If you build it, they just might come.
May 21, 2011
The Alewife T station is near the intersection of Route 2 (a multilane highway) and Route 16, near the Cambridge-Arlington border. The T stops there, because back when they were extending it, the further out burbs (in particular, I am told, Arlington) wanted to “preserve property values”. They did, in fact, succeed in this, unlike Davis Square, where they tripled. Route 2 also effectively ends there, because Cambridge also wanted to preserve property values, in the usual sense of the phrase (cars, not so good for property values).
And so, because the T doesn’t reach quite as far as all the potential commuters, and because the high-speed road ends right there, we get monster traffic jams, Monday through Friday. The garage fills, it would be difficult to expand, and even if they did, the traffic jams would get even worse. If only there were some other way to get people to the subway, besides cars.
These racks (below) are the only ones that aren’t crammed full of bikes. This is the Pedal&Park on the Cambridge side of the station, not easily reached from the other side where all the other bike parking is.
Something to consider, if someone proposes to add more road capacity for cars, is if the additional capacity would just lead to more traffic, instead of relieving traffic. Look at these racks — they built more, and they filled right up — with bicycles. Allegedly less convenient than cars, certainly less able to take advantage of open road at high speeds, and certainly a much smaller fraction of transportation, yet when the capacity was added, poof, it was consumed. Remember this, if you think you can cure car traffic problems by expanding roads.