As promised, the Boston Transportation Department is set to remove 71 parking spaces and install a bike lane along Massachusetts Avenue between Symphony and the Charles River in the next few weeks before the frost sets in. The Boston Herald is talking of war again, but of course a greater peace for everyone is the goal the city has in mind. Twenty-two bike accidents were serious enough to call an ambulance for along this half mile stretch between May of 2010 and August 2011, a high number when compared to other streets in the city, and the awareness a bike lane could create among motorists may help drive that number down.
This is perhaps Mayor Thomas Menino’s boldest stroke for bike safety so far-though a well chosen one because in reality it is going to accomplish a great deal without rocking too many boats. A few businesses will certainly complain that their parking is being removed, but only a few actually have parking in front of their stores along the stretch in question at the moment, and what they lose in car parking they are likely to gain in bike parking from increased ridership in this key corridor. The safety improvement will make thousands of bike commutes more enjoyable. Also, the majority of the existing parking being removed sits in front of the Christian Science Center, where it is often unused. And one of the biggest land owners on that side of the street, the bike-clogged Berklee College of Music, is an avid supporter of the plan.
In fact, with bikes lining the street signs and parking meters of Boylston Street businesses, the biker bar The Other Side on Newbury and Back Bay Bicycles on Comm. Ave, support for the project is high all over. But the Herald and certain talk radio hosts will certainly try to paint a different picture, so as this bike lane is installed, do your best make sure the city and the news media know where you stand.