Back Bay parking meters just for cars, bicyclists are learning

Angela Wang reports DPW workers wielding bolt cutters are roaming the Back Bay this morning, cutting bicycles away from meters and taking them away to that place where bad bicycles go.



    Free tagging: 



    The turn the clock back society must be flexing their political muscle again. I'm with the bicyclists on this one. Boston DPW must have run out of potholes to fix if this is what they are onto now, right?

    Lol what?

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    Boston DPW must have run out of potholes to fix


    You should bow down and thank the NABBers

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    At least if you live in the city. That (my) neighborhood - along with a few other downtown neighborhoods supports the lifestyle you've grown accustomed to.

    For the record, I have NEVER heard anybody in the neighborhood, much less a board meeting, complain about bikes locked to parking meters - or locked to much of anything really, unless they appeared to be abandoned. The only exception would be a private wrought iron fence - but that's usually just an owner asking who they call to have it removed.

    The NABB should complain..

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    The NABB should complain...about this bike removal. Harassment of cyclists doesn't help the neighborhood's lifestyle.


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    NABB has appointed a representative to work with the city. Apparently Nicole and our rep are getting along swimmingly. If any resident (especially NABB member) has a problem with any policies regarding bikes, they should contact the office ( or 617-247-3961. As I've said before, people like to think the neighborhood associations just fight progress. The problem is - that's just what you see in the papers because those are the only times that stuff ends up in the papers. 99% of the time the city/agencies etc. and the neighborhood associations are on the same page which is what leads to ignorant comments like the one at the top of this thread (not yours).

    Haha - If by "pot holes" you

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    Haha - If by "pot holes" you're excluding craters that can digest an SUV, then yes, they've fixed all the pot holes.

    If the bikes are removed and

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    If the bikes are removed and thrown in the trash without compensation, when is BTD going to start towing illegally parked cars straight to the crusher without compensation?

    Are they going to tow cars

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    Are they going to tow cars that are parked in bike lanes or bus stops or double parked? We knew Walsh wasn't going to be good for bicyclists, but this is worse than I thought it would be.

    If you really can't lock a bike to anything but a bike rack...

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    ...we are going to need a lot more bike racks.

    According to the Census, there is about 1 bike commuter for every 22 car commuters in Boston. The numbers are higher in Cambridge and Somerville!

    There are 2,500 "bike parking spaces"...

    ...while for the cars, there are 140,000 off-street spots and at least 300,000 on-street spots (very conservative estimate as there are over 300,000 cars registered here, not to mention metered spots)

    That's a ratio of 1:178 car spots vs bike spots! Not to mention bike commuting is increasing while auto ownership is decreasing. If it took 5 years to get 2,500 bike spots, the city will only need to increase its rate of adding bike spots by a factor of 30X in order to get rid of the disparity in a year.

    I suggest other bike commuters follow this link: in order to request the other 17,500 bike rack locations that we will need. I'll start by suggesting a new location along every single block in Back Bay.

    If you thinking you're

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    If you thinking you're sticking it to the residents of Back Bay then you're wrong. Probably more cyclists in Back Bay than any other neighborhood in the city of Boston. Sorry!

    not sticking it to anyone...

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    Not to be misconstrued...I really do ride a bike to get from place to place, I really do go to back bay with some frequency, I really do need to park my bike there (often to a meter or sign because that's what's available), and I really would be distraught and furious if my $70 lock was cut and my bike was taken away to god knows where and very likely damaged or lost in the process.

    So if I really can't lock up to a sign or a meter, and nobody else can either, then I really do need there to be literally hundreds and hundreds of new bike racks in Back Bay. That's no joke and it's not "sticking it" to anyone. I wrote in here and requested 19 new racks at places I frequent in the Back Bay. I'd suggest anyone else who bikes does the same, and make sure to explain why it's suddenly so important as of today.

    Why not?

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    Giant class action settlement to build cycletracks all around the city!

    Velodrome != Cycletrack

    Velodrome = circular racing track for bikes
    Cycletrack = protected bike lane for cyclists, similar to what is on Western Ave between N Harvard and Storrow in North Allston

    Montreal To Introduce ‘Vélorues’ Next Summer

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    From 'The Gazette'

    In Portland, they call them “neighbourhood greenways.” In Vancouver, they call them “bicycle boulevards.”

