, Gloucester, MA


August 23, 2013

Editorial: New bike lanes a win for activism

The addition of new bicycle lanes along Rogers and parts of Main streets, and the outlining of lanes that had been in place but had long since faded along Western Avenue are all positive safety steps for a city that seems ideal for two-wheel travel, especially during the summer months.

But they are also a positive affirmation that one or a few residents can truly make a difference — in this case, Heidi Wakeman, who noted the need, then gained a seat on Gloucester’s Open Space and Recreation Committee with an eye toward bringing more visibility and representation to the cyclists who regularly traverse the city’s streets.

The new lanes especially raise motorists’ awareness along Rogers and Main street, where they carve out designated riding space between the motor vehicles’ travel lane and the parking lanes along the curb. And – with the exception of the bicycle logos — the lane markings appear like normal roadway emergency lanes, boundaries that drivers are used to seeing and know enough not to cross.

The lanes themselves, of course, won’t do anything to stop the careless driver who might remain oblivious to any marked lanes, or to the driver who pulls into a parking space and doesn’t check approaching traffic before swinging open his or her door, a hazard to cyclists everywhere. But they do make it crystal clear that the space within them is reserved for cyclists, and drivers will be hard-pressed not to at least note their presence.

The painting of the lanes is part of what Wakeman describes as a pilot project, with more such safety lanes expected to follow. And that will be a good thing, with cyclists and drivers — often competing for road space — having clear dividing lanes where space allows.

But in saluting this public safety step, we also extend thanks to Wakeman, who has reminded us all once again that one resident’s efforts can still make a difference.

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