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Interesting take… Dotbike update

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Hey! I’m a pretty loud fellow when I’m travelling. Driving in a car I am often yelling at cars and different folks even though they can’t hear me. I’m the same way while riding my bicycle to the point where my partner Maggie hates it when I start spouting at mindless drivers. Well, I’m posting a link to a blog I saw that would suggest my yelling is a good idea.

Meanwhile the Dotbike internal count revealed a few things and Boston Bikes listened! They were interested in our data and although they’re not about to budge from their down town first approach they made a sincere pitch that the neighborhoods are on their radar. Faint blips, but we’re there…

What we found was that we’re slack compared to the rest of the city in terms of wearing helmets, riding correctly and including women.

Fully half the folks counted did not have helmets on. To me that’s a huge improvement though from the 70% helmetless stat we came up with through analyzing our Dotbike flickr site photos.

Almost as many folks who ride helmetless are what we term ‘Sidewalkers.’ In other words, they ride on the side walk or into the traffic on the wrong side of the road. This is a serious issue that we need to address in order to make our local riders safer.

The lack of women riders was particularly evident in areas we counted where there was little or no accomodation for bikes. The one spot we chose that incorporated two major commuter pathways into town had the highest percentage of women. The spot we chose which crassly might be termed as being in the core of the ‘hood’ revealed few if any women riding.

Some day soon we’ll take our own in depth look, but the above really covers it.

Now folks. Start yelling at those cars! After all they might have killed you. Pedal on!

Dotbike forced to go rogue

Monday, September 30th, 2013

The first neighborhood grass roots bicycle advocacy group was Dotbike. JP and Rossie bikes were right there, but overall Dot can lay claim to the first organizational efforts. When we first started, two regular Dotbikers were on the Boston Bikes committee. I’m not sure of their status today, but from this vantage point Dotbike has given up trying to directly influence the direction of Boston Bikes since obviously whatever we say has been outright ignored.

Of course dotrider blog has been known to be a moaner, but guess what it’s well deserved folks. Here’s the latest.

Boston Bikes has organized a bike count to go on over these two weeks. When we went to the site to look we saw only three sites anywhere near Dorchester. One on the northern reach of Dot Ave. Another at Blue Hill Ave and Glenway (by Franklin Park) and a third on the Harbor Trail down near Milton. So, to the average person that might look great as we have three major access points to Dot covered right?

The only problem is that most of the folks who ride bicycles here dont’ eveer LEAVE town. If you ride at all around Dorchester you’ll be struck by the number of riders without helmets riding into traffic or on the sidewalk in old under maintained bikes that usually need some air in their tires. That’s an over generalization, but I think you get the point.

There is a significant portion of Dorchester’s riding population that doesn’t use the major roadways and only travels within the confines of Dorchester.

Two Dotbikers e-mailed the Boston Bikes person involved. It took a second e-mail prompt from one of them to get a breathless apology without addressing the main question at hand. My first response to the e-mail where the person managing the bike count said they hadn’t been looking at their e-mail much was, “Huh????? if you’re managing a bike count wouldn’t most of the communication be carried out via e-mail? Why would someone not be checking their e-mail if that was their job?”

Meanwhile Dotbike has organized our own internal neighborhood bike counts at three internal Dorchester locations. The Dot Ave location is far enough south that it can get the folks headed over to Mass Ave (another site not used that is a stream of riders heading into town each day if you’re looking for only commuters btw…

Only today now that we’ve planned our entire bike count have we heard from anyone related to that and it’s not even clear if they’re interested in our data.

Certainly Dot is different than the rest of the city. Dotriderblog posted hundreds of pictures up until last year of folks riding bicycles in Dorchester. We analysed the results given our data was random enough and we thought we had good data. Well if you look a few years back on this blog you’ll see all that data analyzed. We had 70% of riders NOT wearing helmets. The minority and poor rider numbers are in there as well. Over the past year I can say we haven’t seen enough folks riding into or through town to significantly alter that number. In fact when Dotrider did a bike count at Blue Hill Avenue last week easily 40% of the riders were on the sidewalk and 60-70% of those riding failed to have a helmet. So even Boston Bikes Dot data will show things haven’t changed… Of course with may be 60 folks counted in 2 hours we’ll be under represented.

