Keep the old Northern Ave bridge car-free

This is possibly the worst piece of news I’ve seen in a while. Apparently the City of Boston is in fact considering allowing cars on the Northern Avenue Bridge – the old wooden pedestrian bridge connecting the new Seaport District to downtown, just north of the Seaport Bridge.

It is true that the Seaport District experiences massive gridlock on a daily basis – I drive a truck there for work sometimes and it’s miserable – but that’s because it was designed that way. We had a blank slate to work with but the city deliberately went the route of giant parking garages, limited transit capacity and wide multi-lane stroads. Everyone who has ever studied this could have predicated the current disaster.

What to do now? The only solution to traffic congestion is transportation alternatives. Build more and better transit services, require secure bike parking and protected bike paths, expand Hubway … but you can’t build more roads to solve the problem. Adding more road capacity will only extend the daily parking lot.

It won't bring any kind of vitality or economic development either. People who drive through neighborhoods tend not to stop in them. And most people who go to the Seaport District, by whichever mode, really just want to get out of there. It's not a place most of us enjoy spending time. Because it was a major missed opportunity to design a place worth being in.