Boston City Council to consider bike-sharing program

At-large Councilor John Connolly is calling for a hearing to consider creation of a European-style bike-sharing program in Boston. The Menino administration has already begun looking at ways of increasing bicycle usage in Boston.

Connolly says the city should look at options from letting people use communal bikes for free to a ZipCar-like bike-rental program for people who need a bike for a short period of time.

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Huh. I think maybe they

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Huh. I think maybe they should take a look at the injuries and fatalities sustained by bikers in this city. Or better -- take a look at the war going on between bikers and cars for space on the road. It's not the cost of a bike that's keeping most of us off two wheels.

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Fatalities?

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Bicycle-related fatalities are not that common in Boston. There were two last year that I can remember: cyclist Gordon Riker was killed by a dump truck on Huntington Avenue and cyclist Kelly Wallace died in a bike/car collision in Allston. While these are tragic events, it's pretty dramatic to imply that bike-related fatalities are high in Boston.

Obviously there are bike-related injuries, but drivers and pedestrians can also sustain injuries during a daily commute. Can you cite any statistics that show injuries are higher for bicyclists compared to pedestrians and car drivers?

As for a "war for space" between bikers and cars, I guess that's your own perspective. Bicycling, like driving, requires skill and attention. Some areas of the city are difficult to drive through, just as some areas of the city are difficult to bicycle through. But by and large, my daily rides in and out of downtown Boston are pleasant and inspiring---not filled with death, injury or a "war for space."

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Didnt someone just recently

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Didnt someone just recently die in Central Square Cambridge?

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Boston Vs Bikes

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This is still an extremly difficult subject for me to discuss, but felt compelled to write. I am Gordon Riker's mom, and despite the fact that I know he was an experienced and serious rider, helmet and all, nothing could have saved him. Riding in Boston is risky business, and I never realized how risky until I was faced with the realities of Gordon's fatal accident. Until drivers are respectful of cyclists, who have the same rights, (so says today's Boston Globe), you are in harm's way the minute you are in traffic.

The sense I get is that young urban riders are viewed as a menace to be dealt with. How dare they get in the way of a vehicle that seriously outweighs them? Until the City of Boston takes a a critical look for a viable way to integrate cars and bicycles on the streets of Boston I am afraid that there will be more injuries and fatalities.

Todays's Globe ran two stories that resonated for me. One article about commuting by bike (exactly what Gordon, and hundreds of other young city dwellers do) and another about T-Shirt artists (Gordon's company, ArtTerror, was exactly that. He was a graphic artist.)Isn't it karmic that these two stories would run the same day? I need to believe that my young, beautiful, talented and loving son is still somehow around me.

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I agree Im one of those

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I agree

Im one of those people who complained about bikes in one of the other posts. I think that the city should come up with ways to make biking safer in the city before they go about increasing the numbers. As the Boston area is RIGHT NOW it is not ready for any new bikes on the road, especially if its people renting them (meaning, new bikers on bikes they dont own.) That would mean more bike lanes, contigency plans for where bikes should go in case of construction in the street (if they have to side step onto the sidewalk so they are not in a construction zone so be it, but have a sign stating this), more bike enforcement officers on bikes pulling over unsafe bikers and tagging drivers who are ignorant of the bikers next to them. The mayor even got hit while riding a bike, although Im sure its at least 50 percent his fault lol. It just isnt a safe place to be instituting some French biking system yet.

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Uh

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French (Paris), Spanish (Barcelona), American (DC), German (Berlin)...

All of these countries have bike sharing programs.

Also, there are a lot of trends that show an *increase* in biking means a decrease in injuries and death. With few bikers on the road, they are easily dismissed or ignored by cars. If drivers came across a biker per block or more, then they'd be a lot more aware and less stupid about how they drive around bikers.

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China's white bicycle program.

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Not sure about now, but back in the 1970's, China had a somewhat similar thing going regarding bicycles. They had what was called a White Bicycle ( which really was white in color). If a person needed a bicycle to get to where s/he was going, they'd use a white bicycle that had been simply leaned against the wall of a given building, business, etc., ride the white bike to their destination and simply leave it out for somebody else to use who needed it, and so on and so on, if one gets the drift.

