Tuesday, September 11, 2012

If All the Sidewalks Were This Wide...

Lowell has done some great things for cyclists lately, to include not only putting bike lanes and "sharrows," but also allowing for bicycle parking in city garages

Both steps make the city more bike-friendly.  I have given some thought to a bicycle purchase lately, but find myself going back to either taking the LRTA or using my leather, all-weather personnel carriers, mainly because of all the crapola I'm carrying and the perils of biking. 

If I could bike on the sidewalk, that would change things, but biking on the sidewalk is against the rules.  Every day, I see people breaking that rule in Lowell, Boston, and Cambridge, but it doesn't make me want to join their ranks.  As for biking on the road, I find it harrowing enough trying to "pedestriate" (no, it's not a word) through certain tight spaces.  As for biking across the Longfellow Bridge?  Fuhggeddaboutit. 

So yesterday, I had to stop and take notice of a special "Bikes Only" section of the sidewalk running from Kendall towards Central along Vassar Street.  The picture below can speak the words better than I could try to do, but I'll just acknowledge here that this wouldn't really be an option in most urban spaces.  Still, it's pretty awesome:



mariannika said...

Protected bike lanes are amazing and are the most successful piece of infrastructure that a city can adopt to encourage people to ride bicycles for transportation. All of the great European cycling cities - Amsterdam, Copenhagen - transformed themselves by adopting them. US cities such as Boston, NYC, and, most ambitiously, Chicago are following suit.

It's really exciting to see Lowell embrace cycling infrastructure, and I really hope the Ciity continues to promote cycling as a form of transportation - it's great for traffic, parking, pollution, and quality of life.

The main reason that bikes don't belong on the sidewalk is that they are more similar (in speed and travel patterns) to cars than pedestrians. Riding on the street is a skill that can be learned, and it's similar to learning how to drive a car.

kad barma said...

I've got one here suitable and free for borrowing, but you'll have to figure out on your own how to reach the pedals. ;-)

European accommodations for bicyclists are brilliant and near-ubiquitous. I know many people at my company who commute that way year-round, even through German winters and English summers. It's sobering to count the number of bicycle-related fatalities here in Lowell and realize that we are nowhere near where we need to be for bikes to become more reasonable alternatives to driving and walking here. Even with two bikes, I still do my grocery shopping and other local errands on foot, and my longer trips in the car, and only use the bikes for recreation.