Giant cartoons go up along Back Bay bike paths to try to get drivers to stay out

Jonathan Fertig and some friends went along Mass. Ave. overnight, planting these signs in the alleged buffers between the bike lanes and the rest of the road. The Globe reports the signs went up in response to Mayor Walsh's comments last week about bicyclists and pedestrians needing to accept some blame for crashes, but Fertig reports he actually made up the signs last fall:



Free tagging: 


Cue the people who scream about these things

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... while making every last excuse for people putting their cars where they damn well know they shouldn't.

Cartoons are an abomination - illegal private storage of a giant piece of metal? not so much.

Waaaaaaaa !!!!!!

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Walsh was right . Between headphones , cellphones & people not using crosswalks , both sides have to watch out . Maybe licence bikeriders ? Maybe some excise tax ? Spare me all bikers follow the rules of the road . Scooters are worse . Still see Duck Boat driver has not been charged in accident on Beacon . Driver error I guess.

Driver error

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Drivers hit more phone poles and fences than pedestrians or cyclists. Maybe those fences need to be licensed ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I do agree on increasing the excise tax, driving is totally a luxury in Boston

No sir

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Those things can be replaced by the driver, who by law, has to have insurance. Speaking of insurance , do bikers carry insurance ? They never cause accidents or damege fences . If you can't afford to drive then take the T . Not everyones fault that some people , who can't afford the luxury of driving to and from work should be " pedestrians for life ". Where are my keys ?

The mayor should show a sense

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The mayor should show a sense of humor and goodwill here and leave these be rather than have them taken away. They are just highlighting an existing buffer, not blocking the road or anything else. Things like these help raise awareness for all users plus add some humor to the day. Show that you don't take yourself too seriously, Mr. Mayor.

Pay your share?

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It is interesting that the bike lobby has become very entrenched in this city. All well and fine.

Here's a thought.

Our various auto taxes contribute to road and highway upkeep. As we add bike lanes a section of that roadway that these taxes support are removed from auto and truck traffic.

If we are to have bike lanes, what mechanism is available so that these good people can pay their share of highway and roadway upkeep given their expectation that they will have a section for their exclusive usage?

A few generations back you needed to get a bike license and actually got a plate for your bike. It was mostly a tool for ID and for stolen bikes but the system was indeed flawed and abandoned. Do we need to return to a system like that so that bike-only lanes help pay for the exclusive restrictions, paint markings, etc.

It seems that making auto users pay for a section fo highway and roadway that they would never use would be an unfair tax.

Certainly a lot of programs are subsidized out of the general tax coffers but what opportunities are there for bike users to have their voice heard better, by paying their fair share of taxes toward road upkeep and their continued exclusive access?

What is the legislature or city council doing to address this need?

"Our various auto taxes"

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All taxpayers pay to fund roads and other infrastructure, whether they use them or not. Now get down off that dudgeon before you get a nosebleed.


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Only those of us that buy gasoline pay a gas tax.


I buy barrels of gas a year for cars and I also bike. Weird, eh?


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Gas tax doesn't pay much at all for the roads.

The difference comes from INCOME and PROPERTY taxes. Last I looked, you don't get a deduction for not owning a car.

Meanwhile, cyclists pay INCOME and PROPERTY taxes, too - and sales tax.

Grow up and pay your share or shut up. I'm tired of subsidizing your planet and neighborhood destroying habits.

You're flat wrong

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Federal gasoline taxes pay for just about 100% of Interstate spending -- roads for which bicycles are prohibited. State gasoline tax pays for well less than 100% of state spending on roadways. The rest is made up with other revenue -- income tax, sales tax, etc. Cyclists pay those. Local roadway spending is made up of a small amount of Chapter 90 state money, and the rest local receipts, which for most communities is dominated by property tax, the split between commercial and residential dependent on the community's development and zoning.

All cyclists pay taxes that contribute to roadways. Furthermore, many cyclists also own automobiles, and pay gasoline tax to boot.

Reading comprehension?

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Only those of us that buy gasoline pay a gas tax.

I'm sorry, did the words "gas tax" appear in my comment?

Gas taxes pay for a paltry percentage of the cost of roads.


How many times do we need to go over this?

1. Most cyclists are ALSO drivers and pay taxes. Same exact people.

2. Vehicle usage taxes only cover a small fraction of road maintenance costs. And since cyclists also pay taxes, they are already paying for the roads. (FYI: Bikes don't use the Big Dig tunnels which is where the lion's share of MA road funding has gone for the past ~25 years.)