Why? After I finished the count I rode the 2 miles via backroads from Blue Hill to Codman Square. In that short ride I counted 25 bikes, while in the last hour at Blue Hill I saw just 18… Sort of prima facia evidence that our conclusions will be justified by our data. Keep an eye out here for that.

But the real question is why? Why does Boston Bikes just treat Dorchester like it doesn’t exist? I’m prone to believe Boston Bikes spent more TIME getting Hubway organized in Cambridge and Somerville than it ever has in Dorchester.

Ignore us at your peril. We’ve gone quiet because we got tired of wasting our breath. We saw something worthwhile and suddenly there were about 10 of us volunteering. Give us support and listen to us and we’d be one of the best community bike groups ever. The folks I see on Dotbike are long time residents, community activists and bike riders. Some of us have been riding these streets since the 1970s and even without any improvements we’ll still be riding them in the 2020s and beyond.

Work with us Boston Bikes. Please stop ignoring us.

Dotrider’s Mayoral pick

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

As we head into the final stretch of the first open Boston Mayoral election in many of our memories, it’s time for dotrider to make a selection and post it here. Of course we’ll have fun trying to remember who all 12 are and give some up/down on them too… There are 12 candidates and 6 of them would easily satisfy me, although I’d obviously be happier with some than others.

First, I have a bias against anyone who has been in the same elected position for more than 10 years. We voted for term limits and the Massachusetts House of Representatives set aside the overwhelming plebicite thanks to discraced Speaker of the House Tom Finneran. Sadly most elected folks didn’t seem to get the message. That eliminates any of the elected officials running today then, although I write later about their good things as I do like many of them and if they make the final one of them would be sure to get my vote.

However it’s too easy to be an incumbant, particularly in Boston. You don’t have to do much, just glad hand the right folks and treat the employees well. Given that fully half the folks who vote work for, or are related to someone who works for the City of Boston the status quo is something most voters like to maintain. So I instantly discount anyone who has a sign up at the home of the long-time City employees I know. The same with City Council candidates. Anyone backed by the Fire Fighters Union is off my list too.

Given the above, there are three finalists in the plus side and sadly these three together would be in the lead but apart they are probably drawing from each other’s base. We’ll see.

Finalist #1 is Charlotte Golar Richie. I know her personally and I hold her in high regard. She doesn’t stay in a spot too long, but she’s competent and inteligent. I was a little irritated by her idling car when I stopped and said congratulations to her when I saw her in front of a polling station trying to collect signatures. She does have a bit of status quo working for her in the Mayor’s insider, but I’ll give her a pass on that. She hasn’t taken many controversial positions, but I would expect her to hear things out and take a long view. She’d be a great choice.

Finalist #2 is John Barros. I had very little idea who this guy was, but the more I see he’s the real deal. I don’t know enough about his positions as I won’t vote for him, but he would be a great choice. He just isn’t mine, although I believe he merits mention here.

Finalist #3 is Bill Walczak. Bill’s really my #1 choice and he’ll get my vote as of this moment. First he rides a bike! Second he made sure there was bike parking at the Codman Square Health Center and he added significantly to it when he was at the Carney. He has advocated for parks which is another favorite issue of mine.

When I first moved to Dorchester from the West Fenway I couldn’t help but notice the boarded up buildings and general abandonment of Codman Square. Bill was already there fighting the good fight. I met him at the reception desk in the Great Hall running the show. Today, Codman Square has few if any empty store fronts. The NDC there has been great and done a fine job. The Health Center keeps growing. The weakness there is that these institutions have set off some resentment related to institutional creep, but overall the results are better than the alternative. I feel for small business people who see higher rents and a new clientele as not being the best for their business, but hey the world changes so get in front of it. The number of great community initiatives that have eminated from the Health Center outweigh that little blind spot by far.