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Common Cause

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I think Kaz has a good point about the network effect of more bikes making each bike safer. And I think you have a good point about making Boston roads safer for bicycles.

Car drivers and bike riders can agree on the importance of making biking in the city safer. Sometimes this involves getting more bikes on the street (and thus off the sidewalk), and sometimes more bikes off the street.

In my view, bike paths within the city are key. It's so much easier and safer to use them. I love being near the convergence of the Southwest Corridor park and the Fenway, and my wife commutes to work almost entirely on bike paths. It's that almost entirely that's the sticking point. How many bikers here have crossed Rt. 9 on the Fenway path? I'd like to take Menino on that trip.

Bikers don't like conflict with cars, and cars don't like conflict with bikers. Making the streets safer for coexistance is better for both groups. I think putting more bikes on the street is more likely to stimulate that.

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Yellow Bikes

Several US cities experimented with a Yellow Bike program. I myself used them in Portland, OR before the program evolved into other projects - largely due to disappearance of the bikes.

The organizing group got donated junkers and stripped them down to single speed, painted them yellow, and turned them loose. Here's the story.

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Another bike-friendly effort.

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The city of Boston will also be providing police-escorted rides into downtown on two upcoming Fridays (July 24 and August 22). Rides originate in Newton, Lexington, Dorchester, West Roxbury, Brighton and JP. Free breakfast for cyclists at City Hall --- whether or not you join one of the escorted rides. Find the full details here.

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The program sounds like a

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The program sounds like a good idea. No reason you can't do something like this while also trying to improve biking conditions and bicyclist behavior.

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Step by step process

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Here's some suggestions on better priorities:

a)Modify the state license exam to include questions regarding both proper operation of a bike and the rights of bikes (and make the license exam actually meaningful, instead of a joke.) Teach bike rules in grade school and middle school. Require drivers answer a certain number of randomly selected questions EACH TIME THEY RENEW (every time I go to the registry, the "exam room" is completely empty) and make them repeat the test on the spot until they get 100%. DO NOT under any circumstances require licensing for bicyclists. Drivers are licensed because of the immense property and injuries they can (and do) cause.

b)Legislate tough punishments if you are AT FAULT for injuring a bicyclist. For example, a good start would be losing your license until they have recovered from their injuries, or sitting in jail for a few days. Whatever it is, paying a fine should not be in the cards if you physically harm someone.

c)Get BPD to start handing out warnings to BOTH bicyclists and drivers for breaking the law. End BPD's obsession with purely speeding-based "traffic enforcement." After 6 months, stop handing out warnings, and start handing out tickets. Require BPD to stop classifying bicyclist injuries/incidents as "pedestrian" so they can be tracked.

d)Conduct a PR campaign during the first 6 months of warning on TV, the MBTA, Metro, Globe. List the common rules of the road and direct people to a special part of the RMV website. Put a face to injured bicyclists and make it clear to drivers the consequences of their inattention.

e)Install bike lockup loops around the city. A minimum of one per block "side". Start downtown, and fan out from there. Do it regardless of neighborhood or zoning (ie, let's not see lots of loops in bay village, and none in West Roxbury.) Everyone should have the right to securely lock up their bike.

f)Pull statistics from the BPD incident report system and see where bike injuries occur. Paint bike lanes on those roads to protect bicyclists. If roads are just too dangerous for bicyclists (ie too many injuries), place small warning signs at a few major entry points warning "ROAD UNSAFE FOR BICYCLISTS, SEEK ALTERNATE ROUTE"

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No offense, but he's a city

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No offense, but he's a city councilor, not the Governor. That broad a plan may be needed but it's not going to come from the Council.

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that doesn't make his idea any less idiotic

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Thanks, Captain Obvious, for throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Did you notice in your post-absolutism daze that many items in there are things that the Mayor and Boston City Council could do? And that all of them would be better than some idiotic, unnecessary, complicated plan?

Seriously, what problem does his plan solve? I'll tell you the top problems bicyclists face in one sentence. Now PAY ATTENTION.

Our bikes get stolen, we get injured.

