With a major portion of Comm. Ave. scheduled for an overhaul, Boston cycling advocates are demanding a new design to make the safety of cyclists a priority.
BU Bikes, a Boston University student organization focused on improving and promoting cycling in the greater Boston community, and the Boston Cyclists Union are pushing for the inclusion of cycletracks, or physically protected bike lanes, in the street’s revamped design.
“The stretch of road in consideration has had more crashes per block than any other street in Boston, except for a section of Mass Ave,” BU Bikes president David Miller stated in response to questions posed by the Gavel. “Dooring, rear-ending and right-hooking of cyclists constitute ~33% of all crashes on CommAve [sic]. It has been proven that with proper design, cycletracks [sic] practically eliminate these types of accidents.”
“Most people attribute the high accident rate on the street to incompetent, law-breaking cyclists whose reckless actions cause the majority of the accidents on the street, but this is just not true,” Miller further expressed.
Miller explained that out of the 68 accidents between 2010 and 2012, only 5 of them, or 7%, involved cyclists running red lights. While he acknowledged that this is an issue, he said it is not the main cause of accidents.
While such calls for safer infrastructure have been heard, the Boston Transportation Department remains concerned about limited funding and space. In addition to accommodating the city buses, Comm. Ave. is federally required to have increased land for the Green Line, which runs through the middle of the street.
“Cycletracks [sic] are less favorable in designs than standard bike lanes…because they are wider and require more space,” Miller admitted.
Furthermore, pedestrians have expressed concerns about narrowing the already crowded sidewalks in order to accommodate the cycle tracks, and motorists have worried about the prospect of increased traffic.
“Having a cycletrack [sic] encourages people to bike instead of drive for short trips, which reduces the traffic for those who actually do need to drive for longer trips,” Miller affirmed, addressing public concerns. “Designing infrastructure for cyclists to take the load off motor vehicle infrastructure is a much more elegant solution than trying to…make room for all the cars people end up driving because they don't feel safe biking on the road.”
In an attempt to ensure the inclusion of safer bike infrastructure in the city’s design, BU Bikes and the Boston Cyclists Union have organized a public meeting, which will be attended by James E. Gillooly, Boston’s interim transportation commissioner.
“This meeting is not at all intending to be a rally for a cycletrack [sic],” Miller assured. “The City is starting to open up to the idea and [we] want to further that communication, and have a productive conversation with them.”
“We want to talk about their design, explore areas that could use improvement, and talk about some [of] the alternative design proposals from independent engineers working for the advocacy groups,” Miller continued. “We just want to give them some suggestions and show them some of our ideas to compromise.”
The meeting will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 9, between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., in the Jacob Sleeper Auditorium at 871 Commonwealth Ave.