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Boston paving way for protected bike lane installations

Boston has been selected in a national program to help speed up safer bike lane installations.

Protected bike lanes offer cyclists a low-stress way to get around an urban area, according to PeopleForBikes. Photo: 55th Street, Chicago, Credit University of Chicago Protected bike lanes offer cyclists a low-stress way to get around an urban area, according to PeopleForBikes. Photo: 55th Street, Chicago, Credit University of Chicago

Boston is one of six new U.S. cities selected by a national cycling organization to participate in an intensive two-year program to build protected bike lanes.

The Boston bike lane installations will be supported by financial, strategic and technical assistance, according to PeopleForBikes, organizers of the Green Lane Project.

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Protected bike lanes, also known as cycle tracks, offer urban cyclists a low-stress mode of green transportation, according to PeopleForBikes.

Other benefits will include a dramatic increase in bike ridership, particularly among novices, organizers said.

The six cities, including Boston, were chosen from more than 100 U.S. cities that submitted letters of interest for the program. Other selected cities include Atlanta, GA, Denver, CO, Indianapolis, IN, Pittsburgh, PA and Seattle, WA.

Launched in 2012, the Green Lane Project works with U.S. cities to speed the installation of protected bike lanes around the country. These on-street lanes are separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts to make riding a bike an appealing option for more people.

"Over the next six years, I want to take Boston from one of the best bicycling cities in the country to one of the best in the world. Investing in protected bike lanes is a critical path to that success," Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said in a prepared statement.

The group had an "extremely difficult" time narrowing down its selection to just six cities, according to PeopleForBikes Vice President of Local Innovation Martha Roskowski, as it has seen an upsurge of interest in accommodating bikes on busy city streets.

"Boston has ambitious goals and a strong vision supported by the elected officials and the community. They are poised to get projects on the ground quickly and will serve as an excellent example for other interested cities," Roskowski said.

Since 2007, Boston went from the worst bicycling city in the country, according to Bicycling Magazine, to one of the best. Boston launched one of the first bike share systems in the country, the New Balance Hubway system, which has since grown to 130 stations and more than 1100 bicycles. Boston has added 82 miles of bike lanes and1500 bike racks and created one of the most successful community bike programs in the country, donating 1,000 bikes to low income residents and training 5,000 youth in 2013.

Under Mayor Walsh's leadership, Boston will begin investing in protected bike lanes consistent with the recently completed Bike Network Plan, implement a women's cycling program and expand Hubway into the neighborhoods. "With Connect Historic Boston planning underway, we are on track to see some incredible improvements over the next few years, not just for people on bikes, but for all road users, "said Boston Director of Bicycle Programs, Nicole Freedman.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

 
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