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January 25, 2007


Let's be serious

The purposes of the Community Path is to provide a safe location for walking, biking, etc. Why, then, would we need an 'on-street bike path' which would run parallel to the Community Path? Somerville's streets are relatively narrow and crowded with parked cars, I don't think there's room (or need) to add something on the street which would only duplicate the route of the Community Path. In my opinion, I have no problem with bikers IF THEY FOLLOW THE LAWS OF THE ROAD, which doesn't happen too often. However, maintenance of the roadways are funded primarily through vehicle excise taxes. Until there is a similar tax on bicyclists, I don't think that a route should be added to city streets for bikes. Also, if this 'bike committee' is so intent on creating all of these bike initiatives, why is the City Coordinator unable to get time from them to help in their own efforts? And why can't they communicate with other city departments on Thursday evenings when City Hall stays open late for just this type of thing? Just one more PC change that some people would like to jam down our throats!

Ron Newman

The 'on-street' path would provide a marked bike route paralleling the future path extension; it would no longer be needed once the path extension is built.


"maintenance of the roadways"

Yeah, that's a joke, right!

Solh Zendeh

I agree, let's be serious. The amount of driving that we as Americans do is unsustainable. I don't mean that in terms of greenie-hippy global warming or save the polar bears, I mean in terms of our corporations and/or military actually sustaining the oil supply required for you and I and 300 million Americans to continue plodding around in 4000 pound machines carrying one or two 175(plus or minus) pound people.

Geologically we are approaching the halfway mark as far as recoverable oil in the world. On average, an oil well follows a bell curve of production, with the half way mark being the peak production zone. Once you pass the peak production, you inexorably have less and less coming out of the ground per day/month/year. This is a fundamental fact - big oil companies confirm this to be true.

So if you think that creating a safe, easy, fast method to get around not using cars is PC, you are wrong. It's being honest about the situation we face - less and less energy available for more and more people.

I hope we can invent our way out this, but why bet the bank on it. Those that prepare have a better chance of having a good life. Those that refuse to look honestly at a situation have less of a chance.


Let's face it....for many of us bikes are not an alternative. For some of us bikes are not an alternative for certain situations. When will this country get serious and really explore other types of fuel? And when will the radical environmentalists stop blocking drilling for oil in Alaska while we explore alternative fuels?
And by the way, I think the idea of a 'temporary' bike lane added to (presumably) Highland Avenue is totally ludicrous, although I'm sure the suggestion will win Mayor Joe some votes from Progressives!


It was nice to see Ron Newman's photo in the paper--why wasn't it posted on-line?


The idea that cars are paying for all expenses they incur to the government via the excise tax is a joke. People who don't drive subsidize those who do. If we made car drivers pay for the expenses they cause the government, on a variable basis that would be proportionate to the amount people drive, you'd see car use drop like a rock.


Don't forget there is a LARGE ELEMENT in SOMERVILLE that makes a living by stealing bikes and selling them for profit....the under ground hot merchandise market is alive and well and thriving in the VILLE.........Hey any one know the where a bouts o Vinny "walk around money" Piro ? just wondering


He is still being driven is he not no car perhaps the guy living in the same town as the HOG! can give him some tips on how to raise the cash or maybe a bike?


Really?? Automobile excise tax, Automobile sales tax, gas tax, tolls, etc., etc. If you think non-drivers are subsidizing drivers you're sadly mistaken!

Solh Zendeh

Really?? Those taxes simply do not cover the cost of bringing about 10 or 11 million barrels (per day) of oil into our country from abroad. We subsidize the oil companies with huge tax breaks. Also, a significant part of our navy deployment is used to police the international trade routes. This is a real cost to us. Look, we need the oil to keep things going around here. But let's get serious, this is not going to last that long. The worlds supply of oil is going to peak in the next 10 years. That doesn't mean we are going to run out, but the ability to get more and more will be gone. And with more and more people needing more and more energy, there is going to be real instability in the market.

Any free market guy can tell you that when there is instability, prices go up - way up. So let's take advantage of the relative price stability now to prepare for the absolutely inevitable. It is going to happen, you can't wish it away. And thinking that you are already paying your "fair share" is simply incorrect.



I know this is a bit far afield from the Bikepath, but it speaks to your remarks about the non-sustainability of the current situation (which I mostly agree with).

I noted with some sadness that the most recent order for new commuter rail equipment by the MBTA did not include either any electric locomotives or electric M.U. cars (similar to what Connecticut DOT and Metro North runs). With the NE Corridor electrified for almost 10 years now, the time seems ripe to break away from strictly diesel-hauled passenger trains between Boston and Providence altogether. So far, only the Big A is running straight electrics. There is no reason why MBTA can't do the same thing. The initial capital costs per seat would be similar, and the maintenance costs would be less for the electrics. The really big investment--stringing of the catenary--has been made. Why would they not want to maximize utilization of this? Electrics are more efficient, are defacto multi-fuel--25KV can come from everything from nukes to windmills), accelerate faster, and require less running and cyclical maintenance, and pollute less. EVERY OTHER NEC-tennant transit authority (MNCR, ConnDOT, MARC, SEPTA, etc.) utilizes electric equipment.