    They are coming to Montreal, in the summer of 2015 and they will be called “vélorues,” these streets where cyclists have priority and can ride right down the middle of the road. Cars are allowed on these streets, but because of various measures to keep traffic slow — including cyclists riding down the middle of the street — motorists will generally avoid them. And that’s the idea.

    From 'The Gazette'

    “Property values on streets that become bicycle boulevards tend to go up. When you have a residential street with less car traffic, it improves quality of life.”

    Vélorues offer cyclists not only a safer ride, but a faster and more pleasant one. Cycling as a means of transportation is increasing, by some estimates, by as much as 20 per cent per year in some parts of Montreal, and the network of bike paths simply can’t handle the load.

    “Montreal has an interesting problem; its bike network is well over capacity,” says Rheault. “There are intersections where 300 to 400 bikes are passing within a 15-minute period, so sometimes they need more than one traffic signal to get through an intersection.”

    more ...

    The cycle tracks will never be built

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    Instead, a few thousand commuter rail parking spaces will be built in the suburbs. The city and state will assert it provides an equivalent benefit to the region's air quality.

    This has all happened before and it will all happen again.

    parking meters

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    Seems to be an other overreaction by municipal employees who do these things simply because they can and dare you to challenge them It would be helpful if the City would cite the language of the ordinance that prohibits this. City should be encouraging bi cycles.

    Locking bikes to meters should be explicitly encouraged!

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    In Montreal, every metered parking space is designed to also be a bike rack. (They're not actual meters -- there's one central machine per block. But each pair of spaces has a pole with the space numbers, and a ring to attach a bike lock.)

    So, what will Walsh do next?

    His anti-human power campaign hasn't been limited to this most recent backward absurdity - he has also overseen an extreme truncation of the length of pedestrian light cycles.

    The one by Faneuil Hall has been shortened so extremely that able bodied people have to trot to make it across Congress street, and elders are stuck in the middle for a cycle, meaning eight minutes to cross the street.

    Other places, there has been no crackdown on box blocking, light running vehicle drivers, but the lights are so short that it isn't possible to cross at all given the obstructions (such as said light running cars coming through).

    Of course, bike lanes used as travel lanes and valet parking storage are A-OK with Mayor Backward.

    This shit has to stop.

    I'm no fan of streets that

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    I'm no fan of streets that aren't designed for pedestrians.

    But I'm also not a fan of hyperbole. Eight minutes to cross using two cycles is a ridiculous exaggeration. There's no traffic light in this state with a cycle length anywhere near 4 minutes.

    Please learn to add

    If the light only cycles every 3-4 minutes, and pedestrians can't cross both halves in the allotted cycle, that means two cycles to cross for an elderly or slower person.

    That means 6-8 minutes to wait to get across.

    Go out and look for yourself. Congress St. behind City Hall.

    We are now down to 12 seconds to cross the Greenway at Congress, too.

    Is The "Don't Walk" Signal Accurate?

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    Does it display "Don't Walk" only when it's truly unsafe to cross? Or, does it change to "Don't Walk" long before the vehicular signals change to green for oncoming traffic?

    Many crosswalks change to "Don't Walk" for no good reason. Pedestrians stop and wait, but after a few seconds of nothing happening, will understandably become impatient and decide to cross anyway.

    Of course, that'll be right about when the vehicular signals do turn green, now wasting time for the drivers.


    I actually took inventory one day on my way to work, and found, in less than a mile, more than a half dozen intersections for which portions of the cycle displayed "Don't Walk" erroneously.

    I'm not talking about "Don't walk" coming on too early, or staying on too late; I'm talking about "Don't walk" being steadily and consistently displayed for part of the cycle during which, given the state of the traffic lights, it's obvious that no car could legally cross the crosswalk.

    Signals Programmed That Way Are An Insult To Pedestrians!

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    People are less likely to respect "Don't Walk" signals when they're displayed frivolously, as opposed to when they accurately indicate when it's not safe to cross. It makes the intersection less safe, and causes needless delays for pedestrians and drivers.

    Has anyone from the city or state ever explained their rationale for setting up crosswalk signals, deliberately designed to give wrong information to pedestrians?