He’s also not afraid to take a controversial position like being against casinos. That sealed the deal with me as I’m dead set against them. They’re a scourge on any community that gets one and they’re losers. How many Chapter 11s has Donald Trump led? $23,000 for a dealer? Liveable wage? NOT. Increase in crime? Guarenteed. NO NO NO…

The bottom line on Bill is that he has worked with just about every facet of government that can help the city. He’s worked with the Feds, the State, the City, big health and insurance, construction and neighborhood advocates. He’s been a success too. He’ll listen (although some folks say he seems distracted if he’s not agreeing with them) and he has a good sense of right and wrong. Finally he raised a family in Dorchester and his adult children both live here still. That’s a good thing.

So why not Marty Walsh? (See above) Good smart fellow, but he’s frankly is too close to unions. I support unions, but we need someone who isn’t beholden to them. Also, on education he undermines the teachers union with his Charter School stance, so… I also just saw a post of his supporting those trying to save the Casey Overpass. WRONG! He’s got some good liberal views and he’s from Dorchester so he may get another look when we get toward the final.

How about John Connolly? He rides a bike now and again and has used it as a political tool. He was an early advocate of Hubway, which of course we were against. He stifled any dissent on that and didn’t insist on having a hearing. Hubway wasn’t part of any public process and NO RESIDENT was advocating for it while there were plenty of us advocating for an increase in infrastructure and educational investment for riders. He’s saying all the right stuff now, so may be he’ll be okay. He’s a smart guy, but my experience is that he’s not that great a listener. I do like that he dared to run before Menino stepped down, but anyone who had any familiarity with the complex medical situation facing Menino with diabetes and crones disease would have been able to predict the Mayor’s retirement. So smart move not a particularly daring bet though…

Dan Conley? Too close to the cops. Probably as smart as anyone and we would be okay if he won. He has some pretty smart ideas though, so probably not a total loss if he won.

Rob Consalvo? He’s actually impressed me more than I thought. We couldn’t lose. My only issue was that when we were advocating for Parks to plow the Glen Road section of Franklin Park he wouldn’t sign the petition that already had over 200 residents signatures on it, instead demuring saying he had to “check with Bernie.” Bernie Walsh who was resisting the community uprising that was demanding attention. The Bernie Walsh who still does a half-assed not everytime it snows job on Glen Road. Who does Rob work for? The voters or the employees?

Mike Ross? Smart guy but too Downtown for this neighborhood activist.

Felix Arroyo? His dad was the first politician along with Bill Clinton who I voted for who ever won, so that should bode well no? He’s a nice guy, but I’m not sure if he’d be up to running the city. I think he’d get run by the bureaucracy frankly. I like his position on schools though and he might pull it out who knows?

Charles Yancey should quit both campaigns. I love Charles but he’s been there toooooooooooooooooooooo (an o for each year in fact) long… PERIOD.

The former cop Charles Clemmons seems like a smart dude but not my style.

The radio dude, David James Wyatt seems like he’s given up…

So vote for Bill Walczak on September 24th folks! Ride your bikes to the polls and remember who would have as well.

Pedal on!

One rider’s road logic

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Led by the Boston Health Commissions unhealthy over focus on helmet wear there appear to be plenty of non-riders making pronouncements related to the relative safey of boston bike riders. We’ve always maintained what one sees of a bike rider is easily found by car drivers and pedestrians. Boston has a scofflaw culture on the roads, led by our fine police forces that drive (and ride their bikes) with no regard to any traffic restrictions. Anyway, just to make me feel better wrt my scofflawedness, this piece will outline my overall riding logic and how I try to keep safe on Boston’s roads.

