Auto-first argument is a road to ruin
I write to express my profound disagreement with Jeff Jacoby’s “Is the bike-lane fever breaking?” (Opinion, Jan. 9). There are two fundamental problems with his anti-bike column. First, there is what I would call the “no one bikes, so no one should ever bike” fallacy, which results from decades of auto-first planning and engineering in our city — an approach that a few years of disconnected pilot projects for cycling have only begun to reverse. By this logic, no bridge should ever be built, and we should never make our streets safer for modes other than vehicles.
Second, and more important, is the horrendously limiting concept that in a city like Boston, made eminently compact and walkable by its pre-auto-age use patterns, our streets should be given over entirely to fast-moving motor vehicles. These streets then become little more than car sewers serving the mode that uses space with the least efficiency and the most environmental and social impact. Anyone concerned about our planet, public health, and the livability of our city should utterly reject this line of thinking.
Clinging to a reliance on motor vehicles for virtually every trip — effectively the end result of Jacoby’s argument — is a road to ruin that no one should be forced onto.
Bikes are a solution, not a problem
Jeff Jacoby writes that bicycles are “nimble, healthful, nonpolluting, cheap” — and that they don’t belong on city streets. Say what?
Boston’s core transportation problem isn’t bikes or bike lanes; it’s that we’ve stuffed our streets with too many cars, many of them super-sized SUVs. According to a recent study, the number of household vehicles in Boston jumped 15 percent between 2012 and 2017. More cars inevitably means more congestion, pollution, and danger on the streets. Bikes, along with transit and walking, are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The writer is associate director and senior policy analyst at Frontier Group, a public policy think tank.
Bike lanes impose hardship and risk on countless fellow travelers
I was struck by the venomous comments posted online in response to Jeff Jacoby’s column “Is the bike-lane fever breaking?” None seemed to address the argument. It is unconscionable to restrict the movement of hundreds of thousands of car users in the name of making life more convenient for a few hundred bicyclists.
Let me use the street where I live as an example. On Beacon Street in Boston, the city installed a protected bike lane, reducing the number of lanes available for traffic from three to two. The result is, in fact, a single lane meandering between Uber, Lyft, and taxi drivers; UPS, FedEx, and moving vans; and various contractors’ trucks blocking the lanes on either side. And this is without a flake of snow.
The arrangement also increases risks for motorists, whose view of cross traffic is blocked by parked cars, and for bicyclists, who are not seen by right-turning vehicles and are exposed to a hit by an open door of a disembarking passenger.
Not to be outdone, the City of Cambridge installed bike lanes and bus lanes on a stretch of Mass. Ave. near MIT, creating a single auto lane in each direction. The results are not only stop-and-go traffic on Mass. Ave. but stand-still traffic on the Harvard Bridge every morning, resulting in increased emissions of pollutants.
I understand the joys of bicycling, but imposing hardship and risks on countless fellow travelers while degrading the environment? Really?
The writer is a professor of engineering systems at MIT, where he is director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics.
Imagine there’s no vehicle traffic
Jeff Jacoby observes that in the Netherlands, where lots of people ride bikes, two-thirds of the serious accidents happen to bicycle riders. Just think: If no one drove, then all of the accidents would happen to bicycle riders. So this shows . . . what?
Just the inspiration he needed
On Wednesday morning, as clouds gathered above and the wind picked up, I wondered whether I should drive my car or ride my bike to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. Then I read Jeff Jacoby’s “Is the bike-lane fever breaking?” and the choice was clear. Get on that bike and have an enjoyable and healthy ride to the doctor’s office.