Poll: What Do You Think About the North End Cycle Track?

Cycle Track on Commercial St. under construction (NEWF photo)

With paving scheduled in the next few weeks, the cycle track bike path on Commercial Street in Boston’s North End is soon to open for public use. (Atlantic Avenue might have to wait until next Spring.) Looking past the hassle of the extended construction period, vote in the poll below regarding your thoughts on the new addition to the neighborhood.

The cycle track is a sidewalk level, family-friendly, two-way protected path for bicyclists on the harbor side of Atlantic Avenue and Commercial Street. The bike lanes will connect to another cycle track along Causeway Street in the West End and to Blackstone Street in downtown Boston. Boston Public Works is constructing the cycle track as part of the federally-funded bikeway under the Connect Historic Boston project.

In addition to voting above, feel free to leave your comments below. This poll was suggested by a reader. Do you have a burning question that would make a good poll on Contact us.

54 Replies to “Poll: What Do You Think About the North End Cycle Track?

  1. I really like but I think polls like this are inflammatory. Clearly people disagree and this type of question just sets them up to argue. The track is there, there is nothing to be done about it, and it’s been discussed repeatedly.

  2. I think there is no need for the bike path and the money that is being spent is crazy. Not to say the rats that r running around the whole project is crazy.

    Nicole Campanelli

  3. I agree with Michele. Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing, not sure, lets see how it is when its done, but its here.

    1. Just to be clear…I think the bike path is ridiculous, costly, will not be well utilized and sooner or later there is going to be a serious accident because of it.

      My point is about the polling after the fact!

      1. what is ridiculous is how much money we spend to promote car driving at the expense of pedestrian and bicyclists. Boston, particularly areas like the North End, was built for active transportation not for packing large metal boxes onto the streets. This bike lane, like all the others being built in the city, will increase cycling and thereby reduce driving.

  4. I feel like it’s a solution looking for a problem and very much not worth the time, effort and expense involved. If the goal was to make Boston more bike-friendly (which I do applaud), resources could have been better spent improving the ability for bike traffic to flow along the Greenway in both directions (Atlantic/Cross, Surface Rd.) which is a major artery. The current Commercial St. loop seems to be a side show which doesn’t really lead from or to anywhere useful for commuters, although it is nice for recreational riders.

  5. Don’t you think its a bit too late to hear our comments. The North End is small enough with crowded problems they just added more problems to our small little community. What a mess!!!! Let alone the noise and lets face it how many bikes do you get, especially with our winters.

  6. I’m not sure as to why this busy neighborhood would allow this to happen. I don’t understand why the sidewalks had to be made larger on Commercial Street. There are not a lot of people walking around down there. This is going to cause major traffic problems with only 2 and a half lanes for cars. The tourists get dropped off there and the busses wait for them to return. What will it be like when it snows. Will the bike lanes get plowed? I drive from Medford to Boston every day in the traffic. There are bicycle lanes in many areas with no bicycles in them. The bicycles are in all the car lanes cutting in and out almost causing many accidents and going through the red lights. In the North End they go up one way streets. Who’s fault will it be when the car or truck comes around the corner and hits the bike or did the bike hit the car? There is nothing we can do about it because there is no identification on the bikes. Years ago all bicycles had to be licensed. Maybe we should make them get licensed and then they can be reported when they do not follow the rules of the road. Pedestrians are supposed to get tickets (?) if they jay walk. Don’t you think that the money they have used for Commercial St should of been used for Hanover Street to fix the handicap ramps and all the holes on the streets and sidewalks. Our residents and tourists are falling and getting hurt every day.

    1. Yes indeed, the funds should have been spent on handicap ramps. The City of Boston is a disgrace the way they ignore the needs of people in wheelchairs & the physically disabled.

    2. The argument that bike lanes or cyclists are the only cause of more traffic doesn’t hold much water. The times are changing and if there aren’t more people using public transport and/or bikes, the traffic mess in the city will only get worse. For every person you see on a bike, that is potentially one less car on the road. I’m not sure why that doesn’t ever seem to dawn on people who only complain because they are stuck in traffic…in their cars. If you’re coming into the city from Medford, it’s probably time to look into other methods because the traffic is only going to increase. What about ride-sharing? It’s also important to remember that a person on a bike, had equal rights to share the road. Just because you’re in a car, doesn’t mean you have more privilege.

