My comments on the River Street-Western Avenue bridge project

I apologize for not posting these earlier…got tied up with other things after I submitted the comments.

I have an earlier post about these bridges, here:

http://streetsmarts.bostonbiker.org/2012/03/03/276/

You will find the 25% plans for the River Street-Western Avenue bridge project here:

http://massdot.state.ma.us/charlesriverbridges/WesternAveRiverStBridgeDocuments.html

My comments:

http://john-s-allen.com/reports/riverandwestern.doc

Summary: The proposed pillar-to-post bicycle routes not only require bicyclists repeatedly to cross streams of motor traffic, incurring long delays, but will be blocked much if not most of the time by queued motor vehicles at this very overstressed intersection. Success of the proposed design rests on the assumption that motor traffic entering from the Turnpike will somehow be replaced by bicyclists traveling a mile or two between Allston and Cambridge. Perhaps a large percentage of Turnpike users are to move to Allston and become bicyclists? Perhaps bicyclists are to shoo motorists away by increasing congestion even further? It doesn’t happen: bicyclists get only a tiny fraction of the signal cycle, and won’t put up with the delays. A bolder and more imaginative approach is needed, as I suggest in my comments, to reduce rather than increase conflicts.

I travel to cities all around the USA and ride bicycles there as part of my work. I have seen none where design for bicycling is as mindless as it is in these projects. How do we get planning for bicycling out of the fantasy world which it currently inhabits?

The drawing in this letter from Livable Streets is better than what I saw at the March meeting:

http://www.livablestreets.info/files/riverstwesternavebridges/riverstwesternavebridges_livablestreets_18mar10.pdf

but there is still unnecessary merging, and there would be more with Livable Streets’s call for a “cycle track” — which would have to be at the edge of the roadway, and so would conflict repeatedly with right-turning traffic.

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