Hey, bicyclists: You're supposed to stay out of the Common, too

Seems some bicyclists are e-mailing the city Parks and Recreation Department all huffy about the new no-bicycling stencils applied to walkways on the Common last week.

But the ban is actually nothing new - it's just that, unlike in the Public Garden, where bicyclists are also warned to stay out, the previous stencils had faded away, Parks spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard says. "This is not a new policy prohibiting cycling on Boston Common. New paint was applied on top of faded paint stencils."

Goddard says her department is referring verklempt bicyclists upset at being told they can't use paths meant for pedestrians to city Bike Program Director Nicole Freedman, who "plans to work with the riders to help them find optional routes for the Beacon/Boylston/Tremont street area."



    Free tagging: 


    Vehicles aren't

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    allowed on the Common or Public Garden, either.


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    Yes, but "vehicles" are fully accommodated on the surrounding streets. Charles Street is a 60-foot wide one-way street. That's wider than the Southeast Expressway. It is irresponsible of the Mayor to ban bikes from the Common before improving cycling conditions on the surrounding streets. After there are two-way cycle-tracks around both the Common and the Public Garden, then I couldn't care less about bikes inside the Common.

    Boo Hoo

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    Boo Hoo, I'm a poor widdle bicyclist who can't have it both ways! I want to be a ped and a legit vehicle! boo hoo! This is going right on my pinterest! that'll show you! that'll show everyone!

    No bicycling

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    Bike ban

    Arturo Gossage took this photo of a typical no-bike stencil (in the Public Garden).

    Copyright Arturo Gossage.

    While you are at it

    I'd like some big spiked strips for the bike lane on Congress St.

    Something that could be placed so that cyclists can make it between spikes, but drivers would learn a hard lession.

    C'mon - it would be fun!

    It's still a park.

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    As vocal as I am about bikes on here (usually bitchin about bike lanes), I disagree with this.

    I mean, I get it. If you can't ride your bike on the sidewalk, then yeah it does apply because the walkways in the common are a sidewalk in essence. But unlike most sidewalks, the ones in the common are in a park too. I thought the idea of a park was for recreation. And Yeah I know Boston Common is very pedestrian heavy, but it's still a park, and a large one at that. You'd think you'd *want* bikes there.

    Boston never ceases to amaze me in its silly laws..

    No bikes

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    I am very happy to be able to walk without the fear of side stepping into a wheel.

    put your big boy pants on

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    Seriously: this whole "pedestrians getting mowed down by bicyclists" thing is NOT A THING, especially in a park where the paths are 20+ feet wide. It DOES NOT HAPPEN. The city's own stats show it. Pedestrian injures are overwhelmingly from motor vehicles.

    Every story I hear about some pedestrian complaining contains the phrase "nearly" or "almost." You do realize that a cyclist, moving faster than you, and falling from a higher distance, is going to be more injured than you if they hit you, right?

    Also, if the city is going to enforce this, maybe it can enforce chasing off the thousands of commuters who feel it necessary to walk on the BIKE side of the Southwest Corridor? Funny how bicycles are such a menace and a danger to pedestrians that they prefer to walk on the bike path instead of the dedicated pedestrian path.

    Gotten so bad, I feel like all the bicycles should switch to using the pedestrian-only path, since nobody else does.

    Bad cyclists

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    Sounds like you are likely a good cyclist who is aware of walkers and thoughtful of others. Just the other day, a biker coming behind me didn't stop until she was six inches from my legs. Scared me to death so I screamed. No two ways about it, many cycists ignore the rules of the road and lack courtesy, giving everyone else a bad reputation. I would like to add that a broken bone for me would be a serious matter so this is serious conversation, not just blather.

    A broken bone

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    would be a serious matter for anyone. I am all for good and polite cycling and loathe the cyclists who bomb by me on the bike paths or bike lanes without a simple ding of their bell or an "on your left." But seriously...the number of six-inch close calls I've had with cars far, far outnumber the ones I've had with cyclists, either as a pedestrian or on my bike. I am a crazy-cautious, law-abiding cyclist and still I've had countless incidents that make me shudder to think about. So please, let's stop acting as if ignorant jerks on bikes present anything like the dangers of ignorant jerks in cars.