    Cambridge is diligent

    ..and even has skillful synchronization along Prospect Street.

    But most surrounding towns think of them as an afterthought, probably tax whine cheapness.

    Boston is generally worthless at this. The main exception might be areas where there are blind people in significant numbers and sonic signals are in play.

    They may have drifted out of calibration over years and are low priority as long as motorists are happy.

    In many burb towns, a pedestrian is like a pariah. Either elderly or someone who lost their drivers license. And bicyclists were similarly suspect until the last decade or so.

    In Cambridge, The Pedestrian Signals Are Usually Accurate

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    Respect is earned. Where the crossing signals show respect to pedestrians, then pedestrians are more respectful of the crossing signals. In Cambridge, many of us will pick up the pace or even start to run to make it across during the last few seconds of the countdown (or else, stop and wait for the next cycle) because we know the signals are telling the truth. Consequently, the croswalk is cleared in time for vehicular traffic to pass.

    It appears as though the inaccurate signals (in Boston and elsewhere) were designed with the idea that pedestrians should have "x" number of seconds to cross, and that's it, even when there is actually a much longer interval of safe time before any vehicles are given a green light through the crosswalk.

    In Cambridge, the pedestrian interval times vary considerably, depending on the intersection. Some are much longer than others, but the countdown clock is displayed continuously, starting with the white "Walk" signal; in other words, giving as much information to pedestrians as possible.

    At intersections in Boston and other places, the countdown numbers don't appear until it starts flashing "Don't Walk". When it changes to a solid "Don't Walk", but there's no corresponding change in vehicular traffic signals, pedestrians become accustomed to simply ignoring the crossing signals.
    (yes, I know; "Walk" and "Don't Walk" symbols are typically used instead of words)

    The latest federal standards

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    The latest federal standards only allow a countdown during the flashing-don't-walk, not during the walk. Cambridge follows this standard (though they used to count during the whole walk and flashing-don't-walk, back when it was allowed).

    I think this particular federal rule is rather silly. A complete countdown is very useful. For instance, someone who walks really slowly might need a lot more time than the flashing interval to get across, but now it's a big mystery until it starts flashing and they only have 12 seconds. (Yes, I know pedestrians have the right-of-way as long as they started crossing during the walk, but that doesn't help someone who gets stuck in a dangerous situation.)

    The only reason we have the system of a flashing don't walk during which you can finish crossing but can't start is because that's all an electromechanical controller could do back in 1958.

    Hah hah hah!

    Has anyone from the city or state ever explained their rationale for setting up crosswalk signals

    Rationale? We don't need no stinkin' rationale. I impressed the Mayor with my sophisticated grasp of transportation issues personal loyalty to him, so now I have a senior position implementing transportation policy.

    Shame on you

    Are you implying that the City of Boston might entrust its civil engineering to individuals who are chosen based on their personal relationships rather than their professional credentials?? Perish the thought!

    Are you implying that people

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    Are you implying that people who have no idea what they're talking about are commenting on the internet? Perish the thought!


    By all accounts a great guy, who took his job at City Hall seriously and worked hard, but are you seriously defending his transportation credentials?

    Please learn to read

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    You said 8 minutes to cross using 2 cycles. I divided 8 by 2, and said there are no 4 minute cycles in Massachusetts.

    The longest cycles I have seen in this state are 2 minutes, on high-speed state highways. Typical cycles in Boston are 60 to 90 seconds. Nothing approaches 4 minutes.

    That's surprising.

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    That's surprising.

    WalkBoston's report from a year and a half ago found most total cycle lengths to be 90 to 120 seconds. The longest they found was about 155 seconds at Causeway/North Washington.

    If Boston has recently increased some intersections to 187 seconds, that's seriously offensive to pedestrians, and warrants some intense activism.

    The fun starts soon

    The Tourist Tide will certainly make this all very interesting in short order.

    Unless they do something about it - I did call the Mayor's Hotline.

    I timed it too

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    I just timed it. The solid don't-walk is 88 seconds. The walk + flashing don't-walk is 18 seconds. Therefore total cycle time is about 1 minute 46 seconds. And no rude gesture needed.

    (I know nobody will ever see this because the post is 2 years old. That's an unfortunate consequence of blog-based discussion groups.)