Of the oil you spoke of, nearly 60% (last time I read the numbers) goes toward transportation. Reducing any portion of that translates into HUGE savings.

The time is now. We have the toughest part of the investment IN PLACE. The prospect of electrification of the remaining trunk lines on the commuter rail, far-fetched though it may seem, would be advanced considerably if this one major piece were so equipped.

Just my opinion.


Solh Zendeh

JAR, I just don't know enough about train mechanics to comment more than to say: what you say sounds good to me. If it's cheaper to run and maintain has a more a more flexible fuel source, those attributes should more than make up for a small up-front cost. It's either simple municipal idiocy or payoffs, or a combination of the two.

Ron Newman

Or, more likely, that the T doesn't want to invest in equipment that they can use on only one of its 13 commuter rail lines.


Nothing really mysterious about it. Electric locomotives get their power from overhead wires vs. diesel-electrics which have internal combustion prime movers making them essentially power plants on wheels. Unlike Diesel-electrics, however, there is no fuel to carry and no motor idling or emitting CO2, NOx or anything else of significance (zero emission). Typical electrics in modern high speed passenger service run 4,000HP or better. The typical Diesel electric you see go by is about 3,000 HP.

I realize that the equipment would only be useable on the NEC proper. However, as far as the T not wanting to depart from a standard, my rebuttal to that is simple... It already does so. Each of the rapid transit lines--Red, Blue and Orange--have non-compatible platform dimensions. Thus Red line cars can only be used on the Red Line, etc. Equipment and fixed plant underutilization (for want of a better word) is systemic and really a way of life on the T.

Word I'm hearing--and it's only rumor--is that Amtrak is poised to re-assume operation of the commuter rail at the end of the Make Believe Commuter Rail's contract. When that happens, it would simply be a matter of a half-dozen additional engines to be maintained at Southampton Street or wherever. Consider also the unfortunate plight of the Kawasaki double-deck cars. They are restricted from operating on the north side commuter lines; more underutilization.

The electrification of the NEC from New Haven to Boston cost almost a billion dollars. The rationale for it was to shorten the travel time Boston-New York, but there are other potential value enhancements that can easily be made. Running electrics on MBTA trains from Boston to Providence/Warwick should, in my humble opinion, be among them.


Ron Newman

(I realize we're getting away from the subject of "Bike advocates meet")

Are the double-deckers restricted from the north side because of height clearance? Do they not fit under some of our bridges?

Max Warwick

If you are the same Ron Newsman from the Bike committee, can you tell us what's up with the developer of Maxpac getting to use the bike path for his construction of the project? We thought Alderman Odonovan told us that was not going to happen? Do you know how long that will be and if it will interfere with the extension of the path? We just got our mailing from city hall today.

Ron Newman

It came as a surprise to us, too. The bike committee will have a special meeting next week to discuss our response.

My personal feeling (not necessarily shared by any or all other committee members) is that if the developer gets to use the bike path for construction, he should be required to leave behind a fully built and paved path after he is finished. It is definitely not acceptable to me for the developer to leave the tracks and ties in place, throw gravel over them, and call that a temporary construction road.



Regarding the Kawasakis; I'll e-mail you off list later so as to not run too far from the topic. Anyone else who wants to know the story can e-mail me directly if they'd like.

Concerning the path issues; I absolutely agree with the last paragraph of your previous post concerning the developer's obligation. The right-of-way is a public asset.

No can do

The right of way is also not city property and they are not at liberty to turn over its' use to a private developer. In order for a developer to temporarily use the path for construction they are required to apply for and obtain a license for such use from the MBTA. This, however, will not be done unless someone (not the city or O'D God Knows) forces the issue. The Bike Committee or the neighborhood should contact the MBTA about this immediately!

Ron Newman

The Bike Committee cannot do anything official until we meet Monday evening, but trust me, all of the input here will be read.

Ron Newman

The Somerville Bicycle Committee's next monthly meeting will be this Tuesday, February 20 at 6:30 in the basement conference room at City Hall.

Our main topic of discussion will be the MaxPak developer's proposal to use the future bike path right-of-way for construction access. KSS's current plan does not offer the city any mitigation in exchange for use of this right-of-way.

Max Warwick

Can anyone attend this bike meeting? There are some of us who live near the path and are not too happy with this. We called the alderman but have not heard back from him.

Ron Newman

All of our meetings are open to the public. (That's required by law.) We meet on the third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 in the City Hall basement conference room. See you there?

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