Bikes and Buses Getting More Dedicated Lanes In Downtown Boston

The Boston Transportation Department plans to paint new protected bike lanes and a dedicated bus lane on Washington Street through Chinatown and Downtown Crossing.

Spray painted lane markings indicate the future locations of a new protected bike lane on Washington Street approaching Downtown Crossing in this photo from Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2019. A dedicated bus lane for the Silver Line is expected to go in on the opposite side of the street.
Spray painted lane markings indicate the future locations of a new protected bike lane on Washington Street approaching Downtown Crossing in this photo from Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2019. A dedicated bus lane for the Silver Line is expected to go in on the opposite side of the street.

The city is preparing to paint new bus lanes and bike lanes on Washington Street between Herald Street and Downtown Crossing, according to Boston Transportation Department officials.

The project area includes some of the most congested segments of the Silver Line’s SL5 (Dudley Square to Downtown Crossing) and SL4 (Dudley to South Station) bus routes.

Through Tufts Medical Center, the city reportedly plans to add shared bus-and-bike lanes in both directions. North of Stuart Street, where Washington becomes one-way northbound, the left side will get a bollard-protected bike lane and the right side will get a red bus-only lane.

In an email message, Boston Transportation Department spokesperson Tracey Ganiatsos wrote that “BTD crews have begun to lay out striping on certain segments of the street to enable design details to be finalized. Final striping will begin in early November (weather dependent).”

Currently, both sides of Washington Street north of Stuart are signed as “no stopping” zones, but illegally parked vehicles frequently block buses nevertheless. As StreetsblogMASS reported late last month, the city and the MBTA have formed a working group aimed at improving bus lane enforcement.

Ganiatsos also reported that city staff are collaborating with the MBTA on upgrades to the existing Essex Street bus lane, which SL4 buses use on their loop past South Station. Ganiatsos did not specify a timeframe for that project.

Stuart Street is also in the midst of a repaving project that will extend these new bike facilities to the west, according to reports from the Boston Cyclists Union.

At the Union’s October 15 activist meeting, Stefanie Seskin, the Director of Active Transportation for the BTD, reportedly told meeting attendees that the city will take advantage of the repaving project to add a combination of paint-only and bollard-protected bike lanes to Stuart Street from Arlington to Washington Street.

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