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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bicycle Committee Seeks to Increase Bicycle Access to Signed Somerville Streets


In the wake of Somerville's first arrest of a cyclist who disregarded a Do Not Enter sign, the Bicycle Committee is seeking to modify signs around the city to include "Except Bicycles" according to a posted comment on Somerville Patch.

When I previously wrote about Alpine Street becoming a one-way, the topic of allowing cyclists to use the street in either direction was brought up in my comment section, as well. Understanding both sides of the argument, I must admit that I would like to be able to cycle on streets as a bicycle poses much less of a size threat when faced with a vehicle. This, of course, is just me looking at it from my convenience as I would love to use Alpine Street from Lowell to access the bike path. Currently, I use Franey and ride down Cedar.

On the other hand, though, the cyclist movement of yester-year advocated for space on the road and compromised by agreeing to act as a motorist-obeying all laws accordingly.

Please include your thoughts below!

16 comments:

Brendan said...

If you really want to encourage cycling there needs to be a set of rules that are not just the rules for cars. bicycles are not cars and treating them exactly the same is silly. Bicycles should stay single file to the far right, they should stop for pedestrians in cross walks and stop at lights and stop signs. I do think that a bicycle in the street going through an intersection with the flow of pedestrian traffic at a red light should be allowed as should use of one way streets as two ways, assuming you stay over so normal traffic can get by.

Anonymous said...

Whoa!......If you prefer to access Cedar Street from Lowell Street by way of Alpine westbound to get to the bike path---and do not because Alpine is now 1-way against you; what's the big deal about biking one small block further south on Lowell Street to Albion Street,which is 1-way westbound to Cedar, and parallels Alpine to Cedar.... to the bike path. !?!?!!?!?!?!?

In regard to safety! That 1-way segment of Alpine-[not all of Alpine is 1-way]-when it was 2-way,that segment only allowed two vehicles abreast; with parked vehicles only one vehicle travel lane served traffic coming from opposite directions----with many a nose-to-nose driver confrontations particulary with winter snows.

Puting a bicyclist in that 2-way mix, no matter which direction bound, puts persons, and moving and parked vehicles, in harm's way.

Ward Five said...

I would prefer to use Alpine as Albion is now proving to be congested with vehicular traffic due to the Alpine change. By offering this option to cyclists, you can get them off of main roads and down roads not accessible for cars. I can also use Franey Road by way of Fennell-which is what I normally use. This will all change next summer, however, when the extension of the bike path comes to Lowell Street via MaxWell's Green.

With regards to your second statement, cyclists have an option that motorists don't. Although I do not advocate for riding on the sidewalk, this is an option. Also, descending off of your bike and walking with it changes your designation from a "cyclist/motorist" to a pedestrian. This is often used in areas where cars have to stop for pedestrians, but do not have to stop for cyclists as they are considered motorists by law.

Anonymous said...

As regards vehicle traffic congestion on both Alpine and Albion Streets....what else in new on Somerville streets.

But a little "history" re congestion on those subject streets when both were 2-way, and subsequently, both changed to alternate one-ways. [Albion from Central Street to Lowell Street had been one-way westbound for many years; with Albion from Lowell to Cedar being two-way all those years]

First, as recently as less than 2 years ago, Albion, from Lowell to Cedar was made one-way----making that named street one-way from Central to Cedar.

When that happened, Alpine, 2-way at the time, vehicles no longer able to use Albion, east to lowell, greatly enhanced the eastbound traffic off Cedar to Lowell via Alpine; creating a 2-way traffic flow, and problems, such as never before seen on that narrowest segment of Alpine.

Now with that Alpine segment made one-way, the increased eastbound traffic volume gained from Albion onto Alpine, when Albion was made one-way, was "traded" back to Albion when Alpine went onw-way.

But the bottom line that persons responsible for traffic flow--viz: Traffic Engineer, Terry Smith; the Traffic Commission; and the Police Department are primarily interested in is maintaining traffic movement flow...and ease of access by emergency vehicles.
In many cases throughout Somerville, streets were made and are made one-way to attain traffic flow. For the most part, adjacent one-way streets in Somerville are set-up with alternate traffic flows...enabling the movement of traffic flow. No question much needed in the face of vehicles passing through our city; and the proliferation of multi-cars owned and garaged in our city by individual family units.

