As you soak in today’s unseasonal warmth and sunshine, let’s turn the way-back machine to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, when we woke to a more typical New England morning: rain and 40s forecast for the entire day. Remember it?
Despite the unpleasant conditions, more than 50 kids biked to Newton North (as counted by friend of V14 and Bike Newton president Alicia Bowman). Soak that in (pun intended). Rain. 40s. 50 teenagers biked to school.
This is a reality that we should celebrate for environmental, health, and traffic impacts. This is a reality that many of us championed for years. This is a reality that is, quite frankly, astonishing given the city’s dreadful lack of bike-friendly accommodations to and at the school.
But, most importantly, this is a reality that demands strong, immediate action. We can no longer delay full bike accommodations on Walnut St. and Lowell Ave. The old concern trolling that we don’t want to encourage biking because it’s too dangerous is now reckless. The kids are biking. It is essential that we make them safe.
There can be no higher priority on either street than bike safety. Fifty kids on a rainy December day passes whatever threshold you might imagine. Do whatever is required, including removing on-street parking.
We need to provide much more and much better bike parking at the school. Convert prime parking spots to covered bike parking. Now. From every perspective, the school community benefits when more kids bike. Kids who bike to school should be rewarded with the best parking. When the better bike parking encourages more kids to bike, convert more parking to bike parking. Rinse. Repeat.
The picture of bikes in the rain should generate some real urgency from public officials. Do not ignore the wisdom of the young.