    With all due respect, Sally:

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    I have had the opposite issue. I have had more close calls with bikes than with cars in Boston and Cambridge. So where does that leave us?

    I am in the city on a daily basis, walk through downtown Boston on a regular basis and work in Kendall Square which is congested with cars and bikes.

    While I agree with your statement about ignorant jerks, I have a colleague who was smashed into by a cyclist who whipped around a corner as she was doing nothing wrong except crossing the street. He was fine, she had to go to the hospital with a mild concussion.

    You can't discount the amount of damage a cyclist traveling at say 15-20 miles per hour may do to a pedestrian.

    By way of two examples, by boss was hit by a car last month and walked away with no major injuries. Many years ago, I was riding my bike and was side swiped by a car. Aside from a nasty road rash, I was fine. So, to me, it is an apples and oranges argument.

    I'm not discounting anything...

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    only pointing out that in forums like this it is widely, widely exaggerated and no one ever offers facts to backup their arguments. Are you seriously telling me that you've had more "close calls" with bikes that with cars in this city? We're talking about Boston, Mass., right? And then you're backing up this statement with your two examples of people being hit by cars who were barely injured...proving what exactly? Are you seriously trying to claim that cyclists hurt more people more seriously than people in cars? I can offer a dozen personal anecdotes to the contrary but I think any casual Google of traffic statistics will prove you wildly wrong.


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    "Seriously: this whole "pedestrians getting mowed down by bicyclists" thing is NOT A THING, especially in a park where the paths are 20+ feet wide. It DOES NOT HAPPEN....You do realize that a cyclist, moving faster than you, and falling from a higher distance, is going to be more injured than you if they hit you, right?"

    Wrong. When a fast moving bike messenger ran a red light and nailed me when I'd stepped into a crosswalk at the walk signal, I was the one whose head hit the curb without a helmet. To his credit, the messenger stopped to help me. He walked away while I got a trip to the hospital via EMS. Luckily no life threatening injuries but I wouldn't wish the following months of dr visits and physical therapy on anyone. Medical personal told me they saw bike-ped accidents with some frequency and that the ped almost always got the worst of it.

    I'm not anti-bike, I actually ride now. But not on the Common. I know what a bike can do to a pedestrian, I don't want to be that cyclist.

    Statistics say ...

    Well. I'm sorry you were hit by an idiot, but that's your one single personal story.

    Fortunately, it is a rare one. Unfortunately, it happens far more frequently with drivers hitting people. I nearly got mowed in a bike lane the other day while crossing with the light - but it was by a driver driving a car in the bike lane with the intent of taking a right ignoring the red light.

    Are you planning to put up a citation with a comparison of injuries to pedestrians from cyclists versus cars? So far, everything I've seen puts that ratio at around 1 serious injury to peds by cyclists for every 100 or so by cars. I think that would be more relevant for public policy purposes than a stochastic event.

    I was brushed by a cyclist

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    I was brushed by a cyclist while crossing Columbus Avenue in a crosswalk. Also, when I used to walk to my office on the edge of the common I would often have to dodge cyclists on the common. It's a real concern. I'm going to guess that these type of incidents (and accidents) are under reported.

    The statistics don't collect

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    The statistics don't collect info on close calls between cyclists & pedestrians. But this doesn't mean that it isn't scary for a pedestrian to be almost hit by a bike and doesn't mean it isn't a problem.

    Because statistics show less injuries for cyclists hitting a pedestrian doesn't mean the problem should be completely ignored.

    I didn't make any claim about bikes v cars

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    I didn't make any claim about bikes v cars so don't feel obliged to provide citations. Yes, it's only my personal stochastic event and I offered it only as a response to the equally citationless claim that such things don't happen. Unless you consider capital letters to be reliable data.

    Had I been able to pick myself up and move on, I don't imagine that I would have reported it.

    as a pedestrian I've collided

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    as a pedestrian I've collided with joggers and someone running to catch the T. I even had a run-in with a turkey once. cyclists - mostly just close calls. but I have been hit by a car who didn't stop at a stop sign.

    really it's just not safe to leave the house.

    It's a park

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    It's a park, that's why. Um parks are for recreation. biking is a recreational sport. See the correlation?


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    It's a lifestyle mannnn!

    Actually it's a "common"

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    we should be grazing our livestock and drilling our militia in it.

