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Beacon Street Reconstruction Would Eliminate Parking, Add Cycle Tracks

It's "called Beacon 'street' and not Beacon 'bike path,'" said one resident. "Your businesses are going to boom with more cyclists coming down your street," said a biker.

A plan to reconstruct Beacon Street calls for eliminating parking on one side of the street over a nearly mile-long stretch of roadway. Doing so would make space for dedicated cycle tracks for bicycles.

At a presentation about the reconstruction held Tuesday night at the Kennedy School, many neighbors and Beacon Street businesses were adamantly opposed to the proposal.

"Parking is a priority," said Vincent Drago, a lifelong resident of Beacon Street. "You can ride your bike on any street. Tell me where I can park my car."

"Beacon Street is called Beacon 'street' and not Beacon 'bike path,'" he said.

Matin Filosi, who owns property on Beacon Street, said eliminating parking on one side of the road would "destroy" the value of his property, and "I have a hard time thinking of finding a bike rider who can buy my house."

Ed Abrams, who lives near Beacon Street on the Cambridge side, said "Spillover [of parked cars] into our neighborhoods is going to be disastrous."

"If we get rid of all those parking spaces," said Justin Villet, "Where are they going to go? They've got to go someplace."

Cycle tracks, 111 fewer parking spots

Under the proposal put forth by the city, parking would be eliminated on the south side of Beacon Street (the same side as R.F. O'Sullivan and Son) from Oxford Street to Washington Street. That amounts to about 111 eliminated spots.

This would allow for the construction of cycle tracks, which are dedicated bike lanes separated from car traffic by a barrier. In this case, a line of parked cars would serve as that barrier on the north side of the street, and curb would serve as the barrier on the south side. The cycle tracks would end at Museum Street, and there would be normal painted bike lanes from that intersection to the Cambridge boarder near Inman Square. The proposal doesn't call for the elimination of any parking along the stretch of Beacon Street from Washington Street to the Cambridge line.

Cyclists support redesign

Bicyclists had a different perspective. Pete Stidman, director of the Boston Cyclists Union, objected to some of the comments leveled against bicyclists at the meeting. "That people can't bike down Beacon Street, that bicyclists can't afford houses … I've never heard such insults," he said.

Shannon Simms said she was hit by a car when cycling on Beacon Street over the summer. "I want to thank the city of Somerville" for supporting biking infrastructure, she said.

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Good or bad for business?

Mark Pano, owner of P & K Deli, said he would lose customers if they can't park on his side of the street. "We're all going to get hit by a 20, 30 percent reduction in customers. People need to be able to park," he said.

Doug Johnson, a cyclist, said, "This doesn't have to be so divisive .. it doesn't have to be black and white."

"Bikers have a ton of disposable income," he said. "Your businesses are going to boom with more cyclists coming down your street."

"Cyclists are spending money in Beacon Street shops," Stidman said.

Peter Yao, who owns propery on Beacon Street, thought  the Beacon Street redesign, with its cycle tracks, would increase property values in the area.

A $4.5 million project with federal and state funding

Reconstruction of Beacon Street is slated to begin in early 2014, and the final design needs to be complete by the end of 2013, according to a presentation delivered by Hayes Morrison, Somerville's director of transportation and infrastructure. She said the city hopes take into account everyone's concerns as it makes the final design.

The project is expected to cost about $4.5 million. Federal dollars would pay for 80 percent of the project, and state dollars would pay for 20 percent, Morrison said.

You can learn more on the city's website.

AHM December 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM
A couple of notes here. The door problem applies to motorists as well as bikers. When I am doing either I have this habit of watching for heads in cars. Granted you can't always see the shorter people but you just have to drive the right speed and watch out. In taking and old street and trying to convert it I can't help but notice Assembly square wit all the housing being added and this being built new why these things would not be a part of the new layout and construction. That would be the time to do it. Then maybe they will lose the revenue from the housing they are bulding from that space that they would lose. And contrary to the neighborhodd and how much it will hurt it and how much the people do not want this it will most likely be built due to the fact that Somervile does cater to small intrest groups and not so much as to what the residents want. More so in this administration than in all the others. I have been here that long, I know.
MattyCiii February 02, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Being obese and lazy is not a disability. Look it up.
MattyCiii February 02, 2013 at 11:20 PM
Car dependent people should just face reality and move out to the 'burbs. Let people who walk, bike, and take transit live in Somerville. Car owners, stop asking your non-driving neighbors to pay higher property, sales and income taxes so you can use a minor arterial street as your personal free parking space. This is America, not the USSR. Want socialized parking... move to China.
MattyCiii February 02, 2013 at 11:22 PM
@BrianM: So... you like it when us taxpayers provide you free parking, yes?
Nikolai Slavov February 27, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Great comment Rob, As with most changes, there are upsides and downsides. I think that in this case the upsides of safer bike lines exceed by far the downsides.

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