Bike Union Protest Creates ‘People-Protected’ Bike Lane Across Beacon Hill

A chain of people, mostly with bikes, line up along the right lane of Charles Street in Beacon Hill to form a temporary "people-protected" bike lane.
Folks with and without bikes join the human protected bike lane along Charles Street in support for bike lanes on this missing section of the Downtown Bike Network.

This morning, the Boston Cyclists Union created a “people-protected bike lane” to call attention to the need for safer bike infrastructure through Beacon Hill to complete the promised Downtown Bike Network – a pre-pandemic City of Boston initiative that’s yet to fully materialize.

At least a hundred participants gathered in solidarity to form a human-protected bike lane along the length of Charles Street from Beacon Street next to the Boston Common to Cambridge Street near the Longfellow Bridge.

A crowd of people with bikes walks across the Beacon Street crosswalk.
Folks leave the Boston Common and walk their bikes through Beacon Street and Charles Street intersection as they wait to become links on the people protected bike lane along Charles Street.

In the morning rush hours, when commuters pour into the city from the Longfellow Bridge, nearly one out of every three vehicles on Charles Street is a bicycle, according to official city traffic counts.

But the allocation of public space on Charles Street doesn’t reflect who’s actually using it. Its current layout features three lanes for motor vehicles, plus two curbside lanes for parked cars;  with the sole exception of a Bluebikes dock, there’s no dedicated space for bikes.

The Boston Cyclists Union is asking the City of Boston to close the gap in bike infrastructure between downtown Boston and the Longfellow Bridge by repurposing some of those car lanes to create protected bike lanes this year on Charles Street and the adjacent Cambridge Street. 

A family of three holds signs in Boston Common in support of better bike lanes on Charles Street.
Ronda (holding a sign), her son (seated), and her husband (standing at right) joined fellow advocates with the Boston Cyclists Union this morning on the Boston Common. She told StreetsblogMASS that she joined this morning’s rally “for the safety of all of us fellow bikers, and of course my son rides a bike, so we want to make sure we get some safe bike lanes for everyone.”

Deborah Holt, a Boston Cyclists Union member and Beacon Hill resident who started bicycling in her late 40s, said she uses Charles Street to get home and Cambridge Street to reach the Longfellow Bridge.

a woman holding a bright sign that says "Mayor Wu bike lanes for life for the planet"
Deborah Holt, a Boston Cyclists Union member and Beacon Hill resident, uses Charles Street to get home and Cambridge Street to reach the Longfellow Bridge.

“If I come over here (Charles Street) with my own bike, I have to get off the bike and I generally will walk it on this very crowded sidewalk to get three-quarters of the way down Charles Street so I can get up towards where I live,” she said.

Holt also expressed concerns over the lack of bike parking in her neighborhood.

“The people that live up the hill, many of them are in 4th-floor walk-ups, so they lock their bikes to saplings,“ she said. Her letter to the editor about bike parking was recently published in the Beacon Hill Times.

BCU Community Organizers Alex Shames (middle) and Malaysia Fuller-Staten (right), highlighted why bike lanes are needed and called out chants like, “What do we want? Bike lanes! When do we want them? Now!” Shames added, “like so many of you I was absolutely thrilled when mayor Michelle Wu was elected bc when she was campaigning she ran on the promise of a green new deal, she has the experience of biking around boston. She understands the urgency of climate change and the importance of creating safe streets and transportation justice and a city where people of all incomes and abilities move around the city easily. I was so excited for her to be elected and I would be even more excited to see her act on those issues.” The crowd erupted into cheers and applause.
BCU Community Organizers Alex Shames (middle) and Malaysia Fuller-Staten (right), lead chants in the Boston Common before leading protesters onto Charles Street to form the people-protected bike lane.

BCU Community Organizers Alex Shames (middle) and Malaysia Fuller-Staten (right), kicked off the event with a rally in Boston Common, chanting, “What do we want? Bike lanes! When do we want them? Now!”

Shames told the crowd that Mayor Wu “understands the urgency of climate change and the importance of creating safe streets and transportation justice, and a city where people of all incomes and abilities move around the city easily. I was so excited for her to be elected, and I would be even more excited to see her act on those issues.” The crowd erupted into cheers and applause.

“I would love a bike lane here!” said Josh, who commutes to work everyday from Fenway to Kendall. He first got involved with BCU after doing some research on the organization behind the temporary bike lane installed on Massachusetts Avenue. StreetsblogMASS asked how he was feeling about the uncompleted downtown bike network, he said, “It's pretty disappointing.. especially like this street (Charles Street) - there aren't even that many cars here.”
“I would love a bike lane here!” said Josh, who commutes to work everyday from Fenway to Kendall. He first got involved with BCU after doing some research on the organization behind the temporary bike lane installed on Massachusetts Avenue. StreetsblogMASS asked how he was feeling about the uncompleted downtown bike network, he said, “It’s pretty disappointing.. especially like this street (Charles Street) – there aren’t even that many cars here.”

“I would love a bike lane here!” said Josh, who commutes to work every day from Fenway to Kendall. He first got involved with BCU after doing some research on the organization behind the temporary bike lane installed on Massachusetts Avenue.

StreetsblogMASS asked how he was feeling about the uncompleted downtown bike network.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” he answered. “Especially like this street (Charles Street) – there aren’t even that many cars here.”

A portion of the people-protected bike lane next to a parking lane on Charles Street at 9:00am. Currently this street has parking on both sides with three one way travel lanes running down the middle.
A portion of the people-protected bike lane next to a parking lane on Charles Street at 9:00am. Currently this street has parking on both sides with three one-way travel lanes running down the middle, and no dedicated space for bike traffic.

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