Is A/B getting better for biking?

A film crew making a documentary about bike messengers and bike safety interviewed me today. They asked how Boston has become a safer place to ride a bike and if I see more people bicycling when I commute to work by bike.

About this all I can come up with is that a few of the major roads have been paved in the past few years (Western Ave, Everett St). Some of the bike path along the Charles as also been repaved. The media is writing a lot of stories about more people biking, but I don't notice any significant difference on the roads.

What are your observations? Have there been other improvements for biking near where you live or ride? Are you seeing more bikes on the road? Are you riding a bike more now than you were a year or two ago?

9 comments:

  1. Charlie D.10:12 PM

    I have definitely noticed more bicyclists on the roads this summer, particularly commuters.

    Somerville has been installing bike lanes like crazy. I'm still waiting to see some bike lanes in Boston. I'm expected the new Comm Ave lanes to appear soon as construction starts to wrap up on that. Bike Friday was a big success, but Boston bicyclists are still anxiously awaiting for some new facilities.

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  2. I wonder if the increase is happening more in the city than in the suburbs. My commute is to the west through Watertown, Belmont, and/or Waltham where the number of bike commuters still seems pretty low.

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  3. I have noticed more bikes on the road in the past year; however, I don't believe that biking in the city has become any safer in the six years I've been commuting by bicycle. There is a marked difference between biking in Cambridge -- where cars move aside to allow bikes to pass on the right in the absence of designated bike lanes, and stop to wave bikes across -- and Boston, where cars will actually crowd the right to stop bikes from passing , scream epithets at any cyclist who passes them in traffic, and run red lights or stop signs to cut bicyclists off. Pedestrians in Boston are also more aggressive, and less aware of (or less interested in) their surroundings. Many times I have seen pedestrians look for crossing cars and, seeing only a bicycle, leap into the road in front of the oncoming bike, never pausing to consider the fact that the bike is traveling just as fast as a car. I believe that Cambridge's efforts to increase bicycle use and safety have had a real impact on the way drivers and pedestrians respond to bicycles -- they view bikes in a friendly, not adversarial, light. And I see that attitude spilling over into the Allston area, where I now live. Nobody screams for me to get off the road, nobody honks or throws things at me, and people actually check their rear view mirrors before opening their doors. The cyclists, as well, seem better versed in the rules of the road. I seldom see them riding the wrong way down a one-way street, or blowing through red lights and crosswalks. All this progress gives me hope for the future of Boston bicycling. However, until the city sends a clear message to automobile drivers that they must share the road with cyclists, and to pedestrians that they too must obey traffic laws -- and, for that matter, to cyclists that they must learn and abide by the rules of the road -- biking in the city will continue to be hazardous and stressful.

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  4. Anonymous2:16 PM

    I'm definitely seeing more bikes along the 57 bus route. I also am happy to say that the Comm Ave renovation from Kenmore to the BU Bridge looks very much like it is to include bike lanes. The chalk lines are out already and its looking good!

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  5. Anonymous2:46 PM

    There are definitely more bikers out and about. But I do suspect that the increased press coverage is not only due to that, but also because its easy news in a time of increased newsroom budget cut backs. I don't see many stories peeling back the layers of intrigue that surround the decisions that do or don't get made on bike facilities in the city. Things are better in Cambridge yes, and they are also a lot more open.

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  6. I'm not bike commuting to work yet, but hopefully will be soon. I just bought my first bike in many years, and I've been out and about in North Allston getting re-acquainted with cycling.

    Also, my girlfriend recently started bike commuting from her place in the Back Bay to her Watertown office, which takes her through A-B.

    I'm really hopeful that our city is on the way to becoming more bike friendly. Paving roads and painting bike lanes is all well and good, but I think there needs to be a major public awareness/education thrust to remind drivers what rights bicycles have on the roads.

    I have mixed feelings about Critical Mass events, since they often elicit more angst in drivers than support, but I think things like Bike Friday and Hub on Wheels can garner some good will if properly leveraged.

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  7. Anonymous11:13 AM

    I live on Corey Road and I bike to work in Cambridge every day. I've noticed many more bikes on the road. I would not recommend my route to the feint of heart. I bike right down Cambridge St. by the Mass Pike on-ramp. If I don't run the red light at the intersection of N. Harvard, I get pinned to the side of the road by cars merging onto the onramp.

    This is just one example of the hazards of biking in the City. There are numerous hazards and no political will to make biking here better.

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  8. I see no difference now than a couple of years ago or more. Sure some roads are new paved, but that has nothing to do with increased bicycles.

    Beacon St. bike lane is about it.

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  9. Cambridge St. at the Mass Pike on-ramp is definitely an accident waiting to happen. In addition to the dangers involved with going straight while fast-moving automobiles are aggressively merging right, the pavement is seriously degraded, causing cyclists to weave around gaping holes. And it's a heavily-traveled route, by both bike and car.

    One hears all the time about Mayor Menino's love of cycling, and how it's given him a new outlook on bike-related issues in Boston, but from all accounts he just jaunts about his Hyde Park neighborhood in the mornings before work. I would love to take him along some of the routes I travel and see if his attitude changes. Some of my favorites: the Charlestown Bridge, which is pretty much comprised of shifting metal plates loosely placed and sometimes overlapping, and which flip into the air when something heavy, like a truck or bus, hits the edge. Because many of the storm drains are missing or sunken, bikes are forced to ride in the middle of the lane, vying for space with angry motorists, on a fast-moving and heavily traveled trucking route. Fun! Or the stretches of road by HBS or the intersection of Tremont and Boylston which are not paved, just patched, and not patched very well, either.

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