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North Mass Ave Bike Lanes

From: Cambridge Bicycle Safety, www.cambridgebikesafety.org

Re: North Cambridge Massachusetts Avenue Bicycle Lanes

Dear City Leaders,

Thank you for advancing the design of new painted bike lanes on North Mass Ave. They will be an important infrastructure improvement, even though they are mostly in the door zone, and we’re glad the painting will be done quickly, by the end of August.

Cambridge Bicycle Safety represents many residents in North Cambridge as well as cyclists that use this corridor daily and we are writing on their behalf with several suggested changes to the proposed design for you to consider to ensure a continuous bike lane throughout the project, keeping in mind that ultimately cyclists need a protected bike lane on this stretch of roadway whenever a full reconstruction is advanced.

Our primary concern is that the four short segments where bikes will need to merge into Mass Ave traffic with sharrows create a serious safety issue. Merging into Mass Ave traffic is already dangerous, intimidating and stressful. There are a lot of vehicles including large trucks and buses, moving at high speeds, and they can be coming from either of two travel lanes. Switching from a painted bike lane to sharrows and back on a short stretch confuses cyclists and drivers.

Two of these sections involve a tradeoff between an extra left turn lane (+ 2 travel lanes), and two involve removing parking in an area where there are some retail/restaurants. We believe there are a few quick redesign options you could explore to avoid these conflict sharrow sections and keep the project on track.

  • It was stated that between Harvey and Dudley the road isn’t wide enough to keep the parking (both sides), two travel lanes and paint on a 5 foot bike lane in each direction, plus keeping the median. However, there is an abundance of meter marking along this section of Mass Ave, so while customers who drive would have to walk an extra block or two, they should be able to find parking. Additionally, meters along Trolley Square are not necessary because the building has underground parking. There is also a large private parking lot behind the block between Harvey and Alberta Streets (2400 Mass Ave) that serves all the businesses in that block. Perhaps an arrangement could be made to bring it into use for businesses in the next block as needed? Metered parking could also be installed in the first few spaces on Dudley, Alberta, and Harvey, where they intersect Mass Ave.
  • In two other segments you propose sharrows to accommodate a dedicated left turn lane. Both are in the westbound direction, one at the Walden Street intersection and the second right before Alewife Brook Parkway.  In both of these sections the sidewalk is very wide and perhaps the bike lane could go onto the sidewalk for this short stretch. Alternately, the left turn lane could become a shared straight/left lane as is present at many other intersections along Mass Ave. 

In addition to encouraging you to replace the sharrows, we wanted to highlight a few other items:

  • We strongly support the buffered bike lane option, ideally with flexposts, in the stretch immediately west of the Cameron Ave intersection
  • We strongly urge you to address the approach to Cameron Ave heading westbound which is dangerous because drivers often use bus stop space and empty parking spaces for a right hand turn lane. We believe a shared bus/bike lane could be painted the entire block adjacent to Trolley Square with flexposts until the bus stop by removing parking spots not needed because the units have underground parking and those metered spots are often empty.  Right turn markers in the right travel lane can also clarify for drivers where they should be.
  • We would also like to see the city install stickers on the meters to remind drivers to be careful when opening car doors, since this entire lane puts people riding bikes in the position of being “doored.”

Finally, we encourage the city to move quickly to lower speeds through signal timing. Speeding on this stretch of Mass Ave is a serious safety issue for pedestrians and cyclists, having already resulted in many crashes. Improving the signal timing to slow down drivers must be a priority until additional traffic calming measures can be taken.

We appreciate the speed with which you are working to make improvements and want to support this work in whatever way we can as an interim step. Making these additional adjustments to ensure consistency throughout the stretch will dramatically improve the safety of these lanes.

Finally, we want to reiterate that these lanes are only a temporary “fix,” and that ultimately a fully protected and separated lane (ideally a cycletrack) must be installed – one that is consistent with Vision Zero. We look forward to continuing to work toward this outcome as quickly as possible.