    ...and humping in the bushes....they leave that part out on the historic markers.

    Guerilla historical commission

    Now I really want to start a trend where history geeks sneak around in the dead of night and plant accurate historical markers - I think we start with prostitution in the common and a more informative account General Hooker on his statue at the Statehouse.

    If biking is a recreational sport...

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    Then they should ride on the sidewalks and stop fighting to be in the street with cars. Driving cars in the street isn't recreational on a daily basis and even when people do it for fun they still can't ride in the Common so bikes should stay out too.

    You are exactly right,

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    You are exactly right, everything is either black or white. Also I saw a NASCAR race flipping through the channels this weekend, people driving cars at 150mph. I don't think the city is the place for that, and cars should be banned from city streets unless you are a little old lady out for a sunday drive--these drivers want it both ways!


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    I like bikes and I like cars. I also like buses and trains. Oh, and humpback whales.

    I don't want any of these in a park where I want to just hang out and not have to watch out for traffic.

    Time and place for everything.

    I don't think that it's a silly law at all, cybah.

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    The paths going through the Boston Common are clearly not meant for bicycling, but for pedestrians walking through the Common. It's not going to hurt bicyclists to chain their bicycles to a rack or meter somewhere on one of the surrounding streets and walk through the Common like other people do. Bicycles can be very disruptive in the Boston Common, because the paths are so narrow. Leave the Common for pedestrians! The no-bicycling in the Boston Common law makes sense and should be rigidly enforced, possibly with a hefty fine for bicylists who violate it.

    I also think it's for the best, but FYI...

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    I think you're not understanding why someone would want to bike in the Common in the first place. I am a cyclist who commutes to work from JP to downtown. I am VERY strict in following traffic laws (e.g., I don't go through red lights, even if no cars are around) but I had been going through the Common because I didn't know it was illegal. The reason I stayed off the street is because all of the surrounding streets are extremely inhospitable to bikes and are downright dangerous. My only options now are to ride down Tremont (very dangerous), find another route that would probably make my commute about a mile longer, or walk through the Common with my bike. I'll walk through the Common and hope one day bike lanes are added to Tremont.

    JP to Downtown?

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    Try the Southwest Corridor to Columbus! Bike lanes almost all the way, I've never had a problem (so far)!

    Park Wars in NYC

    Boston is small potatoes. If you want to read or experience pedestrian-cyclist conflict in parks, read NYC press or go to Central Park and others in NYC, where cyclists ARE seriously injuring pedestrians. Note, pedestrians seldom wear helmets, so are at high risk for head injuries when struck by bikes, cars, skateboarders etc.

    Thankfully, the Boston Common doesn't have the Lance wannabes of Central Park, who pose the most risk. Still, there are lessons from reading about park issues in other cities.


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    Link? Or are you thinking perhaps of falling tree branches which seem to be the most lethal weapon in Cenal Park these days. Or maybe this is just what your auntie Dorothy Rabinowitz of the WSJ told you?

    Links: http://awalkintheparkn

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    Several pedestrians have been struck and seriously injured by cyclists in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. I have not heard anything about the condition of the cyclists, who must have been injured as well.

    The majority of cyclists in the park are just out for a nice ride, but there are a few who use it as a velodrome--their speeds have been a problem. If I recall, a few ideas were put forth (establishing specific, fast-riding hours in the park, or creating separate lanes, for example.) There is even a proposal to build a velodrome in another part of Brooklyn:


    This, of course, depends on funding.

    Pedestrians walking wrong way in the bike lanes

    I have some nice go pro footage of pedestrian stupidity in NYC lanes clearly marked for cyclists only - many next to identical pedestrian only lanes - if you have dramamine for the go pro effect.

    Stuff like people with strollers and dogs walking wrong way on the bike lanes through central park and then yelling at cyclists who "rush at them out of nowhere". People just stepping off into cycle tracks without looking. Etc.

    Although I wouldn't call that "cyclists injuring pedestrians" but "pedestrians who can't read getting injured when causing collisions with cyclists operating properly and legally".


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    just can't admit when you're wrong. Bikes do NOT belong in the Common.

    Make downtown streets safer, then

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    Regardless of whether this is a new policy or an old policy, it's a dumb policy. The streets around the Common and the Public Garden are among the most dangerous ones for cyclists in the downtown area. You want us not to ride on the Common or in the Public Garden? Fine, how about some cycle tracks on the streets that surround them then?

