Jan. 10th, 2019

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[personal profile] squirrelitude
I expressed some concern to my Alderman (Mark Niedergang) about the state of the northbound bike lane on Beacon St in Somerville, and he forwarded my question to some Official Clue in the city who work on bicycling matters. Here's my email:

[...] I've found the results of the Beacon St. repaving pretty disappointing with respect to cycling.

Before the repaving, the northbound bike lane was in really bad shape, but so was the paint, so there was little problem with biking in the main travel lane. Now, the paint clearly marks the bike lane, but it's full of rough pavement, bollards, and driveway ramps—totally unsuitable for bicycling in.

In my experience, drivers feel more entitled to an unshared travel lane when there's a bike lane next to it, so this seems like a worse situation than before. I haven't been harassed yet, but it's just a matter of time, and I'm concerned that other cyclists will feel compelled to ride in the unsafe, narrow, obstructed bike lane.

Do you know if there are plans to repair the bike lane very soon? If not, is that something you can work towards?


And here's the very informative response I got from Mike Tremblay, Senior Transportation Planner:

We agree that the northbound bike lane on Beacon Street is currently suboptimal. The project has been slowed due to outside circumstances, including utility work and emergency gas repairs.

The repaving that occurred on the Washington to Oxford section of Beacon Street (the section to which I believe you are referring) was done in order to repair the trenches created by the gas work. However, this is not the final pavement condition on the street. The driveway aprons that jut into the street are temporary because the street is a couple of inches lower than it will be when the project is done. The plastic bollards, while not ideal, are necessary to flag those driveways so that plow drivers can avoid them in the snow; hitting them could cause damage to the plow and injure the driver. Those posts will be removed (and the ones that are in good condition will be stored or redeployed elsewhere) once we believe we are in the clear in terms of snow, likely sometime in April. We understand that this condition is far from optimal, and sympathize; all of us bike on this stretch at least occasionally, and Ken, who lives on the street and is the chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, has expressed similar concerns already.

The street will be paved, for good, sometime in the late spring/early summer. At that time, the northbound bike lane will be raised slightly to create some vertical separation for bikes, help prevent illegal parking, and make bikes more visible. The markings on the road will be striped with longer-lasting, higher-visibility thermoplastic, rather than the temporary paint that fades relatively quickly.

I hope this addresses your concerns. Please let me know if you have any other questions.


(The Ken he refers to is Ken Carlson, Chair of the Somerville Bicycle Committee.)

I probably would have known more about the plans if I'd been living in Somerville when the work was starting, but I was in Allston at the time and didn't pay much attention. And if you were wondering as I was, now you know too. :-)

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