[a neigbor of mine---five adults, one unit, has six(6) registered cars. Years ago, one vehicle served the needs of the entire family. Not anymore!

As far as the option of a bicyclist using a sidewalk---that is also a no-no in Somerville.

As for "walking" a bicycle on the subject one-way Alpine; if you look at the width of sidewalks on both sides of that one-way segment you will readily see that those sidewalks are much less the size/width of the rest of Alpine.
Walking a bike on that sidewalk, with opposing pedistrian traffic, someone will be forced to walk onto the street.

Bottom line: vehicle congestion impacting one-way Alpine and one-way Albion is a "wash"----a trade-off!

Anonymous said...

"Walking a bike on that sidewalk, with opposing pedistrian traffic, someone will be forced to walk onto the street."

Or, hop up on stairs or into someone's driveway and letting the cyclist pass. I have done this many times when it was two-way.

You are allowed to ride on the sidewalk-just not in central business districts with children under 16 being able to ride on the sidwalk anywhere.

Becky said...

I can easily see the argument for bike's being allowed to make turns onto streets with time-of-day restrictions, but I think there is a harm to bicycles riding the wrong way on one-way streets.

The comments here are all concerning bicycles and cars - I don't see a lot of mention of pedestrians. I live on Stone Ave which is one-way up the hill from Union Square. Bicyclists often go tearing DOWN the street - sometimes on the sidewalk. When you are walking out of your driveway or down your steps it is quite the surprise to have a cyclist barreling down on you from an unexpected direction.

When I cycled everyday I followed the rules of the road. I don't really see the hassle with going one street over to ride the correct direction. It's safer for all parties - cyclists, vehicles AND pedestrians.

Anonymous said...

Think about the absurdity of our bike laws that see fit to "protect" our citizens, seniors, handicapped, disabled, blind, poor hearing, while they are walking on sidewalks in our business districts-----yet, once out of a defined business district, these same citizens are at the mercy of bicyclists under age 16, back in the citizens own neighborhoods.

These same under age 16 bicyclists are mandated to be wearing helmets----Yeah Right! Compliance and enforcement hardly ever the case.

The law says: we will protect grandma and grandpa, the disabled, handicapped, etc., from sidewalk riding bicyclists while shopping in Davis Square----but grandma and grandpa, and others, are in harm's way for, say, an 11 year old bicyclist riding on the sidewalk in front of a citizen's own home on, say, Boston Avenue.

How stupid the law is written!!

Ron Newman said...

There is plenty of room on Alpine Street for a car going one direction to pass a bicycle going the other way.

Anonymous said...

Of course there is, as on most all one-way streets in Somerville; and many bicylists do that every day.
But bicycle space somewhat reduced when a large truck or 18 wheeler is legally going the right direction. 18-wheelers are common on Alpine Street servicing businesses on Lowell Street. Boston Closet, the glass company, etc. And then we have Faulkner's oil tanker trucks often parked on the street---and moving out eastbound to make deliveries.

Also, bicycle space greatly reduced when winter snows are plowed to the even-side gutter.

Then there is the question of liability if a wrong-way bicyclist and a vehicle going in the proper direction happen to "physically meet."
Who do you think would win that "battle" in the courts and/or with insurance companies?

Anonymous said...

....and don't forget, on the books, and current police enforcement, a bicyclist going the wrong way is subject to being ticketed.

I was told by a friend who lives on the one-way part of Alpine, that he witnessed a police officer doing just that.
So, roll the dice if you will by going the wrong way, but don't cry on my shoulder if caught.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of overkill, another reason why a bicyclist should not attempt to traverse against one-way traffic on Alpine.

Many of the residents on that portion of Alpine were in favor of the one-way because, when 2-way, in backing out of their driveways, and the street reduced to one travel lane serving vehicles coming from opposite directions, one travel lane due to legally parked vehicles, they no longer wanted to deal with backing out and into harm's way from vehicles coming from two directions.
IOW----when 2-way, once eastbound traffic was clear, here come more vehicles westbound, and again vice-versa; particularly those exiting driveways on the odd side of the street where other vehicles, and trucks, were legally parked.
So many residents having to exit "blind-sided" due to obstructed views.

