MassBike Responds To Snow Removal Controversy

By David on February 17, 2014

Source: MassBike

Bikes use the Southwest Corridor and other DCR paths for transportation every day of the year. Photo: Cycle Style Boston

Bikes use the Southwest Corridor and other DCR paths for transportation every day of the year. Photo: Cycle Style Boston

Over the weekend, a series of emails was made public depicting an exchange between various DCR personnel and a bicycle commuter regarding bicycling conditions on the Southwest Corridor. The emails contain a number of controversial statements that have caused major concern among the bicycling community and need to be addressed.

MassBike takes the issue of snow removal on off-road pathways – and all bicycle facilities – very seriously because many people who ride bikes rely on them for their daily transportation 365 days a year. In many cases, pathways like the Southwest Corridor or the Charles River bike paths are the only safe route for people who ride bikes where parallel roadways are unsafe or uncomfortable for bicycling. Furthermore, all state agencies should be unequivocally committed to well-established state laws and policies, such as the Healthy Transportation Compact, that support increased bicycle use for everyday transportation.

This is why I have written DCR Commissioner Jack Murray to request a meeting to address the issues raised in these emails and ensuing public discussion. I appreciate the challenges that DCR and other agencies have faced this winter, and can understand the frustrations expressed by both DCR and bicyclists, but we have the opportunity to shift this discussion to a real dialogue.

I have recommended a wide range of groups encompassing the bicycle, pedestrian, and parks advocacy communities be at the table. The goal of the meeting should be recommendations to better align the needs of people who ride bikes with DCR policy, and set expectations appropriately for both DCR personnel and the bicycling community.

My hope is for a frank and open discussion covering the snow clearance expectations and needs of cyclists and other user groups, and DCR’s policies and practices regarding snow clearance and bicycle transportation.

– David


TakeAways

It would seem that cyclists have not ingratiated themselves in Boston any more than they have in Chicago when it comes to wanting “room service“. In fact they are probably as vocal as any section of the transportation landscape and yet theirs (whether they admit it or not) is the least essential portion of that landscape.

Now before you jump down my throat for having made that claim, let me remind you that Urban Cyclists (unlike their suburban counterparts) have alternatives. In fact they have an abundance of alternatives. There are light rail, bus and subway alternatives in most of the large urban cities. In point of fact if you were to aim to enlarge the use of bicycles that would most certainly have some negative effect on Mass Transit.

Suburban cyclists have to be self-reliant to a degree not required of an urban cyclist. There are seldom bus routes that run regularly or are as widely available in the suburbs as one might find in a city. So when push comes to shove it seems entirely understandable that harried city officials trying to remove the snow deposits that have characterized this winter would provide some pushback to the “room service” brigade that insists on never having to ride around a puddle or be burdened with the presence of snow or potholes.

I’m thinking that some of these characters would make a great “reality show cadre” called “I broke a finger nail spoke“. It would be full of weekly bitching sessions about how they found glass in the bike lane, or some nasty veteran in an electrified wheelchair had the audacity to use their lane or what steps to take when pedestrians are legally crossing intersections and interfering with their forward progress.

Yep, we just need some Hollywood types to wise up and realize that a family of sisters shopping on Rodeo Drive or a collection of Red Necks spinning yarns would pale in comparison to a group of Urban Cyclists angry about the condition of the bike lane.