Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

adult toys, movies  & more

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

Spinning their wheels (continued)

AN INCREASING number of cities — Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, and Philadelphia — have a dedicated cycling planner on the city payroll; many have an entire staff. San Francisco has a five-person bicycle program in its Department of Parking and Traffic. "It’s really too much for one person to do," says Mia Birk, a principal with Alta Planning and Design in Portland, Oregon, and former bicycle-program manager for that city — which, in 2001, was named best bicycle city in North America by Bicycling magazine. "You want that person to review all of the plans on all of the projects, so you have to be on all of the committees." That doesn’t leave time for advocacy work that is equally important, she says.

Boston, by contrast, currently has no one working on cycling policy. The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) hired Paul Schimek as its first bicycle-program manager — or "bike czar" — in August 2001, and tasked him with "ongoing bicycle-transportation planning." But Schimek was laid off in July 2003, because of budget cuts, says Gupta. "We’ve distributed the responsibilities."

Schimek, who now works at the Boston Foundation, believes that he had little or no support from the city even when he had the job. "It was hard just to find out what was happening — just to get into meetings, let alone get an agenda across," he says. Nor were his responsibilities devoted exclusively to cycling; he had additional transportation-planning duties. In fact, the BTD confirms, Schimek’s job description didn’t even mention bicycling. And he was also never given a budget line item dedicated to cycling promotion. "He had to work to get bikes included in plans in any way," says Doug Mink, MassBike member and former member of the Boston Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Mink points to a few Schimek victories: the stop lines for cars along the Southwest Corridor trail were too close to intersections, endangering bicyclists crossing those streets; Schimek convinced the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) — formerly the Metropolitan District Commission and Department of Environmental Management, which merged last year — to repaint the lines. He also got approximately 250 bike racks installed all around the city, including a procession of them along Mass Ave that fills up daily. "These weren’t here last year, and I’d have to find my secret spots," says a grateful Gideon Blumenthal, locking up his Specialized Hardrock on his way into class at the Berklee College of Music. "I don’t know who put them in, but thank them for me."

But Schimek wanted to work bicycle consciousness into the planning and design processes at the BTD — and at the DCR, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Department of Public Works, and other agencies — and never accomplished the goal, he admits. Ideally, these agencies would systematically consider bicycle needs whenever a road is redesigned, repaved, or even repainted. With Schimek gone, we’ll see whether that happens during the upcoming redesign of Centre Street, in West Roxbury, and of Huntington Avenue — the way it regularly does across the Charles, in Cambridge, where transportation-program manager Cara Seiderman has a $25,000 annual budget and, she says, great support from other agencies. Seiderman also has support from city manager Robert W. Healey, "who made it clear that we have an obligation as a city to accommodate bicyclists," she says. "The departments might disagree on the details, but we are on the same page as far as the goal."

Seiderman’s small budget goes to things like trail maps, bike racks, and promotional materials. But most of what happens doesn’t need a budget. "It’s piggybacking onto other projects," Seiderman says. It doesn’t necessarily cost much more to design a road in a bike-friendly way — in Cambridge, it often means creating bike lanes, but it can also mean painting stop lines for cars far enough back from intersections to allow room for bicycles to cross, or making sure that the outside lanes, where cyclists ride, are free of grates and other impediments. But if nobody’s watching out for cycling interests during the planning and design stages, engineers all too often default to automobile considerations, ignoring those of bicycles.

Of course, money helps. Charlotte, North Carolina, passed a $2 million public-transportation bond in 2000 to fund its bicycle program. City officials have spent the money implementing a city bicycle plan drawn up five years ago. Before then, "most transportation planning did not take bicycles into account," says Kenneth Tippette, the city’s bicycle-program manager. Today, Charlotte has 14 miles of marked bicycle lanes; all new roadway projects include bicycle accommodation during the initial design, Tippette says. All the city’s buses have bike racks. A local advertising firm has created — pro bono — a campaign planned to run this summer that will include "strategically placed bicycles around the city with signs on them: ‘This vehicle runs on alternative fuel — doughnuts,’ and other slogans," Tippette says. It also helps that Charlotte mayor Patrick McCrory is a cyclist — he is scheduled to lead a morning Bike to Breakfast event this Thursday as part of a 10-day promotion called Bike! Charlotte 2004.

page 2  page 3 

Issue Date: May 7 - 13, 2004
Back to the News & Features table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group