Hundreds of short car trips, which produce the most damaging exhaust emissions, could be replaced by bike trips. The trouble is, they aren’t. Why not? Newton is a small, quiet city, often cited as one of the safest cities in America. And yet when Lois Levin, the founder of Bike Newton, started asking friends and acquaintances why they didn’t bike more often, the answer, over and over, was “It isn’t safe.” That’s why Bike Newton came about: to make bicycling safe and convenient for all types of riders: young and old, male and female, timid and risk-prone. Many U.S. cities are moving forward in the effort to improve bicycling safety. Take a look at this video about what they’re borrowing from the Netherlands to make that happen.
Create Central Bikeways, especially north-south routes, as recommended in the Newton Bicycle Network Plan. Strategically located bikeways would link together all of Newton’s villages and make biking much safer for doing errands, commuting, and recreation. These routes should have either painted bike lanes or sharrows (vehicle lane with bike markings on pavement to indicate shared space). Create and provide maps showing safe bike routes in Newton.
Create bicycle connectivity among the city’s major destinations: T stations, schools, libraries, business districts, the Charles River Bike Path, parks, and bordering communities. This can be accomplished with proven, inexpensive well-marked bike lanes on all major roads, in accordance with state law.
Yell for help
Establish a mechanism for reporting and rapidly repairing safety hazards (potholes, sunken storm drains, gravel, sand, broken pavement, tree limbs) that put bicyclists at risk.
Appoint a Bicycle Coordinator to facilitate communication among city agencies and with state agencies, bicycle groups and neighboring communities to coordinate and increase bicycling for transportation.
Greatly increase the number of free and privately-sponsored, conveniently-located bike racks and bike cages, and add secure bike parking areas in parking lots. Encourage and provide valet bicycle parking for events.
Educate all citizens about the bicycle safety law, about the mutual responsibilities of motorists and bicyclists, and best practices. Encourage safest routes for bicyclists. Institute road closings on weekends.
Use proven signage and road markings, and other traffic-calming interventions such as raised crosswalks and roundabouts, to enable bicycles and motor vehicles to share roadways safely. Lobby for a safer city-wide speed limit.