    The Parks and Recreation Department has a spokeswoman?

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    Parks spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard says...

    No offense to Jackie Goddard whose anchor work at WBZ-AM I've enjoyed in the past, but does the Parks and Recreation Department really need a spokeswoman? Couldn't the Parks Commissioner, Deputy Parks Commissioner, Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner or somebody handle the press? How busy is the Parks press office? My God. I have to hand it to Menino, stacking the city payroll with spokespersons galore who are almost all former reporters for one Boston news outlet or another. Who needs Owens-Corning when you can buy insulation like this?


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    good (and valid) one-liner at the end.

    Mayor's press office is

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    Mayor's press office is wicked touchy about city employees talking to the press directly, and as far as I know, the Parks Dept. doesn't have its own press department. I'm wondering if Ms. Goddard will soon show up as the spokesperson for other departments and agencies.

    Yes, Parks and Rec has a PR person

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    I.e., Ms. Goddard, whose title is "director of marketing, communication, and external affairs for the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department" (source).

    The larger city agencies all have at least one dedicated PR person (public health, the school department, police - which has an entire department - and fire spring to mind).

    Those PR departments

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    also seem to be full of former or laid-off TV reporters/media folks.

    Which makes sense, for both sides

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    The departments get people who know how to deal with the press (having once been members of the Fourth Estate themselves); the former reporters get jobs that have a bit more job security and, for many of them, probably higher pay.

    of course they're touchy

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    "Mayor's press office is wicked touchy about city employees talking to the press directly"

    Of course they're touchy - because otherwise the press office wouldn't get so many chances to brag about how Mayor Menino personally made _______ happen or was instrumental to ____________.

    If that's true that paint

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    If that's true that paint faded before I moved to boston 9 years ago

    But really kid space for bike lanes can be found in a 40' street why can't it be found in a huge ass park?

    Faded paint? Hah?

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    I've lived here since 1976. Never ever saw the alleged painted symbols painted on the pathways. Never. Invisible paint?

    Maybe you are not perceptive

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    I was a office mail boy in high school and college in the 80's. Walked all over downtown every weekday for years. I saw the stencils at the entrances to the Public Garden all the time, especially at the entrances that lead over the bridge. The Common, not so much.

    No Bikes has always been the rule in the Public Garden. I worked on the Swan Boats as well and the Rangers always asked us to keep an eye out and ask people to get off bikes as well. People generally complied.

    about the Common...

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    Nobody is disputing the ban in the public garden. This post is about the Common.

    Exactly the point

    Those stencils have always been very noticeable at the entrances to the Garden. One of the reasons they have always stood out in the Garden is that they have never existed in the Common.

    It may have always been the law on the books that bicyclists are prohibited from riding on the paths in the Common. Per parks rules, it is prohibited - along with playing any sport or game in the Common, having a dog off-leash, walking on a bridle path, anybody over 12 using the waters in the Frog Pond, or galloping your horse. However, I am certain the prohibition of bicycles in the Common has not been enforced in the last two decades at least, and there have never been anti-bike stencils in the Common.

    It is unfortunate that the first visible act of this spokesperson is to lie in this fashion. People might support this change more if it didn't begin with a lie. Lying to people tells them they shouldn't respect you.

    Parks are refuges

    Would you want a park turned into a highway (or Turkish shopping mall)? No. Its supposed to be a refuge from the hustle, bustle, and not having to focus on not getting hit by anything faster moving than another person strolling. Hence, not for transportation, not even bike transportation.

    Its a better discussion to propose a few major paths for joggers and cyclists, rather than have them on every path. That way, pedestrians can know to beware near them and/or avoid them. The argument is then about whether to lose park area to transportation.

    For once I agree with you (kind of)

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    It would be so, so easy to designate certain paths for joggers, runners and cyclists--the wider avenues that are the ones that most of these folks use anyway. Then you could add appropriate signage for everyone, telling them to--duh--watch out for each other. Problem solved.

    This is a reverse of policy.

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    This is a reverse of policy. It used to be that bikes were banned from the Public and allowed IN WRITING to be ridden on the common.