Fix those two problems. I've given a ton of suggestions on how to make it happen.

I never said ALL of them were good, and I don't have any evidence that they'd work. But then again, we all just saw how fast they slipped through a complete ban on a business purely on the unsupported (and in fact disproven) assertion that dogs will be devastated by not growing up in a loving home with one owner. Yeah, them's some priorities.

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Next time instead of acting

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Next time instead of acting tough on the internet, you might want to consider calming down a bit. That is unless you want to reinforce the view that many (not all) bicyclists are selfish jerks who think they own the road and victimized by evil drivers.

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We dont teach car safety in

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We dont teach car safety in school, we shouldnt do it with bikes just because some people like to ride their bikes into work and get pissy about the cars...

I think bike riders should be licnensed but am not sure how you enforce that but it should be a goal. Maybe we give you a tag if you have a license and you get to park your bike at the best bike racks in the city (and if your not licnesed you get relegated to the back alley somewhere.) To get the tag you have to attend a day long class OR 5 night classes spread out over a period of time. There must be other benefits we can give these people if they get a "permit" to operate the bike, maybe even have a partnership with local businesses that give discounts, especially bike stores.

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You didn't learn car safety?

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I remember having several units on car safety when I was in elementary school back in the day. Coloring sheets about seatbelts and crossing the street, etc. Then in middle school, brief presentations during assemblies and whatnot about bike helmets and seatbelts.

At the infant/toddler program where I work, we educate families about bike helmets, seatbelts, carseats, etc. Pediatricians also routinely do this, and various insurance companies (including MassHealth) require physicians to check off that they've talked about seatbelt use and helmet use when they bill for a pediatric visit. Of course, I'm sure for many physicians this translates to "do you wear seatbelts ok good thanks," but still, it's included.

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Kids don't drive cars, but they ride bikes!

Teaching bike safety makes sense in schools because kids actually ride bikes - both to school and in the community. My kids get around the local area using their bikes, and my eldest rides to school and back on his own. Their parents are seasoned bike commuters, but not all kids have that resource at home.

From what I've seen, many parents are too ignorant of the basics to even have helmets on the kids (and assertively ignorant of the laws requiring them for kids under 16). Many younger parents rarely rode bikes outside their driveways anyway. Some enlightened instruction from properly trained folks would be most useful now that school districts are cutting busses right and left.

Next Up: childfree trolls simultaneously complain about kids on bikes, obese kids, and the taxpayer cost of school bus service.

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happy to oblige Swirlly cause I think she's tops

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You know what I hate more than reckless kids on bikes weaving in and out of traffic with no regard for anyone including themselves? Fat reckless kids on bikes weaving in and out of traffic with no regard for anyone including themselves. What do we spend on public school bus transportation anyway?

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what the hell does licensing do?

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I think bike riders should be licnensed but am not sure how you enforce that but it should be a goal.

Name one problem that would be solved by licensing bike riders. Enforcement of laws? Hasn't stopped Cambridge from ticketing bicyclists without driver's licenses. Compliance with the law? Right, licenses for drivers has really helped there, only tens of thousands of moving violations issued yearly with no end in sight.

Bikes don't cause property damage, they're far less dangerous to pedestrians, other bicyclists and property. The operator has a vested personal interest in its safe operation because they have no protection. They don't pollute, and they don't put any wear on the roads. So. Explain to me why operating one should require a license?

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So if I have a carbon

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So if I have a carbon neutral hoovercraft car I can drive without a license??? I wouldnt be polluting and I wouldnt be putting wear and tear on the road. I dont believe I get a license to drive because because I pollute and cause minor road damage everytime I drive over a street.

OK someone on a bike has a vested interest in the operation of their bike because they can be injured. I believe that I can be injured on the highway, and I drive a 2008 (so it was made in 2007 so its a year old) car that doesnt have any dents, Id rather not bump into things with it. Can I get a pass on my license because I drive on the highway (where I can get hurt) 90 percent of the time, and I have a car that I would rather not scratch at the moment?

