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Massachusetts biking safety and connectivity major focuses of state plan

MassDOT seeking feedback through January

Bike lanes—of a sort—in Cambridge’s Harvard Square
Boston Globe/Contributor/Getty Images

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is seeking feedback through January on a plan it released in late December to better connect biking routes in the commonwealth and to improve safety along such new connections as well as existing paths.

The plan emphasizes treating bikers the same as those using other modes of transportation, including drivers—in other words, to leap beyond merely accommodating bicyclists.

A key part of that approach involves connecting, and better connecting, bike routes and paths through the state, particularly in the super-dense Boston region, which has become ground zero in Massachusetts for biking to work, errands, events, etc.

To do that, MassDOT notes that it will need the cooperation of various municipalities: “[T]he 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts own and maintain 81 percent of the state’s roadway network—roadways that, for the most part, have high potential for everyday biking.”

Will MassDOT find such cooperation with and among towns and cities? It’s a tall order—witness how long it’s taken for cities and towns in the Boston area to cooperate on housing development, probably a much more pressing need—but MassDOT does have an ace in the hole. From the plan:

When well-connected, biking and transit are highly complementary travel modes. People living too far to conveniently walk to transit may still be within a quick bike ride to a station or stop, closing the ‘first and last mile gap’ and expanding the number of households that can access transit. Providing the option to bike to transit can encourage ridership growth while simultaneously managing both congestion and demand for additional parking.

Residents have until January 31 to provide feedback on the plan. Meanwhile, biking advocates are cautiously optimistic about its ideas and ambitions. Stay tuned.