Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wide road, but where are the bike lanes?

I don't visit Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington too often. My daily commute takes me a different route. However, I always wondered why this main street has been built so wide. Since I don't have a better picture, I will use Google Maps street view:
The truck in lower photo is a good reference scale. You can easily tell that Mass Ave is wide enough to be a high-speed expressway, not a busy street in a thickly-settled area. I assume that the Town of Arlington must be saving on paint since the width of this road is asking for painting two lanes in each direction yet what we get is a simple two-lane street. With lanes so wide that they could be runways for Cessnas. The result is predictable: most drivers treat this street as a four-lane street with some virtual lane lines. This situation is not limited to Arlington area. Neighboring towns (Lexington) didn't bother to paint designated traffic lanes either.

Biking in Heels blog reported that the Town of Arlington will be holding a meeting on January 10th (More about it soon) to discuss some ideas of connecting two loose ends of Minuteman Bikeway that has been separated by the always-busy intersection of Arlington Center (Mass Ave and Rt 60). Maybe this would be an opportunity to mention the lack of bike lanes along Mass Ave as well? The width of this street is ideal for designated bike lanes, with enough space for car parking and four lanes total. If we plan to redesign the main Arlington intersection why not to think about the rest of the main street at the same time? Especially, that Mass Ave could be an ideal bike way for many citizens with its multiple businesses along and straight-route connections to Cambridge and Lexington.

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