Boston’s Downtown Bike Lanes Are Gone – But City Hall Says They’ll Be Back, Even Better

Charles Street between the Public Gardens and Boston Common during "rush hour" on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 7, 2020, before the City of Boston set out a row of construction barrels to create a protected bike lane as part of its "Healthy Streets" initiative.
Charles Street between the Public Gardens and Boston Common during "rush hour" on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 7, 2020, before the City of Boston set out a row of construction barrels to create a protected bike lane as part of its "Healthy Streets" initiative.

Over the past two weeks, bicycle riders downtown have been disappointed by the disappearance of the construction barrels that protected Boston’s new “healthy streets” bikeways for most of the summer.

The barrels have been removed and re-installed periodically over the course of the summer, allegedly to make room for large racial justice protests. The most recent removal of the bike lanes coincided with the announcement that Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron would not press charges against the three police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor inside her Louisville home.

Two weeks have passed since then, but the City of Boston has still not replaced the construction barrels that calmed traffc and provided physical separation for downtown’s new bike lanes. On October 1, about a week after the barrels were removed, a driver stole a large pickup truck that was live parked outside a fire station in Back Bay and crashed it into the busy entrance gate to the Public Garden, critically injuring Kamila Guimaraes.

Guimaraes remains in critical condition, and family members have started a GoFundMe page to help pay for her mounting medical expenses.

But here’s the good news: according to a Boston Transportation Department spokesperson, the barrels haven’t been replaced because the city is gearing up for a “permanent” implementation, which will replace the barrels with paint and bollards, much like other bike lanes in the region.

As of last week, new protected bike lanes had already been installed on Tremont Street south of Boylston Street, extending through the Theater District and Chinatown to Shawmut Ave. over the Massachusetts Turnpike:

Chinatown's new southbound protected bike lane on Tremont Street, photographed on Sept. 30, 2020.
Chinatown’s new southbound protected bike lane on Tremont Street, photographed on Sept. 30, 2020.

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