Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bike boulevard, Franklin Street, Allston

by: Doug Tank

Bike boulevards are streets with low speed traffic that have been optimized for bicyclists. By discouraging cut-through motor traffic, these roads give priority to cyclists as through-going traffic, thus providing a safer, more comfortable environment. There is a whole toolbox of traffic calming techniques that can be used to turn an ordinary street into an extraordinary bike boulevard, such as curb extensions, chicanes, speed humps, etc. but the key device used on Franklin St, in Allston MA is the timeless "sharrow".

Sharrow on Franklin St facing north

Franklin St is a quiet little street in northern Allston connecting N. Harvard Street to Lincoln Street, from the bike lane by Harvard to the footbridge over the turnpike. The bike route along Franklin Street helps fill in the bike network that runs through North Allston, from Western Ave and North Harvard St, near other bike lanes along Commonwealth Ave at Packards Corner and Cambridge/Washington St into Brighton.

Franklin St between N. Harvard St and Lincoln St

Here is a google maps link indicating the location: Franklin St

Footbridge over Mass Ave at southern end of Franklin St

Intersection at Franklin St and N. Harvard Ave

Although the shared lane marking indicates to drivers that bicyclists have the right to use the full lane, it is important to remember that these markings do not guarantee bicyclists the right of way. That is why I decided to go out and see the street for myself.

Shared Lane Markings in both directions

Remember, the markings are just a suggestion

After riding up and down the street several times, trying to determine the overall characteristic of the street, I was able to conclude that it was a rather quaint roadway with emphasis on pedestrian safety. Although sharrows are the only indication that the street should be classified as a bike boulevard, they manage to get the job done. I felt so safe and comfortable riding along this street that I even took video footage of the excursion. 

Video can be found here: Biking down Franklin St

As you can see at about 0:50 seconds into the video, I meet a fellow cyclists traveling in the opposite direction, while a FedEx truck approaches from behind me. I know it's hard to tell from the poor quality of the video but not only did the truck not try to pass me right away, but he also honked to let me know he was there. Was this the result of the sharrows? Did the driver see the shared lane marking and instantly think "This cyclist deserves just as much right to be on this street as I do"? I'd like to think the answer is yes.

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