3. A 30lb bike causes almost no damage to the road, unlike a 2,000lb car or a 8,000lb truck. That's why bike paths last so long. So in terms of wear and tear, putting in bike lanes will lower the city's maintenance costs. (The smart thing to do is tax people by the weight of their vehicle, not on purchase price.)

4. There is no evidence that bike lanes significantly reduce the tax base of a city. If anything else they lead to gentrification and the increased tax revenue that comes with it. People like living near streets with bike lanes as shown by the purchase price of housing adjacent to these roads.

5. Cars kill people. Thousands of people. No one has been killed in a long time in Massachusetts by being hit by a bike. So stop pretending bikes are a hazard.

6. The more people who switch from driving to cycling, the fast traffic will move (more space for cars) and the less crowded the T will be. If you had any sense you'd suggest everyone ride a bike so that you'd never encounter auto traffic.

Cars Kill!

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First off all the fatal bike versus car accidents are the car drivers fault.
Second reckless bike riding does cause accidents, for rider’s drivers and pedestrians.
How many people would have to switch from driving to biking to make a real impact on traffic?
That would be an awful lot of people biking.
Cars Bikes Equal Rights sound great but…. Where is the enforcement of Bike laws?

Right next to...

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Where is the enforcement of Bike laws?

Right next to the enforcement of "Car laws" (both are vehicles, FYI). Try this: the next time you're out driving, keep track of the number of times you see a car or truck violate the "Car laws". This includes, but is not limited to: speeding, changing lanes without signaling, turning without signaling, failing to yield right of way, failing to stop at the stop line, rolling through a stop sign or signal, running a red light. Now count up the number of times you see "enforcement of Car laws". Then get back to me.

Good Question

Cars Bikes Equal Rights sound great but…. Where is the enforcement of Bike laws?

I'd like to know where the enforcement of traffic laws of autos is. I'd be happy if they ticketed cyclists who run red lights provided they do the same for cars. I'd never personally get a ticket myself in either vehicle.

Reckless riding absolutely causes injuries but at a far, far lower rate then reckless driving. I'd rather go after the people causing the higher rates of injuries. When was the last time you heard of a bicyclist driving into a Dunkin donuts or causing a mutlicar pileup or trying to go under a bridge where they don't fit? Have you ever seen a bike causing gridlock because they insisted in driving into an intersection when there wasn't room ahead? Me neither.

Where is the enforcement of

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Where is the enforcement of Bike laws?

Do I need to scan a copy of the red light ticket I got on my bike for you?


This is why I don't get the opposition to more people riding bikes. There are of course people who need a car to commute for many reasons, and their commute would be easier if the people who do not HAVE to drive get on a bike instead. Should be a win-win.

It's the outfits.

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The lycra sausage look is known to enrage auto drivers. That and the ability to meet or exceed average traffic speeds in the more dense part of the city.

And that you can walk across an intersection on a pedestrian walk cycle, pass on the right (very slowly please) OR left as you wish, and don't have to pay to park a noisy dangerous main filled with flammable toxins that costs a lot. But the thing is you have to use your body to make them go, so time at the gym is no needed as much.

But primarily NORMAL people can't do it, and fear of the unknown AND projected fear for the cyclist really gets knickers twisted.

It is a myth that only drivers pay for roads

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It is a myth that only drivers and not other road users (pedestrians. cyclists) pay for the cost of building and maintaining roadways.

Myth: People biking don't pay for the roads they use.
Debunked: Every person who pays taxes pays for our roads.

The gas tax, tolls, and automobile registration fees, which many people believe funds a majority of road construction and maintenance, only fund about half of the nation's road expenses. The remaining costs are covered through general tax revenue.

Two other facts to keep in mind:
1. Many people who bike also own a car and are paying the "user fees" mentioned above.
2. The negative externalities to biking are very minimal compared to the congestion, road damage and car crashes that are associated with driving.

The more you know

The motor vehicle excise tax is not primarily a mechanism to fund roads in the Commonwealth. Each city or town collects its excise tax and puts that money into its own general fund for use in a host of municipal services. That can include upkeep on local roads but also many other things like schools, libraries, etc. There are people who do not own a car that pay property taxes into the general fund that provides for local road upkeep. There are people without children who pay local property taxes to fund schools. By your logic, is that fair? They are all common goods, everyone pays. That includes people who ride bikes on roads that pay property taxes towards upkeep (nevermind most cyclists own cars and pay excise tax anyway....)