    Maybe cyclists are upset

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    Maybe cyclists are upset because more and more joggers are running in their bike lanes so this their silly way of proving a point? Walk your bike through the Common instead of riding.
    Unless you're a young child riding a bike, please have the courtesy to respect the rules and leave the Common for the use of walkers, parents with strollers, those in wheelchairs and people with limited mobility who may not be able to dash out of your way quickly enough, thanks.

    Here's the Problem

    If you work downtown or toward the Channel and south, and cross in from Cambridge via the Longfellow, there really isn't any other safe choice at rush hour for getting from one to the other.

    And, gee, since the paths that come all the way from the Arlington Line to Boston all connect via that bridge, I can't possibly imagine why anybody who is commuting might actually, you know, want to get that last mile to where all the jobs are (be that Back Bay or Downtown)?

    I gave up on Cambridge St. after they put in that Giant Stupid Ass Waste Of Space Brick Wall Flowerpot Thingy and left no room for anything other than cars speeding like it was a freeway and frogger-playing jaywalkers. It is very sketchy. The cars turning near the State office buildings tend not to notice those inconvenient red lights, either, and I've nearly been wiped out several time for having the temerity to actually attempt to make a turn on a green arrow near the Police station.

    So I join the legions of other commuters who take Charles St. - which rarely has much traffic and has three lanes - and make my way to the common, cross the common, cross Tremont, and scoot down a side street to Washington. My husband takes a different route to get to the other side of the Channel on Summer St. I rarely encounter any difficulty with pedestrians in the morning rush.

    Note that it is nearly impossible to get to the Back Bay in any direct way without using the common if you are coming from the Financial District or Downtown Crossing. Again, start marking where we SHOULD go rather than assuming we are just "out for a little sunday ride in circles!" and we will go there. I know it involves maps and thinking and planning, but ...

    Unless and until Boston gets serious about understanding that cyclists are part of the commuter mix and ACCOMODATING THE COMMUTING PATTERNS, people will improvise. Personally? I think one lane of Charles would make a great bi-directional cycletrack. Nobody seems to ever use that left lane, save double parked vehicles.

    Sounds like

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    the bike czar's job is to help cyclists find ways to navigate downtown without using the pedestrian paths in the parks.


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    In the meantime, it doesn't justify cycling on the pedestrian paths on the Common.

    Never been banned

    Note the discussion by people who actually use the place and have for years - no bikes in the Garden, bikes allowed on the Common.


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    it has changed, deal with it. NO BIKES IN THE COMMON!

    Okay, then

    When do they ALSO start enforcing the "no cars driving or parking in the bike lanes"?

    Or, better yet, just go stand in the bike lane on Congress between Franklin and High St. at 5:15 pm and see what happens.

    Only where permitted by law

    Those three blocks of congress have one right turn, but cars using the bike lane as an extra lane for three blocks.

    If you bothered to read your driver's manual sometime, you would know that it is only legal for a driver to pilot their car through the bike lane where the lane is dashed, not solid.

    But, that dashed line thing happened in the last 20 years so we can't expect people like you to know that rule and blah blah blah.

    Nope. I haven't seen *any*

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    I haven't seen *any* dashed bike lane lines approaching intersections in Massachusetts in the last 15 years. Cambridge used to have some, but not any more.

    Therefore, if the law you refer to actually existed, it would mean that right turns were never allowed on any street with a bike lane. Which is clearly not the case.

    Here's what MGL 90-14 actually says:
    "When turning to the right, an operator shall do so in the lane of traffic nearest to the right-hand side of the roadway and as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway. No person operating a vehicle that overtakes and passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall make a right turn at an intersection or driveway unless the turn can be made at a safe distance from the bicyclist at a speed that is reasonable and proper."

    Nothing about not crossing a solid bike lane line to turn right.

    Nothing about that in the driver's manual either -- http://www.massrmv.com/rmv/dmanual/Drivers_Manual.pdf pages 106-107.

    Do they have to enforce it

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    for people to obey the law, be it bikes in parks where they are not supposed to be, or cars in bike lanes? It's still a law. Because others break the law is not justification for breaking additional laws.

    Fair is fair

    Enforce on all modes equally.

    That's all I ask.

    If I can't bike through the common, cars should not be allowed to use three blocks of bike lane as an extra lane because, well, somebody feels special and can't be bothered to read the lane markings.

