Monday, April 15, 2013

River/Western ENF: MassDOT Correct on Governor’s Highway, Wrong on bike paths.

I have submitted the following Environmental Notification Form Comments this morning April 15, 2013.

These comments concern the next two bridges to the west across the Charles River after the BU Bridge in Cambridge / Boston, MA, USA. Secret maneuvers by Massachusetts Governor Patrick in an attempt to sneak through irresponsible construction has expanded the need for discussion in this matter.

There is still one day left to submit comments to these two addressees. Those comments are due not later than April 16, 2013.

Comments on the Governor's proposal to the legislature and the Governor should not be delayed any more than necessary.

Legislators email addresses are posted at:


Secretary Richard Sullivan
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
ATTN: Deirdre Buckley, EEA No. 15029
100 Cambridge Street, Suit 900
Boston, MA 02114


MassDOT, Highway Division
Environmental Services
ATTN: Beth Suedmeyer
10 Park Plaza, Room 4260
Boston, MA 0116-3973

RE: River Street and Western Avenue Bridges Rehabilitation Project, EEA No. 15029

1. Introductory.
2. Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations along the Charles River in the North - South direction.
3. Restricting bicycle traffic to the sidewalks (I refuse to use the nonsensical term, cycle tracks. That is the corresponding term in the document, however.)
4. Conclusion.

1. Introductory.

I have two aspects of the project which are of concern to me:

● Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations along the Charles River in the North - South direction.

● Restricting bicycle traffic to the sidewalks (I refuse to use the nonsensical term, cycle tracks. That is the corresponding term in the document, however.)

I have been involved in environmental protection activities in and near the City of Cambridge for 35 years.

During that period, using zoning as a tool, I have achieved downzoning of a significant part of the City of Cambridge to make development more environmentally responsible. My efforts have achieved by far more successes in the zoning change field than have been achieved by any other individual not employed by the City of Cambridge. In contrast to the City of Cambridge written initiatives, my achievements have always achieved what I said I was doing.

I have been an active bicycle commuter traveling, among other things from my then residences in Cambridge to Boston University, the State House, and Waltham. My commutes have been in all normal forms of weather including the normals extremes of the New England winter. I strongly support integrating bicycles into our traffic patterns so that they are a meaningful and responsible part of the traffic mix and thus are a responsible part of minimizing pollution in our world.

I am a law abiding bicyclist.

When I was in Law School, the then Governor’s Office attributed to me a very striking achievement with regard to a piece of bicycle control legislation which was well meaning but defective. In a period of a week, that legislation went from approval by both houses of the legislature without a negative comment to a veto at the request of the author. I was never visible. I just organized and directed bicycle activists so as to make their efforts effective. WBZ devoted a portion of their evening talk show during the national convention to the very striking and sudden death of this legislation.

2. Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations along the Charles River in the North - South direction.

I am highly distressed at the pressure apparently coming from the Governor’s Office on this matter.

I have seen reports that the Governor has sought bond authorization for alternatives which would go under or through the bridges. The euphemism is “underpasses.”

The environmental destruction minimal in the “underpasses” is obvious. What is less obvious appears to be included in a Governor’s Bond Authorization request. He is reported to be seeking TWELVE TIMES the money for the association bicycle highway proposal.

That proposal multiplies the obvious environmental destruction by destruction of animal habitat, wetlands, the Charles River and hundreds of trees between the BU Bridge and the Longfellow Bridge.

The DCR has previously sought Obama moneys for the destruction lying of these tree trees the governor now seeks to destroy. The DCR lied that the trees being targeted were “only” diseased trees. I understand that the documentation filed by the DCR with the Cambridge Conservation Commission proves the “diseased” claim to be a flat out lie. All diseased trees in the area were destroyed years earlier.

The animal habitat destruction is an implementation of the DCR’s secret definition of “parkland,” no resident animals need apply.

The DCR public position concerning the most visible victims, the irreplaceable and valuable 32 year resident gaggle of the Charles River White Geese has been non stop promises of “no intent to harm.”

These hypocritical promises have been combined with deliberate starvation and other forms of whatever heartless animal abuse the DCR and its friends can slip into individual projects. The long time mile long habitat of the Charles River White Geese was centered on the BU Bridge with feeding and home at the Magazine Beach playing fields. It has been converted to confinement in their Nesting Area east of the BU Bridge with accelerating harm inflicted on them there. Harm includes but is not limited to this east-west highway and a north-south highway being pushed for the Grand Junction railway with fencing splitting their habitat even further.

Rejection by MassDOT of this outrageously destructive proposal is commendable.

3. Restricting bicycle traffic to the sidewalks (I refuse to use the nonsensical term, cycle tracks. That is the corresponding term in the document, however.)

My bicycle commute from Cambridge to Waltham would have been made severely more difficult if I had been confined to sidewalks for the entire trip, to put it mildly.

The proposal translates into a flat out contempt for bicycle commuting glossed over with the lie of favoring it.

The advocates clearly do not have the slightest concern for bicycle commuting as part of the traffic mix. The advocates do not understand or do not want to understand they basics of responsibly operating a bicycle in traffic. The activities taken are consistent with deliberately destroying viable bicycle commuting efforts.

A bike path on the right makes sense with common sense individual modifications by the operator in special circumstances. The operator should function as a car would function in special circumstances while taking care to behave responsibly as he/she shares the road with larger vehicles.

The proposal rejects basic common sense in favor of confining bicycles to the sidewalks.

The drafters expect a bicyclist to make a left turn by crossing to the opposite side of the street, shifting the bicycles direction and waiting for a second red light to clear in the new direction before proceeding.

The responsible methods of making a left turn compare to the method properly used by a car with adjustments accordingly. The bicycle operator can operate as close to the midline of a two way street (left side of a one way street) as possible and turn into the comparable nearest part of the highway to which the operator is turning, and then carefully move back to the right side of the new highway. In specialized circumstances, it might make sense to be to the right of a mandatory left turn lane, and left of straight ahead traffic, thus going straight to the right hand side where the bike should be.

In a situation where cars are turning right, the bicyclist should observe the turn signals of a turning vehicle, and move to the left of the turning vehicle so as to be between straight ahead traffic and the turning traffic. The proposal would place bicyclists directly in the path of turning vehicles, a highly stupid maneuver.

4. Conclusion.

The MassDOT proposal is basically a responsible initiative in a world with a number of extremely irresponsible actors.

Returning the bicycle treatment to a considerate, well thought out treatment would remove the influence of those irresponsible actors.

The lead of MassDOT should be followed with regard to the governor’s irresponsible highway initiatives spinning off this proposal. Killing the outrages which the Governor is seeking in his bond bill is essential.