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Snowed under

This page begins a look at specifics of the Vassar Street project.

Claims made in defense of the project are proving false one by one, even as this commentary is written in February of 2004, with relatively little bicycle traffic due to cold weather. And speaking of the cold weather:

... we have offered to maintain the facility and to assume responsibility for snow removal and trash removal. We have agreed ... to maintain the cycle track and walkways clear of ice and snow at all times.

Talitha Fabricus, of the MIT Planning Department,
in a letter to opponents of the project, March 10, 2002.

Has MIT found a way to accomplish this heroic feat? Check out the photos below. The text following the photos demonstrates that MIT was fairly warned, as if any warning were necessary.

Transition of street to sidepath, looking westward, December 10, 2003,
3 days after a heavy snowfall. Several cyclists were observed
riding past in the street, which was clear.

DSCF0005night1.jpg (31222 bytes)

Same location: bicyclist swerving to avoid ice, February 13, 2004,
5 days after a light snowfall and following a thaw. Before the sidepath was built,
the street drained properly, but now the depression where the bike lane
transitions to the sidepath holds a puddle after every rain, and
becomes a sheet of ice whenever the puddle freezes. Good work!

DSCF0039swerve.jpg (23938 bytes)

They were warned.

Pedestrians can tolerate imperfect snow clearance, and can even beat a path for themselves where there is no snow clearance. Bicyclists cannot. After a snowfall, sidepaths remain unusable, and then unsafe, for bicycle travel far longer than streets.

John S. Allen, MIT VI '75
in a discussion of technical issues
distributed to MIT and Cambridge planners,
March 5, 2002

More pictures taken by Peter Desnoyers
on December 10, 2003

The sidewalk, street and driveways are cleared,
but the sidepath is heaped with snow. Well, MIT
had to dump the snow somewhere. Rah, Rah, alma mater.

dsc_082Massave end.jpg (19761 bytes) Looking west from the
Massachusetts Avenue end. The transition (foreground) from street to sidepath is entirely covered by snow.

Driveway and sidepath at Building 39 portal

dsc_083bldg39.jpg (15264 bytes)

dsc_085 at rack.jpg (13912 bytes) Sidepath (right foreground)  disappearing under pile of snow, bike rack in background at Building 36

Looking toward
Main Street.
Stata Center driveway
(foreground). Blue bike lane crosses the driveway, then disppears under huge pile of snow.

dsc_087Stat driveway.jpg (15464 bytes)

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