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Cambridge tries new turn boxes for bicyclists

How to make a left turn on Binney Street

Turning left the green way. Photo by Charles River TMA.

Cambridge is trying something different with a dedicated bicycle lane on the newly repaved Binney Street between Land Boulevard and Third Street: Bright green lanes and dedicated left-turn boxes, which, of course, nobody has ever seen around here.

The Charles River Transportation Management Association explains how to use the new turn boxes, designed to left bicyclists turn left with less danger:

With a cycletrack and a busy street like Binney, it's hard and not-that-safe to take a left turn from the cycletrack across three or four lanes of traffic. What the bike box allows you to do, as a cyclist, is to make a left turn in two steps. First, you bear right and stop your bike in the green box, repositioning it to aim to the left. Then, once the light changes, you proceed straight across with (or ahead of) the flow of traffic. So instead of having to make a left in traffic, you get to make a right turn out of traffic, and then go straight ahead with the flow of the cars, which is safer for everyone.

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Comments

Of course, green paint will make all the difference in the world. Why didn't we think of that before? I feel so much better now.

Of course, it's unclear to me how this will prevent idiots from ignoring passenger side directionals and whipping around me on the right as I'm signalling and then making a turn. Or other idiots from blowing through pedestrian crosswalks and red lights. But hey, that's probably just me.

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Those idiots whipping around you on the right have the right of way. You are required to yield to them before making a turn, even if you signal.

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I believe moxie is talking about the right hook where the car is turning to the right across the path of the cyclist (much like the fatal truck/bike accident last week) though the language leaves it a bit less than clear. But the law is very clear that the bike has the right of way in that situation.

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That is what I'm saying. The driver (moxie) must yield to the cyclists (the 'idiots'), who have the right of way.

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Because they're not trapped in their car getting all ragey and pissed off for no reason? Or because they're doing something that would cause most Americans to be sucking wind, or worse, after pedaling for two city blocks? You should try it some time. You could probably use the exercise.

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The person you're responding to is on your side, FYI.

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Aren't you just the fucking scholar.

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Yes God forbid anyone infringe on your right to right hook a cyclist

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cyclists actually use some common sense and not pass people on the right - especially when approaching an intersection.

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Are you one of those sovereign citizen lunatics that ignores the law?

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sets you up to be a lawbreaker for not noticing a small, fast-moving, and in-your-blind-spot Thing that thinks it's better than you and owns the road, then the law is not in your favor and you are within your rights to oppose it on the grounds that it's a form of entrapment.

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Isn't it just typical how pathologically selfish people are the quickest to accuse others of selfishness? Witness this "own the road" nonsense: only someone who was too selfish to be willing to share the road with others would object to them using the road in a legal manner and blame them for your own failure to pay attention while driving. They may have missed this when you went through driver's ed, but "noticing" other traffic is your responsibility when you operate a vehicle. If you're not up to the task, you need to stay off the road and not whine about "entrapment" when you are required to comply with the law. And referring to another human being, who is now dead, as a "Thing"? You're a sociopath, plain and simple.

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When passing someone making a left turn?

If that person suddenly banged a right turn and hit your precious motorized vehicle, would you blame them, or yourself? You probably wouldn't tell your insurance company to pay for their car and yours, right?

Cycle lane is a travel lane - deal with it or get off the road.

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God forbid drivers use turn signals, look before making a turn, know the laws and don't leave the scene when they all to often run over a pedestrian or cyclist who actually was following the laws.

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...is relabel the lanes for you. If it's a "two lane road with a bike lane", now it's a "three lane road". So, God forbid someone making a right turn from the MIDDLE LANE not check to see if they're about to hit someone in the RIGHT LANE.

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This makes a lot of sense to me, but it also implies that when making a right turn, the motorist should merge into the bike line so cyclists can easily pass the motorist on the left while the motorist is making the turn. Most bike lanes in Boston and Brookline don't make this obvious.

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Not all lanes are equal. The law says that you basically can't cut a bicycle off if it's just passing through. Moving over and forcing the bike to either go around your left or come to a stop behind you while you turn *would* be the way to go *if* the law didn't say you can't inhibit the bike.