    That's what a democratic society demands. Otherwise, pushing bikes from the common is selective enforcement not even supported by public safety needs.

    Providing ways to go would be great!

    "Go here" would be far more helpful than "don't go here", yet is the current model in surface transportation. Arlington center has signs telling cyclists not to ride on the sidewalk. More helpful would be signs saying to walk bikes on sidewalks. Its the same with roads, with various prohibitions. A century or more ago, many roads were laid out as arteries, feeders, and residential. In recent decades, arterial roads are made slower to use, resulting in more traffic going to roads not designed for high volumes. Instead, arterial roads should draw traffic out from using smaller roads, especially small residential ones. All the "traffic calming" on arterial roads is effectively saying don't drive here, drive on smaller roads we've not ruined yet. Stupid.

    Having places for cyclists to go instead of putting bike lanes everywhere would make sense too. $22M to re-do Somerville Ave with bike lanes, but many cyclists still rather use beat up Beacon Street. What a waste of money! Beacon Street could be made better for cyclists if half of the 10 foot wide sidewalk width were given to them on each side - pedestrian volumes don't demand that much capacity.

    Common Path

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    Swirly -
    I take the same route as you, and you're exactly correct, the Cambridge-longfellow-common-financial district is a very common route. I've taken this route for some time now and I've never seen a bike accident or a close call. (albeit n=1). As there isn't a place to ride up beacon and the other side is a one-way, there isn't any way to get to the financial district from that route. It would greatly help if the parks dept had at least one person look into the impact cutting off a major cyclist commuter corridor would do to commuters.

    I really appreciate the

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    I really appreciate the comments about the route from the river to the financial district North-South across the Common.

    I also want to add that the Common allows bikers to go East-West from downtown to Comm Ave or Beacon without having to bike up Beacon Hill or go far out of their way because of all the one-way roads (or ride on sidewalks, which is legal, but way more dangerous to peds and bikers than going through the Common).

    The Common has enormously wide paved paths that circle it, with narrower ones that cut across but are still very wide. It's usually empty when I go there, and when it's full, I slow down, or get off. But it's easy to avoid the crowded areas by the pool and Park Street. I agree that a two-way cycletrack would solve this problem, because then you could take Tremont to Boylston to Charles to Comm Ave to avoid Beacon Hill.

    Only an idiot would ride in the Common

    This is nothing new, I've known about this rule for years, but even if I didn't, I would never ride in an area so congested with pedestrians. Common sense applies here, and the regulation matches the obvious best safety choice.

    Not always "congested"

    I don't ride there in the evenings, despite the lack of safe alternatives, because it tends to be crowded.

    8am - different story.

    Again, it wouldn't be a problem if the city was serious about connecting the seven or eight miles of commuter lanes ending at Charles Circle with the areas with the employment zones only a mile distant and did a little comprehensive planning.

    I would like to see a dedicated cycletrack edging the common and a two-way cycletrack on Charles. That would do the trick nicely.

    I'd like to see the Camb. / Arlington / Somerville Bike Mafia

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    Pony up the dough for it.

    I'd like to see a free JP Lick's ice cream machine at Downtown Crossing. I'd like to see a ski jump on the Common. I'd like to see Lincoln Street have no double parking on both sides during the morning commute. I'd like to see pedestrians not get mad when I drive my car when the light is green and they have a don't walk sign in front of 100 Summer. I'd like to see the Greenbush Line 8:50 train leave at 8:55 so I can put my daughter on the bus and have enough time to get the train.

    I'd like a lot of things as well.

    Call your state rep. Call your state senator. Get them involved. Have the Cambridge City Council, the Mayor of Somerville, and the Arlington Selectman, along with the BTD all get together and work towards your goal. It will be a great world when that happens.

    Bike mafia?

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    That's helpful. Keep up the good discourse!

    Well, you know

    We could always convince our employers to move.

    That would be more tax burden for you homeowners.

    Oh, yeah - you want the whole city to look like the empty holes in DTX by removing more money spending workers. I get that.

    You know...

    Pour some concrete in that DTX hole and you can do some serious bike tricks...

    Congested with pedestrians?

