Brookline Backs Bike Lane Expansions

Map courtesy of the Brookline Bicycle Advisory Committee.

By Marisa Benjamin
Boston University New Service

BROOKLINE— Following several bike accidents in the Boston area, the five-person Brookline Bicycle Advisory Committee has announced a plan to expand bike lanes on Beacon Street and encourage new methods to educate riders on proper bicycle safety.

The 5 members of the Committee met on Oct. 1 at the quaint Devotion School library in Coolidge Corner with helmets and reflector lights in hand. Just days before the meeting, the Boston University Police Department had ticketed over 150 cyclists for running a red light on the BU Bridge, one of the most dangerous intersections in Brookline. In September, motor vehicles hit and killed two cyclists, one in South Boston and one in Dorchester. In addition to these incidents, The City of Boston reports over 42 bicycle accidents this year along Beacon Street.

With Brookline’s bustling population of both young and old cyclists, “bike safety can’t be ignored anymore,” said committee chairwoman Cynthia Snow.

The committee’s goal for the 2013 fiscal year is to expand bike lanes from Coolidge Corner to Cleveland Circle along Beacon Street, while also widening the existing bike lanes.

Currently, bike lanes run from St. Mary’s Street to Coolidge Corner, but Snow said the lanes are too dangerous during rush hour, forcing cyclists to take alternative routes.

“Bikers must travel from Beacon Street to Coolidge Corner then to Harvard Street and Longwood Avenue in order to have a safe biking trip,” Snow said.

By widening the current bike lanes and creating new ones, the committee believes cyclists will have a safer and more convenient commute on Beacon Street.

In addition to the expansion of bike lanes, new methods of educating bicycle safety were introduced during the meeting.

The committee wants to replace the ineffective “share the road” signs with new signs that inform both motorists and bicyclists “bicycles allowed use of full lane.”

Snow also plans to write a weekly editorial on bike safety in The Brookline Tab.

Blogging, tweeting, emailing and setting up coffee tables along Beacon Street to chat with cyclists are just a few examples of how the committee has tried to inform cyclists about safety in the past.

“No matter what we do, there is always more we can do,” said Bill Schwartz, the group’s liaison to the town Transportation Board.

The committee plans to educate motorists as well. Most drivers feel an animosity toward cyclists because they don’t understand the laws either, said Schwartz.

To educate drivers, the committee plans to pass out fliers to traffic in Coolidge Corner on weekends that detail cyclists’ basic rights of the road.

While the committee is hopeful about its education initiative, seasoned cyclists admit there will always be bikers ignorant of the law.

“There will always be cyclists who don’t have any clue about the rules of the road, so they just go out and make everyone look bad,” said Erin Futrell, a Brookline resident who regularly bikes to her job in Kenmore Square.

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