Instead, drivers need to drive with the following things in mind:

1) Take a mental inventory of bicyclists that you pass and about how long/far ago. In the city they're only going to take about twice as long as you to get to the same place as you from when you passed them.

2) When you stop at an intersection or in traffic, instead of looking at your phone, look in your rear and passenger side mirrors to double check which bicyclists you still see. Give it a 3 count in case they're between mirrors.

3) When you go to turn right if you remember any cyclists at all recently being passed, WAIT for a good 2-3 seconds to see if they're still beside you before you turn.

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You can't cut a car off either. If the vehicle in the lane to your right was a car, you'd also have to make sure the lane is clear before merging to the right in preparation for your right turn. My understanding of the reasoning why Cambridge put dotted lines on their bike lanes as the lanes approach intersections was to indicate that this was the preferred technique for right-turning vehicles -- treat the bike lane as any other lane and SAFELY merge into it before making the right turn. Boston and Brookline don't have these dotted lines, so maybe they are advocating an approach more like what you describe.

Case in point: in my own extensive experience cycling on Beacon St. in Brookline, I noticed something when they put in the bike lanes several years ago. Before the bike lanes were added, going westbound at the intersection with Corey Rd, there was a right-turn-only lane that went into a cut-away in front of the parking lane. When I was cycling straight through, it was easy to bear left to avoid going into the right-turn lane, and let right turning traffic make their turns from the turn lane. After they put in the bike lane and got rid of the right-turn-only lane AND the cut-away, that intersection became trickier to navigate. Yes, I can still merge to the left if I want to stay out of the path of right-turning vehicles, but now that lane that I'm merging into still has those right-turning vehicles, and I would have to merge *another* lane over to get around them, which is complicated by the faster traffic in that other lane. Or I can stay in the bike line and just be extra careful to avoid being right hooked (while the drivers there also have to try to see into their blind spots to see if I'm still there). Overall, that intersection became MORE dangerous after the bike lane was added.

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...you put the cell phone down and actually pay attention. You're driving in the city. It's not a friendly environment for cars. Deal with it.

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...there are avid cyclists on this site who defend hands-free cell phone use when driving cars. I got into a back and forth with one of them about it, as I'm against it. I've neatly been hit a number of times while crossing on foot by a distracted driver yapping away. Furthermore, I daily see cyclists texting and talking on their phone while riding in the city streets. It's insane and dangerous. Everyone should be paying more attention while on the road, including pedestrians.

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I'd like to know what cyclists think of these. Do they accomplish anything? Do you feel a bit safer?

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Yeah, it is nice to have a designated area off to the side. I pull off to the right to turn left at the BU bridge and when I'm crossing other major roads. It's certainly a better option than waiting in a traffic lane with cars coming up behind you.

Still, changes like this are small improvements. The best thing for cars and cyclists (and a longer-term project) is putting in cycletracks that are physically separated from car traffic lanes.

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When they aren't full of cars that jumped the stop line.

The ones I've used are a little different but can be very helpful at intersections where the bike lane is on the right but you need to take a left or like the ones where Comm. Ave meets the Public Garden, where the bike lane is on the left and you might need to make the right into the right-most lane.

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I'd rather just make the turn in the usual fashion. My general concerns when riding are, in order: right hooks, left hooks, potholes, people passing too closely. This sort of situation doesn't even make the top-10.

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Bike boxes as a whole are a great idea - I find them mostly to be helpful in ensuring that you are ahead of car traffic when the light turns green, meaning you are in no danger of being right-hooked (both because you are visible to any potential turning cars behind you, and because you are far enough ahead that a driver could not possibly accelerate fast enough to try to turn in front of you). As mentioned above, in situations where you need to get from one side of the road to the other, such as Comm Ave eastbound at Charlesgate, they are very valuable.

This left turn thing is ok...the downside though is that you end up waiting through two light cycles if you need to first go straight through the intersection, turn off to the right, and then wait for the light again to proceed across the intersection to the left. Normally I am going fast enough or there is enough of a break in traffic that I can just signal and get to the left to make the turn the same as a car.

