Posts Tagged ‘ Boston Bikes ’

As you may have noticed…

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Or not…

This blog has fallen a bit by the wayside in the last couple months. This is not because I’ve been low on complaints about the cycling situation in Boston – far from it. Rather, I am feeling a bit jaded about the struggle to instigate change in a city that is so woefully politically and capitalistically corrupt and totally devoid of compassion. Despite the grandiose claims by Tom Menino, Nicole Freedman, Richard Davey, none of the issues plaguing the city when I began my own campaign for change have been solved, or indeed described any measurable improvement. The MBTA is still totally unaccountable for it’s unlawful transgressions and terrible service. Motorists are as abusive and neglectful as ever to the cycling community. Public servants continue to treat cyclists as second class citizens, and people keep getting hit and menaced with no hope of justice from our fundamentally flawed legal system.

True; there are many new bike lanes in the city. What good does this do if motorists, delivery vehicles, and taxis use them as a traveling and parking lane? And they do, every day, all day. True, there are new signs and sharrows indicating that the traffic respect cyclists as vehicles and allow them to travel accordingly. Motorists still honk, swear and menace cyclists – all day, every day. I know, because I am out there experiencing it.

All the work in the world done on the infrastructure of Boston’s roadways will do dick diddly squat to change the mentality of the area. Pedestrians remain aloof, ignorant, and self absorbed. Motorists will continue to be stressed out, wrathful, self important. Cyclists will remain recalcitrant, self-righteous, easily incensed. Public servants will continue to be lazy, unhelpful, belligerent. MBTA drivers will remain under trained, oblivious, and continue to disregard the safety needs of their position.  What we can do about all this… I really have no idea. I have always tried to do my tiny part to instigating a change in mentality – treating others with respect and care, trying not to be easily thrown into a rage by the abuse I suffer daily from drivers. I can keep this up, I think… but it doesn’t give me much hope for change in the future.

To be fair, hope is in short supply right now, for reasons we all know and I can’t bring myself to discuss in this blog. We are inundated with news of the horrors being wrought on our fellow man, our fellow creatures, our very world, by our own kind. I can’t really blame the average person for not having much good will to impart. Sadly, this is probably the point at which we need it the most.

Grimlocke V. the MBTA: News at 11

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

The Story

The Saga Continues…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

On Friday of last week, I sent this email to Cara Seiderman (, Nicole Freedman ( and the nameless entity at It has yet to be acknowledged at all, but I do have hope, since I have had contact with Cara and Nicole in the past.

The email:

Hello Nicole, Cara,
and whom it concerns in the Somerville traffic department,

Nicole and Cara, we’ve spoken in the past, and I thank you for following up with me about the development of the Harvard Ave. bike lane and the problems with taxi parking in Harvard Square. I thank my lucky stars for every inch of bike lane I have the privilege to use on my commute to and from work every day. I have cc’d you both, as well as the Somerville traffic department, on the following issues because the more I explore the problem, the more accounts of abuse I hear reported in all parts of the greater Boston area. I started out concerned with one particular intersection, but the problem may be much much larger than that.

The issue I have for you today is a difficult one, because it involves the MBTA, who I’m told are not in any way influenced by either the Boston administration or the jurisdiction of the local police. I’ve been told this on the phone by government officials and police officers. Regardless of these statements, I’m really hoping you can help me with this, because it doesn’t seem like I’m getting anywhere in terms of rectifying the situation in my talks with the MBTA, the police, or the people of these cities.

On January 29th, 2010 I had an incident involving an MBTA Route 66 Bus headed West on Cambridge Street at Harvard Ave. in Allston. I had come to a stop at a red light on Franklin, facing the northern entrance of Harvard Ave., and was waiting to proceed. As I was waiting, Route 66 Bus #0721 stopped to my left to let passengers off at the Cambridge/Franklin stop. I watched the Cambridge Street light turn yellow, then red, and then stood on my pedals to prepare for my own signal. As my signal changed and my foot came down on my front pedal, the bus, which I had been ignoring since it was stopped completely at a red light, cycled up and roared through the intersection causing me to slam on my brakes and dodge. It had gone from a complete stop to proceeding through a red light.

I contacted the MBTA about this. I left a complaint on the line and received a form email in response. I’m sure you’re familiar with these.

I then sent an email to the Superintendent of Cabot Garage.
I received an email back on February 2nd:

Gabrielle Collins,

Thank you for your e-mail concerning the route 66.  I apologize for reckless driving exhibited by one of our employees. MBTA Bus operators must complete a comprehensive Defensive Drivers Course prior to being certified to operate an MBTA vehicle in passenger service. This operator has been identified and will be re-instructed on her duties and responsibilities as a professional driver. Any further violations of the MBTA’s Rules and Policies will subject her to more severe progressive discipline up to and including recommendation for discharge. Additionally, I have forwarded your correspondence to the Instruction Department in order for them to include the intersection of Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue in the Safety Related Compliance Program. This intersection will be monitored by Safety and Instruction personnel to ensure all traffic rules are strictly followed. Again, I apologize for your unpleasant experience with the MBTA.


John J. Houghton


Cabot Garage

I found this to be at least somewhat reassuring. Unfortunately, not three hours later on my ride home I had an even more ominous experience. I’ll let my email to John Houghton sum it up.

