A diagram of the protected intersection design included in the Comm Ave project.
Back in 2014 (and even earlier), the Bike Union and advocates from allied organizations, including the student group BU Bikes, fought hard to convince the City of Boston and Boston University that a redesigned Commonwealth Ave would not be complete without protected bike lanes.
Thanks to the work of countless advocates we successfully convinced the City and BU to adopt a nation-leading protected bike lane and intersection design that has since been adopted in other cities around the country.
Join us in celebrating this historic moment this Friday!
Comm Ave Groundbreaking
Friday, October 26 3:00 PM
855 Commonwealth Ave, Boston (in the park along Comm Ave between the BU Bridge and 855.
The City of Cambridge has moved forward with a plan to ban all left turns in Inman Square, a step the Bike Union advocated for in order to make the intersection safer for all users. This is one of several “rapid response” interventions Cambridge is implementing after the fatal crash in Inman that took the life of Amanda Philips back in June. The intent of rapid response interventions is to immediately make an intersection less dangerous for everyone using it, with particular attention paid to protecting vulnerable road users.
Cambridge’s Bicycle Plan highlights left-hooks as one of the City’s top three most prevalent types of crashes that lead to bicyclist injury. In addition, their bike crash map shows left hooks as the leading type of crash in the Hampshire – Cambridge Street intersection. Besides the universal reasons why left turns are more dangerous – they require a lot of focus in looking for oncoming cars and a crosswalk that is farther away, often there is pressure from behind to “get out of the way” and make turning movements as quickly as possible, and when cars are queued up coming from opposing directions, both waiting to turn left, sight lines for all are significantly obscured – the length and geometry of Inman Square make left turns in the intersection particularly dangerous. Even if cars re-route and make left turns in other intersections (Prospect and Hampshire or Prospect and Cambridge), those intersections are much more compact, and the City may have the opportunity to experiment with protected left turns and other signal timing changes if needed.
Cambridge is not alone in taking measures to reduce the danger of motor vehicle left turns. A study produced by the NYC DOT uncovered a disproportionate amount of pedestrian and bicyclist injury and death caused by left turns. NYC DOT has already begun experimenting with changes to intersections troubled by left turns, with demonstrated results: their data shows that turn restrictions led to a 41 percent reduction in left turn-caused injuries to bicyclists and pedestrians over the course of three years. (Not insignificant, this study also showed that protected bike lanes led to a 15% reduction in left turn injuries.) Based on this research and what we know about the current conditions, we anticipate this ban will lead to a significant increase in bicyclist safety as the city works on a more permanent solution to fix Inman Square
At the July 19th Cambridge City Council Hearing on bike safety issues, when urged by the Bike Union and others to consider restricting left turns in the intersection, Councilor Jan Devereux proposed a motion to ask the transportation staff to look into the ban. We’re celebrating this advocacy win – we fiercely advocated for this measure – and are glad to see the City willing to try something to see how it works, rather than belabor what the impacts might be ahead of time. We hope that there is a fair amount of enforcement as soon as this sets in, so people understand their patterns may have to change. We appreciate that the city is ready to watch, learn and adjust — a great attempt at being nimble.
On September 29th, the Bike Union and allied organizations in the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition hosted a rally at Boston City Hall to demand action from our elected officials. Over 250 people attended the Streets are for People Rally including many city officials and policy makers.
Unfortunately, less than one week after the rally, Bernard “Joe” Lavins was killed in a truck collision in Porter Square while biking to work, stressing the need for Boston and Cambridge to accelerate their Vision Zero efforts.
Cambridge residents responded with their own rally and call to action on October 17th, before a meeting of the Cambridge City Council. Over 75 people showed up to rally for safer streets. Speakers, including the Bike Union’s Executive Director Becca Wolfson, demanded swifter action, less talk, and to stop passing on opportunities to make streets safer for people biking and walking. All eight policy orders up for review were unanimously adopted during the subsequent City Council meeting.
Together we are successfully demonstrating that we are a united and growing group of people who will not stop working until we eliminate fatal and serious crashes on our streets.
Thank you for supporting this important work and helping keep the pressure on our elected officials to take bold actions. Please continue to help by signing the petitions below!
- If you live, work, or commute in Boston, please sign and share our petition! We collected more than 220 signatures at the rally, but we’d like to grow that to 1,000 signatures before the end of this month.
- Everyone is invited to join us on November 20th for a World Day of Remembrance Vigil at the MA State House in remembrance of road traffic victims worldwide.
Thank you for your participation and support. We know that passage of policy orders does not mean our work is over. There will undoubtedly continue to be meetings where your presence and testimony, and engagement with city officials will be critical to seeing progress. We know you will rise to the occasion, and we hope you’ll join us at the next call to action on November 20th for World Day of Remembrance!
This week our community suffered a tragic, loss. 60-year old Joe Lavins of Lexington was fatally killed in a collision with a truck, approaching the intersection of Mass Ave and Somerville Ave in Cambridge, at morning rush hour on Wednesday, October 5th.
We know that the trauma of traffic violence runs deep, and has long-lasting ripple effects. We are lucky that we have bicycling Reverend Laura Everett to help our community grapple with our emotions and grief. Some neighbors, friends, witnesses and passersby gathered after the crash on Wednesday to work through the grief together. Laura taught us an important lesson that connecting with one another, and talking about and caring for yourself after seeing violence is important.
One observation we’ve made, that has been reinforced through hearing from you, is that in this time of sadness and anger and grief, we need each other.