The following Convention Center Environmental Impact Report comments were submitted by SAND member and Boston bicyclist William Reyelt.
WILLIAM E. REYELT
255 Beacon Street, Unit 1
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
work: (617) 727-7001 x422
home: (617) 247-4467
November 24, 1998
Honorable Trudy Coxe
Secretary Executive Offices of Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, 20th Floor
Boston, MA 02202
RE: EOEA #11575,
Final Environmental Impact Report for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
Dear Secretary Coxe:
As a concerned resident of Boston and a cyclist, I would like to submit a few comments pertaining to the above-referenced document.
In reference to the bicycle parking discussed in the first paragraph of Section 3.9.9, I recommend that, at minimum, these facilities be provided in an amount that is generously pegged to corresponding provisions made for automobile parking. Commonly-accepted standards for required bicycle parking are in existence (see http://www.odot.state. or.us/techserv/bikewalk/plantext/parking.htm or http://www.trans.ci.portland.or.us/ Traffic_Management/Bicycle_Program/parkguide.htm) and such standards should be matched or exceeded, so that bicycle access will be not merely accommodated but encouraged.
Along these same lines, short-term bicycle parking facilities to accommodate non-employee/visiting cyclists should be provided in addition to the long-term/covered bicycle parking facilities mentioned in the report. Accordingly, the promotion of cycling as a means of traveling to and from the BCEC should not be limited simply to employees as visitors will no doubt include people from the Boston area whose mode of travel is not predetermined.
The last sentence of the first paragraph of Section 3.9.9 states that "an attempt will be made" to provide shower and changing facilities for employees who are bicycle commuters. While this statement shows an admirable consideration for cyclists, I want to emphasize how critical the achievement of this objective is and suggest that language be altered to become a more substantive commitment.
As a cyclist with a formal education in transportation planning, I believe that the significance of end-of-trip facilities for bicycle commuters is considerably under-estimated as factor which influences travel behavior. In the humid summer months and for anything but the shortest of bicycle commutes, the ability to shower and change at the work place is critical. For this reason, I think that the BCEC must not simply attempt to provide these facilities, but rather provide these facilities or a reasonable alternative such as some sort of discount/voucher-type arrangement with a nearby health club.
Section 3.8.3 Bicycle Design Elements describes the provisions for cyclists along the travel ways adjacent to the BCEC. The language surrounding the "wide curb lane" is somewhat vague, and I am wondering how this will be marked. It is widely accepted that vehicle speeds increase with increasing travel lane widths. If the defacto bicycle lane is simply the undelineated extra pavement belonging to an abnormally large travel lane, an excessive design speed will compromise conditions for cyclists. While bicycle lanes per se may not be necessary, there need to some pavement marking to limit the psychological width of the vehicle travel lane.
In general reference to bicycle and pedestrian issues, it would be nice to see a wide range of traffic calming techniques employed throughout the vicinity of the BCEC. Boston does not seem to think that traffic calming belongs in the downtown of a major city; however, there are numerous examples to the contrary.
Lastly, I would like to make a comment beyond my general concern with bicycle and pedestrian issues. The BCEC is an enormous building with an extremely large footprint for its location in a city center where land and open-space are at a premium. There are wonderful examples available in terms of so-called "green" or "sustainable" architecture (see: http://www.mcdonough.com/ or http://www.cornishproductions.com/WorkIn Progress/4%20TimesSq.html, etc.) and given the adverse social and environmental impacts associated with a building of this scale, in this location, it seems reasonable to suggest that similar techniques be explored. Properly utilized, the massive uninterrupted rooftop alone presents a magnificent opportunity for mitigation against these environmental and social impacts.