However, there are times this would be useful - heavy/fast car traffic, a road where you can't get over in time (like if there is a protected bike lane holding you to the right curb). Making a left at the BU bridge from Comm Ave eastbound is a good example, as is making a left onto North Harvard Street from Cambridge St eastbound in Lower Allston.

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I will proceed forward with the light, turn, and wait for the light in the opposite direction at several intersections where the terrain (slope issues like Winthrop and Boston in Medford) or the traffic patterns or volume make a traditional left turn difficult.

I used to do this a lot when hauling kids, too, as my ability to accelerate was low. Otherwise, I'll use a left turn signal or lane, as I'm usually faster off the line or able to keep pace through the turn with the vehicles around me.

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The turn boxes are helpful on most roads with two lanes for each direction. It is often difficult to get over two lanes of traffic to take a left. Even if you are able to, it is uncomfortable as cars try to pass you from behind in the same lane while you are waiting for a break in the oncoming traffic.

If you are going down Mass ave in the bike lane coming from Cambridge into Boston it is difficult to turn left. I often make my own turn box and just pull in behind the crosswalk on one of the cross streets and wait for the light to change.

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In other words, rather than merge into the left-turn lane prior to making a left turn, the "left-turn box" allows you to make a left turn essentially as a pedestrian would albeit with a dedicated light cycle. I suppose this is a good thing for novice cyclists who already ride this way, but it really is so much simpler, faster, and better to just use the standard left-turn lane.

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The point is that with a dedicated cycletrack/bike lane, you don't need to be in the same lanes as cars, which then makes turning left very difficult.

On roads without a dedicated lane for bikes (aka nearly all of them) then the method of merging into the left lane is the way to go.

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Seems like every neighborhood in every city has a different system, which is just confuses out-of-towners when they drive through. Furthermore, if some drivers can't even accept the fact that they have to stop at red lights and stop signs, do you honestly think those offenders are going to abide by this green box? The only drivers who are going to bother to pay attention to these new green markings are the ones who are already mindful and respectful of pedestrians and cyclists in the streets.

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Seems to be the people who never left town nor mastered a four-way stop who kick up the most fuss. Seeing it in Medford now that we are getting bike lanes.

All the more reason why the Commonwealth should make you do a ten question open book test whenever you go to renew your license. Do it online, even, or while you wait three hours at the RMV because they all take lunch at noon, too.

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Yes, approximately 93% of people in metro Boston.

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I passed a driving test when I was 16 so I'm good for the rest of my life. Similarly, I can speak French and know the periodic table because I also passed those tests when I was 16.

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If you practiced both of these things every day. Many Americans drive daily or at least a few times a week. If you did that with French or the elements, you'd still be sharp as a tack on most of that.

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But when I'm walking around watching Boston drivers, the thought "now there's a bunch of people who have perfected their craft" never even crosses my mind for a moment.

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The test I took in Maryland involved a closed course and very specific abilities and hurdles to clear. I'm better than your average Boston driver.

I sponsored a friend from a different country who had to take the driving test. We drove a couple blocks around the mall in Watertown, did a 3 point turn with 2 lanes to do it in and "parallel parked" behind a single car. We did all right turns and only one left and that was back in a community and didn't have to deal with bike lanes, changing lanes, or anything else.

The problem that you've identified is a low bar of entry, a bad test. It's not the fact that after the test you don't have to re-test. Most of the bad drivers you are commenting on could easily pass the driving test that I sat through that other day.

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Driving is a right, read the constitution! You can't force drivers to read stuff or know things!!1!

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it's next to marriage and abortion and before universal healthcare

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In Medford where there is less cycling, maybe but in AB the worst offenders (much like with everything else wrong with the city) are the college kids who brought their cars to school because mommy and daddy said it's not safe in the big scary racist city. Ride by TiTS and White Horse on any given night and you'll see CT plates dart out in front of you and college thugs walking into the street like they own it without any care to who is using the street legally.

Just this past weekend my girlfriend and I rode by the 57 stop by TiTS and some BU kid was running into the road with his pants down farting at every cyclist. College kids are the fucking worst.

