I was riding into work today along Western Ave in Brighton(you can't see the bike lanes in Google) right by the Harvard campus. A buffered parking protected bike lane was installed in late 2010 (click for Boston.com article) on a small stretch of this road. There has been a daily problem of cars parking too far over the buffer zone into the bike lane as well as on the leading and exiting buffer zones on either side, sometimes reducing the useful width of the lane by half (in extreme cases). It was also frequently blocked by cab drivers and every once in awhile a semi (a major truck loading and distribution center is to the south of the road.) Minor annoyances for what is otherwise a very nice stretch that feels much nicer than the surrounding sections.
I ride by this morning and crews had blocked off all spaces and looked like they were removing paint in the buffer zones. I thought they might be repainting or clarifying the parking section a bit better. I was not terribly concerned.
I ride back this evening and its all gone. The buffer, the parking, the bollard/wands that designated the buffered zone. All that remained was a super wide road and a meager 5 foot bike lane.
I then thought about the pending departure of Nicole Freedman, Director of Boston Bikes who has done so much for the city in the past few years, bike lanes and racks, bike sharing and bridges etc. She has made Boston a better place in a short time.
I think of that and I hope it means some of the projects and innovative designs won't simply go away because she is not keeping an eye on things. I hope that while this particular buffered lane needed some improvement, we don't start loosing bike lanes suddenly...paint is pretty easy to remove... I hope that they will be redesigning this stretch with full protection on both sides (there is tones of room!) and that this is one small step in that process. I am still not sure why there is on street parking here, seriously there is a HUGE Harvard lot on the north side and Genzyme has plenty of parking on the southeastern edge. There is nothing else along this stretch to warrant street parking...Though it was always full (where did they go today, the parking area was closed all day, could it be the 18 people were able to find something else among the see of parking?)
The Cambridge redesign looks amazing, and MassDOT is working to include cycletracks on the bridges so it would be a real shame if we lost out on the Boston side. Hopefully that will not happen.
Here is a video of the lane just installed in November of 2010.