Bicycle contraflow lanes

Will, I don’t live or ride near the proposed lane on Hemenway Street, but we need more of these. Anywhere that we have low-speed one-way streets whose primary purpose is to prevent excess cut-through traffic, we should allow 2-way traffic for bicycles. Excluding bicycles serve no useful purpose (they’re not very noisy, they’re not very dangerous) and it complicates route planning — just for example, the Vassal Lane bike route to Harvard is unnecessarily complex because of 1-way streets in Cambridge. If we want to get cars off the streets and free up a little parking, why not throw a carrot to bicycle riders, maybe we’ll get a few more of them?

6 replies on “Bicycle contraflow lanes”

  1. I also like contraflow bike lanes when going a different way is a big inconvenience to bicyclists. But they need to be clearly marked and separated to be safe. I sent Glenn Clancy a suggestion for a short one and was disappointed that he didn’t even reply to my suggestion.

  2. I think there are Will. My personal favorite is at the corner of Concord & Pleasant. They used to allow cars to take the short-cut from southwest on Pleasant to northwest on Concord. Now it’s just one-way from Concord to Pleasant. But hardly any traffic uses it. If you are biking from Pleasant to Centre Ave., it’s a real pain to go to the light and make the left. That hill is hard enough to climb already, but going to the light makes it really hard to climb immediately up to Centre, and you have to cross traffic twice. There’s so little traffic there, that I’ve been doing it anyway, but I’d much rather it was legal. If I did it legally, I’d probably get stuck and have to walk because it’s too steep to get back on my bike. I’d much rather ride. If you are coming from other directions you can opt to come from northeast on Pleasant and it’s much easier to get back on your bike if you get stuck at the light.

    Another example, Davis Road. The block from Trapelo to Irving is one-way. Cars that want to go to homes near Irving already back in, or ignore the one-way because the block is a long one to go around. Beech between Trapelo & Irving is already too narrow for cars, that I want to avoid it when on a bike. Some bikes use the sidewalk there, but that’s a more dangerous option.

  3. My favorite — but you would need to check with the half-dozen abutters — is the tiny bit of Orchard between Orchard Circle and School street. It’s what I recommend, with the caution that if people are bugged at riding wrong-way, they can walk it, it is short.

    Orchard’s also one-way during Wellington drop-off and pick-up times, but that’s much less favorable for 2-way because it’s so busy. On the other hand, anything that might possibly cut the auto traffic to our schools would be a good thing.

    Another example is Sycamore between White and Trapelo. Similar school drop-off issue, but also a good choice for a somewhat-lower-traffic bicycle route across Belmont.

    A second idea, probably less likely to be popular, is no-way-for-cars. We’ve got some streets that could be made no-go or slo-go for cars, but still leave access for bicycles and maybe emergency vehicles. Again, Orchard — if it were cut between (say) George and Charles, it would be even quieter, and the reduced traffic would also cut into the road wear (at the bottom of a hill, the drainage is pessimal for road longevity). I’d expect completely mixed reactions from abutters — some might really hate the idea of having to drive long-way-around, and some might really like the idea that the street is put almost permanently into effective cul-de-sac mode.

  4. Another potential option in Belmont that would be very helpful (at least to me!) is the short stretch of Alexander Ave. in Belmont Center between Leonard St. and Pleasant St.

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