Kyra Anderson: Common sense

Published: 12/20/2021 3:32:52 PM
Modified: 12/20/2021 3:32:38 PM

Kenneth Albert, an engineer and planner with 30 years of experience in New Jersey, has an idea: to avoid accidents involving bikes, just ban them from downtown streets. His logic: If 60% of injuries from crashes involve bikes, the solution is to eliminate the planned bike lanes.

Gee, this logic could solve many problems. If 100% of crashes involve cars, why not just eliminate the planned motor vehicle lanes?

Mr. Albert’s plan wouldn’t work in Massachusetts where bicyclists “have the right to use all public ways” (MGL 85, Section 11B). There’s an exception for limited access or express state highways.

Maybe that’s what Mr. Albert has in mind. But in Massachusetts we actually have a law that prohibits motor vehicles from parking or standing on an on-street bike lane (MGL 89, Section 4D).

So, if we designate all of Main Street as a bike lane, we can exclude motor vehicles. It would be more convenient and much safer for all the pedestrians and cyclists if the car drivers had to park their cars, and then walk to their downtown destination.

Mr. Albert would make the cyclists lock up their bikes and walk from the edge of town, like pariahs. I have a better idea: create a place right in the middle of downtown where drivers could leave their cars. We could even put in an elevator and a skybridge from this multi-level “parking structure” that would lead directly into Thornes Marketplace with access to Main Street — all at street level.

Wait. We already have this very thing: Northampton’s parking garage. It’s barely ever full, conveniently located, protects us from the elements, and provides the first hour of parking for free. Let’s use it, and our common sense.

Kyra Anderson

Northampton


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