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    Um...where? Unless you are trying to bike through the packs of tourists, commuters, hotdog vendors, and homeless people around Park Street, where is the Common "congested?" I would also second the comments made by others that in my forty plus years of enjoying the Common, I have never seen any indication that bikes were prohibited, unlike the Public Garden. Could we not have a common sense alternative--maybe signs that urge cyclists to go slowly and watch out for pedestrians?

    This must hit a sore spot with you, Sally!

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    On a hot summer's day, the paths of the Common can be very congested, not just around Park Street.

    But that is missing the point. Whether or not we agree, the rule is no bikes. Heck, I want to be able to walk through a public park without having to worry about those cyclists who are not like yourself and tend to ride like a bat out of hell. Thus I support no the no bike ban for both the Common and the Public Garden.

    On a side note, I can't tell you how many cyclists I have witnessed who choose to ignore the ban on bikes through the Public Garden. Sad really.


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    why, every single time, must we conflate ALL cyclists with the speed-demon, Quicksilver, "bat out of hell" cyclist who's knocking down grandmothers and running over small children? It's like banning joggers or kids on scooters--can't we just find ways to encourage safety and common sense and say "be careful" without instituting a ban? Say "bike here and not there?"--I mean, there are actually very few avenues in the Common that could be described as "narrow"--surely this is a solvable problem.

    I biked from Brookline via

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    I biked from Brookline via Comm Ave to a job in Chinatown for 3 years. I cut through the Common to get to Beacon almost every afternoon taking the northwest diagonal and never had a problem with "congestion," even at 5pm. The only place I really had to slow down was the connector for the "Park Street to Public Garden" path, and even that usually wasn't too bad.

    Share everyone please...

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    I've been cycling through the Common to go to work for almost 15 years now without anyone stopping me, or conflict with pedestrians. Sure I have to go slow during rush hours in the summer to maneuver around pedestrians, but so what! I get to enjoy the friendly wave from the guy calling out the weather, pass the guy in the wheelchair with the kite, the people in colonial dress assembling the walking tours, etc.

    Besides, there is no better way to get from the river to the financial district by bike then through the Common. The Parks Dept SHOULD be our friends and advocates.

    We cyclists, pedestrians, and and park advocates have a common desire to have a place for people to gather and to circulate away from motor vehicles (except for parks employees who seem to have their right to park their private personal vehicles on the Common by the maintenance yard every day...)

    The Parks Dept needs to encourage and welcome cyclists to share the space with everyone else in the Common, period.

    previous stencils my foot.

    By on

    previous stencils my foot. The common is really the only safe way across this part of town if you are coming from a couple certain directions. I am a fairly confident cyclists but if I am working at the Majestic or Paramount or needed to hop onto summer street down to South Station I use the common. Yes it is crowded at certain times of day, yes I go slowly and am respectful, but it is a safe route and I will use it. Riding with pedestrians is not stressful, riding with semis and taxicabs any more than I already have to.

    Unless the city would like to install reverse directions cycle tracks along the major 4 lane one way roads to facilitate access this policy is very bone headed. I don't know the history of it, but while the gardens make perfect sense (quiet contemplation, peaceful walking etc) I still don't see the point of banning them on the common when you have joggers with strollers moving at typically the same speed, dogs off leash etc. I will gladly not use the common if the city actually gives me a freaking safe space to ride in downtown, sharrows are not cutting it.

    And the blanket sidewalk riding ban is a bit much too, central business districts or even commercial corridors or even if the sidewalk is 5 feet or smaller, but blanket? I break that one every single day getting to and from the esplanade paths, and so do the bike cops I see while riding. Anybody who says I should be riding in the road outside the museum of science is fing nuts, I will not do it and I would rather take any fine or waste time with a lecture than ride on that freaking highway.

    Now let me tell you how I really feel...

    29 Years in August

    28 years with a bike and on the move.

    Always saw signs and or stencils in the garden.

    Never saw anything like signs or stencils in the common - and I'm the kind of person who looks.

    I'm beginning to wonder if the people in city government know there is a difference?

    rewriting history

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    "This is not a new policy prohibiting cycling on Boston Common. New paint was applied on top of faded paint stencils."

    No, actually....I've been going through the common for a decade. There have never been stencils, the park rangers have never spoken a word to me or anyone else I know, and none of the signage on the Common prohibits bicycles. This *IS* a change.