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irrational contempt for 'townies'? Metro Boston is a huge place, deciding to live most or all of your life in the area you were born or grew up in doesn't make you a 'loser' as you constantly imply. I would agree growing up in a small rural town like you would most likely require you leave for greener pastures, usually a big metro area like Boston, to better your life, make a decent living. This is not comparable to someone who was born, grew up, or lived a long time in a place of destination, like Boston, NYC, Seattle, Dallas, and so-on. Apples and oranges, not all places are equal.

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I'm merely describing the typical person who is railing against bike lanes in my own community. They are few, loud, and tend support that paranoid reactionary known as Penta. I know they have never left town because they are proud of it. They self-identify as such when displaying their persecution complexes or whinging about how unfair it is to live in a state with laws that apply to them.

I know they are incompetent drivers because the "stories" they tell about hating cyclists are rife with their own errors and reckless ignorance of the laws. In fact, they are the very same people who complained about being cited for running a new stop sign because they "should be given several months to get used to it". Exact quote, not exaggeration. Their previous and ongoing obsession is the utter injustice of having to pay for parking in commercial areas!

How long have you been involved with such issues in your own community?

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My problem with you is you frequently make troll-like, derogatory comments about 'townies', meaning apparently to you, which I glean from your many posts, anyone with a local accent (the dreaded, uncouth dropping of the R), and worse, in your eyes, anyone who has lived their entire life in this area. Aside from the smug bigotry, you make gross generalizations that I'm sure you'd be in an uproar if someone made similar comments about your personal favorite demographic.

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on the streets. This doesn't necessarily make things better ir safer, because most after a while just start ignoring signage.

In some intersections, it's simply prudent for a cyclist to get iff and walk their bike through.

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Agreed: too many signs and especially advertisements popping up everywhere over the past few years. There should be no advertisements aimed at drivers. Digital billboards with flashing ads are absurd and distracting. Drivers should be paying attention to street signage, other cars, pedestrians and cyclists, and where they are going. Period.

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Is it me, or does anyone else think that box in the picture was applied wrong side up, sideways?

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Imagine that the cyclist pictured was traveling up the street in the bike lane, toward the camera. Now he wants to turn left at the intersection (to the right of the camera). So he pulls over to his right into the bike box, and waits for the light to turn so that he can go straight in the direction that he is now facing. His maneuver follows the direction of the arrow on the ground.

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One of the things one might do on a bike at a difficult left turn is go straight across an intersection, climb the curb at the corner, and push the crosswalk button, then cross to the left with pedestrians. This provides a safer way to do the same thing. It achieves this by pushing the car stop line back and giving bikes a safe place to stop in the road instead of having to climb the curb to get out of the way.

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if you click on the link Adam supplied, it makes sense.

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Cyclists don't follow the current laws, rules and etiquette of the road. Adding another confusing-ass rule won't make anyone safer or the world a better place.

Good for road-painters I guess.

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This is an amenity. Nobody is required to use it, but it is there if they need it.

Also, when did drivers start following the current laws? Etiquette of the road? Isn't that what other states would ticket profusely for (e.g. box blocking, barrelling through red lights, etc.)? Please explain.

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this is exactly why bike lanes need to be moved into physically separated lanes, even at the expense of some of the sidewalk and street. In places where cars park along the curb, the bike lane should be squeezed between the parked cars and sidewalk.
It would be a win-win for bikers (much safer) and cars (less interference from slower bikes)

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Oh boy an even smaller area where I can get doored by morons. Joy!

We rule the street as much as you do.

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If bikes are to be "squeezed between the parked cars and sidewalk", then unless that lane is super-wide it will be difficult for cyclists of different speeds to pass each other. It also makes things very difficult for cyclists pulling a trailer and the various pedal-powered delivery vehicles that are growing in number.

Personally, I find the idea of being trapped in a tunnel between parked cars and the curb/sidewalk very intimidating. If a car door opens there's no place to go. At least in the roadway you can simply move to the left into the travel lane to pass an obstruction (after, of course, checking that the lane is available). Being in the roadway also allows a cyclist to make all the same turns and other choices available to operators of other vehicles.

