Pushing to enhance the city’s green transit offerings, two Boston city councilors are hoping to make the MBTA more bike-friendly, proposing a pilot program to reserve a Blue Line car for commuting cyclists.
“If you live in East Boston, one of the biggest frustrations is that if you own a bike, you can’t bike to work if you (work) downtown,” Councilor Lydia Edwards said Wednesday during a virtual council meeting. “You must either figure out how to get it on and off the T during off-peak hours, which is usually not the time that you’re working, or you really don’t ride your bike into Boston, and you better either live and work in East Boston or you … work north of East Boston.”
It’s a problem Edwards has heard repeatedly from constituents, she said. Now, along with Councilor Michelle Wu, she’s offering a solution.
Edwards wants the city and the MBTA to explore a possible initiative to test out dedicating one car at the end of every Blue Line train for cyclists to carry their bikes onboard.
“They can come in, stand, then get off, very likely at Aquarium, where they can take the elevator and then commute via bike for the rest of their commute,” she said. “This is a creative, I think, well, practical response to the fact that people want to be able to bike downtown.”
Today I intro'd a hearing order w/ @wutrain to discuss a pilot program to dedicate one car on the @MBTA Blue Line for bikes. We're dealing with huge increases in traffic in East Boston and need to find ways to give people more options to get downtown. #bospoli #mapoli pic.twitter.com/zwUgTID4H7
— Lydia Edwards (@LydiaMEdwards) August 19, 2020
Bicycles are not allowed on the T during rush hours (7 to 10 a.m. and between 4 and 7 p.m., weekdays) and are entirely prohibited on the Green Line and Mattapan Trolley. While they can be carried onto ferries, the service connects to East Boston only at Logan Airport.
Edwards pointed to the need to lessen the traffic on frequently congested roads in the neighborhood, as well as the proposed, massive redevelopment of Suffolk Downs — which is slated to include its own bike infrastructure — as more reasoning for giving the idea a shot.
“This will really unlock the ability for our public transit system to truly be a public good for everyone,” Wu added.
“It’s more expensive to ride the T than it is to go through the tunnel (with) the tolls,” Edwards said. “When we’re seeing our infrastructure seems to be building for more cars, this is a response to that saying we can do better.”
The MBTA, however, says the plan wouldn’t pan out in practice.
“The T appreciates the issue raised by bicyclists and stakeholders in East Boston and elsewhere along the Blue Line but a dedicated car is not considered the appropriate solution,” Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman, told Boston.com in an email Thursday, adding that the T had not heard of the idea before. “It is not feasible to dedicate an entire car for bikes, in light of ridership demand and the T’s desire to offer as much space as possible for physical distancing.
“Additionally, enforcing a new bike policy is not something the T wants to add to the regular duties of subway personnel at this time,” he added.
Still, Edwards and Wu are planning to talk with transit leaders about increasing bicycle access across the system, not just solely on the Blue Line, according to the hearing order.
Read the hearing order:
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