    If you think that a

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    If you think that a pedestrian interval is too short, please time it and calculate the necessary walking speed to cross the street. The federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control devices recommends a maximum walking speed of 3.5 ft/s for crosswalks.

    This is not a requirement, just a recommendation, but I would still expect the city to act on it if you complain that it doesn't meet that recommendation.

    I've made several reports

    To citizen's connect and the mayor's hotline.

    The results: gibberish about "cycle time not being adjustable" etc blah blah punt.

    This is deliberate.

    Case by case

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    The most ridiculous thing about Boston pedestrian signals that I've learned is that it's just as political as anything else in Boston. There is no set consistent policy that the city follows, other than "it depends." They will make the signals concurrent except for around schools, churches, senior centers, or if there are sightline issues or high turning volumes. They will make the exclusive phases automatic some of the time in some locations depending on the numbers of pedestrian present, the neighborhood it is in, and whether or not some person complained that there were not pedestrians crossing when they happened to wait for it in their car. On top of that, the signals often countdown too early, through sheer laziness of the person who programmed it on some signals, and on others because the equipment is old and won't support extending the walk phase automatically based on the parallel green phase. There is no one policy that is followed throughout the city. Cambridge seems to get it right, so I really don't understand what the problem in Boston is.

    Berklee area kids (and adults

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    Berklee area kids (and adults) are terrible with this, always in a such a rush to get to class. Walking the 1100 block of Boylston is near impossible! Glad the city acknowledged the complaints and removed the bikes from this block!

    Good for the students for

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    Good for the students for speaking up! Sidewalks are for pedestrians and those in wheelchairs, not for free parking for bikes or advertisements for Hubway.

    Advertisements for Hubway?

    Sounds like you have some cognitive issues.

    But I largely agree with you. If there are too many bikes, then the needs of several hundred vehicles (and hundreds of pedestrians) should be accommodated by changing the on-street parking. Remove four very large private vehicle spots and you can get 60 small private vehicle spots, which helps those 100s of pedestrians, too.

    Somerville does this in congested areas and it is really effective at making sure that people who come to spend money at local businesses have a place to land (without encouraging people to bring their much less space-efficient vehicles instead).

    It could be worse

    This is from last fall in Beacon Hill. Someone really didn't like this bike parked to the sign. Sorry for the small size, but if you look closely you can see that someone has used a hack saw on the top tube and wheel.


    Coward and Vandal

    I'm betting it was somebody who really needed a power trip. I hope that they were arrested - or that somebody knows what their car looks like.

    That's a downtube

    ...but if you look closely you can see that someone has used a hack saw on the top tube and wheel.

    It took a few seconds to figure out which way is up, but that's a downtube.

    That's a nasty thing to do. From the pic, the bike looks practically new, definitely not abandoned.

    different perspective

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    Charles St. sidewalks are quite narrow. When self-entitled spoiled brat cyclists locks their bike to a post on a sidewalk it impedes pedestrians' paths. Bikes do not belong on a narrow sidewalks. Charles St. is an especially crowded sidewalk on the weekends when it's packed with people getting their errands done, joggers, elderly residents, families with strollers and tourists. I have seen people accidentally smack into bikes sticking out halfway into the sidewalk countless times. Two weeks ago my mother and I witnessed an elderly gentleman carrying groceries walk into a bike tire jutting out into the sidewalk causing him to fall to his knees. It was upsetting to see for all of us who were nearby. Kind passersby helped him up and a younger man knocked the bike out of the way. (Calm down, the precious bike was not injured in any way, just the human being!) It's inconsiderate and downright LAZY to have your bike blocking a sidewalk. It's a hazard to people who are disabled and/or have mobility issues. I know, I know bringing up people with mobility issues pisses off cyclists more than anything because it's an inconvenience to your 'cyclists are the center of the universe' bubble, but PLEASE cyclists, start to have a little compassion and help out by being a responsible adult and keep your bikes off narrow sidewalks!

    Fyi Swrrly, I'm sure you'll be the first to attack this comment and I won't be reading your response as I have little respect for your opinion on this particular topic.

    There are better ways to handle your pet peeves

    Who ever did this either has a personal grudge and/or a personality disorder.

