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Cycling Safety Ordinance Will Bring New Bike, Bus Lanes to North Cambridge This Fall

Community Path crossing at Massachusetts Avenue

Bikes cross Massachusetts Avenue towards Alewife along the Somerville Community Path in May 2019.

The City of Cambridge will install new flexpost-protected bike lanes and a new inbound bus-only lane by the end of this year on a half-mile section of Massachusetts Avenue from Alewife Brook Parkway near the Arlington town line to Dudley Street, near the North Cambridge MBTA bus garage.

The quick-build project is a direct response to the city's newly-updated Cycling Safety Ordinance, which requires the city to install separated bike lanes on several key sections of Massachusetts Avenue, including this one, by April 2022.

City staff presented its plans during an online public hearing on Tuesday evening.

The city's recommended design generally replaces existing on-street parking areas on Mass. Ave. to bike lanes, with a buffer zone and flexible-post bollards to separate bike traffic from adjacent motor vehicle traffic:

A cross-section of the proposed new layout of Massachusetts Ave. in North Cambridge, with separated bike lanes, an inbound bus-only lane, and three motor vehicle lanes.
Courtesy of the City of Cambridge.
Courtesy of the City of Cambridge.

A concrete median exists along much of Mass. Ave. north of Harvard Square, which limited the options available to the city in re-configuring the street in the short term.

On the southern side of the street, in the eastbound direction, one of the four existing motor vehicle lanes will be reassigned as a dedicated bus lane, which would also be a legal loading zone for adjacent businesses during off-peak hours.

The bus lane will benefit the MBTA's route 77 buses, which served 7,190 riders every weekday before the pandemic.

During Tuesday's presentation, Andreas Wolfe, a street design project manager for the City of Cambridge, pointed out that the Town of Arlington has already implemented bus lanes for the 77 on its section of Mass. Ave. west of Alewife Brook Parkway, and "they saw significant improvements in bus travel," with time savings that ranged between 5 and 10 minutes per bus trip.

Wolfe also said that "our goal right now is to install this (project) by November, before the winter kicks in."

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