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Why you have a license

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You have a license to drive a car because of the massive amount of property and personal damage you could do with a car. The license is a mechanism to minimize driving by people who can be demonstrated unsafe to drive, and to determine who a person is for sure when s/he causes damage to or poses a definite hazard to somebody else.

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Man, this must be car vs. bike week - and I'm sick of it

Way too many threads all over the place that keep saying the same things.

I really don't get this licensing idea that keeps coming up. It's a perfect example of the mentality of the people cyclists have to deal with.

Have you really thought this through, folks? What would it solve? How would you fill 5 nights of classes with anything new and meaningful? 99.9% of the people on bikes have driving licenses, so we all know the rules of the road. It's just a matter of putting them into practice.

So, do yourself and the rest of the "bike license" crowd a favor and forget about it. It'll never happen. On a legislator's priority list, this would be down on the list somewhere below new laws controlling counterfeit Beanie Babies.

Now, I'm assuming you really want enforcement of the laws we already have. Cyclists don't need licenses for the laws to be enforced, you just need cops to enforce those laws. I'm with you there.

I can't believe I got sucked into posting another response... ;-)

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$$$

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My friend, MerlinMurph, opines:

"On a legislator's priority list, this would be down on the list somewhere below new laws controlling counterfeit Beanie Babies."

If our legislature were actually interested in making society run more smoothly, efficiently, and safely, you would be right. However, much of the (excuse the pun) driving force behind what the legislature in Massachusetts does is money acquisition.

If the legislature thought that licensing bikes and bikers would produce a steady stream of heretofore untapped revenue, they'd be on it like a pack of buzzards on a fresh corpse.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Traffic enforcement would be nice

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Yeah, agreed that the BPD needs to start enforcing traffic laws. My job involves driving around Boston all day to visit children in homes and schools, and all day I see people running lights, passing where not appropriate, blocking intersections, etc. etc. This frequently happens in sight of a police officer. Aside from the obvious benefit of making the roads safer for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians, enforcing traffic laws is a fairly simple way to increase respectful and safe behavior in the community in general. If someone feels it's appropriate to drive in a way that's not respectful of laws or people's safety, it's pretty likely that this isn't the only reckless and/or illegal behavior going on in their daily life. Even handing out $20 tickets (or even warnings) sends the message that we live in a community where there are norms and laws, and that these need to be respected. It sounds Pollyannaish, sure, but there's plenty of research to back up the fact that people behave better in situations where violations of norms are pointed out.

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The nice thing about a bike

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The nice thing about a bike is if there is a cop at the intersection you can hop off and just fall in line with the 20 people jaywalking at each intersection in the greater Boston area.

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This amuses me

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Because "sharing the village bicycle" can mean something else entirely.

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Ignoring, for the moment,

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whether or not cycling in the city is dangerous (as I do it every day, I believe that it is), unless the city addresses the perception that it's dangerous, this plan will fail.

Those who are brave and/or talented enough to ride in the city already have a bike and are not the demographic targeted by this measure.

Everyone else I've talked to is all like, "I'd never ride in the city, it' too dangerous" (and, ironically, it is they who are making it dangerous by the way they drive -- I'm looking at YOU, Bill). Until that changes, this will fail.

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Ignoring, for the moment,

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whether or not cycling in the city is dangerous (as I do it every day, I believe that it is), unless the city addresses the perception that it's dangerous, this plan will fail.

Those who are brave and/or talented enough to ride in the city already have a bike and are not the demographic targeted by this measure.

Everyone else I've talked to is all like, "I'd never ride in the city, it' too dangerous" (and, ironically, it is they who are making it dangerous by the way they drive -- I'm looking at YOU, Bill). Until that changes, this will fail.

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Connolly should know that

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Connolly should know that such a program is already being developed

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Boston stolen bike registry

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http://stolenbikesboston.com

"As part of our initiative to make Boston a world-class bicycling city, the Stolen Bike Alert program makes reporting stolen bikes easier and increases the chances of finding your stolen bike by giving you a larger network of search parties.

When you report a stolen bike, we send out an alert to the police, local bike shops, hospital and school security, and everyone who follows us on twitter or facebook. All of these people will be on the look-out for your bike and we will instantaneously notify the police as we receive updates on your stolen bike. "

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