Bike banning in Boston

A 36-year old MIT robotics scientist died while bicycling outside Kenmore Square this weekend, swiped by a truck that didn’t see her. So, clearly, it’s time to refight the battle Boston fights every few months — whether bikes and automobiles even belong on the road together.

The Herald’s Margery Eagan plays the part of the head-shaking curmudgeon today, flatly declaring that “Boston’s streets aren’t wide enough for bikes and cars. It’s as simple as that. To me, it’s not a debate about reckless drivers or reckless bicyclists. It’s about inches. Inches is how close my ’07 Toyota — 2 1⁄2 tons of steel and iron and chrome — comes to the unprotected bicyclists I pass every day.”

Eagan’s main beef is that Boston streets are busy. It’s a city, after all, and even without taking bikes into account, cars are jostling for space with buses and trolleys. (She forgets to mention pedestrians, but they’re around, too.) So, having decided that city streets are too full as they are, Eagan decides to close the city to bikes: “This is not about disliking bicyclists or disliking bikes. This is about ever more bicyclists trying to ‘share’ roads with cars when there’s no room to share.” Eagan doesn’t go quite so far as former Globe columnist Brian McGrory did two years ago, when he suggested enforcing a citywide ban on bikes by setting up checkpoints at the city line, but the sentiments line up nicely.

The latest round of complaints come as bicycle commuting is reaching a critical mass from a policy standpoint. Hubway, Boston’s bike-sharing program, is expanding, and adding a new innovative helmet-rental vending service. Bike lanes are now written into Boston city policy, under the Complete Streets framework that DPW crews are using to reconstruct roadways throughout the city. Boston is currently planning a 20-mile expansion of its bike lane network — a development the Herald spins as making city streets “more crowded.” The Patriot Ledger and WGBH just wrapped up a month-long project on bicycle-car road sharing. And MassDOT has an explicit goal of tripling the share of commuters who either walk, bike, or use public transportation.

Drivers already represent a minority of Boston commuters. So in one sense, Eagan, and McGrory before her, are fighting a battle their side — folks who see roadways as the exclusive domain of cars — has already lost. But the fact that city columnists can credibly trot out work complaining about non-motorists, even as a new city report shows that cars caused many of the bicycling accidents in Boston over the last three years, shows that road-sharing advocates have lots, lots more work to do.

                                                                                                                                                            –PAUL MCMORROW

MARATHON BOMBINGS

UMass Dartmouth has formed a task force to review the school’s response in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, which caused an evacuation and two-day closure of the campus after authorities learned one suspect was a student there.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis joins Emily Rooney on Greater Boston to talk about the progress of the investigation one month after the bombings and what has changed in the city’s approach in public safety at large-scale events and daily life in general.

BEACON HILL

State lawmakers appear poised to cut funding for youth summer jobs even as teen unemployment rates reach record levels.

Gloucester officials are urging state lawmakers to lower the state sales tax rate if an online sales tax becomes a reality, the Gloucester Times reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini proposes new rules to identify and maintain abandoned homes, including hefty fines for banks and runaway owners who fail to care for their properties, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Meanwhile, Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is locked in a dispute with the City Council over foreclosure mediators; Kennedy says the city doesn’t have the money to hire them and also doesn’t have the right to interfere with legally binding contracts, the Item reports.

Quincy city councilors once again rejected an application for an Asian market in North Quincy after a land court judge ordered the council to reconsider the application after finding fault with the first vote.

Chelmsford awards a $2.4 million turf-fields contract, with $1.4 million coming from the town’s Community Preservation Act funds, the Lowell Sun reports. CommonWealth’s previous coverage of the use of CPA funds for athletic fields is here.

Hanover selectmen are exploring leaving one of their board’s seats vacant to save money on a special election after one of their colleagues abruptly resigned to take a job with the town.

Though Everett plans a Saturday vote on casinos to maximize turnout, Springfield nixes the idea.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

White House officials knew about the IRS’s Tea Party audits, but never told their boss in the Corner Office. The Treasury was briefed, too.

ELECTIONS

Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez welcomes John McCain to his cause and goes on the offensive against Democrat Ed Markey’s homeland security record. WBUR reports Gomez does a delicate dance with the Marathon bombings. Here’s why McCain is a better choice to campaign with than, say, Newt Gingrich. The Atlantic speculates that President Obama’s recent spate of troubles may create an opening for Gomez.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Raytheon wins a $260 million defense contract to deploy air traffic control systems anywhere in the world, the Sun reports. The Globe reports that the company is also vying with Lockheed Martin for a $3 billion contract to build a “space fence” to track the half million pieces of “orbital junk,” man-made bits of space debris, that are floating around out there, imperilling weather forecasting and navigation satellites.

InVivo Therapeutics of Cambridge launches a first-of-its-kind spinal cord injury study, WBUR reports.

The Market Basket supermarket chain signs a $4 million deal to buy the Lynn Factory of the Future site, the Item reports.

A congressional panel finds that Apple used a series of accounting maneuvers to dodge billions in taxes. The company’s international unit hasn’t submitted any income tax filings to any national government in five years; between 2009 and 2012, the unit made $30 billion in profits, and paid no taxes to any country. In 2011, the Apple unit that sells hardware like iPhones and iPads paid an effective tax rate of 0.05 percent. A New York Times report last year examined, among other things, Apple’s pioneering use of the “Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich” tax dodge.

CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, in his weekly Globe column, writes that state reforms have stemmed the foreclosure crisis — even if the housing market is still struggling in those areas that were hardest hit by it.

EDUCATION

Methuen school officials refuse to turn over a copy of the just-approved teachers contract to the Eagle-Tribune.

The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, one of the highest ranked schools in the state in several different published listings, is protesting state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s denial of its request to expand by 400 seats.

The Spirit of Knowledge Charter School in Worcester is likely to be placed on probation, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

The all-boys Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood is planning to add a middle school program beginning in the fall of 2014.

The MetroWest Daily News supports Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to permanently lower student loan interest rates. The Download examined Warren’s bill Monday.

HEALTH CARE

Nurses at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester prepare to go on strike over staffing levels, particularly at night, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

A new study finds that both air and noise pollution can contribute to the risk of heart disease.

TRANSPORTATION

Peter O’Connor, writing for CommonWealth, examines the problem with the “last mile” in transportation, in this case in Portland, Maine.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A massive sandbar forms off of Plum Island, the Salem News reports.