Now that it is one-way, put a bicyclist coming the wrong way into the mix totally unexpected by a resident driver who is only focused on vehicles traveling legally, that being one way eastbound, you have a recipe for a bicyclist broadsiding a vehicle suddenly exiting a driveway because traffic has cleared from the one-way direction they, the drivers, focused on.

As far as Ron Newman's post stating there is ample space for a bicyclist to travel against the one-way, a violation. Sure they can!
They, and motorists, are also free to run a red-light or a stop sign if they choose to. Just don't get caught, or worse, cause an accident or injury to innocent people.

Ron Newman said...

In the Netherlands it is quite common to have one-way side streets marked with "Do Not Enter - Except Bicycles" signs facing the 'wrong' way. This could easily work in Somerville on streets such as Hancock, Alpine, Sycamore, and Richdale.

In case of a conflict, 'right way' traffic would always have the right-of-way against 'wrong way' traffic.

Anonymous said...

Considering the inherent narrowness of Alpine, parked cars or trucks on the odd side---with resident drivers coming out of driveways on the odd side visually impaired by such parked vehicles, particulary in the darkness of night; and, as I have often observed, bicycles being operated absent (required/mandated)lighting facing forward, coming at a driver exiting his/her driveway in the darkness---not a safe situation.

Perhaps The Netherlands is very much up to speed in enforcing lighting on all bicycles.
Somerville cetainly is not!

Anonymous said...

By the way, what the hell is the big deal about a bicyclist wanting to risk going against one-way Alpine, when one short block to the south, from Lowell Street, exists Albion Street; where a bicyclist could legally and safely go with the one-way flow of traffic to reach the same destination, that being Cedar Street.

Anonymous said...

I think several anons back, who posted . . . "The law says: we will protect [people] from sidewalk riding bicyclists while shopping in Davis Square----but [they] are in harm's way [from], say, an 11 year old bicyclist riding on the sidewalk in front of a citizen's own home . . . " is confused about the law: ANYONE can ride on the sidewalk outside of central business districts, not just children.

I'm not familiar with the laws for children, but sounds like a previous poster was saying they (unlike adults) can ride in the CBDs.

Anonymous said...

Cannot resist a belated response to Ron Newman's post about streets he named as being able to easily handle wrong-way bicycle traffic, one of which was Alpine; others being Richdale,Hancock, and Sycamore...and apparently others, by inference, not named.

Might get away with it for some streets wider than one way Alpine, such as Sycamore, and absent commercial resident trucks parked on the street, such as Faulkner's oil tankers and maintenance vehicles on Alpine; and absent commercial vehicular trucks,semi's, through traffic servicing nearby commercial venues on Lowell and Woodbine Streets; but NOT narrow Alpine where such heavy volume of commercial through traffic and commercial parking legally exists on a large scale; including cut-through DPW vehicles heading east from their home base at Franey Road--to Cedar---to Alpine--to lowell Street, and beyond.

I wonder, due to some of the anti-Alpine one way posts, do some of those authors actually have spent some time understanding and personally viewing just why the physical aspects, related parking, and the situations of residents backing out of driveways blind-sided---some requiring 2 or 3 point turns touching the opposite even-side curb before being able to align their vehicles eastward on that one-way part of Alpine.

When 2-way, also coping with trucks, cars, using the one travel lane available due to legally parked vehicle---if not from one direction than the other.
Quite often forcing the exiting resident car to go back into their driveway, and then try again to exit.

Then other problems that used to cause back-ups in BOTH directions when 2-way.

One being-trucks servicing homes, oil deliveries, utility trucks, absent space to park on the legal odd side, parked half on the sidewalk and street on the even side. Somebody will come back here and say those utility trucks could park in their service call driveway. Not when a driveway does not exist, or driveway space is taken by a resident's vehicle.

Then comes rubbish collection day--causing 2-way back-ups east and westbound with only one travel lane serving both directions. lots of "fun" to be had in those 2-way situations.

At least now one-way, the back-ups are all facing one direction eastward, and when the lead blocking vehicle is ready to go---so will the vehicles stacked up behind it go.

Wrong-way bicycle traffic on Alpine???
NOT NEEDED OR WARRANTED WITH ALBION BEING A LOGICAL LEGAL ONE-WAY ALTERNATIVE!