Hey, there! Log in / Register

Bike lanes on Mass. Ave. Bridge to become permanent

StreetsblogMass reports MassDOT liked what it saw with the effectiveness of the temporary bike lanes, even if they did mean occasionally retrieving the traffic cones from the frozen Charles below, and will make the lanes permanent.

Neighborhoods: 

Ad:

Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

It would be helpful if they cut a hole in the concrete divider between the sidewalk and road (bike lane) adjacent to the ramp from the esplanade path on the northeast side of the bridge. This is for people in Boston headed to Cambridge to enter the bike lane on the bridge.

If you are riding a bike on the esplanade and want to take the bridge there's no way of getting into the bike lane short of lifting the bike over that barrier.

up
Voting closed 80

That would be a definite improvement. Usually I bike on the sidewalk from the ramp toward Boston to the Storrow off-ramp, then make a u-turn onto the road/bike lane toward Cambridge, rather than try to jump the railing.

up
Voting closed 14

In the long run, that's going to be addressed by this plan (hopefully). It would be nice if they would cut through that now, though, as part of this project, but it's trickier than the lane markings.

I wish they'd close the horrible, dangerous left side slip ramp off of Storrow.

up
Voting closed 29

 

up
Voting closed 8

1. There is basically no benefit for drivers. For anyone on Storrow, crossing the Longfellow and looping onto Memorial Drive provides about the same benefit. There are not very many people who use this anyway. And the other ramps to/from Storrow in this location were closed long ago.

2. It is a left diverging movement off of Storrow from the higher speed lane at a time when there are a lot of diverging movements.

3. Despite being illegal, a lot of drivers make lefts off of the ramp which are exceedingly dangerous, crossing multiple lanes of traffic.

4. The ramp is short and ends at a stop sign on a curve with poor sightlines.

5. Speaking of sightlines, the sightlines are bad enough that drivers have to edge forward into the sidewalk to be able to see oncoming traffic. There's often enough bike-ped traffic that drivers get impatient and don't wait for everyone, but edge into this traffic, requiring people to go around the vehicle. This is also one of the highest bike-ped use locations in the state.

So basically there is very minimal benefit for drivers and a lot of risk for everyone, and especially with the new lane layout it would be a great time to put this ramp out of its misery once and for all.

up
Voting closed 55

It can be done but it takes time to get the relevant permitting for cutting through bridge rails without having to replace the entirety of the rail along the length of the bridge. MassDOT provides the local oversight for USDOT, so getting MASH waiver from them is that process.

Depending upon how quickly the future plan you linked will be implemented, it's possible they will do that then?

up
Voting closed 10

As things stand now, a bike rider needs to switch to the sidewalk at Back St. if they intend to take the ramp down to the Esplinade. This is less than ideal as the sidewalk is heavily used by pedestrians. There is no need for physical barriers to create that conflict zone.

up
Voting closed 21

I’m all for these improvements, but the Esplanade ramp has four signs informing cyclists to dismount and walk as it is a pedestrian right of way — almost none do. I run and bike in this area several times a week and have witnessed numerous near-collisions with cyclists who do not dismount and nearly strike strollers, runners, or pedestrians looking at their phones.

The ramp itself needs to be improved or replaced as it was designed for pedestrians and not cyclists in mind. I do fear what happens if access to the ramp from the road is increased without improvements to the ramp to make it more safely multi-modal.

Basically, the whole area needs a lot more work than curb cuts which is usually all we get these days in car-first urban planning.

up
Voting closed 14

The current ramp is not at all adequate to address current usage patterns. When I bike it, I dismount if there are a lot of other ramp users, but otherwise I will ride on it. The most dangerous spots are on the switch back turns, and how it enters the Esplinade path in a blind spot. A complete redesign and rebuild is definitely needed, but probably years away. In the mean time, the curb cut might make it slightly more usable.

up
Voting closed 6

Designing a ramp that could be shared would need to be wider and without switch backs. Given the height, I am not sure it is possible. There is similar ramp in Dorchester on the Neponset river. It is almost always empty, so it is safer to ride but challenging to stay on your bike through the switch backs.

up
Voting closed 4

Designing a ramp that could be shared would need to be wider and without switch backs. Given the height, I am not sure it is possible. There is similar ramp in Dorchester on the Neponset river. It is almost always empty, so it is safer to ride but challenging to stay on your bike through the switch backs.

up
Voting closed 3

The sidewalk is a few inches above the pavement, and so there is no room to provide an ADA compliant ramp between the two. The eventual plan is to remove the ramp altogether and relocate to another location once WB Storrow is relocated.

