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Letter to the Editor: Main Street bike lane defies logic

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Letter to Editor

An excellent report [from the Dec. 13 issue] on the Main Street “bike lanes”; it’s a matter close to my heart. Thank you for your continued interest and reporting on this project.

I read the bike lane was “fully vetted by MassDOT.” I am getting older and more forgetful; I am curious, was that the very same MassDOT that approved the designed width of Main Street, a portion of which had to later be reconstructed to widen it a few feet for some reason …

And said bike lane was “designed by a VHB bicycle specialist.” Heaven help me, but I am still curious, might VHB have passing familiarity with the Massachusetts Planning and Design Guide? Where in Section 4.2.2, starting on page 58:

Raised crossings are an effective strategy for reducing crashes between motorists and bicyclists … increase yielding behavior of motorists. Raised crossings should be considered for separated bike lane crossings. … Examples where this treatment may be particularly beneficial are at the following types of crossings:

• Collector and local street crossings;

• Crossings of driveways and alleys.

Raised crossings should have the following design:

• They should be elevated 4-6 inches above the street.

• Motor vehicle approach ramps should be sloped as follows:

Streets: 5-8 percent slope;

Driveways and alleys: 5-15 percent slope.

While we have raised, separated bike lanes, rather than remaining raised at the 19 driveway crossings as is suggested in the above referenced Massachusetts Planning and Design Guide, ours drop to the driveway level. Why do we not have raised crossings as suggested in the Massachusetts Planning and Design Guide? Further, that guide has this to say about the driveway crossings that we feature in our “bike lane” wherein the bike lane drops to the driveway level:

Too many transition ramps [in a bike lane] in close proximity can result in an uncomfortable bicycling environment.

There are 38 transition ramps over the approximately half-mile length of the bike lane. I am sure that will be a pleasant feature.

My mother’s likely comment, “If this were played upon the stage now, I would condemn it as an improbable fiction.”

— Ed Harrow, Hopkinton

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