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Protected bike lanes

Eyes On the Street: Back Bay’s New Bikeways

A man rides a Bluebike towards the camera in a separated bike lane that runs between the sidewalk (left) and a row of parked cars (center). A row of flexible-post bollards in the foreground divides the bike lane from moving traffic. The street is lined with multi-story buildings.

The new Columbus Avenue protected bike lane, pictured near its intersection with Berkeley Street.

Over the past week, the City of Boston has been re-striping several newly-paved streets in the South End and Back Bay to implement new protected bike lanes on parts of Berkeley Street and Columbus Avenue (pictured above).

These new protected bike lanes only cover a few blocks, but they provide crucial connections between several other existing bikeways, and take a big step towards connecting a gap between the Boston Common and the Southwest Corridor:

Locator map showing the City of Boston's new protected bike lanes on Tremont, Berkeley, and Columbus Ave. The map shows parts of Back Bay and the South End, with the Public Garden in upper right, and the Commonwealth Avenue mall at upper left. Columbus Avenue runs diagonally through the map's center from the lower left corner to Park Plaza, in the upper-right quadrant of the map two blocks south of the Garden. A highlighted green line on Columbus in the center of the map indicates the location of new protected bike lanes, between Back Bay MBTA station and Arlington St. at Park Plaza. In the middle of that segment, another green line highlights a second new bike lane on Berkeley Street. This one runs one-way, northbound, from Tremont (at the lower edge of the map) to Columbus (near the center).
A map of the newly-installed protected bike lanes (the thicker green lines on Columbus Ave., Tremont St., and Berkeley St.) and their connections to existing protected bike lanes (solid green lines) and paint-only bike lanes (dashed lines) in Back Bay and the South End.

On Columbus Avenue, a recent repaving project gave the City of Boston a chance to permanently implement a street design that had been tested on a trial basis during the pandemic as part of the city's "healthy streets" initiative, then again during last year's Orange Line shutdown:

A protected bike lane crosses a viaduct between a sidewalk and a row of parked cars, with several tall buildings visible along the other side of the street in the distance. On the right is an old sign that says "Temporary Bike Lane - Ciclovia Temporaria – for more information visit". A sign further in the distance marks this street as Massachusetts Route 28.
The Columbus Avenue bike lane near Clarendon Street and Back Bay Station, looking northeast toward downtown Boston. This segment of the street has been the site of several "temporary" protected bike lane projects since the Covid-19 pandemic, as indicated by the old City of Boston sign at right, which is left over from last year's Orange Line shutdown.

On Berkeley Street, a new northbound-only bike lane has been created on the eastern curb and the number of car lanes has been reduced from three to two between Tremont Street and Columbus Avenue.

A city street lined with historic multi-story brick rowhouse buildings with the glass Hancock Tower skyscraper rising above them in the background. In the foreground is an intersection with a traffic light turning yellow and a street sign that says "Appleton Street". A woman in a puffy winter coat is crossing the street. On the right is a newly-painted protected bike lane running between the sidewalk and a row of parked cars.
Berkeley Street in the South End, looking north toward Back Bay.

The Berkeley Street lane begins at Tremont Street, where new protected bike lanes have been under construction for two years now and are finally nearing completion this fall:

A panoramic image of two intersecting streets with a tall building in the middle of the image, on the opposite corner. Both streets include curbside bike lanes separated from traffic by cones or flexible-post bollards. Several pedestrians are crossing the street to the right on a crosswalk with the walk sign, while next to them a car drives through the intersection on the street to the left.
Two photos stitched together in a panoramic shot show the reconfigured Tremont Street (left) and Berkeley Street (right), with their newly-installed protected bike lanes. Upgraded traffic signals at the intersection also sport new "No Turn On Red" signs.

When we took these photos last Friday, the new bike lanes were still a work in progress: the city had installed flexible-post bollards on some blocks, but not others, and several segments of the new bike lanes were still blocked with parked cars.

A city street lined with historic multi-story brick rowhouse buildings with the glass Hancock Tower skyscraper rising above them in the background. In the foreground, a broad area of pavement with hatched white markings and flexible-post bollards delineates a wide buffer zone between a bike lane (right) and moving traffic (at left); however, there is a black sedan parked in the bike lane.
On Friday, while city workers were still installing flexible-post bollards, numerous cars were still parked in the new bike lanes. Pictured is the intersection of Berkeley Street and Appleton Street.

These new bikeways represent a partial implementation of a citywide bike network expansion that Mayor Wu announced last fall.

Under that plan, the Berkeley Street bike lane will continue further north through Back Bay to connect to a planned eastbound protected bike lane on Boylston Street, and to the existing westbound bike lane on Beacon Street.

On Monday, a city spokesperson told StreetsblogMASS that work on Berkeley Street north of Columbus Avenue will continue next spring.

In another project to the east, the city would extend the new Tremont Street bike lanes into downtown Boston via a new one-way northbound bike lane on Charles Street South.

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