Commercial Street getting better for bicyclists

New Commercial Street bike path

Seasoned Boston bicyclist Greg Hum is loving the new dedicated bike lanes on Commercial Street in the North End:

Is this Boston or am I dreaming?!?! New 2way protected commercial st cycle track is BOMB.

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Great!

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Congrats to the North End for enhancing their neighborhood.

Hopefully we get these in South Boston soon.

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It IS Lovely

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I don't live there anymore, but had the opportunity to use it with the family on a daylong bike outing to the Pride festival and Greenway. What a beautiful separated bike path, with plenty of room for pedestrians on the sidewalk and about as many (as few?) spots for residents to park as there were before.

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More please

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Something like this is needed the full length of the Rose Kennedy Truckway.

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Comm Ave Too?

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They're digging up portions of the sidewalk and outer lanes on Comm Ave between Packard's Corner and BU West. Hopefully it's not just for pipes but part of the improvement package they are working on.

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Great news

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All the major roads need to get this treatment, especially since normal bike lanes just end up being blocked by delivery trucks willing to pay the fine as an all day parking pass.

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Love It

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This is part of the “Connect Historic Boston” project - see http://keepbostonmoving.org/portfolio/connect-historic-boston/ and https://www.boston.gov/transportation/connect-historic-boston.

When it's done, it will offer a great bikeway around the North and West Ends, including by TD Garden, behind Lovejoy Wharf (to avoid the North Washington St. intersection), and along Commercial. I'm eager to see it completed, as I live and bike here multiple times a week.

Also, FWIW, there's been more than a few complaints from certain folks in the North End (over on NorthEndWaterfront.com) about the cycle track. The project has indeed been somewhat annoying during construction, but what construction isn't? This will be an asset for many years to come. The more people using and enjoying it, the better.

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A beautiful thing

I have been using this as it has taken shape.

Best thing so far: kids wearing baseball uniforms, ball glove slung over the handlebars, riding to the park. If they can get across the road at a light, they can now get to the ball fields or the pool on their own.

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Sorry to dampen the mood in

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Sorry to dampen the mood in these comments, but I'm just going to dig this back up:
http://www.universalhub.com/2017/north-end-cycle-paths-not-finished-already

And then I'm going to quote here what I wrote there:

I agree that it's unfair to judge its usage at this point, and I'll agree that it's marginally safer than most bike lanes in Boston, but I disagree that it's a fantastic connector

I've begun using this cycle track to get between my office on State St and the Charlestown bridge. I was very excited to start using it instead of braving Congress/Sudbury/N Washington, even though it's a full half mile longer, but so far I'm pretty disappointed.

It's obnoxiously difficult to get to it from the financial district (at least if you're someone like me who doesn't want to get another ticket and thus actually follows traffic laws).

It begins and ends randomly with absolutely zero accommodation for bikes getting back into traffic (northbound dumping you onto the sidewalk at Charter St, in the middle of a sharp curve is a horrible decision - it's difficult to look over your shoulder to see if there's any traffic coming while also trying to dodge the various street furniture and line yourself up with the wheelchair ramp; I've never even seen another cyclist going southbound, since the cycle track is on the wrong side of the street).

Too many pedestrians walk on it instead of the sidewalk, and are either oblivious or unwilling to kindly move. This is not helped by the fact that in several places they narrowed the sidewalk so much that pedestrians have to use the cycle track to pass one another.

None of the signals on it are turned on yet, and the sightlines make it difficult to see the vehicular signal, so you have to approach each intersection more cautiously.

There isn't enough room between it and the travel lanes to fit a car waiting to turn, and if drivers wait behind it, they can't see oncoming traffic. So many just block the cycle track.

It doesn't actually connect to anything useful. Even once the N Washington St Bridge is replaced and includes cycle tracks, the official plan still calls for the Commercial St cycle track to end where it presently does at Charter St, with only sharrows (!) for the ~600 ft between there and the N Washington St cycle tracks.

This cycle track remains a solution in search of a problem. This money would have been better spent adding a cycle track down the greenway (where there should already be one! Come on, that was the perfect opportunity to add one years ago!), or down Congress/Washington. Both of them would have been more useful, easier to access, connected more people and places, and provided useful bike infrastructure where there presently is none.

None of this has changed. Every day I'm still dodging pedestrians walking in the cycle track, and vehicles blocking it trying to pull out of driveways, and the cycle track still doesn't connect to anything useful, and there are still no plans to ever connect it to anything useful. I do see a few more people using it now, but I'd attribute that to the warm weather.

It's nice to have as a proof-of-concept, but there were so many places that needed this treatment so much more desperately.

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Not a speedway

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It isn't meant to be a speedway - it is meant to meander around a neighborhood.

Hate to say it, but it isn't about you and your needs as a commuter cyclist. It is nice for that if you don't cop an attitude about speed, but it really is more about the North End and the parks.

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Whenever someone points out

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Whenever someone points out that a bike facility is not "a speedway" I like to ask them a simple question: What is the point of biking then, if you're expected to go no faster than a pedestrian? Why not just walk?

It's also discouraging to see anyone being this dismissive of "commuter cyclists", as if that isn't the majority of them on the road, as if people who commute by bike don't ever ride anywhere else, and as if bike infrastructure can't cater to both 15-20 mph commuter traffic and 5-10 mph kids with training wheels. It can. The design flaws I pointed out are flaws no matter what speed you're riding, and no matter the purpose of your trip. Having to dodge cars and pedestrians, and having the track randomly end in a manner that makes it difficult to safely merge back into traffic are just as problematic for a tourist on a hubway bike as they are for a child heading to the park or a commuter heading home.

