HomeNewsWhy Bike Lanes on Main Street?

Why Bike Lanes on Main Street?

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20th Century Homes

The past few weeks have been particularly difficult for travelers on Main Street in Hopkinton. Many residents have complained on social media about the near-constant construction noise, traffic delays, destruction of existing sidewalks, and patches of gravel stretching from the Wood Street intersection to the Common.

None of that seemed to deter two would-be burglars last week, who turned Main Street into a rally car track.

One of the most common concerns is the inclusion of bike lanes in the design. Many residents have rightly commented that there is very little bicycle traffic in this part of Hopkinton, and that to build a two-way bike lane may be dangerous in itself. The conventional conclusion is that bike lanes in Hopkinton are a waste of money.

While it remains to be seen how much bike lanes are utilized, the project planners had strong economic incentive to include them.

The Main Street project is estimated to cost $21.5 million in total, of which only 15% – or $3.4 million – Hopkinton residents are obligated to pay. This money is for items that are not eligible for grants, such as underground utilities and ornamental lighting. $8 million of the project funds come from State and Federal sources, with the condition that bike lanes be included in the plan (see USDOT’s briefing on this topic). For the few bikes that travel in that part of town, safety for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles will be improved. Further, if and when the Upper Charles Trail is completed, this section will provide an important connection.

Funding Sources for Main Street Construction Project

Fact Checking other Concerns about the Project

The town should have saved money by just paving Main Street and fixing the sidewalks.

The town estimated the cost to mill and repave Main Street and its sidewalks at more than $3 million, and that still would not have improved drainage issues or pedestrian safety. It also wouldn’t have straightened the intersection of Route 85 & Route 135. For the same taxpayer contribution the town receives much more benefit.

The Town Common is being reduced in size.

This is factually inaccurate. There is no loss of any Town Common space in the project plans.

There will be no improvement to downtown traffic.

This is very unlikely. The project includes straightening the intersection at 85 & 135, new traffic lights, new pavement, separate bike lanes, new drainage, and improvements to lighting. These factors are very likely to shorten the queue time at intersections and improve the flow of traffic.

The town took property with easements.

This is factually inaccurate. An easement does not confer ownership, it simply provides access. Temporary easements were required to allow contractors to complete the work in front of some properties, and they expire when the project is complete. Permanent easements provide public access after the project is completed but ownership of the property is not transferred. Further, permanent easements are professionally appraised and owners will be fairly compensated for any easement that is granted.

On street parking is being lost.

The project actually increases the number of spaces downtown. While some street parking has been lost, the town has attempted to make up for it by building new public parking spaces, notably adjacent to the Muffin House.

The project is not on time.

This project was approved at Town Meeting in 2018. The completion date was set for October 23, 2023 when the town awarded the bid. According to planners, the project is still on schedule.

20th Century Homes
Sunnyside Gardens

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14 COMMENTS

  1. On street parking and a pseudo central lot are not synonymous. Project was a failure from the get go and bad for downtown businesses. Pathetic attempt at minimizing legitimate concerns/issues with the project. By the way… I hope you don’t plan to be a carpenter in the future because if you think the intersection is “straight” I don’t think you’ll be in business too long.

  2. This reads like a marketing ‘puff piece’ for the project. The central parking lot is not in a great location and the bike lane to nowhere and associated narrowing of the travel lanes seem counterproductive. Lot of taxpayer money to pretty the Town by burying utilities…

  3. This is a failed “2 year” project.

    Per a 9/26/2019 HopNews.com article: “Also at issue is a 5-year length of time on the easements, leading some people to conclude wrongly that the construction will last 5 years. Chair Brendan Tedstone clarified. He explained that the plan called for the work to be completed in 2 construction seasons, beginning next year. Mr. Tedstone explained that the remaining years were for the warranty period.”

    Per a 10/2/2019 Hopkinton Independent article: “‘We’ve been apprised that this will cover two construction seasons,’ Khumalo stated. . . . It also was noted that construction season generally runs from April through November, depending on weather conditions.”

    Per a 6/1/2020 MetroWest Daily News article: “Design plans have been completed and the project is scheduled to go out to bid in the next four to six weeks, with bids likely due back in September or October. The bid process will likely determine the actual start of the work, said Herr. Construction is expected to take about two years.”

    Per a 12/2/2020 MetroWest Daily News article: “‘We’ll be working in earnest in the corridor,’ said Herr. . . . . Construction is slated to take about two years.”

