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Left In Lowell » Transportation

Left In Lowell

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April 30, 2014

Gold Gold Comedy Gold…And, Rules? What Rules?

by at 12:13 am.

Part the First: Digging for Gold

So a Council meeting happened tonight. With so much chocolatey goodness I hardly know where to start! If you want an accurate, but straightforward and boring recap of the meeting, Dick’s already got his notes up. I’m not calling Dick boring, his write up is great, and so useful. But. BUT.

In cycling, you move your pedals forward for anything to happen. But, sometimes when you’re bored, and you don’t need to push yourself for a bit, you might flip your pedals the other way - while coasting down a hill, say. It makes this pleasant empty clicky-whizzing sound. But the Council’s backpedaling tonight was a sight to behold! I could almost see the furious weightless reverse motion of pedals moving through space and time but affecting so little. Breathtaking. Unchained. Glorious! Like going backwards on your bike pedals and realizing that actually, you’re producing sunshine and ice cream and puppies by the motion!

In an effort to showcase my on-the-spot razor wit, this post will be punctuated with my live tweets at various points, which will help illustrate the pure singing joy the evening brought me. Plus, I’m lazy. Many of the tweets will be out of sequence as I try to make some sort of salient narrative. Follow me after the clicky bit: (more…)

April 28, 2014

Such a Backup on Father Mo’! (Updated)

by at 4:45 pm.

OK, here it is…all the amazing traffic at rush hour at 5pm on Father Morresette Blvd! No sound, but gee, where is all the crazy traffic? Thanks to Steve for posting it.

Note: there is a point at which the bike lane goes from being on the right side to being in the middle due to the Aiken St right turn. We could, perhaps, have a rational discussion of whether or not that’s confusing, and how to address it. (In Boston, in high-traffic areas, they paint bike lanes green). Otherwise, the bike lanes are seriously the least confusing things I’ve ever seen. The double line (which allows for opening doors from parked cars and buffer between traffic and bikes) is standard, and honestly, why is this conniption fit even happening? I just don’t get it.

Update: On the topic of these bike lanes, a good question was asked on Facebook - since the $70,000 for making the bike lane infrastructure came entirely from federal grants…does that come with strings attached…like, you actually have to keep the damn things or give back the money used for the work??

April 26, 2014

Sun Stealin’

by at 2:46 pm.

In an unbelievably stupid and clumsy move, the Lowell Sun has been caught, yet again, stealing photos from people and calling them Sun file photos. This time, it’s from blogger Marianne, from Art is the Handmaid of Human Good. It was first posted on her write up about the new Father Morissette Boulevard bike lanes, dated from August 28, 2013.

The Cub Reporter responded to Marianne on Twitter, but you shouldn’t hold your breath on them fixing it (and it’s already in the print edition, anyone want to wager if they’ll post an apology?). It’s still there as of this posting, anyway.

Here is the photo in use on the website, and Marianne also posted a pic of it in use in print edition as well:

photo Marianne stolen pic.png

You can see in the writing underneath the photo, that they claim it as a Sun file photo, and even that they’re selling it if you want to buy it:

 photo Marianne stolen pic close up of caption.png

Excuse my French but…what a bunch of fucking amateurs.

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!

September 4, 2013

Bipedal Blog Power

by at 4:05 pm.

Since the chicken issue has flown the coop & the Blog of Record ashamedly went on a witch hunt, we have to have some poltical salt water taffy to chew on, as we head towards the September 24th Preliminary Election.

We The People are binging on Bicycles! And, the local Blogs play the tune!

From the yucksters over at Sons of Franky Cabot, Ned brings us:

The revolution has started. (-snip)
It was only a matter of time before the city took notice. Enter the City employee bike share program. Sure it’s only four bikes right now, but we expect this wave of enthusiasm to extend to the council chambers. Since its time to get into it, I thought I should take it upon myself to thoughtfully recommend the most appropriate pedal powered options for our sitting council.
Mayor Murphy
Unicycle: Trading performance and efficiency for showmanship and nonconformity.

Councilors Mercier & Elliott.
2-man Tandem: The ultimate intersection of team work and strategy. Plus, you can harness Rita’s wind when Rodney gets tired of pedaling.

Take it from a seasoned blogger. It is totally NSFW, but do make a habit out of visiting SoFC. I consider it a ‘guilty pleasure.’ Who knew, Joe Rogan would be my latest internet swami? Snuggle up with a pitbull, crack a Zima, kick back and let SoFC take you away.

August 28, 2013

A Biking Review (with update)

by at 4:39 pm.

Marianne took a bike ride down Father Morissette Blvd to see how the new bike lanes are working out. Her review and photos are worth a read:

As you can see, the road is set up with a lane for car traffic, a buffer lane, a bike lane, another buffer lane, and a parking lane. As I was riding down the road, I noticed that traffic was going at about half the speed it used to pre-bike lanes/parking.

