My attention recently was drawn to a proposed project for Beacon Street in Somerville Massachusetts, a couple of towns away from where I live..
A presentation from a public meeting is online here:
(I was unfortunately not able to attend the public meeting last night (November 13), so I can’t provide any comments about it.)
This project would narrow the roadway between Oxford Street and the Cambridge city line, removing parking on one side of the street and installing cycle tracks in the some sections, and reinstalling bike lanes in others. The proposal would narrow the street by moving curbs, making it expensive to install and expensive to revise or remove.
There has been pushback from a residents’ association on the issue of parking removal, though without any discussion of bicycling issues, here:
As a bicycling advocate, I support the removal of parking (probably requiring substitute parking though to bring residents on board with the project), but I want to see a bicycling treatment that works.
The proposed cycle tracks, at sidewalk level, are seriously inappropriate here on a sloping segment with heavy bicycle commuter traffic and crossed by dozens of driveways, in a residential area where there is heavy pedestrian traffic and where children will wander around and play. The usual arguments about making bicycling attractive to women and children have been put forward, but the proposed reconstruction is best described as creating an attractive nuisance. Bicycle commuters are not going to slow down to a safe 8 miles per hour riding down the hill on Beacon Street, and that is going to be a problem. On the uphill side, where parking will remain, bicyclists will have been moved from the door zone on the street side to the door zone and walk-to-car crossing zone on the sidewalk side. Bicyclists will be subject to harassment for riding on the narrowed roadway.
Snow and ice removal will be a problem in winter — the cycle track will be where snow gets dumped from the street, creating a barrier and preventing water from draining.
The proposal for the segment with bike lanes is just as bizarre, failing to take advantage of the removal of parking to move bike lanes out of the door zone — but instead narrowing the roadway so that bike lanes can be reinstalled in the door zone.
Beacon Street isn’t wide enough for parking on both sides, while comfortably accommodating bidirectional motor traffic and bidirectional bicycle traffic, Removing parking on one side could resolve that issue. My preference for the entire length of the project would be to take advantage of removal of parking to accommodate bicyclists outside the door zone on the roadway, and throw in a bit of traffic calming to slow motorists..
I note that a rail-with-trail in the Fitchburg line corridor, which is nearby and nearly parallel, also has been proposed, and would offer an option for bicyclists who are not comfortable riding on an arterial street.