And arguably, these other types of cyclists could benefit more from the missing connections I pointed out than I can! Your anger is misplaced here.

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No bike facility is all things for all people

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You're not wrong, but it does create a new challenge.

Should the commuter-type (a) ride on the cycletrack, albeit more slowly, or (b) ride on the road anyway, thereby slowing down autos? While (b) is indeed legal, it's a lot harder for a motorist to tolerate a (relative to a car between lights) slow moving cyclist when there's a cycle track right there!

I'm not arguing a right or wrong, just observing a new challenge in our ever-changing bicycle transportation landscape!

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It's not just about

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It's not just about perception and tolerance because there's a cycle track right there. The general lanes are generally narrowed to make room for cycletracks.

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So what?

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do your stomach muscles get tired from holding in your car's sides in the narrower lane?

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Where did DTP, or the person

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Where did DTP, or the person they quoted, say anything about wanting to go at speedway speeds (whatever that means)?

If there are pedestrians, cars coming out of driveways, and bad sightlines, a cycle track is unsafe at any speed. Sidewalks have all of these characteristics, which is why you're not supposed to ride on them. Painting some bike symbols on a sidewalk without addressing the major safety issues doesn't help cyclists or anyone else.

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I'll take both sides of the

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I'll take both sides of the fence (feeling especially contrary today)

"proof of concept"? Maybe. Frankly, it sounds like one of the closest attempts we've had here in Boston to realistic, successful bike projects - stuff that takes bikes off the roads (where far too many motorists and cyclists can't handle a bike lane or shared lane) and puts them on a separated path, mostly seen in some other countries. So, no, the concept doesn't need to be proven.

"vehicle blocking it trying to pull out of driveways..." Yes, that happens. Motorists leaving a parking lot or driveway pull up to the sidewalk and stop. Then, when they have a safe gap in the sidewalk and bike path, they pull out and have to stop again because sometimes the line-of-sight from their first stopping point is simply insufficient to determine if there is a safe gap in vehicular traffic. You might actually have to wait a few seconds 'til they're out of your way. The horror!

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It's a proof of concept

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It's a proof of concept because it's the first of its kind here ("closest attempt we've had here in Boston"), and demonstrates to people that yes, it is possible to fit a cycle track on the narrow streets of Boston, yes, it will be used, and yes, it can be kept clear of snow in the winter (jury's still out on this one).

As for vehicles blocking it - that doesn't need to happen. It's perfectly possible to design a cycle track so that doesn't happen - you either shift the cycle track farther back such that there is 15-20 ft between it and the closest travel lane, or you shift the cycle track closer in to the road with parking set far enough back from the intersection that drivers can see oncoming vehicles from behind the cycle track. Simple. The problem is just that the designers on this project kept the cycle track straight all the time, instead of meandering it to better position cyclists at crossings.

It's not the inconvenience of having to wait a few seconds. It's having a car suddenly pull in front of you and stop - that's dangerous. Although admittedly it is inconvenient, which is exacerbated by the clutter of street furniture making it difficult to simply go around the car.

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I don't blame drivers for

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I don't blame drivers for stopping on the cycle track. I blame the track's designers.

You can belittle this concern by saying "The horror!", but how would you like it if your drive or ride involved going slow enough to yield at every driveway? That's a real obstacle to getting places -- it would be the equivalent of a citywide 6 mph speed limit.

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Remind me about this

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The next time I want to block an intersection for my own convenience.

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NE Cycle track

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DTP,
You are 100% spot on with your observations and criticisms of this poorly conceived and horribly implemented project. Even when completed, its limited benefits to bike commuters will be far outweighed by the adverse impact it will continue to have on traffic and public safety all along and at either end of its route. I actually attended a recent public meeting where I asked the Connect Boston City representative if they had considered less controversial alternative routes such as along the Greenway or as part of the Harbor Walk. The answer I received was because the City does not own the rights to those locations, it would have taken much more time and planning, beyond the deadline for the Federal grant that was funding this boondoggle. So what we wound up getting was a highly flawed prototype that was rushed through at the 11th hour instead of a more thoughtfully planned and designed project that could have really benefitted everyone concerned. What a wasted opportunity!

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A terrible idea

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A terrible idea that has made a congested thoroughfare even more congested.

A lane of traffic was taken away which means we now have one lane each way (rather than two each) due to tour bus drivers who double park (we are a tourist city, after all).

And it is even worse when there are evening Little League and community softball games. Really dangerous for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers.

Thanks to the last city administration, this went in without community input.

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Never needed 4 lanes.

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I lived on that street for years. What you need is for buses, residents, and funeral attendees not to double park.

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I'm not convinced that you're

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I'm not convinced that you're a current North End resident because if you were you would know that the previous roadway was one lane southbound and two lanes northbound (3 car lanes). All they did was take the two on street bike lanes, move them onto the sidewalk together, and shift everything over. Same number of lanes for cars. The bottom line is that this wouldn't have been necessary if people had not continually blocked the bike lanes with their double parked cars.

Yes, almost a decade ago it was two car lanes in each direction, but that lane was removed with little to no traffic impacts and it was ages ago.

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Key change

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People used to double park over the bike lane all summer, forcing cyclists into the roadway and effectively removing a lane of traffic. Now they can't.

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Not exactly

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I've been a NE resident for 35 years.

I will say that the best thing that popped up around the time of the bike lane development was the electric signage telling motorists they are speeding.

Now if they'd only reinstate the signs that say yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk- starting with the one at the school crosswalk.

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Good Luck

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Getting past the packs of Segway tourists utilizing the bike lanes and sidewalks.

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