Go read the rest! And if you are a biker, maybe it’s time to allow FMB to be part of your route if you need it! Remember, this change has been something of a controversy in political circles, so it’s good to hear from people who actually will use it instead of the usual back-seat-driving we have every Tuesday night. (You know, from certain Councilors who apparently know better than traffic engineers, etc.)

Update: And speaking of transportation and changes to come, the draft Corridor Study & Feasibility Analysis for the Rourke Bridge has been published, and can be found here. Final public meeting is Monday, September 30 at 6:30 PM at the Lowell General Hospital.

February 27, 2013

Motion To Delay! Oh Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay!’

by at 12:23 am.

 photo SpeckLanes_zpscb6d0153.png

After over an hour of details surrounding the $2 million loan order to purchase new parking kiosks, as well as improve some of Lowell’s current inventory, C.Kennedy made a motion to delay the vote by one week. The discussion, then, continued for about another hour more. Ultimately, the motion to delay was supported, 7-2, with C. Lorrey and C. Mendonca against.

Come tomorrow, over at LTC.org, we can all dive back in to the picayune of tonight’s exquisitely detailed waltz around the kiosks. Honestly, I partly jest. There was plenty of red meat for those of us that like concrete responses to valid questions. But, tonight, politics was in the air, so progress was waylayed.

It’s late, so I’m going to put down some quick notes and take a lucky stab at how this all plays out over the next week.

There seemed to be, for all intents and purposes, 2 unresolved issues: 1) the proposed parking along Father Morrissette Blvd 2) if the loan order should be approved before the bid documents are evaluated.

January 15, 2013

Addressing the Core Transit Issue

by at 8:45 am.

I was watching local news this morning and they had a segment on Governor Patrick’s and MassDOT’s new transportation plan (pdf). I think I owe the Governor a small apology as the things listed prominently as revenue sources for addressing the structural deficits, crumbing infrastructure, and needed transportation investments included MBTA fee hikes. I was all set to write a huffy blog post about that, and I will get to that in a minute, but it appears that the mention of MBTA fee increases is modest, if anything, in the actual report, so now I’m a little miffed at Channel 7 instead.

Since that early report, I have heard the Governor on WBUR on my way into work (audio not up yet) and read some online articles like on Boston.com and skimmed the revenue section of the report itself (as linked above). I have to say, the plan/report takes the situation pretty head on and has a very wide net in its revenue suggestions. And the report is not Boston-centric; although of course most of the public transit is in the Boston area, there is a call for a Boston-Springfield line (long overdue) and other projects. (more…)

December 2, 2012

Lowell, Back Then

by at 9:30 am.

Thanks to Corey S, I found my way onto a photo gallery on Facebook by the Lowell Historical Society. As a “nouveau townie” (let’s do away with blow-in, please), I was fascinated to see what Lowell looked like as it widened Pawtucket Blvd, built the Wang Towers and the Rourke bridge, and before the tear-down and rebuilding of large areas of downtown Lowell. This early-80s set of photos (donated anonymously) is a great walk down memory lane for some, and a fascinating look at old Lowell for those who have more recently made it their home.

In other great Lowellcentric things to browse on a Sunday afternoon, I again came across the Rourke Bridge replacement study website, which has lots and lots of great information on the public meetings, studies that have been done, and more. As project websites go, it’s a really good one. If you, like me, missed the public meetings, I highly recommend reading through some of the material!

November 9, 2012

Rourke Bridge Meeting Report

by at 5:20 pm.

A post on Facebook by our frequent commenter, Joe S, about the public meeting on the Rourke Bridge, caught my attention, and I got permission to reprint it here. I’ve put it in with minor edits.

Rourke Bridge meeting was confined to the bridge only (area impact subject of next meeting). The team used models to project the need as of 2035 (hopefully well after bridge is built). Several options on location evaluated, one being to tear down the temp bridge and leave it at that (rejected). Build options were for locations and size.

The location options were a) at the present bridge, b) slightly upriver to connect to Old Ferry Road by crossing the river at an angle, c) downriver at an unspecified location and d) upriver in the North Chelmsford area to connect route 40.

For size, it was [proposed] 2-lane, 4-lane and 6-lane. The 2-lane is too small, the 6-lane is overkill and the 4-lane (likely selected) is good with plenty of margin. Much of the following discussion related to impact on the Pawtucketville neighborhood (concern that a better bridge would increase local traffic), and surprisingly some residents seemed to favor extending a highway through Pawtucketville (ugh!)… Although not concluded at the meeting, I suspect the eventual answer will be a 4-lane bridge with pilings (someone wanted none) basically in the same location as the temporary bridge.

Best case that would be [built] in about 5 years. In the meantime, upgrades to surrounding streets and intersections will be the subject of the next meeting.

He also added that “the plan is to have 5-ft bike lanes on each side” for you biking enthusiasts (lookin’ at you Marianne!).

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