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Monday, March 25, 2013

Will Vehicular Cyclists and the “Right to Park” Trump Safer Streets in Boston? [DCStreetsBlog]


Beacon Street in Somerville, just outside Boston, is perhaps the most biked route in the state of Massachusetts. It also has a terrible safety record. There have been 154 collisions involving cyclists on the corridor between 2002 and 2010, according to the state Department of Transportation [PDF].
Vehicular cyclists are undermining a proposal for a protected bike lane on Beacon Street, just outside Boston, that has attracted opposition because parking spots will be eliminated. Image: Somerville Patch
“There are more bikes going down Beacon Street in a sort of subpar bike path than anywhere else in the city,” said Pete Stidman, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union. Having a safe and protected space to bike “would increase cycling numbers exponentially.”
Working with officials from the city of Somerville, bike advocates have been promoting a safe solution. And it looks like it’s on the way: The city recently presented preliminary designs that include the addition of a protected bike lane.
The Somerville proposal is the latest sign that as protected bike lanes gain currency, this type of street design isn’t just for big city transportation departments. Evanston, Illinois, an inner-ring suburb of Chicago, recently built a protected bike lane linking residential areas to its downtown.
As with protected bike lanes in other cities, Boston-area advocates are running up against some opposition in their bid to make Beacon Street safer. The dynamic in this case is a little unusual: A handful of dyed-in-the-wool vehicular cyclists are giving a big assist to residents who value on-street parking in front of their doorstep more than street safety.

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