Boston officials plan to soon install bike lanes on a nearly two-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue, between the Brighton-Newton border and the intersection of Commonwealth Ave., Warren and Kelton streets in Allston.
“Commonwealth Avenue has some of the highest rates of on-road cycling in the city as well as a high cyclist crash rate,” said a statement from the city’s Boston Bikes program. “The bike lanes are aimed to improve conditions for cyclists and all users and are consistent with recommendations in the Boston Bike Network Plan. The plan envisions safe and inviting road conditions for all road users.”
No parking or travel lanes will be removed and traffic will not be impacted by the project, city officials said.
The work will be done sometime this fall and such projects typically take between one and three days to complete, officials said.
The city said it plans to install pavement markings to designate lanes for exclusive use by cyclists as well as markings that designate parts of the road as being for shared use between bikes and vehicles.
Along the eastbound side of Commonwealth Ave, markings will be installed to indicate that bikes and vehicles should share the right-hand traffic lane from the Boston-Newton line to Chestnut Hill Avenue, according to a copy of the plans.
Continuing east past Chestnut Hill Avenue is a one-way carriage lane, which runs separate from, but parallel to, the two main eastbound lanes of Commonwealth Ave. Markings will be installed to indicate that bikes and vehicles should share the carriage lane between there and Kelton St.
Along the westbound side of Commonwealth Ave., between the Warren-Kelton streets intersection and Washington Street, is a two-way carriage lane, which runs separate from, but parallel to, the two main westbound lanes of Commonwealth Ave. Markings will be installed to indicate that bikes and vehicles should share both sides of that stretch of the carriage lane, the plans show.
Continuing west past Washington St., the carriage lane converts to a one-way that can only be accessed by westbound traffic. Markings will be installed to create a lane exclusively for bike use along the left-hand side of the carriage lane from Washington St. to Wallingford Road, where the carriage lane ends.
Continuing west from Wallingford Road to Chestnut Hill Ave., markings will indicate that bikes and vehicles should share the right-hand lane of Commonwealth Avenue.
Continuing west past Chestnut Hill Ave, markings will be installed to create a lane exclusively for bike use along the right-hand side of Commonwealth Ave. The bike lane will end just before Lake Street and will turn into a shared bike lane from there to the Boston-Newton border, according to the plans.
The announcement said the new markings will improve safety by: designating safe riding zones for cyclists; encouraging motorists to drive slower; encouraging cyclists to ride and motorists to drive more “respectfully and predictably” and make pedestrians and drivers more aware of cyclists.
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A year after a local man was fatally struck by a truck while riding his bicycle in Wellesley, town officials are creating a committee to study if and where bike lanes and signage can be installed in the next year to make cycling safer.
“This is something that’s been looked at for a while, but it’s fair to say the accident brought it more to the forefront,” said selectwoman Terri Tsagaris.
Alexander Motsenigos, 41, was killed last August after a truck struck him while riding his bicycle on Weston Road. The truck driver was initially charged, but a grand jury chose not to indict him and the charges have been dropped.
However, Motsenigos’ family has filed a wrongful death suit, which is pending in Norfolk Superior Court, said the family’s lawyer, Carlin J. Phillips.
Wellesly’s executive director Hans Larsen cq underscored the catalyst that the acccident has provided in getting the town to move forward on improved safety for bicyclists.
“We are sobered by the fact that one of our residents died on our streets, riding a bicycle,” said Larsen. “It has caused everyone to think, and question if we have done enough, and what we can to do to avoid a reoccurrence.”
To that end, the Board of Selectmen approved the formation of the Bicycle Safety Committee in mid-August. Members of the board are from various town departments and boards, including police, public works, planning, and School Committee; two bicycle advocates; and selectwoman Ellen Gibbs, as well as Larsen.
(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
Morton Street between the Shea Circle in Jamaica Plain and Harvard Street in Mattapan recently received a number of safety upgrades for cyclists.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which manages the roadway, added both buffered bike lanes and shoulder bike lanes to it, as part of an $850,000 routine resurfacing maintenance project, according to the DOT.FULL ENTRY
Jody Adams, a 56-year old Brookline resident, stopped biking 24 years ago. At the time, she was not yet a James Beard award-winning chef, just a cook trying to get a little bit of exercise by pedaling to work.