Highway repair is funded in large part via a federal and state gas tax. People on bikes do not use gas in their travels so they would not pay that. They also do not ride bikes on the Mass Pike so don't pay tolls.

The more you know.

My taxes pay for public

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My taxes pay for public schools and I don't have kids...should I get a rebate after all these years?

Driving subsidies far outweigh those of any other mode

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You claim that the people you see biking are not "paying their fair share." By the same logic, anyone seen walking is also not paying their fair share — not to mention non-residents driving through the area you're observing.

That person you see riding a bike? He or she may actually rely more on a car to get around. That happens to be true for a lot of folks I know who choose to ride bikes for certain trips.

Nearly all of the folks on bikes at a given time also either own cars (so pay excise and gas tax), pay real estate tax (including indirectly through rent), sales tax, and state and federal income taxes — and therefore are paying to support the infrastructure.

Moreover, because infrastructure expenditures (not to mention environmental cost) associated with motor vehicles far outweigh those of all other modes, people who rely primarily on bikes are arguably subsidizing people who rely primarily on cars.

Shiat, by that logic if I don

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Shiat, by that logic if I don't have kids in public schools, can I get a refund on my property tax then? (also, you're wrong about bikers not paying for roads as already been pointed out)

Yes, using condescending stereotypes of people

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with Boston accents is an excellent idea. The city is also going to remove them. They could fall on somebody, cause them to get an infected hangnail, and they'd turn around and sue the city.

Plus, where are the POCs (people of color)? I see cartoons of white folks, no POCs; what's up with that?

I definitely agreed with the

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I definitely agreed with the mayor on principle on this issue, but not his tone. Yes, the city has a responsibility to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe, but the amount of people who just walk or cycle into traffic without looking is insane. In any other city there would be a public outcry against oblivious pedestrians and dangerous cyclists.

The other note is that most of the cyclists are gentrifying yuppies who who don't understand city life. It also goes to shoe you that these types see real Bostonians are bumbling idiots who "can't talk so good."

This is more than just a safety issue; it's about race and class too.

And you know this because...

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The other note is that most of the cyclists are gentrifying yuppies who who don't understand city life.

And you know this because...

Thanks, Jonathan!

I enjoyed the Dunkies one on Mass Ave this morning, although people just double parked in the bike lane just ahead of the cones..... ;(

ps I also drive a car

and we should all be happy to have our gas tax $ go to get more people out of cars and onto bikes in the city!

I never understand why drivers complain about cyclists - when I have to drive from Roxbury to Cambridge, I curse the other drivers - why are there so many of us? If more people were on bikes, the car traffic wouldn't be as bad!

Wonderful another

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out of towner demanding infrstructure for their temporary stay in Boston.


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So my Boston-born husband who bikes and contributes $$ to this is an "out of towner".

Or do you only count people born before 1960 because that's all you know?


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I am currently working on mine. As a daily Cambridge to Boston walker, may I suggest:

A cutout of a blind person w/ cane pointing to a crosswalk where a bike lane transects: "Hey, I can't see you as well as the cars which do stop. Please do so".

A cutout of a truck driver pointing near a turn: "Hey, if you are between the curb and my flatbed, you are in my blind spot. I can't see you and you will be hit and hurt."

A cutout of person pointing to his headphones: "A car driver legally can't wear earphones when driving. Cyclists need to remove them, also!"

A cutout of a person, pointing to lights: "Hey, if this little circle is red, you need to stop, cyclists."

Of course, I could go on. And for all the bike zealots who will no doubt raise their collective angry fists and say, car drivers have more responsibility because they are in cars and cars can hurt people more than cyclists, and car drivers also go through red lights, and don't stop at crosswalks, I say "Hey, don't victim blame. I'm just trying not to be a potential victim of a bike crash."


A cutout of a blind person w/ cane pointing to a crosswalk where a bike lane transects: "Hey, I can't see you as well as the cars which do stop. Please do so".

Yes. Every morning I stop my bike on Mass Ave for a pedestrian while drivers zoom past. Frustrating.

A cutout of a truck driver pointing near a turn: "Hey, if you are between the curb and my flatbed, you are in my blind spot. I can't see you and you will be hit and hurt."

