Eyes On the Street: Better Bike Lanes on Mass. Ave. In Cambridge

New separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue near Dana Street in Cambridge.
New separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue near Dana Street in Cambridge. Photographed on Sept. 16, 2021.

This week, while the City of Cambridge was finalizing its plans for separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue in North Cambridge, city crews installed new pavement markings and flexible-post bollards to upgrade bike facilities on another segment of the same street, between Harvard and Central Squares.

This project was also a response to the city’s recently-updated Cycling Safety Ordinance, which requires the city to create  separated bike lanes on the entire length of Massachusetts Avenue through Cambridge.

This segment of Massachusetts Avenue had previously had little to no dedicated space for bikes. East of Lee Street, in the vicinity of the Cambridge City Hall, there had been a paint-only bike lane squeezed between parked cars and a busy general-purpose lane; between Lee Street and Harvard Square, bikes had been forced to share the lane with moving vehicles.

The new configuration eliminated on-street parking on one side of the street east of Bay Street, and both sides of the street between Bay and Mount Auburn Streets, to create space for separated bike lanes along most of the corridor between Harvard and Central Squares.

New separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue in front of Cambridge City Hall.
Massachusetts Avenue in front of Cambridge City Hall.

Near Hancock Street, the new street design also makes room for on-street dining areas that have popped up since the pandemic began:

New separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue near Hancock Street in Cambridge.
New separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue near Hancock Street in Cambridge.

This project was a quick-build effort done with paint and flexible-post bollards. But a few blocks to the southeast of Central Square, construction recently wrapped on a new apartment building that reconfigured the Mass. Ave. sidewalk and upgraded the bike lane as a sidewalk-level, physically-separated bike path.

A new physically-separated bike lane on Massachusetts Avenue at Lafayette Square, near the intersection of Sidney Street.
A new physically-separated bike lane on Massachusetts Avenue at Lafayette Square, near the intersection of Sidney Street.

It’s only one block for now, but it demonstrates how Cambridge’s quick-build bike lanes will be transformed over the long term as larger construction projects rebuild curbs and sidewalks along these routes.

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