    No boating

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    allowed on the Common either! Life is so unfair.

    We should also be able to Golf in the common

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    Section 3 also says you can't "play golf" in the common. But, the common is the safest place downtown to play golf (way safer than playing in the streets where there are no designated golf courses). I've never been hurt playing golf, and I've never hurt anyone else playing golf. If I see pedestrians while I'm playing golf, I can just aim the other way. Far less people are injured in Boston as a result of golf than of bicycles (Check the stats, it's true). There are no stencils saying not to play golf in the common. Why shouldn't we all be allowed to play golf in the common whenever we feel like it? Golf is a way of life.

    Common Problems

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    I really don't see this as a huge issue, just because going through the Common on a bicycle doesn't make a lot of sense.

    When I was a bike messenger, and even now, if going from Downtown to the Back Bay or vice versa there were always better, faster, more logistical ways to go than through the Common. Inbound one always just stuck to Boylston all the way to Chauncy. Outbound one took Tremont to Stuart unless atop Beacon Hill already, then Beacon. Because of the increased speed of those routes its much more efficient than a cut across the Common. Plus it put you in better positions for additional work.

    On the other hand, shouldn't the parks department be putting up and enforcing signs that say: No Needles, No Panhandling, No Mugging, No Smelling Like A Dead Body In The Hot August Sun, etc. as well?

    The Common has a lot of huge problems (albeit mostly at one end by Tremont Street) that make it impossible to enjoy, and cyclists on the paths seems to not really be one in comparison to those others.


    By on

    The humans seem to have a hard time moving around each other.
    Not sure if this indicates that they'll never advance enough to leave their planet or if it will speed up that process as they apparently need much more space to move around without conflict.

    why bike through the common?

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    I used to commute to the statehouse and tried going through the common once but it was too slow and hard to find a way that didn't involve stairs. Why not just take Charles to Beacon to get in and Park to Tremont to go home? I will admit, riding a fixed gear up Beacon from Charles is a bit of a workout, but it beats walking your bike up the steps.

    I have no idea. Maybe

    I have no idea. Maybe multiple people will post numerous comments detailing how difficult it is to bike on the surrounding streets in great detail.

    Open and shut case

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    A cycling citizen filed a complaint with the city and the city promptly closed the case:

    The use of bicycles is not allowed in the boston common. this park rule has always been in place; however, the ground markings are new.


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    So they're going to start enforcing the rules against balls and games too? Or sledding--yeah, definitely no sledding. Think of the mayhem! Next you might get Frisbee players or Rollerbladers...imagine.

    City confirmation spokesperson lied

    Parks spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard says. "This is not a new policy prohibiting cycling on Boston Common. New paint was applied on top of faded paint stencils."

    Sounds like we have an official city confirmation that the Parks spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard lied about the change, making up the part about "faded paint stencils."

    Yes, the ground markings are new. They have never been in the Common before. There were no "faded paint stencils."

    One size does not fit all

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    The Park rules do a poor job of recognizing good uses of parks. The rules follow a one size fits all philosophy. Perhaps the majority of us can not walk - bike - and chew gum at the same time.

    The Park rules apply to all parks. But not all parks are equal. The Common can support biking. Perhaps there should be designated paths. On the other hand if no one enforces these rules then why all the bother. Considering how often I have seen folks biking through the Public Garden or with dogs in the Garden it seems to me that the so-called rules are merely pixels on a video screen. They are bark without bite.

    Autos, bikes and pedestrians

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    Autos, bikes and pedestrians aside, good operators vs. bad operators aside, can we all just have a blanket agreement stating that individuals with larger mass and velocity should steer clear of thoroughfares designated for individuals of lesser mass and velocity and vice versa? A lot of bicyclists on this thread are sounding like the car drivers that encroach on their turf. By continuing to bike in the Common, you all are becoming what you hate most!

    A lot of bicyclists on this

    A lot of bicyclists on this thread are sounding like the car drivers that encroach on their turf. By continuing to bike in the Common, you all are becoming what you hate most!

    Good luck with that.

    A lot

    By on

    of butt hurt bikers on here!


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    ...they should put the saddles back on their bikes.

    Is there any city with more

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    Is there any city with more unpleasant people that Boston? I've never encountered a city with such a concentrated mass of piss and vinegar.