Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Boston's Bad Biking

It's not hard. It's not expensive. You just have to give a damn.

Boston made the bad-biking list again. In Bicycling Magazine's most recent survey of 250 U.S. cities, we are in the sewer — or pothole — with Atlanta and Houston.

We need some municipal will and very short money to fix that. For those of us who ride regularly and the drivers and pedestrians beside us, it's about safety and quality of life.

The magazine's editor-in-chief, Steve Madden, grew up in Boston. He learned to bike here.

There are some easy fixes that can, should, will? make a big difference.

The wheel maggy wasn't arbitrary about the detailed evaluations. Factors included:
  • "Cycling-friendly" statistics (numbers of bike lanes and routes, number of bike racks, city bike projects completed and planned).
  • Bike culture (number of bike commuters, popular clubs, cool cycling events, renowned bike shops).
  • Climate/geography (the quality of roads and trails for riding, and how frequently mother nature lets riders enjoy them).
Bicycling "also surveyed experts at national bicycle groups such as the League of American Bicyclists, the Thunderhead Alliance and the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), while also polling more than 600 Bicycling readers."

For the local angle, the Globe's "Starts & Stops" column called Madden (second item). Remember, he's from Dot and knew the city's short-timer bicycle princeling. (The latter was a very underpaid, very part-time, overly timid advocate, whose position disappeared. The city laughingly called him the bike czar and gave him no power. This further shows that Da Mare doesn't get cycling and traffic and pollution and livable cities.)

The writer, Mac Daniel, of course has a touch of The Provincial Disease that spreads among newspaper sorts in Boston. He implies that consideration of "climate and geography...probably killed us." Written like a round-bottomed, PS2-playing, junk-food eating, cable-TV watching, SUV driving rube!

Note for one that the top cities (subranked in the survey by population) include the likes of Madison, Boulder, Denver, New York City, Chicago and Ann Arbor. By Daniels' logic, they all should be down with us and the other bike dunces.

On the call, he heard from Madden, ''I know that there's a really strong cycling community in Boston...The City of Boston, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the state don't make it easy for you. They make it hard for you."

Mr. Bicycling would like to see us laggards catch up. He has a fond hope particularly for Beantown. As he put it, "The Red Sox won the World Series, so anything can happen," he said.

Well that anything is not only possible. It is inexpensive and easy, so long as Tom Menino, the City Councilors, and our police chief let the water drain out of their ears.

More on this shortly.

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