Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Downtown Historic Bike Route Fails Family

There was a nice piece in the paper today about a family bike ride downtown. But while the piece is very "half-full" in perspective, it very clearly shows the problem with trying to bike downtown, and the extent to which we are willing to overlook it and give a faux-cheery pass to inadequate conditions for families and non-expert bike users.

Revised Travel Salem Historic Downtown Bike Route (detail)
From the piece:
Travel Salem provided exactly what I was looking for: a downloadable "Historic Downtown Salem Cycling Route" map.

Before continuing, I'll confess that our tour was a combination of cycling and walking. This mom errs on the side of caution when it comes to bicycling with kids. I'm very thankful for the new bike lanes recently created in downtown Salem, but when the map took us on busy streets where bikes and cars travel together, we walked our bikes on the sidewalk. [italics added]
If you want more detail on the route itself, there's a previous discussion here. Court and State Streets, the bulk of the route, are largely inaccessible for biking! It's not just part of the route, it's the whole thing, really.

The author and her family made it into a pleasant adventure, but broadly speaking, as a bike route meant for bicycling the route fails prospective users.

MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Guide
A "historic bike route" for tourists should be accessible to all skill levels, not just those willing and skilled to tolerate downtown traffic and its stress levels.

Downtown offers no good set of connections for families or causal cyclists. There's no different set of lines on a map that will solve this problem at the moment.

Instead, the problem calls for advocacy: Travel Salem needs to let Council know that Travel Salem can't undertake a tourism project they would like to do. Instead of going to Council and saying "things are great," please consider telling Council that things are difficult and you need help to make Salem bike-friendly for tourists.

The evidence is right here in print!

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