Cyclists Sign Petition for Better Bike Lanes on Longfellow Bridge - NECN
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Cyclists Sign Petition for Better Bike Lanes on Longfellow Bridge

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cyclists Start Petition for Bike Lane on Longfellow Bridge

    After nearly five years of repairs, the Longfellow Bridge will reopen but without what cyclists deem to be adequate bike lanes.

    (Published Friday, April 20, 2018)

    For bicyclists crossing the Longfellow Bridge between Boston and Cambridge, the ride can be challenging and dangerous.

    "And it is horrifying when there's a truck right next to you and you're in this little teeny lane and there's nothing between you and a truck and they're zooming by to Boston," said Emma Rubin, who rides her bike across the bridge multiple times a week. "And you think you're going to die."

    Most bikers expressed similar sentiments.

    "It can be kind of a harrowing experience getting over the bridge," said bicyclist Nick Cutaia.

    "It can be scary if there's a big 18-wheeler coming right next to you," said bicyclist Andrew Benson.

    When the bridge renovation began five years ago, bikers were hoping the completed project would include white plastic flexposts to make riding across the bridge safer.

    "Flexposts are these vertical delineators that are maybe three feet high and they're adhered to the ground and they create a physical barrier and a visual barrier to tell cars you can't go in this space," said Becca Wolfson, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union.

    But with the bridge set to fully reopen in May, the inbound bike lane will only have a paint stripe separating riders from drivers.

    "If all that's protecting you is a line of paint on the bridge, from being hit, that is not a safe situation," said bicyclist Ken Carlson.

    The outbound side of the bridge will have some buffer, but bicyclists say it's not enough.

    A petition is now being circulated to get MassDot to add a better physical barrier for bikes.

    "The changes we're proposing are really very minor," said Nate Fillmore, co-founder of Cambridge Bicycle Safety.

    About 2,700 people have signed the petition so far. It will be delivered to state officials next week.

    After our report aired Friday night, MassDOT responded with the following statement:

    "Between 2009 and 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation undertook a comprehensive public outreach and stakeholder engagement process to help formulate a future design of the Longfellow Bridge that is safe and accessible for all users.

    As a result of this process that included input from numerous cyclist advocacy groups, a consensus recommendation was developed which resulted in the cross-section designed for the inbound direction.

    This design includes a 1 foot safety buffer along the MBTA Reservation, two 11 feet travel lanes, a 5 feet 6 inches delineated bicycle lane, and a sidewalk that provides for 8 feet 6 inches of clear space for pedestrians.

    Please also note that MassDOT was recently approached by a group of stakeholders regarding a request to change the agreed upon final configuration.

    MassDOT wishes to be respectful of the vigorous public process that helped determine the final design and would like to ensure that any potential decisions regarding a departure from the consensus design would be made with adequate data.

    MassDOT is therefore continuing to engage these stakeholders and will be collecting data regarding the post-construction movements of people, bicycles, and vehicles on the Longfellow Bridge and establish a transparent process to evaluate whether changed travel patterns warrant lane reconfiguration in the future.

    MassDOT will also now be installing stanchions to safely separate the bicycle lanes as well as speed-feedback displays in order to further encourage safety for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and all users of this bridge."

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