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Cambridge to Upgrade Hampshire Street Bike Lanes in 2023

Two people ride bikes along new bike lanes, separated from the car lanes by rows of white flexible-post bollards, on Massachusetts Avenue near Dana Street in Cambridge.

New separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue near Dana Street in Cambridge, pictured in September 2021.

The City of Cambridge is kicking off its public outreach for a planned installation of protected bike lanes on Hampshire Street – one of the region's busiest bike commuting corridors – in the summer of 2023.

Map showing the location of Hampshire Street in Cambridge. Hampshire runs in a northwest-southeast direction between Inman Sq., in the upper left (northwest) corner of the map, to Kendall Square, in the center of the map. The Charles River and Back Bay neighborhood of Boston are in the lower-right (southeast) corner of the map.

Hampshire Street ranks as one of the region's busiest bike-commuting corridors: according to pre-pandemic traffic counts from the City of Cambridge data, nearly half of the people traveling on Hampshire Street during rush hours are riding bikes, one-third are riding in cars, and the remainder are transit riders.

But like many other streets in the region, Hampshire Street, in its current layout, still devotes most of its public space to cars. Right now, the street has two unprotected painted bike lanes squeezed between curbside parking lanes and moving car traffic.

Last week, on an unusually warm evening, City of Cambridge officials hosted their first open house for a project that will upgrade those bike lanes with physical barriers, like flexible-post bollards, that will aim to offer more protection from motor vehicle traffic for bicycle users.

The event was hosted outdoors in the parking lot of a Public Works Department office building on the corner of Hampshire and Norfolk Streets, while dozens of people on bikes streamed by on their way home from work in the late-afternoon darkness.

"We're just doing an introduction to the project tonight, looking for broad feedback on safety issues, parking and loading needs, and things like that. There's no specific design yet," said Elise Harmon-Freeman, communications manager for the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department of the City of Cambridge, on Tuesday evening.

A crowd of people gathered in a parking lot to discuss plans for Hampshire Street. Most of the crowd is gathered around a table on the left side of the photo, where a large map of the street is on display. Other people talk with each other in small groups in other parts of the parking lot. Several attendees are carrying bikes or strollers.
An outdoor open house for the City of Cambridge's Hampshire Street protected bike lane project on Monday, November 7, 2022.

The city's updated Cambridge Cycling Safety Ordinance specifies Hampshire Street as one of four protected bike routes that must be in place by April 30, 2026 (the other three are Cambridge St. between Inman Square and Lechmere, Broadway between Harvard and Hampshire St., and Garden Street between Huron Ave. and Cambridge Common – a project that's being installed this month).

The quick-build project will also connect several other bike infrastructure projects to provide a near-continuous protected bikeway between the Charles riverfront in Boston and Porter Square in Somerville.

At the northwestern end of Hampshire Street, near the Somerville city line, workers are putting the final touches on a major reconstruction of the Inman Square intersection – a project that reconfigures the wide, x-shaped crossing of Hampshire and Cambridge Streets into two smaller intersections with physically-protected bike lanes, shorter crosswalks, and a new plaza.

Just northwest of Inman Square, on the Somerville side of the city line, Hampshire Street becomes Beacon Street, the City of Somerville's busiest bike route. The City of Somerville reconstructed Beacon Street to include long stretches of curb-protected bike lanes in a construction project that finished in 2019.

At Hampshire Street's southeastern end, it meets Broadway, another busy bike route through the heart of the Kendall Square neighborhood. Broadway also has protected bike lanes between Hampshire Street and the Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River; adjacent construction projects in the rapidly-growing neighborhood are adding more physical protection to those bike lanes on a block-by-block basis.

The southeastern end of Hampshire Street is also one short block away from the planned Grand Junction Pathway.

Learn more: Hampshire Street Safety Improvement Project website

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