John Houghton,

February 3rd, 2010

Yesterday, not three hours after I’d received my response from you regarding the bus that nearly hit me on Monday, I was again waiting at a red light on Harvard Avenue to cross Cambridge Street. As the light for Cambridge Street became yellow I put my foot on my pedal, and made ready to move. As  I watched the light turn red, my body exhibiting the intent to scoot out into the intersection at a moment’s notice, I became aware of a growing roar from my left, west on Cambridge Street. And then a sharp honk. Route 66 Bus #2294 (or 2293, it was going over 30 MPH so it was difficult to catch the number) not only roared through the intersection against a red light, but gave me warning that it had ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION OF SLOWING OR STOPPING.

I realized after this that the drivers of Route 66 deserve not just our disdain and our everlasting disappointment, but also our FEAR. The drivers of these buses are blatantly neglecting the safety of the citizens of the Boston area, and breaking the trust that we put in them to hold our lives in their hands every day, whether we are their passengers or merely sharing the roads with them.  I am disgusted by this neglectful behavior, having witnessed it daily for over a year on my route to work; having been hit by an MBTA bus while on my bicycle and then told by the driver that she was in no way required to provide me her information; having watched the them proceed through intersections against the traffic signals; having watched buses stop in the middle of the lane the entire length of their route to meet passengers, even though it is policy that they pull into each stop completely so traffic can get by. The list of their transgressions goes on and on. I have written to the local newspapers and the Governer about this latest infraction, and I expect some type of response from yourself and the MBTA at large, in terms of punishment for this action and prevention – form letter will not be good enough this time. I call for the bus driver who ran that red light yesterday at 5:10PM on Route 66, number 2294 or 2293, to be removed from service completely. To run a red light at speeds of 30 MPH and give warning shows premeditated disregard for traffic law, and a comfort with such acts that cannot be tolerated.

I have so far received no response.

My blog about these events was picked up by the local Blog and broadcast to many Bostonians. You can read their horrifying responses at UniversalHub, like this gem:

Don’t blame the drivers for doing their jobs and getting us home. Blame the state for not giving them technology found in most cities, a simple transponder that holds the green a couple of extra seconds so the bus doesn’t have to run the red.

So not only is it common knowledge in Massachusetts that MBTA vehicles are not subject to traffic laws, and run red lights and commit other various traffic violations without repercussion, but apparently there is the pervasive sentiment of apathy, sometimes even approval! As one who was almost killed not two weeks ago in the very same spot where Kelly Wallace died in 2007 under similar circumstances, I DO care, very much. As I said in my second email to John Houghton, I have also been hit by an MBTA bus, and then the driver refused to open the door, let alone stop the bus and exchange information. If I had ended up underneath the wheels of that bus, would anyone have known how neglectful the driver had been? Would I just be another ghost bike, locked to the pole by the Cambridge/Franklin stop until it became so rusted as to be a disgrace to my memory, and then subsequently removed?

Ultimately my question is this: Can you help us do something about this?
Thank you for your time and concern,


If you are as concerned as I am about this issue, please take the time to reiterate this call to action. Thanks for your support, everyone!

What the police will say if you’re ALMOST run over.

Friday, January 29th, 2010

“I think you should write a formal letter of complaint to the Mayor.”

Uh..  ohkay.

I also tend to call the police ALOT; I have the numbers for Brookline, Boston District 14, Downtown Boston, Cambridge and Somerville Police Departments in my phone contacts. No, I’m not calling about the kids on my lawn. I call about double parked cars, people threatening my life, people parked in the bike lane, etc. I asked the gentleman I was speaking to today what the best number to call to get someone  on the scene in a NON emergency (see: person parked in the bike lane) is, and he said,

“Just call 911 and tell them its not an emergency. If you call the police station we’ll have to call them anyway to get to dispatch.”

So… yeah. I guess I’ll be calling 911 a bunch in the near future, and hoping I don’t get yelled at if the offender decides to take the hint and pull out of the bike lane and into the night, leaving me standing there holding the phone, so to speak.

Bike Lane Fail: North Harvard

Monday, August 17th, 2009

The bike lane on North Harvard is still without decals or signage, or any kind of enforcement whatsoever. I understand that these things take time, but it didn’t take any time whatsoever to pave and then paint the extensive vehicle traffic lines, so what gives with the rest of the business? Maybe if more people bug Nicole about it, she’ll grease the wheels a little bit:

Nicole Freedman

Director of Bicycle Programs

One City Hall Square, Suite 932

Boston, MA 02201


RE: WWW / New Parking Ordinance/Bike Lane

Monday, August 17th, 2009


Thank you for your email.  This project is not yet complete. We still have to add decals, new signs, etc, after which we can begin enforcement. We do intend to make these lanes workable for the cyclists.

Thanks for alerting us to the issue.

Nicole Freedman


Hi again Nicole,

My fellow bicycle commuters and I have noticed that there are still no decals or No Parking signs along the new bike lane on North Harvard Street. Can you please give me an idea as to when this project will be done? Can you also please inform me as to why it wasn’t done when the original lines were drawn? Is this project being protested by some? If so, can you inform me as to whom?



Hi G,

Thank you for your email.  The signs should be up this week at the latest and we will also be placing warning signs on all the cars to let them know that we will start enforcing the no parking rules.  Signs are installed by different contractors than those that do pavement markings, hence the different dates.

Thank you so much.

Nicole Freedman

Director, Boston Bikes

One City Hall Square, Rm 932

Boston, MA 02201

(617) 918-4456 (work)