Until one very bad night, her commute from Cambridge to the South End had been manageable, even in a Boston that had not yet become a bicycle-friendly, hub-on-wheels loving city. And then came that very bad night, the one in which a bunch of guys tried to run Adams off of the road.
"I was pregnant and biking home after work and these drunk guys tried to knock me off of my bike as they drove by,” she recalled.
After that, Adams stopped riding to work. Still, somewhere tucked away in the back of her head was an itch that was just waiting to be scratched, a voice that gently called out this simple word: Ride.
Over the next two decades, Adams steadily moved up the food chain in the cooking world: Food & Wine Magazine named her “one of America’s ten best new chefs,” and her restaurant Rialto, in Harvard Square, earned four stars from the Boston Globe, its highest rating.
All of which led, in 2007, to Adams being invited by BikeRiders (a now defunct bicycle touring company) to serve as a master chef in Italy. Adams agreed; after all, that itch was still just waiting to be scratched. And though the prospect of riding 25 very hilly miles was daunting, Adams was game.
Adams was also hooked. Over the course of the next several years, she became steadily more involved with biking. "I realized that riding was a great way to see the world,” she said. “It made me feel young."
Adams is quick to point out that she came to cycling later in life.
"I started riding (seriously) in my mid 50's,” she said. “I'd never done anything like this before. I was never a competitive athlete. But if you have two legs you can ride a bike. It's a wonderful way to be in the world as you move through life. It makes you feel powerful."
Her interest in cycling coincided with the rise of biking in Boston. Adams is quick to point out that in the past, "cyclists were kind of crazy," though perhaps that was a rational response to a dangerous world. But where there was once a war on wheels, two vs. four, Adams now sees "A community on wheels: bike lanes, a collective respect between cyclists and drivers, and more adherence to traffic laws by cyclists."
As a chef, Adams' goal is not to create fancy food, but food that really tastes good. Cooking is, for Adams, "A way to produce something incredibly beautiful with your hands that you share. If you really love life, how can you not really love good food?"
For Adams, both cooking and biking allow her to feel focused and immersed with the task at hand.
She believes that cycling and cooking are both "Simple and about action, about making things go." Still, Adams feels that cycling is less complicated than cooking: "You just put your body in the right position, move your legs, and then you go."
Adams uses her deep knowledge about food to power her pedaling. "You have to make sure you drink enough water and get enough fuel,” she said. “I tend to eat things that taste good and are low in refined sugar. Things that are satisfying."
And simple: instead of pre-packaged bars, Adams gravitates towards home-made peanut-butter and banana sandwiches and a mid-ride cup of coffee.
For Adams, there's something magical about the process of cooking, of taking raw ingredients and creating something she can share with others.
Cycling is, in its own way, magical, too: "The bike is just a beautiful machine that I can move with my body,” she said. “It's just so incredibly compelling. Riding, like cooking, is also about pleasure, about long conversations and being part of a community."
Adams realizes that getting started riding a bicycle might seem challenging, though she's
convinced it's worth the challenge.
"For one, you get to be part of a community. And you also develop incredible calf muscles that you get to show off."
Jonathan Simmons is the author of “Here For The Ride: A Tale of Obsession on Two Wheels.”
A bike rack at the Brookline Village trolley station will be unavailable from Monday, Aug. 26 through mid-September, MBTA officials said.
An upgraded bike canopy will be installed, making the rack there unavailable until the work is done, according to the T’s website.
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Vending machines that will dispense bike helmets to either rent or buy are scheduled to debut at four Hubway bike share stations in Boston at the end of August.
“Boston will be the first city in the US to do this,” said Nicole Freedman, head of the city’s bicycle programming. “The real goal is to make sure cyclists in Boston are wearing helmets as much as possible.”
City officials, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino, are scheduled to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Aug. 26, for one of the first HelmetHub machines, which will be attached to a Hubway station outside the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, said Freedman, director of Boston Bikes.
