To convince the city that the majority of Jamaica Plainers were in support of bike lanes, JP Bikes and the Boston Cyclists Union hit the streets and gathered well over 1,400 signatures from Jamaica Plain residents in support of bike lanes “wherever possible” on the street. The “wherever possible” being an acknowledgment that certain parts of the street would likely be too narrow to squeeze them in.
On Thursday this week (April 29), a CAC meeting of over 80 JP residents—over half of them cyclists by a show of hands—approved of a plan that would alternate bike lanes and sharrows on different parts of the Centre and South streets. A more detailed design could potentially change some of the particulars, but by the proposal given by the city this is what will be painted on the street this year (yep, 2010!):
- Bike lanes will run on both sides from Sedgwick Street on South Street to Lakeville Road on Centre Street, except for a narrow two-block patch down by the JP Post office which will use sharrows.
- Jackson to Hyde Square will have a “climbing lane,” essentially a bike lane on the uphill side, where bikes will travel slower, and sharrows on the downhill side.
- Another climbing lane between McBride Street and Sedgewick.
- Sharrows for all other parts of the street.
The bike lanes will also have an exciting innovation that helps keep riders out of the “door zone.” Perpendicular lines will jut out of the stripe on the parking side of the bike lane, looking a bit like long teeth. They will extend roughly halfway across each bike lane, and a narrow guide arrow in the direction of travel will hug the stripe on the traffic side of the bike lane. A study from San Francisco has shown that this marking innovation encourages more riders to travel outside of the dreaded door zone.
Parents of young children at the meeting were a bit dismayed that bike lanes will not run the length of Centre Street (Note: the Gazette mistakenly reports this as a sentiment that the bike lanes will be “less safe”).
But given a tough situation, the city’s plan does everything possible to make the street as safe as possible without the removal of parking or other changes that would require a total curb to curb reconstruction. It is a big step in the right direction. And the ongoing BRA planning process for Centre and South streets is an opportunity to do more. Keep track of it and check out the bike lane power point (look for the 4/29 meeting, should be up soon) here.
Special thanks to Bill Schultheiss, an engineer from Toole Design Group who was flown in particularly for this meeting. His detailed presentation of the pros and cons of bike lanes played a big part in showing the amount of careful thought and consideration that went into the city’s plan. Schultheiss is an active member of the Bicycle Technical Committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD), the latter of which sets the standards for road markings for the nation.