BTW my typical move when biking up the ramp is to turn left onto the sidewalk for a short bit then hard ride onto the bridge (made a lot easier with the pilot bike lanes).

up
Voting closed 9

I’m curious what your thoughts are on the present design of the ramp. There are signs on both sides of the ramp informing cyclists to dismount as the ramp is not well designed for multi-modal use.

Have you run into issues at all here? I’ll admit to being a goodie-goodie and always dismounting my bike here. But as someone who also runs a lot here, I’ve seen a ton of near misses with cyclists who don’t dismount and pedestrians who maybe aren’t paying the best attention. The three 90 degree ramp turns don’t especially help here either.

The signs aren’t working as they seem to be largely ignored, but it seems to me the ramp really ought to be rebuilt in a way that would accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians. What do you think?

up
Voting closed 15

When my kids were younger, they couldn't walk their bikes down that ramp (had to walk it with one hand on handlebar and one on seat, couldn't reliably control bike with one brake). We would slowly bike down. Friends who ride bakfiets with kids in it also report it's too tippy going down ramps with the bike loaded.

Granted we ride slowly, to one side, and are apologetic, and there's no reason for people to be flying up and down it like I've also seen, but yes, it's badly designed.

up
Voting closed 20

I’ve had way too many close calls with entitled bikers in that sidewalk.

up
Voting closed 36

Finally, you recognize that bike lanes make things safer for everyone!

Cyclists ride on the sidewalk on that bridge because if we take the lane, entitled motorists seem unable to shift over a lane in order to drive 45 in a 25 like they wish, so they come up behind my family and blare the horn at my children and me and tell us it's illegal to ride in the road.

If the city cared at all about safety, we would have:

  1. robust bike infrastructure
  2. enforcement of dangerous/aggressive driving
  3. a three-foot passing law
  4. licensing tests that extensively cover laws pertaining to cyclist/pedestrian/transit-user safety and retesting of this every X years and automatically upon receiving any infraction
up
Voting closed 64

It is a MA road, and MA law does not require bikes to be in the street. Bikers can ride on the sidewalk if it is reasonably wide and no dedicated bike line is adjacent.

Cities and towns have their own rules.

up
Voting closed 26

The sidewalk in this case is not that wide (and is heavily utilized). There is, in fact, a parallel bike lane, though not as robust as the one that will be installed soon. Finally, I'd point out that what MA law requires, and what makes sense, is not always the same thing. When I ride across that bridge, I'm aware that I can ride on the sidewalk, but I am also aware that it would be fairly reckless to do so. The safest option for this bridge is separated lanes for each type of bridge user, whether that be car driver, bike/scooter rider, or pedestrian.

up
Voting closed 23

Bicyclists are not ENTITLED, they have a right to be there. Also, what you consider safe another biker might not.

And it's not the width of the sidewalk, as someone pointed out, as long as there's no business storefronts.

up
Voting closed 10

We can ride on the sidewalk except in business districts, or we can take the whole lane. Motor vehicle drivers frequently yell at us that both are illegal, because they don't know the rules of the road.

up
Voting closed 21

MA law does not require bikes to ride on the sidewalk. So what's your point?

up
Voting closed 6

But consider that some people are not able to walk their bikes due to injuries or other mobility issues.

up
Voting closed 13

Someone can bike, but not walk their bike? How’d they get on their bike in the first place?

up
Voting closed 14

It was an honest question. Calm ya horses

up
Voting closed 21

You, not so much.

up
Voting closed 22

Have you never ridden a bike, robo?!!!!
Okay, maybe you never have. My utmost sympathy.

spin has provided some excellent links.

