Some of the roads in Quincy look different lately – they are decked out with green paint and green posts. What’s going on? The answer is that Quincy streets are slowly becoming more complete. A “Complete Street” is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – foot, bicycle, public transit, and vehicles – to people of all ages and abilities. If a street has bike lanes like the ones newly installed in Quincy, biking is the fun choice to get where you’re going – as well as the environmentally friendly one!
In 2018 Quincy adopted a new Complete Streets policy, and in 2019 the Commonwealth awarded Quincy over $300,000 of Complete Streets Grant Funding. The locations redesigned with that funding include:
- Coddington Street, which now has a bike lane that brings riders from Merrymount Parkway to Quincy High School.
- Quarry Street, which now has our city’s first bike lane protected by posts, or bollards. This provides not only a safe, comfortable space for cyclists but also a calmer driving environment, a critical improvement in an area where in 2016 a school bus crashed into a house and the following year a car smashed into another house.
- The intersection of Southern Artery and McGrath Highway, which is now friendlier to pedestrians and those with disabilities.
In 2019, after advocacy from Quincycles, a local non-profit that promotes bicycling in Quincy, Mayor Koch began including funds for expanding the bike network in the city budget. In the past three years Quincy has used this money to install or update bike lanes on Washington Street, Billings Road, Adams Street, and Centre Street. That funding was cut in half due to the uncertainty of the pandemic economy in FY2021, but the Mayor’s proposed budget for 2022 restores the original amount. QCAN and Quincycles hope to see the city’s investment in biking continue to grow.
2020 brought us COVID-19, but it also gave us a pandemic-inspired bike boom. Many people decided to buy a new bike or to pull their bikes out of garages and basements and get rolling for socially distant exercise. Streets felt safer with fewer vehicles on the roads and new bike lanes. Bike repair shops were deemed essential businesses to keep other essential workers riding to work. The Commonwealth created a grant program called Shared Streets and Spaces to improve “public spaces in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce.” Quincy Point, an environmental justice community and site of a pedestrian fatality, received $189,000 to reallocate road space on Quincy Avenue. More recently another round of grants was awarded, and Quincy received $191,000 for improvements at South Street and Southern Artery – site of another recent pedestrian fatality.
Now, in 2021, people who want to bike in Quincy can enjoy more miles of bike lanes, including Quincy’s first physically protected bike lane. That’s good news for residents and for the fight against climate change, since transportation accounts for an enormous portion of greenhouse gas pollution in the US. According to a study by the European Cycling Federation, a bicycle produces less than a tenth of a percent of the carbon emissions of a passenger vehicle over its lifetime.
Even if you don’t bike yourself, your support for bike lanes benefit everyone on the road by:
- Reducing Congestion: Bicycle-friendly communities are often the best driving cities. Each person riding a bike means one less car on the road. The safety improvements on Quincy Avenue come from sharing excess road space with bicyclists and cause “insignificant change in travel time/delay through the corridor,” says Traffic Engineer Allison Ruel.
- Increasing safety: Bike infrastructure makes the roads safer for everyone, according to a study from the University of Colorado Denver. Quincy’s Department of Traffic, Parking, Alarm, and Lighting reports that vehicle speeds have decreased on roads where the improvements have been made. Washington Street drivers now go an average of 3 mph slower, for example.
- Additional benefits from bicycling include more livable communities, lower health care costs, and greater economic vitality. The list goes on.
Please consider riding your bike beyond the pandemic and supporting the expansion of Quincy’s safe bike network. Whether you drive, walk, or roll in our city (or do all three!), these changes to our streetscape benefit you and your loved ones. We ask you to:
- Let your city councilors know that you support the safety improvements Complete Streets and bicycle facilities bring, especially if you live near or utilize an improved street. Request that the arterial roads in the recently approved Capital Improvement Plan be finished with all the people who use them in mind. All our roads deserve to be Complete Streets.
- Inform our school committee members and candidates that you would like our schools to bring Safe Routes to School programming to teach our youth about safe cycling and walking, and to create safer pathways for active transportation to Quincy schools.
- Join Quincycles for a group bike ride in and around Quincy to discover how bikeable the City of Presidents really is!
– Irene Lutts, QCAN member and President of Quincycles