Monday, November 7, 2011

Will Temple Street Get Bike Lanes?

Resident Question: Why did the repaving of Temple Street not get bike lanes even though it is plenty wide enough and your own maps show it as recommended?

Answer: The City is currently working on striping for Temple Street. Although Temple is, unfortunately, not consistently wide enough for bike lanes, it is wide enough for sharrows. So the street will be marked with a sharrows symbol  (shown on the left) to indicate that cars and bikes share the road. Temple will also feature a wider than usual shoulder to allow more room for bikes. P.S. You also asked about Broadway and we'll have an answer early next week whent the person who has the answer is available.


  1. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but sharrows are worse than useless. They are not legally binding, they cost taxpayer money and they merely add to the litter of warning and admonishments that people are trained to ignore.

    look at most major intersections, there are dozens of signs a human being is supposed to read, digest and react to - while safely piloting their large SUV...we just tune them out. More sharrows simply mean more money for the people who supply the paint. I doubt any of our citizens (much less those not natively familiar with our culture) can tell you what they actually mean. It basically amounts to useless brow beating (and is actually distracting when scanning for kids, stray pets , broken glass, etc that tend to appear on our congested streets)

    ps - bike lanes are barely better. they create multiple colliding, conflicting, traffic directives with nobody sure who has the right of way (except everyone assume they have it). I'd wager it causes more accidents than it prevents. But I'm biased :)

  2. Thanks for commenting, Anonymous, it's always good to debate the value of these efforts. We checked with our Senior Transportation Planner and Bicycle Liason, Sarah Spicer, and here's her take:

    There are many studies indicating safety benefits of both sharrows and bike lanes. I would be happy to provide more detailed statistics, but to address these comments more generally:

    1) Sharrows: Sharrows are a reminder that legally autos must share the road with bikes and are a more visible reminder than streetside signs. They are also a reminder to slow down. Sharing the road is enforceable by law as cited in M.G.L. ch. 85, Sec 11B.

    2) Lanes: similarly, bike lanes are to be treated the same as any other traffic lane space, and therefore blocking it or merging into it unsafely and without yielding to cyclists is in violation of law, as cited in , M.G.L. ch 90 sec. 14, etc. In general, clearly demarcating lanes increases safety significantly, as backed by several studies, including research by the Federal Highway Administration, (“Safety Effectiveness of Highway Design Features,” Volume VI, Pedestrians and Bicyclists, FHWA-RD-91-049, 1991.)

    3) Right of way: drivers must yield to cyclists, as outlined in M.G.L. Ch 90 Sec 14, “In approaching or passing a person on a bicycle the operator of a motor vehicle shall … pass at a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.”

    So, both road markings and right of way procedures relating to cyclists are backed by law and should be standard knowledge to drivers.


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