Cycling advocates will get a chance to speak to city officials about bike infrastructure on Commonwealth Avenue, where many of the city’s bicycle accidents occur.
As the city prepares for a major overhaul of the thoroughfare, activists have been pushing for the inclusion of more safeguards for cyclists, including a cycle track that would place a physical barrier between cars and a bike lane.
On Dec. 9, Boston’s interim transportation commissioner, James E. Gillooly, will attend a public meeting hosted by BU Bikes, a student group at Boston University, and the Boston Cyclists Union. The groups expect hundreds to pack the Jacob Sleeper Auditorium at 871 Commonwealth Ave. from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 9.
The city plans to hold its own public hearing on the Commonwealth Avenue project in January, according to Gillooly. He said he hopes the design for the project will be finalized soon after the meeting and construction completed by the fall of 2017.
In the past, city officials have said the need to accommodate buses and create more space for the Green Line would make it difficult to include a cycle track in the overhaul project. But Gillooly said transportation officials are now considering four designs for the street that would improve biking infrastructure, including one design with a buffered bike lane and three other plans that include a cycle track.
Gillooly stressed that officials must consider the needs of pedestrians, drivers, and those who use the Green Line.
“The administration wants to do the best that we can,” he said. “It is a combination of trying to keep up with the advanced thinking about bicycling accommodations while we’re respectful of other modes.”
The section of Commonwealth slated for refurbishment is a difficult and dangerous thoroughfare to navigate by bike. In 2012, Christopher Weigl, a Boston University graduate student, was killed at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Paul Street after being struck by a tractor-trailer.
David Miller, the 20-year-old president of BU Bikes who helped set up the meeting, said he experiences the stress of cycling on the street daily. “It’s just a much busier road and it’s just not a good design,” said Miller.
Pete Stidman, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union, said the changes to Commonwealth Avenue could be a defining moment for the Walsh administration.
“Everyone is looking to this project to see if he’s going to protect cyclists or leave them out in the cold,” Stidman said.
Free parking for the holiday
The city of Boston is offering visitors a gift this holiday season: free parking.
As in previous years, the Department of Transportation is offering two hours of free parking on Saturdays through the holiday season: Dec. 6, Dec. 13, and Dec. 20.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh said it is a way to welcome people to the city. Gillooly said he was pleased to give visitors an incentive to drive in the city.
“It’s another reason for people to think about the businesses downtown when they’re entering the holiday season,” said Gilooly.
The city has about 8,000 parking meters, which are free on Sundays and some holidays.