I’ve relented in the helmet ‘war’ and I’ve even purchased a new helmet. The statistics surrounding those who get killed riding are too compelling not to wear one in the city. It took me a while, but I like my helmet and it’s been customized so I can wear a hat or not. It has a political message or two on it as well, “I BIKE DOT” “I Voted” being two, so that makes me feel better about succombing to the helmet frenzy. That said, I’ll never wear one skiing since the last 5 folks I’ve seen who died in New England skiing were wearing helmets…

Red Lights: Know your red lights and act accordingly. My main ride between Dot and JP has seen a large number of new lights and Stop Signs. At one count there were 10 more Stop signs and 5 lights added over the last 13 years… There are a few of the new ones I never stop at since they are frivoulous and one-sided so there’s no one coming in on the right side of the road. I do wait to make sure folks coming out the side street see me or get through first if they have the light. A few of those I’ll stop at but if I get a chance to go before it changes I will just to get ahead of the cram of cars as well as to avoid the turning vehicles. Sorry it just makes sense to me. There are also a great number of lights I would NEVER run. I also am very careful since I inevitably see some motor vehicle run these lights. Four Corners (why isn’t it called 5 Corners?), Washington & Park, Columbia & Washington, and Columbia and Blue Hill are the big four on the way. The new light at Welles is iffy as is the one at Melville. On the way home I rarely run the one at Forest Hills Ave into Franklin Park (never during rush hour). Blue Hill and Talbot I only run if it’s all Walk lights. Codman Square has just changed the light sequence so it is nearly impossible for me to get through without stopping so I run the first one if I can just to pay back all the folks on Norfolk who NEVER stop at their light and pour onto Talbot. They got the light in their favor now and why I don’t know. Talbot and Dot has a sequence that has several options wrt running or not. Riding in downtown Boston has a few lights that I do run at times. The most obvious are the turn lights on Mass Ave. Once there’s no one turning I’ll go straight.

Passing vehicles: I never pass a bus or large truck if they’re moving. PERIOD. Never. I’ll get in front of them and make it impossible for them to pass or I’ll take a lane behind them, but I refuse to pass especially anywhere near a stop or intersection. TOO DANGEROUS. Otherwise I prefer to pass only when a vehicle is stopped in general too. I do pass cars now and again though compared to larger vehicles.

Taking my lane: I often take a lane in an intersection to make sure a vehicle won’t pass me in the intersection. I also signal with my hands very clearly so folks know my intentions. I’ll take a lane behind a vehicle too. At times I’ll take a lane in a long flow of traffic if the sides are too narrow.

Related to taking a lane is riding on the inside line of any bike lanes. I avoid the door zone as much as possible and that also guides some decisions related to taking a lane. If there’s a store and cars that may have people, I’m as far as I can from those cars. The odds of getting hit from a car from behind rather than a door in front are so much LESS it only makes sense. If there’s a line of traffic and I have to ride in the door zone I’m usually going pretty slow. After all, it’s not how fast one goes riding a bike but it’s how little you go zero that makes it faster than driving. I can’t compete with any car for speed, so I don’t try.

Bromides: I’m a pretty noisy fellow and that carries over to my bike riding. I have loud bells and I often yell at cars, people or other riders. Here’s a few of my most usual. “It’s called a side WALK, not a side Ride!” “Ride WITH the traffic it’s safer!” or “Wrong way!” to those Salmon-like riders of which Dorchester’s riders make up a solid majority. To drivers, my favorite is “That was RED!” when I nose out into a newly green light to see someone flying through the changed light. “Hang up and drive!” is another plaint I use now and again.

So that’s about it. I rarely ride the wrong way up a One Way, although there’s a couple I’ve ridden wrong for 20+ years so I’ll never stop. I rarely ride on a side walk until I’m near my destination and cruising for a spot.

