City’s first cycletrack to be installed this week!

Boston's first cycletrack, due this week, is not too far behind Portland Oregon's first effort just one year ago.

The Boston Cyclists Union’s easiest piece of advocacy so far has been asking the city to consider a cycletrack on Western Avenue in Allston. When we asked the Boston Transportation Department’s Vineet Gupta this question, he quickly turned around and asked Harvard to design it. Shortly thereafter, Cambridge began its public design process on Western Ave in that city, and also came to the decision to install a cycletrack! Now we are potentially looking at a much safer bikeway that connects Lower Allston with Central Square!!!

This week, weather permitting, the city will paint the easternmost portion of a cycletrack planned for the eastbound side of the Western Avenue. This portion is being termed a “mock-up” but the city is committed to also building the westernmost portion of the Eastbound side cycletrack when a repaving project is completed next year.

The westbound side, due to space constraints on the street, will be a five-foot-wide standard bike lane.

We know from experience that new facilities can be controversial, particularly with non-cyclists but sometimes among cyclists themselves. We are thus still organizing support for this new bikeway. The Union will continue to gather petition signatures and contact information for as many Allston and Brighton cyclists as is possible, in order to support the city’s great move here and in the hopes they will repeat it on Cambridge Street nearby, and also to prepare for any potential opposition. Please email pete@bostoncyclistsunion.org if you are interested in helping out, and forward this email to your friends in the neighborhood who might also be interested.

Below is the city’s press release:

Mayor Menino’s Boston Bikes
Bike lane installation
Western Avenue, North Alston
November, 2010

THE CITY OF BOSTON WOULD LIKE TO INFORM YOU THAT, IN COLLABORATION WITH HARVARD UNIVERSITY, IT WILL BE INSTALLING BIKE LANES ON WESTERN AVENUE THIS NOVEMBER.

What are bike lanes? Bike lanes are sections of road designated for exclusive use by cyclists. Paint or thermoplastic lane markings plus accompanying signage mark the bike lanes. Green paint is occasionally added for emphasis on select segments.

Why install bike lanes? Western Avenue is a primary route for cyclists getting between Allston/Brighton, the Charles River and Cambridge. Our number one goal is always safety. This plan will improve safety dramatically.

What about safety? Bike lanes are proven to make the roads safer for all users. This plan will improve safety in the following ways.

* Designate a safe riding zone for cyclists;
* Provide guidance for vehicles wishing to pass cyclists;
* Encourage cars to drive at slower, safer speeds;
* Encourage cyclists to bicycle more respectfully and predictably; and,
* Make pedestrians and drivers more aware of cyclists.

What are the project limits and scope? The bike lanes will be
installed between Travis Street and Soldiers Field Road. In November, permanent marking (including a Cycle Track mock-up and buffered bike lanes in the eastbound direction) will be installed on the eastern end of the project. Temporary markings will be installed in the western
end of the project until Harvard resurfaces this section of the street next spring. The plan provides a standard five-foot wide bike lane in the westbound direction. During the winter, the City will solicit feedback on the eastbound Cycle Track and the proposal to extend it to Travis Street in spring 2011.

What is a cycle track? A “floating” parking lane will be used tocreate the Cycle Track mock-up. Instead of parking at the curb, vehicles will park in designated areas ten feet from the curb to provide room for the Cycle Track. A striped zone will buffer cyclists from parked cars.

How will cyclists connect to paths at the Charles River? At the end of the eastbound bike lane, cyclists can transition onto a sidewalk bike path and cross Soldiers Field Road by using the pedestrian push button signal.

Will there be changes at MBTA bus stops? MBTA buses will continue to stop at the curb in their current location. The plan provides clear sight lines for cyclists and MBTA bus drivers to see each other before the stops. During the winter, the City will solicit input on bus stop locations prior to the implementation of permanent changes in the western end of the project.

What is involved with installation? Work typically takes place after 7 PM. Some work will occur from 7 AM – 5 PM. Cars may need to be moved on work days. The road remains open.

Will parking be impacted? The on-street parking on Western Avenue near Genzyme will be relocated westward to create the “floating” parking lane between Hague Street and the Genzyme driveway. On-street parking will be restored along the curb next to Charlesview this fall and then, as currently planned, moved across the street into a floating parking lane in spring 2011 after this section of the roadway is resurfaced.

Will traffic be impacted? The addition of the bike lanes will not
cause an increase in traffic.

Will the city support the bike lanes? Yes, the City is preparing educational materials to educate road users on how to use the new bike lanes. The City is also working with BPD to enforce proper rules of the road.

Boston Bikes is part of Mayor Menino’s vision for a vibrant and healthy city that benefits all its citizens. It seeks to make Boston a world-class bicycling city by creating safe and inviting conditions for all residents and visitors. For more information please call Nicole Freedman, Boston Bikes, 617-918-4456.

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