Locations for the other three pilot helmet vending machines have not yet been finalized, but Freedman said they will likely be installed at Hubway stations that attract the highest amount of “casual ridership,” or riders who are least likely to wear helmets.
The top Hubway stations for casual ridership are at: Beacon and Arlington streets, Boylston and Arlington Streets, Charles Circle, North Station and South Station, she said.
Pricing has also not been finalized, but Freedman expects the machines will charge users $2 to rent a helmet for 24 hours. To buy the helmets, the cost will be “in the $20 range,” she said.
At least for the initial roll out of the program, the kiosks will only accept payment by credit card, she said. Helmets can be rented or bought for use with any bike, Hubway or otherwise.
Riders who fail to return a rented helmet within 24 hours, will become the helmet’s owner and their credit card will be charged accordingly, Freedman said.
Returned helmets will be collected and brought to a warehouse to be inspected, cleaned and sanitized before being put back into the machines to be rented again or bought.
When a person approaches the machine to return a helmet, a radio-frequency identification, or RFID, chip inside the helmet will tell a slot on the machine to open so the helmet can be deposited, she said. The RFID chip will also tell the machine who had originally rented the helmet and when it was rented.
Each helmet will be “unisize,” featuring an adjustable strap in the back to fit heads of varying magnitude, Freedman said.
A machine will hold between 30 and 36 helmets. The kiosks are specially designed to lock into existing Hubway stations.
On average, each machine costs about $10,000, she said. The machines will be paid for through a mix of funding from grants, sponsorships, advertising and revenue collected from the Hubway system.
To design and produce the machines, the city contracted HelmetHub, a company based in South Boston’s Innovation District and founded by a group of MIT students who first developed prototypes of a helmet vending machine nearly two years ago for a class project at the university.
Freedman said she was asked in 2011 by the students’ professor for ideas of projects his class could work on. She suggested the class could try to figure out a way to couple helmets with Hubway. A semester later, the students presented a working model of a helmet vending machine.
“It’s a brilliant design,” Freedman said.
The machines and the software they will run on will be purposefully designed to be flexible to allow for potential changes.
For example, the kiosks may be reprogrammed later to work with Hubway keys, which are used by annual and monthly Hubway members to unlock bikes.
Officials may later make unlimited helmet rentals free with a Hubway membership, perhaps at an additional one-time cost. Or they may make helmet rentals standard with any Hubway rental.
Helmet pricing and the deadline for rental returns can also be easily adjusted if officials want to make changes as they test out the first-of-its-kind program.
“The simpler and least expensive we can make it, the more successful it will be,” she said.
Freedman said she hopes that another 10 helmet vending machines will be installed within six weeks after first four.
From there, officials will monitor the devices to try to determine what ratio will work best city-wide – whether there should be a machine at every bike share station or perhaps only at a half or one-third of Hubway stations.
She said she knows of only one other city in the word where helmet vending machines have been installed – Melbourne, Australia. But, Freedman said that from what she knows the machines there offer far fewer features than the ones Boston will soon roll out.
The Melbourne machines, for instance, do not attach to the bike share stations; helmets must be paid for at another location and then can be picked up at the kiosks; and the devices do not accept helmet returns, requiring users to return the safety gear elsewhere.
“We’ll really be pioneering the way,” she said.
Last year, a study conducted in Boston and Washington D.C., which has a similar bike-share system similar to Hubway, found that 19 percent of people on shared bikes wore helmets, compared to 51 percent of people on their own bikes who wore helmets.
Research suggests that wearing helmets during a crash could decrease the risk of head injury and brain injury by 65 to 88 percent.
City officials have tried various campaigns in recent years to promote helmet use.
Subsidized helmets, as inexpensive as $7.99, can be bought at select Boston area stores, which are listed here. Helmets can also be bought and shipped to the buyer when signing up for a Hubway membership.
In May, Menino set a goal to cut the cyclist crash injury rate in Boston 50 percent by 2020 through measures based on findings of a city-commissioned study that compiled years of data on bike collisions in the city, including statistics on the locations and times of crashes, helmet use, and bicyclist and motorist behavior. The report also contained a number of recommendations to improve bike safety.
