A new bike lane in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has put bicyclists at odds with local business owners.
The lanes, which extend along Brattle Street and Cambridge Street, were implemented over the summer. Since then, businesses along Brattle have complained of a lack of parking for their customers, as well as safety concerns.
"I haven't spoken to one human being who looks at this and doesn't think it's a mess," said Randy Ricker, owner of Brattle Square Florist.
While the lanes only extend along a quarter mile of Brattle, Ricker said they have created confusion for residents and drivers. While Brattle is a one-way street, the city removed a lane of its traffic to create the two-way bike lane. The goal was to create a safe space for cyclists to travel in and out of the bustling Harvard Square area, however, Ricker contends that it has made driving more dangerous.
"It's become a lot more crowded because there is now less space for cars," he explained. "You can't see some bikes that are coming down Brattle, so if you’re going to take a turn onto it, you have no idea if cars are coming."
Adding to some frustration is the removal of parking spaces. While the city tried to limit the impact, the project did require the removal of 15 metered spots.
"Business has gone down, customers have been saying we are not coming in, there's no place to park. It's ridiculous," said Mariana Maradianos, who works at Hillside Cleaners.
However, the lanes have been a welcomed addition by bicyclists. After two bike fatalities in the city last year, safety advocates worked with the city to come up with solutions. One of them included the new lanes, which offer a partition to separate the cyclists from cars.
"There wasn't even a bike lane for people riding here. Give this type of infrastructure a chance," said Becca Wolfson, executive director of Boston Cyclists Union.
The Brattle Street lanes made sense, Wolfson argued, pointing out that the city determined car traffic would not be impacted with the reduction from two lanes to one. City data shows it was also a popular stretch for bicyclists in the evening. Approximately 150 riders traveled the road after work on any given evening in the spring. City leaders plan to study the section next year to determined the lane's impact.
Furthermore, Wolfson contends, many customers in Harvard Square commute by train or on foot.
"For any business that says they're losing business because people can no longer park here, I have a hard time believing that," Wolfson said. "Hardly any legal parking was removed to implement this facility."
But business owners still believe there is a better solution for both drivers and cyclists. More than 30 businesses have signed onto a petition with Harvard Square Business Association to urge the city to reevaluate the program.
"I just think it's totally counter-intuitive," said Ricker. "It's a disaster."