OK, I will admit it — as everyone probably guessed by now — I’m not a big fan of traffic calming or lane reduction, or anything else that further clogs the cow-paths we call “roads”. Lord knows, I’m not itching itching for another “Car v. Bike” shouting match, but here’s the latest NMA post re “road improvements” — let the flames begin (sigh…)
Beware Road “Improvements”
Dear NMA Member,
There is a disturbing trend in the Boston Metro area: road “improvements” reducing the number of travel lanes.
The state, cities and towns are spending millions on road redesign projects that often remove automobile lanes. The rationale is usually the safety of pedestrians and pressure from vocal and sometimes militant bicyclist groups. But studies show these changes to be ineffective. Central Square Cambridge is now #1 in bike accidents and #2 in pedestrian accidents in the state following such changes!
The roads that recently got narrower for motorists are Nonantum Road in Newton and Central Street between Wellesley and Natick. They were reduced from four lanes to two, because too few spoke up in opposition.
There are plenty of other projects slated for these “improvements.” Here are just a few:
- The City of Peabody just announced plans to spend $1.5 million on planters and trees to narrow Main Street from four travel lanes to two, because “there is just too much car traffic and not enough pedestrians.” Meanwhile, Main Street floods during heavy rains at least twice a year!
- After consulting with bicyclist and pedestrian groups, the state will “rehabilitate” the Longfellow Bridge between Boston and Cambridge. The “improvements’” include taking away two car lanes. Few motorists spoke up at public hearings while cyclists following tweets and blogs spoke, wrote, and emailed officials.
- Mark Kaepplein is fighting Arlington’s plans to replace shared lanes on Massachusetts Avenue for bicycle lanes. So what’s wrong with that plan? There is already a bike path through Arlington, but the bicyclists don’t like sharing the road with pedestrians.
- Next spring the commute on Trapelo Road and Belmont Street through Belmont will be “improved” as was Concord Ave. in Cambridge — by making the road narrower.
If you don’t like these trends, if you think government should be accommodating instead of hindering its citizens, then speak up in your community as Mark Kaepplein is doing in his.
NMA Massachusetts State Chapter Coordinator
PS, Ivan fails to mention the Belmont plan to narrow Leonard St. which has only been held up due to lack of funds.