Commonwealth Avenue and the BU campus

The Boston cyclists Union and Livable Streets are promoting cycle tracks for Commonwealth Avenue.

The bicycle industry’s Astroturf advocacy organization, Peoplefor Bikes, is asking people to sign a petition in support of them.

Not a good idea. Cycle tracks on Commonwealth Avenue won’t prevent the most common car-bike crashes (crossing and turning collisions, doorings — though some doorings will be replaced by walk-outs and other types of collisions). No treatment of any kind on Commonwealth Avenue can provide convenient and attractive bicycle routes through the Boston University campus. Paul Schimek has a different proposal for Commonwealth Avenue, and I have extended that to look at the more general issue of bicycle mobility around the campus.

For details:

Paul Schimek’s study of crashes on Commonwealth Avenue is published here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/240561402/Comma-Ve-Report-Sept-22

My comments on Commonwealth Avenue and the BU cmapus are online here: http://john-s-allen.com/pdfs/Allen_2014-10-11_comments.pdf

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One Response to Commonwealth Avenue and the BU campus

  1. jsallen says:

    I posted similar comments on the PeopleforBikes page. I got a reply:

    As a strong proponent of this project, thank you for your comment. Your idea of vehicular cycling is certainly one that has been brought to the attention of many in the biking community. For those less familiar with the idea, the premise of the argument is as such: biking is both safer and more convenient (faster) when bikes are able to assimilate into automobile travel as seamlessly as possible.

    Trust me, I understand what you’re saying. You feel safer taking the lane. You’re used to it, you can get places faster and don’t like getting stuck behind a tourist on a Hubway going 5 miles per hour. I too feel better biking as a vehicular cyclist. I’ve been doing it for years. In fact many of us who promote protected bike are very accustomed to biking with traffic and could do it for the rest of our lives if we had to.

    However, your argument is completely invalidated by one simply fact: the protected bike lane on Comm. Ave. is not for you, nor for myself, nor for anyone used to biking in the City of Boston. It is for the people who have just started biking. Its for the college student who finally has the freedom to travel on their own, but leaves the bike with their parents because their worried its unsafe. Its for the single mother who could save half the time off her commute time but doesn’t want to play tag with 10 ton 18-wheelers.

    The question becomes such: will you sacrifice a few minutes of your commute time for the greater cause of social equity? Does your convenience trump the safety and lives of those who are not like you?

    There are many very dedicated souls working on this project, all of whom aspire to biking world that is similar to the one I mentioned above. If you wish to keep biking to its currently most represented demographic: middle-aged white men, then I suppose you are entitled to your opinion. The rest of us though, think it should be for everyone.

    I responded:

    “The protected bike lane on Comm. Ave. is not for you, nor for myself, nor for anyone used to biking in the City of Boston. It is for the people who have just started biking. Its for the college student who
    finally has the freedom to travel on their own, but leaves the bike with their parents because their worried its unsafe. Its for the single mother who could save half the time off her commute time but doesn’t want to play tag with 10 ton 18-wheelers.”

    That’s a straw-man argument which plays to emotion and doesn’t respond to my suggestions. Did you even read them? I am supporting alternate routes on quiet streets and paths parallel to Commonwealth Avenue, because that will in fact serve the type of cyclists you describe. I am supporting Paul Schimek’s proposal for improved bike lanes on Commonwealth Avenue (not the stereotyped vehicular cycling argument you put forward, which is *not* what he or I advocate) because it is the best which can be achieved there.

    Whether there is a bike lane or a barrier-separated bikeway, cyclists will have to cross busy Commonwealth Avenue to travel in the intended direction for half their trips, and if returning to the original side, they will have to overshoot their destination, cross the avenue again and double back, thanks to the limited number of crossings. The proposed “protected” bikeway creates the appearance of safety while hiding bicyclists and motorists from each other until the moment of impact at intersections, where most crashes occur. My suggestions avoid these problems.

    Bicycle drivers, or vehicular cyclists to use the term you used, ride assertively-defensively to avoid colliding with 18 wheelers. I find the term “play tag” offensive and inflammatory. Do you play tag?

    Also, could you please identify yourself instead of hiding in anonymity?

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