City officials also said at the time they may seek to have a law passed that would require all cyclists to wear a helmet while in Boston.
On Monday, Freedman said city officials are holding off for now on pushing the passage of such a law.
“What we want to do is see how far we can get with encouragement, marketing, pushing the helmet vending machines and working with police enforcement,” she said.
State law mandates that bike riders 16 years of age or younger wear a helmet while in Massachusetts.
In Boston, 10 cyclists have died in crashes since 2010, according to Freeman. Though, half of those deaths occurred over a recent one-year span between last summer and this spring.
(Video by Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff, Produced by Lane Turner/Globe Staff)
My first high-end road bike, the one I bought over 10 years ago, did not fit me properly. At least that’s what I thought. A good carpenter never blames his tools, but I decided my bike was not right: After four hours on the saddle, my shoulders and neck began to hurt. Something must be causing that pain, I reasoned, and because it couldn’t be me, it must be the bike.
Or so I thought.
With that in mind, I rode over to see Peter Mooney, a Belmont-based frame-builder extraordinaire and bike guru. I wanted his opinion about (and hopefully his blessing for) the purchase of a new bike. Preferably one of the gorgeous custom-lugged steel bikes that he builds by hand.
Except that Peter told me I looked just fine on my bike. “Keep on riding. I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “It’s a great bike you’ve got there. Enjoy it.”
He was right, but that was not what I wanted to hear. Only after I purchased three more bikes did I eventually realize that Peter was right all along: it wasn’t the bike, it was me. It turned out that sit-ups and pullups solved my problem.
Cyclists talk about our “forever bike,” the last one we’ll ever have to buy because it is perfect. We believe that the forever bike will make everything right and stop all that wishing for more. It just never works that way.
A guy I know has bought three racing bikes in the past two years. He deliberated endlessly over each purchase: Each bike was going to be forever. After his most recent acquisition, I asked him what was next.
He wondered how I knew his last bike was not his last bike. And then he laughed and said, “As a matter of fact, I was debating between a DeRosa and a Colnago. I like buying bikes. It’s like a hunt, but once I get the bike I’m like ‘OK, I’m ready for the next one.’ The thrill is gone.”
What my friend is learning is that the half-life of that thrill is pretty short. Full disclosure: I know the half-life of buying a new bike is short, and yet I, too, have bought a forever bike.
At first I wanted a second bike for when the weather turned bad — that way, the expensive parts on my fancy racing ride wouldn't get ruined by the winter sand and salt. It might have made sense if I had bought a $300 beater from Craigslist. But somehow I began to think about carbon fiber models because they were on sale, and if I were getting carbon fiber I might as well get what I had always wanted: a custom bike.
I believed that a custom bike would be my forever bike. Custom means that the bike would be fitted to me, not me to the bike. Fitting is a painstaking process: You are measured, bent, prodded, and poked, and then measured some more. Sometimes a weighted string or a protractor is placed against your knee to position your saddle and the cleat beneath your shoe. Sometimes you are videotaped on the bike, sometimes you are just told to “stand over the bike and pull up on the handlebars to make sure you've got enough room.” Sometimes I think I would have been better off just hopping on whatever bike was in my basement, just like I did as a kid.
My forever bike truly is forever: It fits me perfectly and rides like a dream. Still, I would have been just as happy with a used bike I found online.
Only after I bought my forever bike did I realize I did not need a forever bike. Sure, I love my forever bike, but I also know that in this one way, Lance Armstrong was right: It’s not about the bike.
And yet I still sometimes long for a new bike, one that I imagine will help me win the town-line sprint.
And then I head out on the road and my brain becomes bathed with endorphins and dopamine, and I realize that whatever I’m on fits me just fine.
Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
Cyclists of all ages will converge on City Hall Plaza in September for the city’s ninth annual Hub on Wheels, organizers announced.
Hosted by Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Boston Bikes initiative, the event will offer 10-, 30-, and 50-mile courses through the city’s historic and diverse neighborhoods, with pauses to visit the Arnold Arboretum and Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Carson Beach in South Boston, and Codman Square in Dorchester, organizers said in a statement.