Link to plan for bike lanes: https://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/7925482/1956702271/name/2017-07-20_MassAve_ABPtoBeech_Plan.pdf

 

Featured

Mon June 26: Next steps for the protected bike network

A year ago today, Amanda Phillips was tragically killed while biking through Inman Square. Since that time, thousands have spoken out and pressured Cambridge to implement of a protected bike lane network and the redesign of Inman Square. This hard work has paid off as the city has fast-tracked pilot protected lanes few key locations, most notably on segments of Cambridge Street, Mass Ave, and Brattle Street.

We’re asking the city to (1) install two or more protected bike lanes this year and (2) immediately begin work on a timeline for the expedited build out of a full network of protected bike lanes on all major city thoroughfares, so we don’t have to keep doing this. Read the full policy order here.

When: This Monday, June 26, 5:30pm
Where: 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
What: Attend and speak in favor of Policy Order O-10

RSVP on Facebook

This is our LAST CHANCE before the Council’s summer break to show the city that there’s demand for an expedited network.

While we’re thrilled about the projects that have happened this year, they are only a start. We urgently need a fully connected network of protected bike lanes for people of all ages and abilities. City staff have said they are not planning any other projects this year and Monday’s City Council meeting is the last before a summer break so it is our last chance to push the city to take further action.

There is enough time to install additional protected bike lanes this year if planning for them starts now. We need to demonstrate that there is overwhelming community support for doing so.

Featured

May 2: Come out to create a new Inman Sq that’s safe for everyone

Together, we’re making streets in Cambridge safer for all ages and abilities. As a result of our voices, we have seen some initial wins with pop-up lanes and great community support in favor of the city’s plans for Cambridge Street protected bike lanes. We need to continue this momentum this Tuesday, May 2 at the important Inman Square redesign meeting where the city will unveil the results of its months-long internal deliberations.

Cambridge St Update: 150 people showed up for the Cambridge Street protected bike lane meeting, and the tone was overwhelmingly positive, especially for making the street safe for the hundreds of CRLS students that bike or walk to school. Many bicyclists also emphasized the need to support local businesses and how this project can benefit them. The city has promised to begin construction in June, with one more public meeting between then and now, and we’ll keep you posted on how we can all make sure this project is a success.

Inman Sq Public Meeting: The other major project happening this Spring is the redesign of Inman Square, which will connect directly to the east end of the Cambridge Street protected bike lane. There is an important public meeting this Tuesday, May 2 where city staff will present their preferred design and solicit feedback. All four of the designs presented at the last meeting, particularly the bend options, need significant changes to be as safe for all users as they can be. Thus, it’s crucial for as many of us as possible to come out on May 2 in support of safe, protected bicycle infrastructure and traffic calming! We deserve safe streets for all ages and abilities and the final design must reflect this.

When: Tuesday, May 2, 6-8pm (6-7: presentation, 7-8: discussion)
Where: Cambridge Public Library (Main Branch), Lower Level (L2)
Please RSVP and share so that your friends find out about it too

CBS has put forward criteria for the redesign project based on safety, convenience, and environmental sustainability, and ranked the four proposed designs by the city. Read our full recommendation here. Members of Cambridge Bicycle Safety have spent the last several months talking with local residents, businesses, neighborhood associations, and transportation professionals to understand how best to meet the needs of the community with respect to Inman Square, and this recommendation reflects these conversations.

Current Inman Square:

All plans meet the basic goal of providing safer bicycle facilities in particular through the use of protected bicycle lanes. The Roundabout scores best on our metrics of safety, convenience, and environmental sustainability, with Bend Cambridge scoring second best.

Roundabout:

Bend Cambridge:

Here are the criteria we used and will continue to push for, and we provide more detail in the document.

