5 Projects that will change biking in the Boston Area in 2017: #3 The Beacon St Cycletrack

This is Part 3 in a 5 part series about infrastructure projects in the Boston area that will have a dramatic effect on biking in 2017. The projects were selected based on various criteria including improvements to safety and convenience and innovation in implementation and design.

By Doug Johnson, Community Organizer at the Boston Cyclists Union

If you’ve ever ridden a bike on Beacon St/Hampshire St in Somerville and Cambridge, respectively, then it might not surprise you to know that it’s one of the most highly traveled corridors for bikes in the entire Boston area. During the morning and evening rush hours, dozens of cyclists queue at red lights, and there is an almost continuous flow of people on bikes between intersections.

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A group queues at the red light in Inman Square. At least this many people were behind me as well. – Doug

Well, thanks to years of advocacy from the Somerville Bike Committee (SBC), a massive campaign by the Bike Union in 2012 and 2013, and continued stewardship of the project by the SBC during construction, Somerville’s first sidewalk-level cycletracks will soon be complete! In fact, most of the construction was completed this year, and the rest will be done in 2017. In the meantime, painted bike markings have gone down. Check out the video below to see the progress so far, sans paint, and look out for a comprehensive history of the Beacon St. Cycletrack this Spring!

We’d also like to acknowledge the tireless work of Ken Carlson, Chair of the Somerville Bike Committee, who has spent countless hours working with the City and advocates to mediate the adverse effects of construction, and Alan Moore, who proposed the Beacon St Cycletrack years ago, before the Bike Union even existed, and has continuously worked to make the cycletrack and other innovative bike projects a reality. 

This is the kind of progress that you help us make when you become a member or donate to the Bike Union! PLUS, when you join or donate between now and the end of 2016, you have a chance to win one of two bikes from our friends at Broadway Bicycle School in Cambridge or Wheelworks of Belmont and Somerville! Become a member today and help make 2017 the best year ever for biking in the Boston area! 

 

 

Duck Boat Safety Legislation Signed into Law!

boston-duck-boat-tours-20103987After passing in the House and Senate, a bill that mandates several safety changes to Duck Boats was signed into law by Governor Baker last Thursday afternoon!  Starting April 1, 2017 all amphibious vehicles (duck boats) will have to have two operators — a driver and someone separate to give tours.  Additionally, the law requires cameras and proximity sensors to address the significant blind spots on these vehicles.

This bill was introduced by Senator Brownsberger after a woman on a motorized scooter, Allison Warmuth, was struck and killed by a duck boat in Boston, on April 30th, 2016.  The Bike Union got involved in promoting this legislation because people biking have an identical vulnerability to being killed by these large vehicles. Not only did we push for this to pass, we had the pleasure of introducing the Warmuths to Senator Brownsberger who worked with them to craft the legislation. We know that this type of crash could have been prevented if these measures were already in place, and now we have the chance to prevent this type of tragic crash from happening again.

Photo Credit: The Boston Globe

We’re in deep admiration of Ivan and Martha Warmuth, who fought tirelessly in advocating for this bill to honor their daughter’s memory. The passage of this bill is significant for Vision Zero efforts and taking steps that can prevent fatalities and serious injuries on our streets.
Similarly, large trucks are a known danger to people biking in the urban environment and we are committed to continuing to advocate for passage of legislation as well as other measures to lessen the threats they pose.

5 Projects that will change biking in the Boston Area in 2017: #4 The Neponset River Greenway Extension

This is Part 2 in a 5 part series about infrastructure projects in the Boston area that will have a dramatic effect on biking in 2017. The projects were selected based on various criteria including improvements to safety and convenience and innovation in implementation and design. 

By Lee Toma, Bike Union Activists Group Member, Chairman of the Milton Bicycle Advisory Committee and Neponset River Greenway Council Member

A map of the Greenway and the new segments linking it together. Courtey of DCR.

If you’ve ever ridden on the Charles River Paths, you’ll know how beautiful and serene riding a bike next to a river, away from traffic, can be. Well, in addition to the Charles River Paths, Boston also has the Neponset River Greenway, which links Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park with the town of Milton. Unfortunately the path has been disconnected and incomplete for years, but thanks to decades of advocacy from local residents and path advocates, the eastern and western ends of the Neponset River Greenway will finally be connected in 2017!

