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Cambridge Bike Lane NIMBYs Lose Again In Court

A person wearing black pedals a bike away from the camera on a wide street lined with trees beginning to turn yellow in the autumn. The rider is using a protected bike path that's separated from the adjacent car lanes by barriers including a brick-paved median island in the lower left foreground.

A person on a bicycle rides down the new two-way protected bike path on Brattle Street near Fresh Pond Parkway in the fall of 2023. Courtesy of the City of Cambridge.

A Middlesex Superior Court Judge has rejected another lawsuit against the City of Cambridge that sought to overturn the city's efforts to improve street safety with a citywide network of protected bike lanes.

The case, Aster et al. vs. City of Cambridge, has been in the court since the fall of 2022. Judge Maureen Hogan dismissed the lawsuit in a memorandum that was filed on February 26 and republished last week in the Cambridge Day.

In their complaint, Aster and 19 other plaintiffs attempted to argue that the city's bike lane projects were an illegal change to the city's traffic rules and regulations.

But Judge Hogan rejected that argument, siding with lawyers for the City of Cambridge in determining that "bicycle lanes and the signs and markings relative thereto are not rules and regulations... but rather are markings and other traffic control devices,” which the city does have the authority to change.

The lawsuit had also enjoined the court to take "immediate action" to prohibit the city from installing new protected bike lanes in Porter Square and on Brattle and Garden Streets.

But the court formally rejected that request for an injunction last year; the City of Cambridge went ahead and installed new bike lanes on Garden Street and in Porter Square in 2022, and subsequently completed a new two-way protected bikeway on Brattle Street (pictured above) in the summer of 2023.

Cambridge's Cycling Safety Ordinance sets a rigorous timeline for the city to complete a comprehensive network of protected bike lanes across the city by 2026.

A year ago, Hogan also dismissed a similar lawsuit against that ordinance from the anti-bike-lane organization Cambridge Streets for All.

The lead plaintiff in the more recent lawsuit, Madeleine Aster, is also listed as a board member for Cambridge Streets for All.

Cambridge is expected to begin installation of additional protected bike lanes on several segments of Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street later this year.

This story was corrected on Wednesday March 6 at 9:30 a.m. to update the list of planned bike lane projects for 2024 in the last paragraph. A previous version reported that the city would also install bike lanes on Cambridge Street this year; in fact, that project has been delayed to 2025.

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