A Battle Over Bike Lanes in East Boston

'We are asking for all bicycle lanes to be removed.'

On the same day Boston Mayor Marty Walsh reaffirmed the city’s commitment to designing city streets to accommodate bikes and cars, a Change.org petition to remove bike lanes in East Boston started making its way around Boston’s tiny corner of the Internet.

The strongly worded petition named “Safer Streets in East Boston, MA” calls for the elimination of all bike lanes in East Boston. Of course, it reads like an internet commenter wrote it:

We, the citizens and residents of East Boston are asking our politicians and lawmakers to improve the safety of our streets.  We are asking for all bicycle lanes to be removed, especially on the most narrow and busiest streets, i.e. Route 145, (aka Bennington St.), These lanes were slapped down anywhere and everywhere giving bicyclists a false sense of ownership,  safety and protection.  We have the Bremen Street Greenway which offers off street bicycle lanes to travel from one end of East Boston to the other.

The ranty petition, authored by East Boston resident Veronica Shaponick, was directed at past and present East Boston officials like East Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina.

Shaponick encouraged them to not “waste time on traffic studies” before removing the bike lanes because reviewing major infrastructure decisions is stupid and a sign of weakness. Real decision makers don’t think, THEY LEAD!

We live here and we voted for you to be our voice and remember, elections come every few years.  We WILL remember who stood up for us and got it done!!!!  We need a voice but most importantly, we need ACTION and WE NEED IT NOW!!!!

LaMattina and Shaponick did not respond to separate requests for comment. At press time, Shaponick’s petition had received 33 signatures.

A pro-bike petition by Jon Ramos of Boston challenging Shaponick’s went live on Change.org not long after her insane anti-bike petition started making the rounds.

There is a Change.org petition circulating for the REMOVAL OF BIKE LANES in East Boston.  This misguided petition claims that the bike lanes & sharrows contribute to the unsafe nature of roads, when in fact the opposite is true.  The petition’s author claims that cars & motorcycles regularly race down the narrow streets of East Boston, and that someone is going to get hurt if these bike lanes are not removed.  This statement blames & punishes cyclists for the poor behavior of other road users, which is unfair & unjust.

More than 200 people signed the bilingual pro-bike petition in less than 24 hours.

Bike lanes and bike safety have been under fire in Boston since the high-profile death of a surgeon in Back Bay this summer. Some, like the petitioner, have called for the removal of bikes from the city’s streets instead of actually making things safer for everybody.

Instead of ceding East Boston streets to cars like Shaponick wants, the city should implement its complete streets plans on major thoroughfares where there is enough space to accommodate all modes of transportation.

Studies show that redesigning streets so they are truly multi-modal not only makes life safer for pedestrians and cyclists, but improves traffic flow for drivers. We will all be better off if Boston builds to accommodate every mode of transportation, not just one.