Participants may register online at BostonCyclingCelebration.com for $45, or pay $55 to register at the on-site registration tent on the day of the event, organizers said.
Children under 10 may participate for free but must ride with an adult on a tandem cycle, a trail-a-bike, a child seat, or in a trailer. Children ages 10 and 11 may only participate in the 10-mile course, organizers said.
The rides will take place on Sunday, Sept. 22, beginning and ending at City Hall Plaza in downtown Boston. Registration will begin at 6:30 a.m. and will be followed by an opening ceremony at 7:45 a.m. Rides will begin at 8 a.m.
Participants who don’t own bicycles may rent them through the event’s official bike rental partner, the North End shop Urban Adventours, at (800) 979-3370 or online at www.urbanadventours.com.
Jimmy Pereira believes in the healing power of the bicycle.
"Bikes are good for your health, good for your community, and good for your wallet,” he said. “I know they're not the answer to every problem, but they are a way towards a better tomorrow."
Pereira recently started working at MassBike, a coalition that encourages bicycling for fun, fitness, and transportation. He hopes to get more people riding, especially people who might not necessarily think about biking.
"I know bikes won't solve all of our problems, but if you bike, you have a chance to live a better life,” he said.
A few years ago, Pereira's life was headed in the wrong direction. Quite simply, the idea of a better tomorrow, the idea of a better life, seemed like a stretch.
As a teen in Brockton, Pereira hung out with the wrong crowd, the kind of kids who were getting into trouble. After a while, Pereira got into trouble, too.
"I broke into a house,” he said. “I thought I'd get a substantial amount of money, but instead, I got a substantial amount of time at DYS (the Department of Youth Services)."
His family was shocked.
"They knew this wasn't me, but they also knew I had strayed into the streets. I was embarrassed that I had harmed someone else and that I had broken my family's trust."
Pereira was committed to DYS at the age of 14. When he was first placed in detention he was scared, and so he did what lots of teens do when they are scared: he acted like he didn't care.
"I was stubborn and rowdy at first,” he said. “And then I calmed down. I realized that my caseworker and my counselors were trying to help me. They gave me guidance, and I used that guidance to change."
For Pereira, change meant learning about his culture (his family is from Cape Verde) and connecting to his religious faith. Change also meant realizing that he had potential.
"But before I could use that potential I had to auire knowledge."
And so Pereira read and took his education seriously. And from his reading came inspiration and the realization that "I was at a crossroads. I could keep on living the life I was living, or I could face the music and change."
Pereira faced the music, and boy did he change: he went from being a teen in trouble, to a young adult who recently graduated from Westfield State University.
Pereira was able to turn his life around through the mentoring and support he received from adults who cared.
"Kids get labeled, especially kids who are from a minority community,” he said. “There are a lot of diamonds in the rough out there who just need some support so that they can become successful, too. I was lucky: I got the support that I needed."
People who knew that deep down, Pereira, like most, if not all of his peers, had the potential to do right if just given the chance.
Pereira thrived at college, and was drawn to study social structures.
"I loved learning about red-lining and segregation and how we can build a community that brings people together instead of pulling them apart."
After graduation this past spring, Pereira's interest in advocacy and social justice led him to MassBike, where he's working on programs to increase bicycle use, infrastructure, and access in urban communities. "I know a lot of people perceive biking as a white person's activity, but it's not. Biking is a way to experience your community and bring people together,” he said.
Pereira knows that people are somewhat skeptical about bicycles, but their doubts do not deter him. After all, he's overcome far tougher odds in the past.
"And to those skeptics I'd say, take a deep breath, open your eyes, and look at the possibilities that can happen with bikes,” he said.
"When I was in lockup I could never have imagined that this is where I would end up. But when I got out, I knew I had a job to do. I had to accomplish something, and that meant helping people."
Which is what Pereira is doing, one bike at a time.
Jonathan Simmons is the author of “Here For The Ride: A Tale of Obsession on Two Wheels.” He works at the Department of Youth Services, but did not work with Mr. Pereira. He is also a member of MassBike.