The very existence of the path is thanks to the efforts of the Neponset River Greenway Council, (and in particular the Chair of the Council, Jessica Mink, who maintains a great website about path projects.) The Council is a group of passionate neighborhood advocates who have been meeting monthly for the past twenty-seven years to advocate for construction and maintenance of the path. Their efforts paid off when the first segment of the Greenway opened in 2002, with two miles along the abandoned Dorchester and Milton Branch Railroad right-of-way.  In 2010, the second segment added two more miles of path alongside Brush Hill Road and Truman Parkway in Milton and Hyde Park.  Unfortunately, the second segment was separated from the first due to neighborhood opposition. In 2015 the path was extended a half-mile south in Hyde Park and Milton, and a short segment was added at the east end in Dorchester’s Port Norfolk neighborhood in 2016.

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The new Harvest River Bridge, which will link the two disconnected sections of the Neponset River Greenway.

The gap (segment III in the map above) between the east and west ends of the path will be closed in 2017 thanks to design compromises that satisfied the neighbors, and looks pretty awesome too (see above, and click here for more pictures!) The path will also finally be connected to Mattapan Station, which the Bike Union fought for back in 2011 by conducting pedestrian and bicycle traffic counts to demonstrate the demand for the connection.  The Bike Union  also helped rally support in 2012 for the Greenway extensions that are now being built.

The town of Milton is helping connect the path to Mattapan station by building a new intersection to extend it across Blue Hill Avenue, with a new protected bike lane.  This will open in the next few weeks after the new signals are wired.

Work still remains to be done to connect the Greenway across Dorchester, and to close the two-block gap in Hyde Park. Thankfully, the Department of Conservation and Recreation plans to redesign Morrisey Boulevard (which frequently floods at high tide) with protected bike lanes that will connect the Neponset River Trail to UMass Boston, South Boston and the Harborwalk.  (Segment II in the map above.)

Another proposed path section in Dorchester has been designed and is undergoing permitting and right-of-way negotiations with MassDOT.  Funding has not yet been allocated for this segment connecting Victory Road to Morrissey Boulevard; you can help by contacting your state legislators and asking them to help Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry and Representative Dan Hunt fund this trail segment.

This is the kind of progress that you help us make when you become a member or donate to the Bike Union! PLUS, when you join or donate between now and the end of 2016, you have a chance to win one of two bikes from our friends at Broadway Bicycle School in Cambridge or Wheelworks of Belmont and Somerville! Become a member today and help make 2017 the best year ever for biking in the Boston area! 

5 Projects that will change biking in the Boston Area in 2017: #5 Connect Historic Boston

This is Part 1 in a 5 part series about infrastructure projects in the Boston area that will have a dramatic effect on biking in 2017. The projects were selected based on various criteria including improvements to safety and convenience and innovation in implementation and design. Read Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

 

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A map of Phase 1 of the project, which includes Staniford, Causeway and Commercial Streets

If you’ve ever ridden a bike up the steep grade of Staniford St, along high-speed Commercial St, or through the gridlock on Causeway St, you’ll know that biking in the West End and North End is not for the faint of heart.

But thanks to funding from the National Park Service and an outpouring of support from bike advocates at public meetings in 2014, Staniford now boasts Boston’s first ever curb-separated cycletrack and construction of Boston’s first sidewalk-level cycletrack on Commercial St is well underway! This project also includes Boston’s very first bicycle traffic signals!

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Causeway St will be completed in 2017, linking the project together. For now, you can take a ride with us on the Staniford St. cycletrack in the video below, or go ride it yourself, thanks to the Boston Public Works Department treating it with a brine solution to prevent it from getting icy this winter!

 

This is the kind of progress that you help us make when you become a member or donate to the Bike Union! PLUS, when you join or donate between now and the end of 2016, you have a chance to win one of two bikes from our friends at Broadway Bicycle School in Cambridge or Wheelworks of Belmont and Somerville! Become a member today and help make 2017 the best year ever for biking in the Boston area!