Use of e-bikes and scooters will keep growing, so space needs to be made
In her recent front-page article, Beth Teitell discussed challenges with the growing micromobility options, including electric bikes and scooters (“Out of my way, pedestrian — it’s a vicious cycle,” Page A1, Nov. 8). Officials and advocates interviewed said better education (I advise using a bell and passing on the left), infrastructure, and personal responsibility are needed.
Consider infrastructure. Boston’s well-used Southwest Corridor bike path, innovative when it was built in the 1980s, is too narrow by today’s standards and needs. Its 9-foot width causes friction between pedal bikes and faster e-bikes and scooters. The adjacent Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street could be adapted to accommodate faster micromobility devices, but the City of Boston is moving ahead with a plan to narrow the street with center bus lanes, eliminating the possibility of creating safe space for high-speed bikes and scooters.
Statements calling for separate travel spaces for micromobility devices ignore physical realities. There is only so much space to accommodate the growing number and types of travel modes; saying each can have its own exclusive space is pie-in-the-sky thinking. The city should immediately start planning, designing, and adapting spaces for higher-speed micromobility devices — more are being introduced every year — and stop eliminating space on streets.
As for individual responsibility, whether walking, biking or motoring, follow these three Cs: Use courtesy, cooperate, and communicate.
The writer is the owner of Ferris Wheels Bike Shop.
To see a path ahead, look to the Netherlands
I was recently in The Hague, where they have solved mass transportation with a combination of excellent trains, frequent buses, and most important, separate lanes for cars, for bikes, and for pedestrians. Until we accept that Henry Ford’s and FDR’s model of individualized transportation is outdated, we will be stuck in limbo.
Maybe our esteemed officials need to spend a couple of days in the Netherlands to see how to get us out of this quagmire.
Online readers weigh in on the crowded roads and sidewalks
Beth Teitell’s story generated more than 220 comments on BostonGlobe.com. The following is an edited sampling:
Perhaps it’s time to try something truly novel, like actually repairing pavement. Not having to risk death by pothole might be a novel enough concept to keep at least some riders of two-wheel vehicles off the sidewalks. (OccasionalWriter)
Well, as someone who’s commuted to Boston for nearly 30 years via the train and had to walk around when I got there, the only thing that’s changed is that we’ve gone from bicycles and skateboards whipping through traffic and on to sidewalks and bullying pedestrians to now including more and varied devices for doing so. (MarieOnCape)
I see this behavior every day at Downtown Crossing. People zipping through on bikes and scooters without a care in the world. Same with the bike lane in front of Park Street Station. I think most of us are plenty aware of the danger of cars but I’ve added bikes and scooters to the list walking to work each day. (edsox15)
Bikes and scooters should be separated from cars, and both should be separated from pedestrian traffic. Even this can be problematic, though, because turning cars have to cross the bike lanes, and in these situations it can be very difficult for cars (and trucks especially) to see the bikes. (Sigmund-Fraud)
We have been forced to watch car commercials endlessly showing cars whizzing along with nothing in their way. The sun shining, happy people everywhere, and it’s what we want and need when we are on the road. So we just climb into that commercial and ignore all in our path. (dewitt clinton)
It’s silly to talk about the legal status of motor scooters, because legal status means nothing. As someone who lived and biked in Allston for 40 years, I have given up hope that there will ever be traffic enforcement in the Boston area. (Baboon2)
Cars are more dangerous than bicycles. We separated cars from pedestrians ages ago, and the solution here is obvious and boring: More bike lanes. Yes, sometimes that means taking back car lanes. I swear, we’ll do anything except risk bothering car drivers! (Andrew Martens)
We can’t sell a car-less future and not provide the corresponding infrastructure. If we change the incentives (safer, faster trips on bike), the riders will come in droves. (keyrock)