Tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon at City Hall, the City Council's Transportation Committee will make a fairly important decision on whether to support or kill the city's bike lane network.
For a few years now, the city has had a few thousand dollars to establish new bike lanes and routes on some of the city's major arterials. A group of citizens and city staff involved in the city's Public Services department and the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee have identified three high-priority routes: Congress and Park Streets between Stroudwater and downtown; Deering Street and Forest Avenue between Deering Oaks and Morrill's Corner; and Washington Avenue between North Deering and Tukey's Bridge. These three routes have been planned and engineered, and this summer, the city will fund "construction" (i.e., lane-striping and removal of some parking spaces) to build one of them.
The city will decide which route should be funded in conjunction with the Bike/Ped Advisory Committee in a special meeting on Friday morning. If you have a preference, join the Bike/Ped Committee's e-mail list or leave a comment at the end of this post (I now chair the committee, so I'll be sure to relay your thoughts and ideas).
In addition to these three routes, the city now also has an opportunity to stripe bike lanes on Ocean Avenue, between Woodford's Corner and Washington Avenue. This route has been identified as a future bike route, but a major roadworks project scheduled for this summer gives us the opportunity to install bike lanes sooner. The route would pass important destinations, including the new school at the Baxter School site, Payson Park, and Cheverus High School.
These projects, together, would roughly double the city's network of bike lanes and extend the bike route network to large swathes of the city that previously had no bike infrastructure. It could do a lot to get more people onto bikes.
Nevertheless, making it happen won't be easy. That's because these bike routes will require the city to remove dozens of on-street parking spaces. The Transportation Committee has its first say on the project tomorrow, and we can probably expect some gripes from people who think that the storage of their private vehicles is a more appropriate use for our tax dollars than supporting sustainable, affordable transportation. If we can get a few supporters to attend tomorrow's meeting in City Hall, it would be very helpful. The meeting will be in Room 209 of City Hall, from 5 to 7 pm.
Any decision to remove on-street parking will also have to go in front of the full City Council sometime soon, and when the time comes, we'll need to have a bigger turnout.
I plan to go to City Hall tomorrow and will report back when it's over.
For more information:
Map of the City's Bike Network Plan
Transportation Committee Bike Lanes memo