Fair enough but often the flatbed would have just past the cyclist. Did they assume the bike disappears as soon as they can't see it anymore? If you put the bike in your blindspot, don't be surprised when you can't see it. And cyclists shouldn't pass moving vehicles on the right.

A cutout of person pointing to his headphones: "A car driver legally can't wear earphones when driving. Cyclists need to remove them, also!"

So it's OK if a driver has their windows up and radio on, effectually preventing them from hearing anything outside of the car but it's not OK for a cyclist to do the same thing? Wut? Even wearing headphones you hear more on a bike then you do in a car with the radio. How about earmuffs when it's cold. Are they OK? Can people walk with headphones?

If cyclists can't wear headphones then drivers should be required to keep the windows open and rip out their radios. You know, for safety.

headphones vs radios

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In a car with windows up and radio on at a reasonable level (you can get ticketed for playing music too loud) you can still hear sirens, which is the entire point.

A cyclist riding around with nice over the ear headphones does not have the same level of noise exposure.


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Just ... wrong. You can hear far more on a bike wearing headphones than you can in a modern car.

Try it.


Unless you're certifiably deaf you can hear sirens just fine on a bike with headphones. If you don't believe me wear headphones in the Longwood Medical Area. (Oh, and people who are actually deaf are still allowed to drive.)

Anyway, unlike cars bike are narrow enough to not block the road when emergency vehicles need to pass.

If there's a crash that sends

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If there's a crash that sends a car into those large, heavy buckets of dirt that Mr. Fertig left in the roadway* and turns them into projectiles that damage property or injure somebody like a bicyclist or pedestrian - will he be held liable?

If there's police/fire/EMS that can't respond to an emergency in time driving on, oh... say Mass Av at Newbury (where I just saw one of these cutout not 15 minutes ago) because up until last night they could have driven around stopped traffic at that point (even running over the plastic pylon reflector things if necessary) but can't now because of the obstacle he put in the roadway* - will he be held liable?

* Yes, the roadway. Not a travel lane but part of the roadway,
part of the right of way
the same as a marked breakdown lane or the pavement
markings channeling merge/diverge at onramps/exits on a highway.

Amateurs can't just go around putting junk in the road because it makes them feel better.

If there's a crash...

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In your hypothetical crash, the speeding driver is criminally culpable.

As for a bucket of sand in a buffer next to a parked car, the parked car is the real obstacle. Also the buffered bike lanes are large enough for an ambulance, by design

Um, doesn't look to me like an ambulance

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could pass these "necessary" cartoons in flower buckets in the bike lane.

Anything put into the street has to be crashworthy. If it isn't, and it gets struck and causes damage that could otherwise be avoided - like ending up through somebody's windshield or striking a pedestrian, then the person that put the device in is liable for causing that damage. In this case, it the City allows these cartoons to remain in place, then the City would also be liable for any damage.

What makes you think

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Or on what planet can an ambulance pass a car that is parked there?

Planet ROADMAN of course - a magical universe where CARS solve EVERY PROBLEM!

One thing

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These silly cartoons blocks the bike lane 100% of the time. Parked cars don't.

You never walk or bike there

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How would you even know?

You don't know. That's obvious.

Stay in your safe space where those meeeeeen bikers won't insist on their rights!

are you sure?

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it sure looks like they're in the buffer area, not blocking any part of the lane that somebody would biking in

I didn't say speeding. It

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I didn't say speeding. It doesn't take speeding or even carelessness. Someone not speeding can still lose control for a crucial instant (tire blowout at a Vision Zero 25 mph) and go off course or knock someone off course.

Physics. Mass & velocity. Something heavy enough hits that bucket of dirt even at 5 mph will transfer a good chunk of energy and momentum, That bucket goes over & the festivus pole standing in the bucket that he's attached his cutout figures to will come down like a hammer and split somebody's skull.


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Something heavy enough hits that bucket of dirt even at 5 mph will transfer a good chunk of energy and momentum, That bucket goes over & the festivus pole standing in the bucket that he's attached his cutout figures to will come down like a hammer and split somebody's skull.

Or they could get trampled by a herd of circus ponies. Shall I clutch my pearls and gasp?

Someone not speeding can still lose control for a crucial instant (tire blowout at a Vision Zero 25 mph) and go off course or knock someone off course.