Safety
★     Incorporate protected bike lanes
★     Reduce speed and frequency at which bikes, pedestrians and cars interact
★     Reduce length of crosswalks to minimize exposure of pedestrians and bicyclists to vehicles

Convenience
★     Reduce travel time through intersection at both peak and off-peak times
★     Reduce impact on neighborhood side streets
★     Enable pedestrians to cross the intersection in 60 seconds or less

Environmental Sustainability
★     Preserve existing mature trees and augment community open space
★     Reduce automobile emissions caused by stopping and starting at intersection
★     Alleviate heat island effect by reducing total area of asphalt paving

We hope to see you on May 2!

Sincerely,
All of us at Cambridge Bicycle Safety

(Wording updated May 1.)

Featured

Tues Apr 25th: Cambridge St Protected Bike Lane Public Meeting

Do you want to see protected bike lanes on Cambridge St? We need your in-person support to make sure it happens!

On April 25, the City is holding its first public meeting for the Cambridge Street protected bike lane project. We need as many people as possible to show up and express support!

When: Tuesday April 25th from 6PM-8PM
Where: Cambridge Rindge & Latin School – Media Café, 459 Broadway (use main school entrance)

1. Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

2. Canvass with us at least once this week along Cambridge Street! Click here to sign up. The focus of the canvass is to inform neighbors about the project, building support for protected bike infrastructure at the local level. Talking points and materials will be provided.

This project is in no small part because of our community’s collective effort last fall and will be a model for future protected bike lanes and lay the groundwork for a much broader protected network. It’s essential that we work with the city to get this one right.

More details about the project below.

Sincerely,
The CBS core team

What is happening, and where?

Protected bicycle lanes are going to be installed on Cambridge St from Inman Square to Quincy St (near Harvard). The lanes will have a similar design to those on Mass Ave near the Harvard Law School and Lafayette Square, except that they will be longer and on both sides of the street. Here is an example cross-section:

and here is a photo of one of the similar lanes on Mass Ave.***

Detailed comments

Three design elements that Cambridge Bicycle Safety views as critical for safety for Cambridge Street and all protected bike lane pilots:

1. The protected bicycle lanes need to be physically separated from parked and moving cars along the entire length of the protected lane. This can be accomplished using a range of options from flex posts to pre-cast curbing and planters.

2. Vehicles such as buses, taxis/Uber/Lyft, and delivery vehicles should not need to, or be able to, block or stop in the bike lane. Floating bus stops–where the bus stops in the travel lane and picks up riders from a raised platform–and appropriate signage and physical barriers to prevent disruptive stopping in the bicycle lane should be included. Here is an example from the MassDOT separated bike lane design guide:

3. Designated loading zones need to be provided elsewhere to make sure that deliveries and passenger pickup/dropoff can take place. Loading zones are crucial for small businesses who depend on deliveries, and they are also important because they provide an alternative to stopping in the bicycle lane.

We’ve recently sent the city two memos outlining our suggestions for the spring projects. Read them here.

*** Although they aren’t the focus of this public meeting, two other short segments of protected bike lanes are also being added this spring, one on Brattle St from Harvard Square to Mason St, and one on Mass Ave from Trowbridge St to Bow St. Additionally, protected bike lanes are part of all the Inman Square redesign options. We’ll be writing more about these projects soon.

Cambridge Bicycle Safety Platform for the 2017 Council Election

We are inviting Cambridge city council candidates to endorse the following platform:

There are over 200 miles of streets in Cambridge. The 2015 Bicycle Plan calls for protected bike lanes on approximately 20 miles of major thoroughfares to create a safe, city-wide protected network that serves residents of all ages and abilities. Approximately 4 miles of these protected bike lanes have been installed. I will vote for a municipal ordinance that requires the city to install at least 4 miles of pop-up protected bike lanes each year until the city-wide protected network is complete and to install permanent protected bike lanes when the streets specified as part of the city-wide protected network are reconstructed.

We will be sharing the names of candidates who endorse the platform publicly as part of our election education efforts.

Vote for your favorite Participatory Budgeting projects!