    I realize that there is as much douche locking as there is entitlement parking - but the real answer, as above, is to take a couple of parking spaces for bike racks and make it clear that sign locking will result in bike removal.

    bike racks on Charles St

    I've asked for on street bike racks (corner of Charles and Chestnut on east side I believe was discussed - forget the arrangement with the fire hydrant) citing the increased traffic it might generate. I think there is very strong resistance to such an idea because it would create wrong way cyclist. This was from the time when the parking was rearranged. I think this is the same reason there is no Hubway stand in Charles Circle. The city proposed a spot down Charles St near J P Licks and instead there is nothing (recall that previously used locations aren't available because of the ongoing Longfellow Bridge construction).

    Charles Street has ridiculously small sidewalks

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    And a ridiculously wide motorway. There is room for 3 travel lanes and 2 parking lanes on Charles Street, north of Beacon Street (and it's worse south). That's 5 cars that could be lined up side-to-side on a street that is supposed to be the strolling and shopping street for the "so-called eminently walkable Beacon Hill neighborhood." Completely insane!

    Stop fighting over the tiny scraps of space left for pedestrians! There is no reason why Charles Street should have THREE travel lanes. It's not a highway! The city needs to reallocate AT LEAST one of them towards sidewalk space, pronto. There is absolutely no reason that Charles Street should have such tiny sidewalks, and they are most certainly in violation of the ADA for accessibility.

    Charles St. is an especially

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    Charles St. is an especially crowded sidewalk on the weekends when it's packed with people getting their errands done, joggers, elderly residents, families with strollers and tourists.

    Totally agree, and that's why I think it's totally F-ed that there are 5 lanes of traffic & parking given over to cars on Charles Street. 45+ feet of asphalt (more than Tremont Street along the common!) with everyone on foot squeezed into little 4' wormholes along the side. America's Walking City my ass. Somewhere along the line our hierarchies got so out of whack when it comes to how we prioritize public space.

    That's Not The Fault Of Bicyclists

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    Charles St. sidewalks are quite narrow.

    Indeed, they are, but bicyclists are not to blame for that! The problem is caused by too much of the right-of-way being dedicated to motor vehicles.

    Charles Street does not need to have four lanes for cars; it's a one-way street. One lane for parking and one lane for vehicular flow should be plenty. There would then be enough room to add dedicated lanes for bicycles, and also make the sidewalks on both sides of the street much wider, to the benefit of people with all levels of mobility.

    One could make the argument that for people who are not mobility impaired, it's "inconsiderate and downright LAZY" to always drive their personal automobile into a crowded neighborhood, parking it so as to occupy busy public spaces, causing disruptive traffic, pollution, etc., etc.. That would, of course, irritate those in their 'motorists are the center of the universe' bubble.

    Cyclists don't intentionally block sidewalks, but would you rather have them drive to the neighborhood in cars?! What alternative do you suggest? There are dedicated parking places for cars, but few (if any) for bicycles. If you can imagine yourself visiting Charles Street on bicycle, where would you park it while patronizing a business there?

    Large numbers of people visit Charles Street, but only a small percentage get there by car. It doesn't make sense to use most of the street just to accommodate motor vehicles. When that problem is fixed, it'll be an even nicer place to visit.


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    Also--I personally find it downright lazy and inconsiderate not to have a screen name, but hey--different strokes...Anyone who thinks that bicycles are the biggest issue/hazard on Charles St is just plain bananas.

    After browsing

    After browsing citizensconnect today, I'm curious how well claims of abandoned bikes are investigated. A friend of mine had her bike cut and removed for being "abandoned" recently but the reality was that she chained it up in the same place every day while she was at work and someone just assumed it never moved. Citizensconnect seems to close all bike reports within a day saying they are removed, so really anyone could say a bike has been abandoned.

    I was under the impression

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    I was under the impression that when a bike is reported abandoned, the city has to put a tag on it saying "remove in 72 hours or we will cut you" - which should give anyone enough warning to park somewhere else the next day. Or maybe this is just in Cambridge?

    A bike should only be

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    A bike should only be considered abandoned if it's unrideable.

    Actual abandoned bikes have two very flat tires, and a chain that's rusted solid (not just rust-colored, as my bike usually is).