  7. Has anyone tried to park at night recently??? There are no cars allowed to park on Commercial Street from Clark St all the way around to Prince Street after 7 am this morning. How does that make sense????

  8. Just another example of the City moving forward with a project without any concern for the residents who are most adversely affected by the unanticipated repercussions. The Federal dollars that pushed this through without sufficient community input should have been spent on making the HarborWalk more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Taking away a lane of traffic to accommodate a bike lane, and then declaring that there is no significant impact on traffic is ridiculous to anyone who has tried to drive down Commercial St. during business hours! The cycletrack will be a wonderful benefit to primarily tourists and commuters who are just passing through our neighjborhood, while leaving residents far worse off than they were before.

  9. 1. I think the polls are a great idea for this website. It gets people thinking on issues that affect our great neighborhood.

    2. The cycle track is a colossal waste of taxpayers money and has created a death trap for motorists and pedestrians alike. Commercial Street is now 10 feet more narrow than it used to be prior to construction of the track.

    3. I agree with David comments regarding the City moving forward with a project without any input from residents. Two years ago, the City came before NEWNC and NEWRA to tell (not ask) us that this cycle track was going to be installed. I think the $23 million dollars could have been used more wisely.

    4. Unfortunately, the Mayor’s office continues to do what it wants without any regard for its citizens. First it was the privatization of PUBLIC parking spots for ride-share programs like Enterprise and Zipcar. Then it was the installation of this unwanted cycle track. What is next?

    5. I encourage people to remember how this neighborhood has been treated when we are electing a mayor in 2017.

  10. As one individual who uses a wheelchair, I concur with the person who stated
    that ramps and sidewalks in the North End need to be repaired. I am challenged to duels by the potholes and cracks on a daily basis. On two occasions, I lost and was thrown to the ground. And, the repairs should not be completed with the unsightly black tar that is normally used.

    1. Unfortunately the neighborhood does not want to give up any parking to make wider, safer sidewalks. Car storage is apparently preferred over someone’s ability to walk to a store.

  11. I understand the need for bike lanes, however the size and design of the new bike lane has caused the loss of at least 8 parking space per intersection. I noticed last night that commuters using the single lane on Commercial Street did not have enough lane-space without needing to travel into oncoming traffic. There is no longer enough space to open a car door as cars drive by. Very dangerous. Again, I’m all for bike lanes but in my mind this project is seriously flawed (design, safety, cost, etc.).

    1. I agree, I have had cars driving right at me for times when i am in the correct lane. It is dangerous and hopefully when the re-surface the road they will ensure that the 1 sided lane is wide enough (this assumes there is enough room on the other side).

    2. I was driving in the single lane on Commercial St last week. A parked car threw open its door and I had to swerve across the yellow line. I did not have a safe choice and was very mad at how dangerous it was.

  12. If the comments here are to be believed, bike lanes are “fine” as long as they don’t require the removal of any space for cars. Following this philosophy would effectively preclude the construction of any bike facilities in a space-constrained city like Boston. You would also think that narrow streets tend to be more dangerous than wider ones, when in fact traffic engineers have now known for years that the opposite is true (because wider streets tend to encourage people to drive faster).

    Thankfully, both here and in New York City (where cycle tracks, universally opposed by neighborhood groups, have proved to be an overwhelming success), the city does not always defer to the judgement of angry and misinformed neighbors when it comes to making traffic safety decisions.

  13. Why would you have a poll before the project is finished? We haven’t seen the benefits of it yet, but all we know is that construction is causing TEMPORARY traffic issues. There should be a second poll a few months after the project is finished to see how people feel about the result, not the idea.

    1. I agree with this. It could be a great thing! Lots of negativity right now which is due, but it may turn out great.

  14. The problem of “not enough free parking” is a problem of demand, not supply. Unless housing is leveled and property taxes raised to install a parking garage, there just won’t be any more free parking.

    Nay, it’s a problem of pricing. Have people pay a little for the parking, and demand will go down a little. Rinse, repeat, until there’s plenty of priced parking for all who are willing to pay.