Otherwise, the more you know your ride and surroundings the more you can carve out what feels safe for you during your ride. Always defer to cars since they’re much bigger than you. Most of us ride the same roads daily, so if you learn your route and how to be safe on that it covers a lot. When riding a new route err on being conservative and that will stand you well in the safety department.

I don’t think anyone who runs a Stop or a light is doing it because they want to risk their life. They prefer to be faster and ahead of the car traffic. The statistic that says this most to me is the fact that only 3% of all accidents are from cars or trucks coming from behind you, while almost all the rest of the accidents are from you coming onto something or being hit head on or by someone coming out at you. Since you’re out on the road outside you see WAY MORE than anyone in a car and drivers who criticize riders should realize that.

Globe prints piece on Equity of bike services

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Here’s the link to dotriderblog’s letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe in response to their article reviewing how riders in the neighborhood are faring in today’s hyper-bike promoting environment. One suspects the editors at the Globe agree with this view.

Pedal on!

Small wonder I’m a grump. What is equity anyway?

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Last night I challenged all the happy back slapping at the Boston Bikes update, especially related to their efforts to bring equity to their program. I also made some pretty sarcastic Tweets in response to the glowing ones that were coming out of the event. I couldn’t even stay and I just had to get out of there the entire exercise was so disappointing in what it showed to me.

Why am I such a grump? Believe it or not I come from a really positive background. I’m a life time community activist as a result of that and my upbringing. My mother always wore a smile on her face and always looked for the silver lining. I do in many ways, but when it comes to receiving City services in Dorchester I’ve become a full out grump. Why? Because no matter what the issue or service, we typically end up with broken promises and half assed execution. Sadly, Boston Bikes plans for expanding our biking infrastructure and Hubway is following along that path.

The most irritating thing about the entire exercise is the Three E’s that Nicole Freedman introduced at her first Update 5 years ago, especially the first one Equity. When that came up this year, we got informed of the Youth Bike Training Program and the Roll it Forward program. Great! Now we have kids who know how to ride safely with nowhere to ride? Besides, having attended one of the giveaways, the ‘training’ was slack and I hope others go better than what I saw. If that’s Equity, it’s a disappointment for sure and the same old same old. We also have 600 lower income folks with Hubway cards who can only use them when they’re down town and not near their homes out in the neighborhoods. Where’s the equity in that?

Here’s what EQUITY really means to me.

Equal access and delivery of services, like a more aggressive approach to expanding Hubway in ALL of Dorchester. Just because grand standing life time City Councilor Charles Yancey held things up trying to senselessly get one put in on the outskirts of town, doesn’t mean we all think that way. But given there are two/three in Dorchester, South Bay, JFK station and UMass it’s easy to see some quick nearby choices to expand into Dot. Try Savin Hill Station? The new Purple Line Stations in Dudley and Geneva Ave. Franklin Park? All of them are contiguous to recently installed bike infrastructure and they are handy to Roxbury and JP stations that many Dot folks are familiar with through driving or taking the bus. Then do a similar layer, Fields Corner, Codman Square, Talbot Ave Purple Line, Franklin Field…

Equal access to aggressive planning. What ever happened to finishing lanes on Mass Ave to where it begins in Everett Square in Dorchester? I should have brought that up, but was so riled up it escaped. That is ripe for a cycle track in fact. Instead we got new turn lanes by the new train station there. And just an aside, who’s going to pay $6 to take a slow train into South Station? Is that equitable? I guess it’s better than when they closed them 40 years ago… We also got sharrows on streets that are WIDE enough to accomodate bike lanes on Dot Ave and Neponset Ave which is a confusing mish mash of sharrows and lanes switching in and out going in both directions. Love the sharrows on Morton Street where you NEVER see anyone riding on what is a major automobile access road across town. There’s more too, but you get the point.

