Improving Wellesley's bicycle safety does not look to be an easy task, officials reported Tuesday night, but residents and Selectmen say it is worth it.
The Board of Selectmen . Many expressed gratitude to the Board and the Police Department for their work around town, but said that the town does not feel safe for cyclists.
Said Town Executive Director Hans Larsen, "In reacting to the tragic bike accident, and following the investigation of that accident, I have chosen to begin a conversation with the Board about what additional steps it can take with regard to safe-guarding the bicyclists and pedestrians in town."
Town Engineer Dave Hickey said accommodating all users would pose an "interesting challenge." In many areas of town, the roads are simply not wide enough to accommodate a dedicated bike lane, along with parking and sidewalks.
In-road shared bike lane markers, sometimes called "sharrows" (pictured right) could be added to roads, and would communicate to drivers that the road is a shared bike/car lane.
A number of residents who spoke said sharrows may not physically make them any safer, but would be an improvement.
The Fuller Brook project, when complete, could also provide a thoroughfare for cyclists to cross town entirely separate from other road traffic. Some residents said this type of bike lane is ideal.
Deputy Chief Jack Pilecki shared some crash numbers from previous years:Reported Crashes
Involving PedestriansInvolving Bicyclists 2010 849 9 13 2011 782 8 9 2012 784 8 5
"I don’t think these numbers are that bad," Pilecki said, "but clearly we can do better."
He added that of the crashes he investigated, the majority were caused be a car turning either right or left into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Although he did see some where the cyclist was at fault.
Boston Resident Spiros Motsenigos came to the hearing "to see the inception of deliberations here," and said, "I am heartened by level of sophistication of discourse. It speaks volumes about the quality of the people here."
Motsenigos is the brother of Wellesley at the intersection of Linden Street and Weston Road.
He went on to thank "Wellesley's Finest," and specifically Chief Terrence Cunningham and Lt. (now Deputy Chief) Jack Pilecki
Motsenigos also said the discussions "pay homage to legacy of my brother--not as a victim, but as an athlete. He felt great about living in Wellesley. We don’t have a choice about how we die, but we have a choice about how we live."
His brother, he said, lived in Wellesley because it was full of like-minded families, people who were active and spent time outdoors.
The Grand Jury returned with its verdict in Alexander Motsenigos' case, and elected not to indict driver Dana McCoomb, which angered the cycling community. The Motsenigos family is seeking a civil suit.
Motsenigos was preceded by a number of cyclists, who added their thanks and gave some suggestions to the Board.
Said Wellesley resident Angus McQuilken, "I encourage you to think of it more broadly than it has been discussed tonight. It's not just about making Wellesley safer for bikes, it's also about getting people out of cars and onto bikes."
Pleasant Street resident Hans Fischmann, a recent transplant from Los Angeles, said that, despite the City of Angels being a less bike-friendly area, he felt safer cycling there than here in Wellesley. He echoed McQuilken's notion of putting more bikes on the roads.
"The most trouble I have is with motorists who don’t understand that cyclists have right to be on road." Pickering Street resident Matt Kressy commented, "They have a 3,000- or 4,000-pound weapon, and I’m in my spandex on a 15-pound bike."
He added that many drivers do not seem to know that they can cross the double-yellow line, provided it is safe to do so, in order to pass a cyclist.
His daughter, Sophia Kressy, noted that "sharrows" could make cyclists more comfortable, saying, "I don’t want to go on main roads, because I'm not sure if cars know I belong there."
Brighton resident Ethan Fleming, who trains for charity rides in Wellesley, commented that he feels the residential streets are fine, but the town's main roads put him in "alert mode."
What kinds of bike safety improvements would you like to see? What kinds of changes should the town consider?