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North End weighs in on new Salem Street bike lane

Posted by Your Town  September 21, 2013 08:15 PM

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Thanks to the work of Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Bikes Director Nicole Freedman, Bicycling Magazine now rates Boston as one of the best biking cities. Yet, there are no bike lanes that penetrate the heart of one of the city’s top tourist destinations, the North End.

The city plans to address this in mid-October when new, shared lane markings will be installed over one to three nights and span Salem Street from Cross Street to Charter Street, according to Boston Bikes, a division of the City of Boston founded in 2007 that oversees bicycle-advancement projects.

Already the North End is bustling with bike traffic. The Cross Street and Hanover Street Hubway stop on Boston's bike sharing program is one of the most frequented in the city with over 21,000 trips leaving from the station within its first two years, according to Boston Bikes. And a bike line runs around the North End from North Washington Street and Commercial Street to Cross Street and Atlantic Avenue.

The new shared street markings on Salem Street are expected to have little impact on traffic, according to Boston Bikes. But not everyone is convinced. North End residents and workers recently shared varying opinions on how the bike lanes will fit into an already cramped neighborhood.

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“We walk in the streets because the side walks are too narrow. We park in the middle of the streets to unload and pick up because there is nowhere to pull over and park. And we ride our bikes wherever we can to get through the congestion. I think if they paint a line on Salem Street it will look good for a few months and then fade to a dirty mark and be forgotten. ”
—John Sullivan (above), 48, owner, Prince Postale Shipping


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“Definitely having more bike lanes is better—just make sure it's safe. Most drivers aren't educated, but with bike lanes people will go slower so it might be safer.”
—Joseph Needleman, (above), 23, clinical research coordinator, MGH

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“I don't think it's a good idea. It's way too crowded here and people walk so slowly because it's a tourist spot. But, I might start to ride my bike to work.”
—Yesenia Rendosa, (above), 20, gelato store server

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“Salem Street is already small enough. A new bike lane might work on Hanover [Street]. I just don't see the point of it. I mean, I ride a bike but it seems a little crazy on Salem [Street].”
—Nicholas Polcari, 33, (above), manager, Polcari’s Coffee

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“Bike lines on Salem [Street]? I guess bike lanes are an improvement for people who would use them. When I ride by myself I ride really aggressively and don't think they [bike lanes] are necessary.”
—Jeff Fidget, 24,(above), pedicab driver

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.

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