights (we’ll give them some) as usual. Meanwhile riders and pedestrians figure it out and immediately model their behavior on the example set by drivers (of course this one is a miracle, but I thought I’d ask while I was thinking about it).

DCR and Mass DOT combine to develop a comprehensive plan for all the bridges over the Charles that makes for better pedestrian and bicycle access while putting auto traffic access on a diet. Then they decide they like this idea so much they mandate it for all bridge traffic.

Bike racks get installed on Yawkey Way by Gate D at Fenway Park.

The owner of the property that houses Dorchester’s Ice Cream Smith calls and begs for bike racks.

Commissioner Davis puts the Dot C-11 bike patrol back on the street and then instructs every office to outfit all their officers with bikes. Next he issues an order that bikes are to be used first in any patrol mode and that any scofflaw parking will not be tolerated anywhere by Boston Police cruisers. The resulting savings are so massive and the results so positive it becomes a national example adopted by dozens of other urban police departments.

NStar, National Grid, the city of Boston, the Boston Police, the T, any Mass public department issues stern directives against idling ANY vehicle at anytime and make sure their employees live up to it. Suddenly all their fuel bills are down 5% and they’re wondering why…

Bernie Lynch and John McCaffrey call and ask me to work with them to develop a disc golf course in Franklin Park. (another miracle)

Thanks in advance Santa! If I get any of these ‘gifts’ in 2011 I’ll be one of the happiest bike advocates in America. Have a great holiday. We’ll see you New Years on the slopes.