  15. Free parking on the streets in the north end is a subsidy for car owners. The city should be doing more to make streets equitable for all road users. It’s too bad the city doesn’t dedicate more resources to this – instead of just accepting Federal money for bike infrastructure projects. Every bike on the road is one less car.

  16. I’ll note that the new cycle track on Commercial Street did not result in any travel lanes being taken away. There were 3 lanes before this project and there will still be 3 lanes when it’s complete.

  17. Eager to have places to bike in the city where I don’t have to be in the same space as cars and trucks. Bike lanes that are just paint on the road don’t provide any protection and there is the constant risk of getting doored. I am thrilled to see Boston implementing Complete Streets projects like this that will encourage more people of all ages to get around in a pollution-free way. And the fact that there is federal funding for it means city dollars don’t need to be spent on it anyway.

  18. I bike through this street on my bike commute to Everett. I choose this way because the alternate feels less safe from a cyclists point of view. I am very glad to see this separate bikeway open, and i am greatly looking forward to using it.

    There are a great many people who are confused about the cost of this pathway. The money for this is coming from a federal grant (TIGER Grant) that would have gone to another state if our transportation leaders in Boston didnt secure it for the benefit of people in Boston.

    My wife and I are regular bike commuters, and this will greatly improve our lives. I hope that someday soon Boston will have more dedicated pathways like this.

  19. I think people should realize that every biker on the road is one less car, which means more room for everyone! Bikes take up 90% less room, are cleaner, etc.

    Remember, in crowded smoggy cities like London, restricting cars to drive a staggered schedule (alternating odd & even numbered license plates) has been wildly successful. It’s because now there’s no traffic snarl to drive everyone APESHIT, & car drivers can now get across town in a reasonable amount of time.

  20. Being that the overwhelming public response to Commercial St’s new bike lane has been overwhelmingly negative, it’s incumbant on the city to reconfigure the project. The sidewalk and bike lane could easily be reduced in width in order to restore a lane for car traffic. There’s very little pedestrian or bike traffic, so less travel space wouldn’t restrict such usage in any way. The city government was clearly negligent in failing to analyze the impact of this project on the flow of automobile traffic, and now is an outstanding opportunity to correct their mistake.

    1. You’ve never been on Commercial St have you. It’s so sparsely used by cars it’s ridiculous. It should be narrowed to one lane each way but BTD was too risk adverse. Making it 1 lane each way there could be angled parking increasing the parking supply in addition to the protected bike lane, which reduces parking demand.

      1. Commercial St is a very heavily trafficked street. When it backs up there are many cars that speed the wrong way on our one way streets to try to get around it.

    2. This project is not taking away any travel lanes. It was 3 lanes before and will remain 3 lanes after.

  21. If you see door zone bike lanes with few people in them, there’s a reason for that. Would you bike with your kids in the door zone on a street with three lanes of fast-moving traffic? The new protected bikeway will provide a safe and comfortable space for those who get around by bike (or wish to), especially for those of us more vulnerable: families with young kids and seniors. Hopefully this is the start of something new in Boston.

    Transportation challenges and solutions are often non-intuitive. The problem with “not enough parking” is not one of supply, but of demand. Can you think of one other valuable good or service that wouldn’t run out if we started giving it away free? Markets, restaurants, and gas stations would have mile-long queues of people waiting (until they went out of business). As with any other good or service, parking prices should be allowed to rise until demand and supply are in balance, which will mean charging more at meters when there’s more demand, and less when demand is low — and not giving away unlimited permits for next to nothing, as Boston does now.

    Once parking demand and supply are in balance, spaces will be easy to find, and a lot of the traffic (that’s just cruising to find parking) will disappear. But don’t take my word for it — look at other cities that have done this successfully.

    Bravo to Mayor Walsh, Councilor Woo, and BTD for championing such innovations, and making the bikeway happen.

    1. Exactly. The idea that there will ever be enough free parking in the North End to satisfy demand is absurd. Parking should be priced at market rate, just like any other good. Making non-driving options safer and more accessible (such as building this new cycle track) will also allow fewer people to need a car, so that will help free up some parking spaces too.