I have been confined to a bike myself twice.
Once when I had a broken toe. Another time when a SCOFFLAW SPEEDING SUV DRIVER ran a red light, made a right turn without signaling and caused me to step backwards in fear as I was crossing the street. Which then caused me to stumble and fall backwards resulting in an excruciating sprain that required a week of bedrest and 4 more weeks of hobbling about with a hiking pole. It was not easy getting on and off my bike but once on at least I could get about with minimal pain.
After a kind passerby helped me up and out of the street, the driver took off, unsurprisingly. These experiences opened my eyes to the fact that many people use their bikes as a mobility device.

up
Voting closed 19

Bike infrastructure is often designed thinking that all cyclists are able-bodied young adults who can lift their bike up a curb or dart in and out of traffic quickly.

It needs to be designed so that it's usable by, say, a petite parent with kids in a cargo trike. Also elders, kids, people with physical disabilities, people with enough vision to ride in bike lanes and at signaled intersections but not to safely merge into fast traffic, people with processing disabilities, etc.

up
Voting closed 22

None of us are exempt from the possibility of finding ourselves temporarily or permanently hindered in some way from using bike infrastructure.

up
Voting closed 10

Does anyone know why this wasn't made into a bus/bike lane like has been done elsewhere? The #1 bus route is the busiest or one of the busiest of all.

up
Voting closed 10

… over too long a distance.

Bus-bike lanes generally don't work very well, and they especially don't work well when there are a lot of buses or a lot of bikes. In this case, there are a lot of both. Which would lead to buses getting stuck behind bikes at bike speed, and unprotected riding conditions for bikes. This was discussed and was quickly cast off as a non-started.

up
Voting closed 29

Any idea why they didn't go with a bus lane, a bike lane, and no private motor vehicle lane?

up
Voting closed 23

Believe it or not, there are times when people do need to drive across the river. Close the Harvard Bridge and the congestion on the BU Bridge and on the Longfellow (or at least approaching it) would get worse.

Fun history: in the mid-1980s when the Harvard Bridge was severely weight-restricted after the Mianus Bridge fell down, it was reduced to a single lane. MassDOT came in and said "let's build this puppy six lanes wide, wider is always better, right?" This is why the approach bridge over Memorial Drive is so dang wide.

Someone finally put their foot down and said "unless you are planning to knock down the buildings on one side of Mass Ave in Cambridge and Boston, it's going to be four lanes wide at either end forever" and they built the bridge 50 feet wide (and eventually squeezed in bike lanes about 20 years later). It would have been the right decision to build it 6 lanes wide because we could have had kick-ass bike and bus lanes, but of course at the Boston end it would neck down and be super-narrow, so who knows how much of a benefit it would be.

up
Voting closed 20

Did they provide numbers of bus passengers v. cyclists? I know it varies seasonally.

up
Voting closed 11

Where does this not work well? Do you have any data on that ?

up
Voting closed 7

Bus/bike shared priority lanes work well when there is frequent stop spacing. The buses stop often enough so that they don't end up averaging a higher speed than a typical bike rider. The distance between the last/first stops on each side of the river is 3/5 of a mile. At that distance, the slower bikes will impede the faster buses enough, so as to render the lane not that useful for bus use.

up
Voting closed 7

This is cool and good. Very glad MADOT decided to make this permanent, and I hope it helps many more people create a safe route from where they're at to where they're going. Big thanks to every bike org who helped campaign to get this done.

Plus, if you're polite and pull over to the edge, you can ride slow and appreciate one of the best views in town without being menaced by traffic. That's a fantastic knock-on bonus.

up
Voting closed 32

Another "permanent" bike lane made with flexposts. What a joke.

up
Voting closed 18

wakanda forever

up
Voting closed 11

Plastic is not protection. Flex Posts are intended to be used for quick-build temporary installations. While I appreciate that this is an improvement, it's still far short of what we need.

Have a look at the Mass Ave bridge next time you're on it. Take note of what the highway engineers built to protect vulnerable road users (pedestrians) from speeding cars: a huge steel barricade mounted above a 4" granite curb.

Cyclists get plastic sticks and vibes. Won't last through a winter the way the plows are driven.

up
Voting closed 15