The City Wants to Put Bicycle Tracks Around the Public Garden

There is a meeting on September 18 to talk about the need for them.

The city wants to install two-way cycle tracks around the Public Garden, and they want to know what residents think about the idea.

On September 18, a city-sponsored public hearing will be held at the Firehouse at 127 Mount Vernon St. in Beacon Hill to weigh the pros and cons of placing the tracks in the middle of the city around one of the more popular destinations.

Here’s an explanation from Boston Bikes, part of Mayor Tom Menino’s grand vision to transform the city into a bicycling hub:

Cycle tracks are sections of road designated for exclusive use by cyclists, physically protected from motor vehicle traffic. The cycle tracks will be at street grade, separate from the sidewalk, and marked with paint or thermoplastic. Parked cars and/or flexible bollards will separate cyclists from the moving vehicles.

City officials say installing more cycle tracks in Boston are “a key component” of the recently proposed Bike Network Plan, which seeks to “provide safe, protected routes throughout the city, encouraging all residents to bicycle.”

The proposed tracks, once installed, would provide a path-like facility connecting the Charles River Path to existing and proposed on-street facilities. “The existing one-way street pattern requires bicyclists to ride significantly out of their way, against traffic, or on the sidewalk to make important connections,” according to officials from Boston Bikes.  The tracks, if put in place, will be on Arlington Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street, and Boylston Street. The city said there would be some traffic impacts, which will be discussed at further length at the public hearing on September 18.

So far, the suggestion has been met with some positive reactions. “This would be very welcome, especially in light of the restrictions on bicycle-riding in Boston Common that have recently been emphasized with the stenciling of no-biking symbols at all the entrances,” one person wrote on the Bike Boston website, where the announcement about the plan was made.

An example of some cycle tracks already in place are the tracks that stretch down Western Avenue, heading into Allston from the Cambridge side of the Charles River.

On August 20, city officials met to discuss the prospect of placing similar cycle tracks on East and West Broadway. A quarter-of-a-mile track is also slated for a section of Dorchester, stretching from University Drive to Columbia Point. Work on that track is scheduled to begin this fall.

The city has been putting a lot of emphasis on bike safety. The stretch of bike lanes along Commonwealth Avenue, near Boston University, were recently painted bright green to help drivers better identify the boundaries between lanes for vehicles, and those for cyclists.

On Thursday, Boston Police officers were handing out free helmets—and stopping cyclists to talk about bike safety rules and regulations—along the same stretch of road, something they try to do regularly, especially when students return each semester.