Left In Lowell

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April 26, 2014

Lowell, the City of…Cars?

by at 2:21 pm.

Hey, hey, it’s the 1950’s. The Age of the Highway and Automobile. Right?

So you say it’s over sixty years from that decade…well, you live in Lowell. We like to stick to what worked decades ago. Suck it, bikers/public transit commuters.

Mayor Rodney Elliott and City Councilor Rita Mercier have filed a motion for Tuesday’s meeting requesting that the council vote to revert Father Morissette back to four lanes of traffic and have the bike lanes removed.

The faulty argument is that traffic is worse due to the Boulevard going from four to two lanes. This shows a fundamental disinterest in the facts of the matter, which is that any traffic you might see on FM is due to lights and bridges, which would back up regardless of having two or four lanes. I’ve been on FMB at many different times of day…the traffic studies which the DPD conducted previously seem to bear up, in my experience, so where is the sudden need to open up a Boulevard which barely gets a quarter of its use capacity, even with only two lanes?

Really, this isn’t about traffic, or public safety. That’s just window dressing on the real pissing contest that’s going on here. This is all about going backwards on the Lynch era, with a bonus for undoing any good or progress supported or proposed by former Mayor Patrick Murphy. This is the same impulse which is behind this amazing new urgency about moving the high school (though that also has “friendly developers” written all over it).

Let’s please not pretend this is about having a big grand vision. It’s more like the black hole opposite of having vision.

BadgermillCity logoSo, in a related matter and in case you missed it…and you want to keep yourself entertained while watching City Council meetings…you should check out the new drinking games at the BadgermillCity wiki. There are two games listed there so far - the Plain Jane drinking game, and the new “Elimination Libation” game, which is more of a get-buzzed-quick game whenever one of these “bassackwards” subjects come up. I think you’ll find yourself entertained just reading them!

12 Responses to “Lowell, the City of…Cars?”

  1. back central baby Says:

    I’m so disappointed to hear this, especially as an alternative transportation person. I hope that the mayor and council will do what it takes to see that there is no new traffic because of bike lanes. Getting out there at the right time of day would show that. These actions that undo attractive progress in the city will take its toll. Death by papercut is a real thing. Students look at cities with campuses that are advancing and enlightened. Bike lanes on that road link campus to community. UML brings new young blood to an industrial city that and if its the right place they stay and contribute. How short sighted, and arrogant to assume that Lowell can have a future based on same old incestuous blood. Recent ecomic promises such as biz and building development depend on attracting consumers who are residents who are not neccessarily interested in eating just at Applebees, for example. How narrow to believe that fresh views and multiple voices, and expert analysis have no value. I hope we have enough oxygen in the tank to get through this municipal time period however long. It may have long term severe economic and ecological effects on the city.

  2. Lynne Says:

    BTW, every person who is disappointed ought to write a polite but firm note to their City Councilors. You can do that via the website.


  3. Publius Says:


    Suggesting that the move to restore FM to status quo ante is an effort to remove Lynch’s imprint on the city is groundless and deliberately misleading. There seems to be at least some information that it is a problem. If the CC was truly intent on removing the Lynch legacy, they would have removed all bike lanes, rather than just one.
    The city tried something and it didn’t work. Mature people recognize when things don’t work and try something different.

    Back central baby,
    Worshipping at the temple of alternative transportation and throwing cars into the volcano does not make sense. The automobile is still the most efficient form of transportation in the world, with the exception of the most densely populated areas. The car allows you to leave and arrive when you want, not when your government dictates. It allows you to make multiple stops, in one trip. For example, on the way home from work, you can do your grocery shopping. One cannot grocery shop for a family with alternative transportation.

  4. Lynne Says:

    There’s no real information there’s a problem. Seriously? You can’t see through this? Well, the rest of us can. There is no safety issue or traffic issue. Rodney’s mind was made up about this before it even got done, and now he’s got the power to reverse it, so he is. End of story.

    It’s working FINE, there is no major issue. The lanes *might* - *might* need a few tweaks. But no one who actually has half a brain thinks this has caused some major problem. NO one.

  5. Lynne Says:

    And if you think the other bike lanes aren’t next - I got a bridge to sell you over the Merrimack.

  6. Gail Says:

    I drive over Fr. Morisette Blvd. four times a day Monday through Friday. If one avoids the times of day when the high school is starting or ending, I see no traffic to speak of in-bound. In the evening the traffic back ups are do to the carrying capacity of the bridges. Having more traffic lanes on Fr. Morisette would do nothing to alleviate those traffic problems. I would recommend the removal of some parking spaces near Cabot, Aikens, and Suffolk to allow for more of a turn lane in each direction approaching those streets. Winter is not the best time to gauge bicycle traffic.

  7. Lynne Says:

    Not to mention, the school traffic issues are there even with four lanes because at the point where you get towards the high school, it goes to one lane each way!!

  8. joe from Lowell Says:

    I hear they want to replace the bike lanes with a nativity scene.

    I’d like to say they aren’t fooling anyone with this, but I don’t really know.

    They aren’t fooling me.

  9. joe from Lowell Says:


    If the CC was truly intent on removing the Lynch legacy, they would have removed all bike lanes, rather than just one.

    True. On the other hand, if they were truly intent on making a symbolic display in order to demonstrate whose “turf” this is, they’d single out one high-visilibilty site.

    Come on, guy: they’re literally proposing to wipe out the paint that the other guy put down, and put up their own paint in its place. Does that remind you of anything?

    throwing cars into the volcano

    Since when is a wider-than-usual two-lane road, with turning lanes, on a moderate-volume street some sort of brutal sacrifice? “Help, save me, I can’t drive my Escalade twelve feet to the right! Boo hoo hoo hooooo!”

  10. back central baby Says:

    Publius, I have a car, and use it as you outline. I also use alternative transportation, because I hope to effect the experience that future gens will be forced to live with. I think your assumption that I worship anything may have clouded your ability to hear my point. I have friends who just made an offer on a home in lowell based on how I have introduced them to the city. They would not be moving here if the ammenities such as bike lanes and such weren’t present. If people stop coming to the city and spending money and paying taxes then the traffic problem will truely be solved, and the tumbleweeds will be free to roam. And hey, you started the sarcasm, so I guess what ever you are worshipping is underground, because clearly your head is still stuck in the sand.

  11. Tim Little Says:

    Anyone who is serious about economic development downtown (and elsewhere in Lowell, for that matter) really needs to review this:


    Or Jeff Speck’s Master Plan….

  12. Tim Little Says:

    Wee bit of data on what happens when you remove existing bike lanes:


    Rob Ford as a mayoral role model, perhaps? Interesting choice….

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