Just to review: Dorchester 20% of the area of the City of Boston, 120,000 residents or about 20% of the City of Boston. Guess what 20% of the City of Boston isn’t poor. We have a hospital, some of the leading health centers,  25% of the city’s schools, a major college, a river, a major highway, and waterfront a Presidential Library. We house the most diverse population in the city in terms of ethnic and racial make up as well as financial well being. It’s where the future of America lives.

There’s so much to say I’m sorry about how unorganized this has been. To cut them some slack, Boston Bikes is just like the DPW, Boston Park Department, the state DCR and Transportation Department, the T and anyone else who provides services to our part of town. I have to add to that a community that I would bet would deliver one of the top selling Trader Joe’s or Wholefood stores in the country (ALL the original stores in South Bay mall held that distinction btw) and instead we get a Harvard School of Government initiative to market used expiring food and you can see it extends to businesses too.  Whatever we get is given reluctantly and done half assed and then we get yelled at for not being grateful.  I’m still positive minded enough that I’m still trying, unlike many of my other cynical neighbors who think it’s a waste of time to even bother. That’s why you don’t see more of us out there advocating, why bother they’ll just screw it up? Small wonder I’m a grump.

“Right of way” panel feedback… Bike commuter challenge for 2014.

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

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!!

Winter ennui… Wait! Get riding it’s Spring!

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

With the challenge of a blizzard and an unforcast foot last Friday it’s been quite a challenge to keep riding over the winter. As someone with a bit of an addictive personality, I’m not ashamed to admit my addiction to riding a bike for transportation in the city. The recent snow has only made me more so.

I only took the T last Friday and our office was closed. I rationalized the trip since I stopped at Down Town Crossing and shopped out the soon to close Windsor Button Shop for upcoming family birthdays. It would have been quite a challenge for the Dahon on Friday from what I saw.

Thursday however was another matter. I was toying with the idea of driving that morning in fact when the snow suddenly eased up a bit and I realized it would be fun to ride through a snowy Franklin Park. Since there was the Franklin Park maintenance meeting later that day, I also wanted to drive home the point that there were riders in the Park ALL THE TIME. So off I set…

By the time I got to Ashmont Street at All Saints Church I was wearing a big smile. Ashmont St. was backed up over the hill to the east. Dorchester Avenue was completely filled with cars that were NOT moving an inch. Me, with a 20 pound box on my back thanks to an IKEA bag steadily made my way up the Avenue laughing all the way. Of course these roads were packed due to the ‘wicked’ high tides closing Morrissey Blvd.

The P.O. was empty and relieved of my package off we went up Washington Street. It backed up from Four Corners to Columbia Road and I just labored along in the slush passing all vehicles, still with a smile.

Of course getting to the Park made the entire exercise worth it as it was very pleasant heading over Pierpont with no cars and just movie-effect snow flakes. We rode back to the meeting that evening and toured the Park for down limbs and unplowed paths (they’ve given up on Glen Road btw… Call the Park line and complain please).

Now that daylight savings is with us, it’s time for everyone else to get riding. While we saw a lot more folks out this winter than even last the momentum that was building has fallen off. The one day every week or two when I would end up rallying up Washington Street with a rider or two hasn’t happened since October. Outside of the super regulars and the sidewalkers, we haven’t seen many new faces. C’mon! It’s faster, healthier and at times fun! Every mile you ride is a mile you’re car doesn’t drive or someone you don’t have to jostle with on the T.

So Pedal on folks!

Winter dreams…

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Typically it’s easy for this blog to be critical of the constant half hearted delivery of services to the neighborhood of Dorchester, particularly with an eye towards the inequity for bicycle infrastructure. Lately it’s occured to me that ripping the city is too easy and counterproductive. So, this entry will be devoted to outlining the changes and improvements that I would make if I had the reins of State and City transportation and infrastructure planning and doing. Let’s set the bar high eh? Here’s my wish list.