  4. With due respect to “J” and “AdverseYaw”, we wrote this article in response to the rampant misinformation propagated on social media about the downtown corridor project, a project that was approved by voters at Town Meeting. Even casual readers of HopNews know that this publication doesn’t shy away from controversy. What is true is what is printed above. We eagerly make corrections for factual inaccuracies but not differences of opinion.

    • I’m sure those who were foolish enough to take the bait at Town Meeting and approve the Corridor project are having buyer’s remorse at this point.

      Do you really believe it to be a “cost savings” if at the end of the day you spend marginally less on something but are pigeonholed to something absurd? Why do you think ugly colored cars and clothes go on clearance? This projects version of that is the worlds largest bike lane(s). I think the majority would benefit more from on street parking IN FRONT of businesses they frequent. Surely more would benefit from Emergency Apparatus being able to navigate Main Street with ease during rush hour traffic… but hey I’m sure the tire and wheel salespeople are happy.

      Better to pay more and have control over the final product than accept the Government money and be left with this abomination. Especially when at the end of the day it was simply a beautification project, anyone that sees it other than that is delusional.

  5. You are playing with words. The Town Common has always included the 7,000 sq.ft. of grass located between Marathon Way and the Common. Just ask the Garden Club when the advertise their plant sale on the Common.or the Boy Scouts when they sell hot dogs and hamburgers at Polyarts on the Common. Both events are held on the 7,000 sq. ft. of the grassy area of the “Common” that is being removed and replaced by asphalt and concrete. Not only is this Downtown project not doing anything to beautify the Downtown, but it is ignoring Green initiatives and is contributing to creating a “heat island” in the Downtown area.

  6. The Town Manager’s report in the Select Board meeting (I picked the 4/4/23 meeting as an example) shows a total cost of $20M, with $10M paid by the town and $10M paid by the state with DOT/TIP funds. To date, the town has paid $6.5M and the state has paid $5.5M. $10M/$20M is more than 15%.

    With regards to bike lanes, a Shared Use Path, essentially a 10 ft wide sidewalk replacement to allow bikes and pedestrians) might have been reasonable but a Separated Bike Lane makes little sense. Separated bike lanes are designed to separate bike commuters, traveling at high speeds, from cars (at higher speeds) and pedestrians (low speeds). They make little sense here, particularly as they cross multiple driveways, which is noted as undesirable in bike path guidance.

    • Adding, the bike path is a dangerous design due to those driveways, and was clearly included only for compliance. Actual cyclists with experience riding in traffic were ignored in favor of consultations, for example, with Rails to Trails advocates (nothing against Rails to Trails, but the members tend to be people who hate riding in traffic, and lack that experience); cyclists would have been much better served by just giving us more paved shoulder.

      The primary reason very few cyclists use Main Street is that it’s unsafe, and this change is not going to make it safer.

  7. Given the massive shift to work from home that many of us are experiencing, I think there is a good chance those bike lanes will see frequent use once the project is complete. And every time I watch that video of the police chase I keep thinking about how the Girls Scouts frequently use that lot to sell cookies. That granite curbing would have saved their lives. I don’t think any of us can judge the success of this project until it’s complete, we see the final result, and can tally the final cost. But it certainly still has potential to be an overall benefit to the Town.

  8. Thanks HopNews for providing facts to correct suburban legend. Please ask the fire chief to correct information about emergency vehicle access on Main st.
    I love the bike lane and side walks! The bike line connects with Center Trail and on to the playing fields, Chamberlain St and Charlesview. I will save gas, get some exercise and visit with friends when I run errands.
    Thanks to MA for encouraging bike lanes to improve safety for all.

  9. Regarding the traffic mitigation; I have driven that stretch of road for many years and even in the absence of active construction, there appears to be anecdotal evidence that the backups are much longer. Lines stretching back to 495 on the west and lines back to Weston Nurseries on the east. It seems like the traffic light is the culprit by not being very intelligent in sensing that east/west traffic needs a lengthier cycle than north/south or that there are no vehicles present in turn lanes yet enabling left turn arrows. I think I noticed that either northbound or southbound had a green at any one time rather than simultaneous north/south flow. Anyone investigating what is going on?

  10. I’ve been cycling in Hopkinton since the day I moved here in 2005. These new lanes are simply silly & dangerous. I’ll keep riding on the main roads while making my way out of this over-populated mess of a town.

  11. Does anyone know what happened to all of the overhead lines all being moved to underground? That’s what I I thought I signed up for at Town Mtg. I’m now hearing they’re only going underground from the police station to the Town green.

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