I can think of exactly once in my life that I've seen a tire blowout It was on the Mass Pike, and the driver was attempting a to pass me at high speed and then cut in sharply --
that's when the tire went. Thankfully it was a skillful driver -- managed to keep control AND get the car off into the breakdown lane quickly, no harm to anyone else. I'm no expert, but I don't think that "tire blowouts" are all that common anymore. Maybe we can focus on realistic dangers like circus ponies.


Amateurs can't just go around putting junk in the road because it makes them feel better.

Does that apply to space savers too?

Is it wise to open two

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Is it wise to open two classic rabbit holes in one article's comments?

Isn't that a little like "crossing the streams" in Ghostbusters?

What about illegally parked cars?

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That's truly giant pieces of crap in the road - oh ... wait ... that's called "traffic" and "you can't expect me to walk half a block" and all that entitlement.

Missing the point

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You have missed the point entirely. The signs are trying to draw attention to the fact that cars frequently park illegally in this buffer space. If those "dangerous" cartoons weren't there, an illegally parked car would be there instead. Surely that would be just as bad if not worse for this hypothetical ambulance, or inattentive driver who is about to crash.

No, I'm afraid you missed the

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No, I'm afraid you missed the point.

People who park there illegally - yes, they create problems & dangers for which they should be held responsible.

In the way he's making his statement, what he has put there - He has created problems & dangers for which he should be held responsible.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

it's simple

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Motorists should have to be retrained every year to pass a web-based exam about how to co-exist on the roads with cyclists. It would not be too hard to write such an exam--you'd just need a few computer scientists, some stats, and some professional "gamers" to test drive--all of which, like terrible motorists, Boston has in abundance. We expect frequent hours of retraining for airline pilots, and they get in far fewer accidents. End of story.

Test every year? Why not test every drive!

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Touch screen technology is so cheap it's becoming the interface for everything, and is installed in nearly every new car. Why not require the car to "quiz" the driver every time they start the car.
Q) "_______ May Use the full travel lane. Pass only when it's safe to do so"
A) "Bikes!"

If the driver gets the answer right, they may put the car in gear and drive. Get it wrong, it makes you wait 5 minutes.

All kinds of roadway safety rules can be taught that way. After awhile all drivers, tired of delays, will know the correct answers...

And bikers...

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And bikers have to take a web-based education program about safely biking on streets. Deal? While we're at it, how about we just implement a universal "road user education class" that everyone who wants to use the road has to complete? It can include how to safely share the road, etc. etc.

95% of cyclists are tested

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At least, tested as much as drivers are.

That's because they have .... LICENSES TO DRIVE! (tada!)

However, if your point is that all DRIVERS need to be tested about CYCLING RULES, I'm all for that darling.

If you think that cyclists don't have licenses, your point is on the top of your head.

Yeah. Not much difference in

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Yeah. Not much difference in the rules, but many cyclists don't seem to understand that. A shared resource means it is not optimized for any particular group of users. Drivers of motor vehicles pull this crap too. Take the space you are entitled to to cycle safely, obey traffic controls, and communicate your lateral movements. Eye contact us a mythical safety habit. And get shit out of the roadway.

These are distracting to

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These are distracting to drivers and not helpful... not screaming, but trying to walk across Newbury at Mass. Ave. entrance to the Pike I watched drivers starung at them as if to read the small print of what they say and it only serves as another attention diverter. Dumb and dangerous.

Space saving

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This is a space saver for bikes.

the separated bike lanes are

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the separated bike lanes are a total disaster. people walk, stand around and hang out in them and every intersection you come up to you have to get ready to come to a complete stop because cars taking right hand turns can't see you coming. i guess if you are going 10mph or below and don't have to get anywhere then they might be good.

But... everyone knows that

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But... everyone knows that the correct belief for bicyclists is to want separated bike lanes.

Most cyclists do want

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Most cyclists do want separated bike lanes. But we also want peds, drivers, etc. to actually respect them. They're great when people aren't standing in them.

And they're great when they're actually incorporated into the design of an intersection and not an afterthought...

long tI'm cyclist, first time commdnter

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I've commuted by bike in Boston and environs for over 25 years.

I do not want separated bike lanes, I want wide outer lanes.
Spend the money on improving surfaces and skills training and awareness.

However in a democracy and with maintenance and education, there's little political capital to be gained, so I'll just ignore facilities that are poorly designed and/or useless as safety improvements - which is most - and continue to cycle safely and legally. You can't fight safety theatre. And feeling safe is a much easier sell than being safe.

Until bike lanes are mandatory, I'll follow best practices.