The City would relook at the turn lanes and sharrowed zones on Dorchester Avenue and instead take them out put a bike lane where any turn lane existed. Then they’d remeasure the stretch from Melville Ave to Peabody Square and put at least one dedicated lane in that stretch, if not two. They could repaint Neponset Avenue to include all dedicated lanes instead of the mix of dedicated and sharrow. (I wouldn’t even dare to dream that one lane of parking be removed from the Avenue and replaced by separated bike infrastructure, but there it is…)

The T might include at least ONE bike rack in their new train stations. I haven’t noticed any to date. The piece of cement in Ashmont might get its cage one day soon too. The T and City should combine on Talbot Ave by the station to eliminate one side of parking and make it a bike lane instead of a sharrow through that busy busy busy stretch. After all, half the cars parked on the south side of Talbot from the RR bridge to New England are waiting for the car repair company to take them in. Why should the street serve as someone’s storage yard? Also there are three bus stops in that stretch so only a couple of dozen spots are affected…

They might look at Geneva Avenue by the RR bridge there too to add bike accomodation. Although Geneva in that stretch could WAY USE repaving. The stretch of Geneva from Bowdoin to Columbia is wide enough for lanes.

The Governor could find the cash to finish the segments of bike path that are missing from UMass to Mattapan Square. Instead of waiting for Federal Tiger Grants, step up and give us what had been planned 15 years ago and never accomplished. It’s not a new deal, but one that keeps getting swept under the rug.

Mass Ave from Everett Square to Melnea Cass could have a separated bike accomodation and by the way the turn lanes the state added by the train station there should be removed.

Blue Hill Ave should ignore the anti-improvement and keep cars king local reaction and just do a dedicated 28X with it serving bicycles as well.

Sharrows should be added without delay to all of Washington Street, Bowdoin, Harvard, Hancock, Dudley, Adams, Ashmont, Bailey, Melville, Park, Freeport, Fuller, Norfolk, Boston,Victory Road, River Street and any other road I can’t think about that is a normal north/south or east/west transportaion way.

Morrissey Blvd north of the UMass entrance should add dedicated bike accomodation instead of the 5 lanes going north and 4 lanes going south on that stretch.

Old Colony Blvd should have dedicated accomodation. The Columbia Road segment in Southie should have separated bike infrastructure and lanes or sharrows out to Castle Island.

Hubway stations should be added at the Red Line T stops, The new purple line stops, Codman Square, Dudley Square, Grove Hall, Franklin Park and Lower Mills this year EARLY. JP should get similar treatment.

Franklin Park through car traffic should be ended as they should close the road between the Valley Gates and the turn to the tennis courts by the hospital.

Seaver Street should have separated bike accomodation.

The broken bike racks in Peabody Square should be replaced with the specified metalic finish. The plastic bollards that are half mowed down should be replaced with cement filled steel ones that would stand up to a car not just snap.

The disc golf course DCR designed and owns the baskets for at PJPII Park should be immediately installed. (oops, non-bike dream creeping in…)

I imagine there are a number of ones I haven’t thought of, but you get the idea. The city is basking in the lime light with Hubway and 50 miles of dedicated bike accomodation (which is stretching the truth because it counts sharrows), but obviously just in Dorchester there is plenty to do.

Reading back on that it’s no wonder we get frustrated at what we see is progress that is haltingly slow and frustratingly uninispired. We can see so much more for Dorchester and why not?

Sharrows for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I haven’t seen them, but I heard from a reliable source that the Sharrows between Gallivan Blvd and Richmond Street on Dorchester Avenue are back! Woo hoo! If only it didn’t feel so hard and it took a year. But hey! here they are. Kudos to City Councilor Frank Baker for keeping on those in the know to make sure it was finally completed.

Just to keep us humble the same reliable source indicates there is a repaving project from Richmond to Adams Street so that one block section is bare of Sharrows for the time being. We’ll see how long we have to wait for that paint after they put the paint down for the cars…

Otherwise folks, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Enjoy the holiday no matter what your background and PEDAL ON!Santa Helper's 'Sleigh'