  22. Most of these responses are insane. We live in dense urban environment yet people want more infrastructure for cars. If you are that dependent on a car, you might be living in the wrong neighborhood. Sorry!! As the old saying goes, if you are sitting in your car complaining about traffic, then you are part of the problem. I would sum of most of these posts by saying you cant have your cannoli and to eat it too.

    1. this post is insane. Yea people want to be able to travel. God forbid they want to go to the grocery store or away for the weekend. No reason people shouldn’t have the right to have a car. Commercial st went from 4 lanes to 3. This is a debacle. Good luck biking in January.

      1. i know people have the right to a car. thanks for that deep insight. in fact, i have a car, but i realize that having a car in the north end is less than ideal and creates an annoying set of challenges. i will probably be walking in january (no hubway), but i will be sure to wave as i walk by you sitting in a traffic jam on commercial.

      2. Commercial St was 3 lanes when this project started and will be 3 when it’s done. Also, biking in January is no big deal. We walk in January. Biking isn’t much different. I do it year round.

        1. I have lived in the North End off Commercial St. since 1980. Commercial St was FOUR lanes (2 towards N Station and 2 towards S station. One traffic lane was removed to create the cycle track. I am sure there are many photos of Commercial Street with FOUR traffic lanes. This Mon morning, from Langones Funeral Home to almost Foster St., there were only TWO lanes available for traffic due to funeral procession line up where cars were double parked on water side of Commercial Street. This also happened Sunday during the wake.

          1. Yes, in the past it was 4 lanes. But it has been 3 lanes for a few years now, since bike lanes were added. This new cycle track is just moving the space that was used for the bike lanes into a protected space for bikes on one side of the street. My point is that Commercial St has been functioning fine with 3 lanes and it will still have 3 lanes once the cycle track is complete.

            1. The removal of the one lane to make it 3 lanes happened JUST BEFORE this more major project’s construction started. I totally disagree with you that Commercial Street was fine as 3 lanes. Major traffic started to build on both sides of Commercial Street (where it meets Cross and where it meets N. Washington Street) as soon as the 4th lane was closed.

            2. “My point is that Commercial St has been functioning fine with 3 lanes and it will still have 3 lanes once the cycle track is complete.”

              Huh? Do you fail to see the traffic that backs up from Cross St to Richmond St since the lane was lost to a bike lane? Creating bike lanes isn’t going to make people give up their cars. All it’s going to do is create more traffic.

              Would it be impossible to get a sign on the new bike lanes which reads something like “Bikes Must Obey Traffic Lights/Signs” painted onto the bike lane? I think that’s the least the city could do given they don’t seem to care when a bike goes flying through a red light or stop sign.

    2. So Families who live here with children should have to move out of our neighborhood because we depend on our cars? I guess you prefer the noise and drunk college kids puking and defecating on your door step. You’re obviously not a parent who has to carpool your children to sports/activities or do a food shopping for a family. ( sorry we can’t bike with our recyclable bag to wholefoods and pay $6 for organic milk). I would some it up by saying you can’t have your granola and eat it too.

  23. I’d like drivers to obey traffic laws- don’t block the grid (Causeway and North Washington Street any time of day but particularly dangerous during AM and PM rush hours), no left on red.

    I’d like bicyclists to follow traffic laws- everything, including stopping at red lights, using hand signals, and front and back lights- from dusk til dawn.

    Someone is going to get hurt or killed- it is only a matter of time.

  24. It’s not acceptable what they turned the street into. The construction lasted the whole Summer and right now you cannot safely drive from raised castings and cones. Did they really have to mess it up as bad.

  25. the most insulting part is they are still writing parking tickets 24 hours a day along commercial street despite the confusion and challenges of parking. can our city counselor skip a photo op to address this issue immediately? also, maybe valet parking should be temporarily halted while there is such a shortage of parking for actual residents. also, when will residents be able to park overnight at 585 commercial street (new elliot school)?

  26. I have to laugh at Boston Liberals. So willing to point the global warning finger at others, so unwilling to accept any personal accountability. Boston’s population has been shrinking over the last century, yet there are more cars on the streets than ever. It’s easy to blame the mid-west for air quality problems. Places like Chicago are actively reducing car traffic and implementing bicycle share programs. So you’re running out of other people to blame. After a while you will have to stop the global warming whining and realize while others are actively doing something about it, you have done nothing.

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