History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Urban Amenities: Access to Abundant Mass Transit

Fort Hill is blessed with an abundance of mass transit options.

Within easy walking distance are 21 bus lines and 1 rapid transit line. By a rough count there are over 40 bus stops along the Fort Hill roads of Centre, Dudley, Roxbury, Columbus, and Washington streets, plus Malcolm X Blvd, not to mention the 2 rapid transit stations of Roxbury Crossing and Jackson Square, and the bus depot at Dudley Square.

If one is physically able, there is no absolute need to own a car on Fort Hill just for food shopping.

There are two Stop&Shop supermarkets within walking distance, or easy busing distance, at Brigham Circle and on the fringe of Jamaica Plain.

Tropical Foods is located on Washington Street just in-bound from Dudley.

In addition, there are three corner markets on Fort Hill (Juba and Marcella market, and Fernandez III, detailed in these two earlier posts).

If one can stomach riding the Fraudulent Silver Line, then Chinatown beckons. The closest store is Ming's Market (not sure what it is called now) at Washington and East Berkley streets.

Future posts will list the Fort Hill mass transit options in more detail.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sharing the Sidewalk with Toddlers

Anonymous called me a name in the comment (to this post) that have I just deleted, not a particularly bad name, but certainly unnecessary to get his point across. The rest of his post was this:

"And if you were hit by a bike while walking in the middle of the bike path, it would be the righteous bike rider's fault, right?"

Which misses the point completely, because I'm actually on the side of rational transportation policy, presumably his side. After all I was sufficiently interested in promoting bicycling to stand there and count them rather than reading a book until my late bus came.

I have been a devoted bicylist—for years. I have consistently commuted in 3°F weather. I have been doored more than once. I have been smashed up onto the hood of a left-turning automobile (whose driver I called a much worse name, you can be sure). I've twisted my front wheel and fork in trolley tracks. I can repack my bearing races and restring a wheel. I'm just not bicycling now.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit users are all getting the transportation shaft. Too much of the infrastructure is devoted to a losing game—personal automobiles powered with petroleum products.

The fact that I find I have to disdain a marked pedestrian way in preference to a marked cycling way and the fact that an imprudent bicyclist may ride too fast and collide with me have less to do with where we walk and ride than it condemns the social choices we collectively have made concerning allocation of resources among the various transportation modes.

Forgive me for reposting this picture (from the previous post) which shows the sign directing pedestrians to walk on smooth concrete in a straight line adjacent to six lanes of traffic, and directing bicycles to bumpy macadam in an inefficient undulating path. Forget the lack of appropriateness of each path to the intended users.

Rather focus on the small group of children, toddlers, actually, and their chaperons to the left of the photograph. I wanted to take a better picture of them, but I did not want to agitate the adults by being a stranger photographing their young charges.

Every day, when the weather is clement, approximately two dozen toddlers take a very slow walk along this segment of the Southwest Corridor Park. Sometimes they are pulled along in a wagon, sometimes they walk together holding onto a rope, as a way to keep them safe and well-marshaled.

It is a perfectly natural activity, something we all would applaud. They obviously do not belong on the designated pedestrian sidewalk next to the Columbus Avenue traffic sewer. They obviously belong on the safe way, among the trees and birds. They ought to walk at their accustomed pace, only being careful to keep together and keep on the path.

It ought not be necessary for them to keep to the right, heed bicycle bells, listen for shouts of "ON THE LEFT," or have any awareness of their surroundings.

It is incumbent upon all walkers, wheeled persons (inline skaters, skaterboarders, unicyclists, bicyclists, and everybody) to slow to an appropriate speed, to the point of dismounting if necessary, to ensure these children can enjoy their morning walk without danger.

This is not an optimal situation. Two to three lanes of Columbus Avenue ought to be devoted to human-powered transportation. Those lanes ought to be full to the brim with humans powering their own transportation. The children and other pedestrians ought to be able to enjoy their walkways unmolested.

This is not yet the state of affairs. And, until it is, we have to share the road.

A final note. Adam Gaffin, in his business at UniversalHub, may have to tolerate name-calling in the comments on his site, but I do not. I'm interested in what folk have to say, but I will delete without fail comments that are not polite.

Rush Hour Bicycle Census at Columbus & Cedar

While waiting 22-1/2 minutes on a weekday evening for a #22 bus at the outbound Columbus Avenue and Cedar Street stop, I did an informal bicycle census. [NB: maps.google has the outbound bus stop south of Cedar Street, when it is actually located north by about ten yards.]

I shouldn't have been waiting for that long. I should have had only a four minute wait, but I wound up waiting five times that long. I arrived at the bus stop at 5:18 pm. The next two scheduled buses (5:22 pm & 5:31 pm) did not run. As I waited for the outbound #22, four inbound #22s passed by. When I finally got picked up at 5:40 pm, two #22s were headed outbound in tandem.

So, making lemonade out of MBTA lemons, in the 22-1/2 minutes, I counted the following:
  • 103 bicycles traveling (outbound & inbound) on the Southwest Corridor bike path
  • 1 bicycle traveling outbound in the Columbus Avenue travel lanes
  • 1 recumbent bicycle
  • a mother-daughter pair (two bicycles), the helmeted ten-year-old with pretty pink streamers on her handlebar ends
  • a handful of fixed-wheeled bicycles, but the vast majority of the cyclists looked like every day Joes and Janes riding home after work or school.
About 20% of the bicycle traffic was traveling inbound, the other 80% was headed outbound.

In addition, there were:
  • 2 outbound scooters
  • about 15 pedestrians, equally mixed between inbound and outbound
Of the pedestrians about half were walking on the path marked for bicycles and the other half the sidewalk marked for pedestrians. Were I to regularly walk this route, I too, would be on the bicycle path, for it is farther away from the smelly traffic sewer of Columbus Avenue. I'm sure that would be inconvenient for the righteous bicycle commuters, but I'd still chose to walk as far away from the motorized vehicular traffic as I could.

I'm surprised that there is that much bicycle traffic. I'd noticed that the bicycle traffic in the SW Corridor was much greater than in previous years, but I never expected to count that many bicycles, even at rush hour.