You might also want to give some thought about how these various options function in the winter in conditions of snow and ice.

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http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-18/survey-finds-bicyclists-and-motori...

Specifically: "The study gathered similar rates of infraction — 8 percent to 9 percent for drivers, and 7 to 8 percent for cyclists."

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I'm a pedestrian, so I see most anything with wheels as the enemy. Yet I've had far more issues with scofflaw cyclists than with scofflaw motorists. And at least with motorists there's some modicum of enforcement of the laws.

As for the link, it seems the study was based on self-reporting, which hardly seems like a valid way of measuring 'rates of infraction.' (There's no link to the study itself so it's hard to tell what it actually found, if anything.)

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When is the last time you heard about a cyclist striking and killing someone? Running down someone and killing them and leaving the scene?

That's the ultimate test of issues: injuries and deaths are vastly more common when motor vehicles are involved.

Also, have you possibly considered that your own behavior puts you in conflict? Like, crossing against the light when a cyclist is attempting to cross with the light at full speed? The crosswalk only gives you right of way at unsignalized intersections. If you cross while I have the light, I will yell at you and may unintentionally buzz you while evading your jaywalking arse.

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"unintentionally"

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Unintentionally, meaning done without intent. If you step out from behind a tree, a sign, a high-profile vehicle, against the light, into a traffic lane, a cyclist may indeed pass closer to you than he/she would wish to do, and certainly closer than he/she intended to do. Still laughing?

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Calm down, big fellow. It was a joke. I've been drinking the chain-grease cool-aid for a while. You might have been able to tell this by, well, all of my posts in this thread.

Also, I have been know to do it intentionally.

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The chud who wades out into the lane against the light because "there's no cars coming" and "my crosswalk" is a threat to my personal safety. I don't need to break a piece of my body or my bike to make a point about having the right of way.

I tend to stay as far away from them as is reasonable (oncoming traffic, other lemmings, etc.). However, as I have decades of cycling experience, that tends to be closer to them than they may understand as safe.

Particularly if they have their face burrowed in their dumbphone and get startled.

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What method would you use to determine rates of infraction? You just admitted you think (incorrectly) that only motorists see any enforcement, so you couldn't use that as a metric.

I am also frustrated at my inability to track down the actual article, but it's nice to see that you maintain your default assumption that your experience is better than the survey's data.

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Drivers don't follow the current laws, rules and etiquette of the road and it results in 30,000 Americans dead every year.

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Is to acquire the ability to recognize that you can be wrong and that something you believe might in fact not be true. This is very difficult however and often when confronted with something that challenges a deeply held belief we become angry. But rest assured dear lunchbox, you are indeed wrong and will always be wrong about cyclists, pedestrians and the guy making a left turn in front of you.

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Education Street in Cambridge near Lechmere has an intersection with crosswalks for its two-way bike paths on multiple sides of the box.

I've never seen so much over-engineering in my life.

The streets are very quiet. There's no reason why even a beginner cyclist can't ride in the street. This is a prime example of how bike infrastructure typically gets built where it's easy, not where it's needed.

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This gets us even further from the idea that bikes are a normal part of traffic with the same rights and responsibilities as engined vehicles. Need to turn left? Merge left, just as you would in a car. Now you have to move right, stop, and wait for a light change? You can do that now if you're (no doubt rightly) concerned about the method described above; the silly green boxes do nothing to enhance safety.

We need to enforce traffic laws for both cars and bikes and start holding drivers accountable when they cream a cyclist and cyclists accountable when they cream a pedestrian.

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I see your point and I am an advocate of bikes being part of traffic, however this to me seems like a good solution if you have a bike lane on a larger or more heavily trafficked road. It is sort of like a NJ jug-handle for bikes and in cases where trying to get over two or three lanes of traffic to take a left is either too risky or beyond a person's skill/speed I think this provides a safe & viable alternative.

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Harvard already has that little jug handle thing for cyclists and most of the time it'd populated by moron college students and tourists thinking it's yet another place in the road to stand. We need less cycling specific infrastructure overall.

