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Protected Bike Lanes Pop Up Around Boston Common

A new protected bike lane, photographed here on the morning of Wednesday, July 22, was installed using temporary materials on Charles Street in downtown Boston as part of the city’s “Healthy Streets” initiative. Photo courtesy of StreetsblogMASS board member Matt Lawlor.

The first protected bike lanes of Boston's new "Healthy Streets" initiative have popped up on the wide multi-lane streets around Boston Common.

Since Tuesday afternoon, Boston Transportation Department crews have deployed hundreds of orange construction barrels to delineate protected bikeways on Tremont, Boylston, Charles, and Beacon Streets around the Boston Common and Public Garden.

These streets, which connect downtown Boston to bike routes along the Commonwealth Avenue mall, Charles River Esplanade, and Southwest Corridor, were first identified as priority locations for protected bike lanes in Boston's 2013 bike network plan.

More recently, detailed planning for protected bike lanes along these same streets has continued in the city's "Connect Downtown" project, which could make some or all of these separated bike lanes permanent.

The pandemic interrupted public outreach for the Connect Downtown project, but the pop-up bike lanes, using temporary materials, may offer the city an alternative, more tangible means of collecting public feedback.

As reported previously, the City of Boston had initially announced these pop-up bike lanes in late May, but later blamed a shortage of construction barrels for the delay in implementation. While other cities in the region are using similar tactics to expand sidewalk zones in commercial districts and discourage through-traffic from some residential streets, Boston is the only city in the region that is delineating new protected bike routes on major streets.

The city also recently announced that similar pop-up bike lanes would be installed this week on Cummins Highway in Mattapan to test a design concept for a road-narrowing plan that's expected to go under construction in 2021.

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