The city wants to replace parking spots along Comm. Ave. with a bike path. (Clint Hughes/Getty Images)
Boston Herald — At-large City Councilor Michael Flaherty, irate over what he called an “outrageous” plan to eliminate 73 parking spaces, plus an outbound traffic lane, to make way for a special “cycle track” for bike riders on a stretch of Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, said he plans to grill the city transportation officials who proposed it.
“At a time when we just overspent tens of millions on snow removal and the administration is talking about the need to close five schools, someone comes up with the idea to remove 73 parking meters from the streets of Boston, meters that could generate up to $341,000 a year,” said Flaherty, who intends to call a public hearing. “I want to know who did that cost-benefit analysis and what other streets in Boston are they looking at?”
“This is outrageous,” added Flaherty, noting a single meter generates up to $4,680 a year. “Where do we make up that lost revenue?”
John Barros, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s economic development chief, countered with the claim that cyclists spend, on average, $12,000 more locally than motorists. He added that meter revenue pales in comparison to cyclist safety. …
[T]he city wants to install special 6-foot-wide bike paths along the sidewalks. A 3-foot-wide curb would separate bikes from parked cars and traffic.
The city would have to remove 57 parking spaces inbound and 16 spaces outbound, and cut outbound traffic from three lanes to two along the three-quarter-mile stretch, Gillooly said. There are only two inbound traffic lanes already.
This is a fight you almost can’t win. Coming out on the side of motorists in a fight against bike riders is like watching Animal Planet and admitting you’re rooting for the crocodile over the gazelle.
Any time you rip cyclists you’re leaving yourself wide open for shots like, “What have you got against clean air?” and “Pardon bikers for trying to solve the traffic problem and caring about their health, bro.” There’s not a smarmier, more self-satisfied and righteously indignant subset of the culture than bike riders. They make Prius owners sound like baby seal hunters.
But economic development chief John Barrows can stop right there with this claptrap about cyclists spending 12 grand a year more than drivers, because it’s utter nonsense. Because by that logic, why doesn’t the city just rip every meter out of the ground and replace every parking space with a bike lane and turn the place into a biker’s paradise? Make every street look like the Champs-Elysees on the last day of the Tour de France. The Tour de Boston. Then cash would come flowing in and we could pave the bike paths with gold.
Missing from his argument is why cyclists would spend more than motorists. Assuming that’s even true, which I am not. And it’s because they don’t go anywhere. A guy on a bike can’t leave so every nickel of his spending is done within the city. It’s like saying Snake Plissken does a lot of good for the economy of New York because he spends all his disposable income there.
But the fact is you’re committing financial suicide every time you take a parking space away. What exactly does Chief Barrows thinks those parkers who feed the meters are doing on Comm. Ave.? Taking a walk? Feeding the pigeons? The only reason you take your car anywhere in the city and feed a meter is to spend money. You’re either paying for meals and tipping someone, or you’re purchasing something you then put in said motor vehicle and take home. As to the former, I’ll suggest people in cars spend a lot more on food than some neckbeard squeezed into spandex bike shorts. And for the latter, I’ve yet to see someone cart home a super expensive (and sales taxed) 70-inch LCD TV on a 10-speed.
The bottom line is I’m perfectly willing to share the road with bike riders. I think they’re a public menace, but I’m willing to share. But take away the few parking spots we have for a boondoggle like bike paths, and I won’t have to. Because I’ll just stop going into the city. And there are millions more of me than there are of them.