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That's like saying we need fewer sidewalks because people are standing in the street.

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We tried vehicular cycling for 30 years. You know what happened? People kept dying and people stopped biking.

" Now you have to move right, stop, and wait for a light change? "

No, you dont have to do anything. Theyre presenting an OPTION. You could also make three right turns if youre so inclined.

" the silly green boxes do nothing to enhance safety."

Asking novice bicyclists moving at 8mph to merge across 3 lanes of traffic moving at 35mph is not safe.

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We've seen police officers telling people they must ride in the marked bike lane. This is the biggest problem with them; it gives drivers the impression that bikes do not belong in the main flow of traffic. Pulling to the right and crossing with perpendicular traffic has always been the option, now it will become the expectation.

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We also see police officers killing unarmed men. Maybe address the problem?

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Ah! Yes! There is another problem besides the one these fools are discussing here! Get out of the way, everyone, and make room for the discussion of another problem that has nothing to do with this problem! Heaven knows no one here is capable of caring about ensuring that traffic is as safe as possible for all vehicles while also caring about ending injustice among law enforcement officers. No! The ideas are mutually exclusive! Oh, thank you, internet person, for saving us from ourselves!

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with the notable exception of the fact that I'm not effing dumb enough to wait in the MIDDLE of moving traffic.

I ride ALL the way across the intersection (taking extra care to watch for right-on-redders with their heads turned the wrong way) and wait at the curb for the lights to change again.

Leave it to Cambridge traffic planners to come up with yet another way to make everyone slower and yet less safe. Some days I swear cycling advocates are trying to invent new ways to get cyclists killed.

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There's nothing at all new about this...

Two stage left turns are standard procedure at difficult intersections.

Pretty sure there's some of these painted suggestion boxes elsewhere in the area, as well...

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In my opinion, bikes should be integrated with vehicular traffic. Bike lanes are just never going to work. Firstly, many cyclists think it's safer to ride in the streets where cars are better able to see them. In Boston I generally observe about half the bikes using bike lanes and the other half either on the sidewalk or in the flow of vehicular traffic. Secondly, bike lanes are often blocked by delivery trucks, city busses, cabs, regular passenger vehicles, etc. I see people double-parked in bike lanes rather than parallel park there car into an available parking space right next to them! You can paint up the streets as much as you like, but it's not going to make a difference unless the majority of drivers and cyclists abide by the street markings. I'd love to see a fraction of the money spent painting bike lanes go toward public service announcements on local tv geared toward bike awareness and bike safety.

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How about punishing double-parking in a meaningful way? If you had brownies going up and down Comm Ave, so that you couldn't park in the bike lane "just for a minute" without a >50% chance of getting an expensive ticket, maybe people would think twice about doing it. As it is, there's no meaningful penalty. In New York City, blocking the box is a hefty fine plus points on your license -- seems like this should be similar.

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Several weeks ago there was a City vehicle that was double-parked (or rather, just parked in the traffic lane as there were plenty of parking spaces available) on Centre Street. I sent in a photo to Citizens Connect where it has remained "Open" ever since.

So no, if Boston doesn't care about its own cars, there is no way there will be any enforcement of double parking for anyone else.

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Agreed, my point was simply that more PSAs definitely won't accomplish a thing. Bike lane violation enforcement might.

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Anita Kurmann was riding her bike straight - she wasn't making a left turn. This new "helpful" reconfiguration does nothing to keep bicyclists from getting crushed by a car or truck that overtakes them and then turns right - directly into them.

If a car rushes to overtake a bike and then immediately turns right, sideswiping the bicyclist, the driver of the car is 100% responsible. They saw the bike in front of them (or, at least they should have) as they approached the intersection.

On the other hand, if traffic is congested (stopped or moving very slowly) and a bike is riding in the right lane quickly, overtaking all the cars, then the bicyclist has the responsibility to be aware of which cars have their turn signal on when they approach an intersection. If a bike tries to go straight while overtake a car that's stuck in traffic and that has their right blinker on, the bicyclist is 100% responsible if they get side swiped. The driver of the car was never aware of your proximity.

