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Keller @ Large: What Will Bicycle Lanes Mean For Boston's Parking Problems?

BOSTON (CBS) – Do you bring your car into Boston to work, shop or play?

If you do, you know what a test it can be of your patience and what a drain it can be on your wallet.

"It's very difficult. A total lack of parking, always has been," said one man who spoke to WBZ-TV near City Hall on Wednesday said.

"I don't want to drive. I used to have a moped and I didn't even want to take that in, it's not worth it," another woman said.

Parking in Boston isn't going to become easier or more attractive under transportation reforms rolled out Wednesday by Mayor Marty Walsh, including the removal of 73 parking spaces along Commonwealth Avenue at the Boston University campus to make way for a protected bike lane.

The announcement also included plans to pull the city's remaining quarter-operated parking meters in favor of a computerized system that can potentially implement variable pricing policies similar to what Brookline does with Beacon Street meters on Red Sox game days.

"Let's be honest, parking and traffic is a problem in the City of Boston and it's a problem in a lot of urban areas, and one thing I'd love to see is more people take public transportation in and out of town," said Walsh at a City Hall press conference.

No question, that Comm. Ave stretch has been one of the city's most hazardous, with several pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and many bad accidents. And promoting pedestrian, bike and mass transit access to the city will help ease the traffic crunch and promote a cleaner environment.

But City Councilor Michael Flaherty of South Boston said in a phone interview that he's concerned with the loss of an estimated $341,000 in revenue from those Comm. Ave meters.

Flaherty is also worried about the impact further encroachment on parking (and further increases in parking costs) might have on both city-resident motorists for whom public transit isn't always an option and outsiders who can easily find attractive places closer to home to spend their dining, shopping and entertainment dollars.

"Is this the nose under the tent?" wonders Flaherty.

The mayor tried to be reassuring in a brief interview with WBZ-TV today.

"I'm a car guy," Walsh said. "I'll take a bike ride every now and then when I can, but before I was mayor I was a car guy, I'm a car guy now, and people like their cars."

He's right, they do.

And balancing their needs – and the city's need to attract them – with the legitimate concerns of cyclists, pedestrians and environmentalists will be a major long-term challenge for the Walsh administration.

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