I submitted the following comments in response to a Boston Globe article reporting on proposed bikeways on Commonwealth Avenue.
Real solutions to bicycle and pedestrian mobility in the Commonwealth Avenue corridor can be found by connecting parallel streets, an initiative which ties in well with the proposed Allston Turnpike Interchange Project. I have commented on these issues at length.
Convenient bicycle travel for the student population in the Commonwealth Avenue corridor isn’t practical on Commonwealth Avenue itself. Why not? Because it has a median with few crossings. Any separated bikeway, or the adjacent sidewalk, will attract wrong-way traffic. To follow the right-way rule, a bicyclist will have to start a trip traveling opposite the desired direction, cross the Avenue, travel past the destination, cross again and then double back.
The term “protected bike lane” is propaganda. Most car-bicycle crashes occur due to crossing and turning movements at intersections. Hiding bicyclists behind parked vehicles until shortly before each intersection is no solution to this problem.
In addition, the proposed 6.5 foot wide bikeways, between curbs, are too narrow for one bicyclist safely to overtake another. All will be limited to the speed of the slowest. Turning motorists will have to stop and wait for through-traveling bicyclists in the separate bikeways, seriously increasing congestion. Plowing the narrow bikeways is impractical, and in their gutter location at street level as shown in the cross-section drawing, they will catch and refreeze meltwater from snow plowed from the travel lanes.
Shoehorning third-rate bikeways into a major road reconstruction project is a politically convenient but unimaginative and impractical way to go. A bolder, broader initiative is needed, and in the case of the Commonwealth Avenue corridor, real solutions are not hard to envision.