The fact that so many drivers DON'T USE A TURN SIGNAL just makes the problem exponentially worse.

(from a law abiding, safe bike rider)

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This is unrelated to what happened last week. This is something they were doing anyways.

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That's what we're discussing in this forum = the benefits of a stupid green line / box at intersections.

You wrote: "This is something they were doing anyways."
What is this?
Who are they?
What were they doing?

Please, clarify your post. I don't mean to be snarky - I honestly don't know what the F you're talking about.

My point was / is that green lines & boxes do not address what occurred last week on Mass Ave / Beacon. It would not have mitigated the death of that woman.

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"This is something they were doing anyways."

Painting left turn boxes for bicyclists is something the City of Cambridge was taking action on regardless of the accident that occurred across the river on Massachusetts Ave and Beacon St which you seem to have tied together in your head absent any logic or reasoning that I can discover so maybe you should be the one to explain the confusion since you're the one causing it.

There is *nothing* in the linked article that addresses the death of the cyclist in Boston last week. There is *nothing* in Adam's post about her. There is nothing in anyone else's comments except yours that brings her up. So, my whole post was to tell you to leave last week's victim out of this post because it's completely unrelated and I have no idea where you got the idea that they were painting these boxes in order to mitigate the occurrence of right hook accidents.

The benefit of this box is to make drivers aware that there might be a reason for a cyclist to be stopped waiting for the light to change to begin going left and to provide cyclists a way to go left from the right lane that doesn't involve crossing all lanes of traffic while traffic is moving.

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To everyone advocating vehicular cycling - i.e. riding bikes as though they're cars, with no special infrastructure - let's look at the results. The countries, cities, and neighborhoods with the highest rates of cycling all have largely separated routes for people in cars and people on bicycles. The Netherlands, for instance, has almost no no cycling on heavily used roads. On busy routes they separate the modes, which makes everyone feel safer, and anyone "8-80" years old can cycle easily and safely. even in Boston, the area with the best cycling infrastructure, Jamaica Plain, with the SWC, has the highest cycling mode share.

Side note, they don't use this type of intersection in the Netherlands or Copenhagen or any other high cycling place, because it really doesn't add much at all to safety in an environment with cycle tracks or very light traffic. But with the infrastructure currently in place in Cambridge, it might make sense.

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We spent a few vacation days in Brunswick ME. Bowdoin College is located downtown and there are a lot of bicyclists. I think the town population is about 22K. Anyway for all the downtown streets and all the residential areas the speed limit is 25mph. That takes getting used to but most locals seem to abide by the law. The reason for 25 mph according to a local cyclist was at that speed car/bike/pedestrian accidents will most likely not end in someone dying. Perhaps Cambridge/Boston should try this.

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I think I found a more substantial difference between Boston and Brunswick than the speed limit.

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FWIW, as someone who used to commute by bike in downtown Boston (don't do it as much nowadays, but I do still ride in the city), I think a variety of factors make Boston a relatively good environment for biking (relative, that is, to other US cities and non-cities). The speeds are regulated by congestion rather than enforced speed limits, but it ends up having a similar effect. Boston drivers are much more used to dealing with a mixture of traffic that's not all cars and trucks than the average suburbanite (I notice the same thing in rural areas, where locals are used to cars, bikes, tractors, livestock, etc.). It makes it easier for bikes to be part of the flow. To be sure, there's room for improvement (I keep thinking about the earlier comment about too much signage, lights, and other visual distractions), but I'm not convinced that separating bikes is the best solution for Boston. Maybe it's because it's not just cars/trucks and bikes: it's scooters, it's motorcycles, it's kids on skateboards, it's pedicabs and pushcarts and who knows what all. So if you create separate infrastructure and say "this is for bikes", first you have to enforce that (good luck with that, the first thing that happens with a "bike" path is that it's taken over by dog-walkers and parents with kids in strollers), and then you have to consider that you still have this mix of non-car non-bike traffic that has to go somewhere.

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How should this work with drivers trying to make a right on red in the perpendicular lane? Is the box in the middle of the other lane so a car can fit between the bike and the curb? I'm assuming these boxes don't block right on red turns.

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