Today’s the last day to submit an idea for Participatory Budgeting!

Check out the list here, filtered for streets, and vote for the ones you like.

Here are some that relate to our group:

North Cambridge

Mid-Cambridge

East Cambridge

West Cambridge

Misc

Memos on the Spring Network of Protected Bike Lanes

Cambridge Bicycle Safety has written two memos on the city’s spring network of protected lanes.

The first memo, available here, outlines our recommendations about how to maximize the connectivity of the spring network of protected bike lanes the city is installing.

The second memo, available here, outlines our recommendations about design elements that we view as critical for safety for the Cambridge Street pilot and all protected bike lane pilots.

Top Twelve Reasons Protected Bike Lanes are an Urgent Priority in Cambridge

  1. Our current streets and proposed street designs are hazardous for current users.  Cambridge has seen three people killed while riding bikes over the past 2 years, along with numerous serious injuries.
  2. Protected bike lanes save lives and prevent serious injury, as documented in a recent Harvard School of Public Health study and a commentary in the American Journal of Public Health.   
  3. Cambridge could be liable for failing to redesign streets with a history of crashes, as recently decided in New York City and California.
  4. Over three thousand people signed a petition asking for protected bike lanes on major Cambridge roads, and the numbers of people cycling in Cambridge is increasing rapidly.  
  5. “I don’t want to die, and you don’t want to kill me.”  Current road conditions in Cambridge encourage “wildness” among people driving and cycling that is dangerous and stressful.
  6. Cycling is an affordable, fun, healthy, and efficient method to get around Cambridge, which is compact and flat.  Building a protected bicycle network creates transportation equity by making cycling a safe option for everyone.
  7. Hundreds of Cambridge teens are bicycling to school and after school activities and 25% of them report having been in a crash involving a vehicle.  
  8. Cambridge has officially adopted ordinances and policies that commit the city to reducing vehicle trips and increasing other modes of travel, including Vision Zero,  the Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, the Growth Policy Document, and the Climate Protection Plan.
  9. The Cambridge Bicycle Plan maps out a vision for a street network that can provide safe passage for riders ages 8-80.  Many other cities are installing miles of protected bike lanes and we can learn from their successes.
  10. Improved infrastructure for people riding bikes, walking, and taking transit often also improves flow of car traffic, decreases stress on all road users, and increases property values.   Retail performance is typically not affected or is improved when on-street parking is replaced by protected bicycle lanes, which bring many more customers to the street.
  11. “Streets have been the same way for so long that people don’t really understand what’s possible.”  Vision and leadership can significantly improve safety and quality of life in Cambridge.  
  12. Cambridge has seen only a modest increase in bicycle infrastructure from 2000 to 2015 compared with other cities, according to data from 2000-2015 published in American Journal of Public Health (Dec. 2016).  Clearly more progress is needed.  For example while seven US cities increased bicycle networks by more than 100% since 2000, Cambridge — with only 27% growth – was second from the lowest.

Pucher and Buehler, American Journal of Public Health, Dec 2016

Bicycle Safety Work Plan to be presented at the January 30, 2017 City Council Meeting

The city council has received the report embedded below about the city’s updated work plan for implementing the spring network of popup protected bike lanes that the council repeatedly asked for last fall. This report will be discussed at the city council meeting on January 30.

Unfortunately, based on this report, the city does not appear to be committed to implementing a spring network of protected bike lanes as the council requested last fall. Instead, they only plan to complete a portion of Cambridge St and a small sliver of Mass Ave this spring, with no concrete plan for further work. We continue to be excited about the popup protected bike lane that’s been planned for Cambridge St, and we love riding in the two short segments that were installed on Mass Ave in December – but these need to be just the first steps in a concrete, accelerated work plan for a broad, connected network across the city.

Two cyclists died last year and the city’s lack of urgency is troubling. There are numerous reasons to install protected bike lanes on major thoroughfares; twelve of them are summarized here.

Here’s the report: