A better solution for Inman Square

By Becca Wolfson, Doug Johnson and Elena SaportaScreen Shot 2017-01-27 at 2.55.58 PM

Just imagine: instead of gritting your teeth as you attempt to navigate the vehicular minefield that is present-day Inman Square, you could soon be circulating pleasantly along the rim of a traffic-calmed motoring peanut, a point of genuine interest lending harmony to this key crossroads.

That is, if the “Peanut-about” is selected as the design for Inman Square.

This past Tuesday night, January 25th, the City of Cambridge held a public meeting to present the design options for a new Inman Square. Attendance at the meeting, which far exceeded the room’s capacity, illustrates how important this project is to so many people, and just how badly a redesign of Inman Square is needed. In fact, so many people showed up that many could not fit into the meeting room to hear the presentation, but the City has promised to schedule another meeting very soon, so stay tuned!

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There are four options currently being considered for Inman Square, which we will describe below. Before we do, full disclosure: the Bike Union commissioned the design of the “peanut-about” by Kittelson & Associates because we felt that the options being considered by the City had significant limitations, and after last night’s meeting, we’re even more convinced that the peanut-about is the best solution for Inman Square. That said, each design has its merits, and we look forward to a robust public process in which the merits and shortcomings of each design are fully vetted.

Option A: Bend Cambridge Street

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The first option for Inman Square presented by the City is to bend Cambridge Street so that it intersects Hampshire Street at right-angles. “T-ing” the intersections like this improves pedestrian crossings and makes traffic more predictable, which reduces the chances of conflicts between road users.

Bike traffic, which currently makes up 26% of all weekday-morning southbound traffic on Hampshire Street, would continue through the intersection as it currently does. Continue reading A better solution for Inman Square

10 Tips for Bike Commuting while Pregnant

by Emily Balkam 

One of my first concerns when I found out I was pregnant was, “Can I still bike to work?” My 8 mile commute is only 45 minutes by bike compared to 90 minutes via public transit. I’m now in my third trimester and still bike commuting. Here are 10 tips that have helped me make it this far:

  1. Get Your Doctor’s Approval: Talk to your Doctor about biking. If you have a high risk pregnancy or medical complications, exercise may be limited or not allowed. Have the conversation early and it’s one less thing to worry about. 
  2. Plan a Safe Route: Sometimes the most direct route isn’t the safest. Take some time to plan a route that uses bike lanes or quieter streets using Google Maps or Ride the City. Not finding good infrastructure for your commute? Think about volunteering with a your local bike activist group: The Boston Cyclists Union, Somerville Bike Committee, Cambridge Bike Committee, Brookline Bikes, and MassBike, to name a few.  You can also send an email to your local government officials or alderman for your specific district. Provide your address and urge them to support safer streets for you and your growing family. 
  3. Balance: This is probably not the best time to learn to ride if you haven’t done it before. I’ve been biking regularly since I was a child. I’m making a point to keep it up, biking at least 2x a week and doing indoor balance exercises on bad weather days. So far, I haven’t noticed any issues with balance while riding. However, I am slower and get winded faster (both very normal as pregnancy advances). You could always test out how you feel on a stationary bike at a gym if you know how to ride but are feeling a bit rusty. 
  4. Nausea: Some women struggle with “morning sickness” throughout their pregnancy or in the first 8 weeks or so. I’m not sure why they call it morning sickness, as you can have it at any time of day or night. I felt the worst around 2 pm in the first trimester, but found biking to/from works actually made me feel better, as long as I hadn’t just eaten. Experiment with eating breakfast at work, rather than before you leave. In my second trimester, I needed 2 small breakfasts, one when I first woke up, and another at my desk. Lunch was just too far away and being “hangry” isn’t going to help your career or your health. Continue reading 10 Tips for Bike Commuting while Pregnant

5 Projects that will change biking in the Boston Area in 2017: #1 Mass Ave Protected Bike Lanes in Boston and Cambridge

This is Part 5 in a 5 part series about infrastructure projects in the Boston area that will have a dramatic effect on biking in 2017. The projects were selected based on various criteria including improvements to safety and convenience and innovation in implementation and design.

Read Part 1 , Part 2 Part 3 and Part 4

If you’ve ever ridden a bike down Massachusetts Ave, one of the area’s main thoroughfares connecting Cambridge and Boston, then you wouldn’t be surprised to know that it has one of the highest number of crashes of any road in the Boston area for people on bikes.

Despite the City of Boston removing some parking and installing bike lanes on Mass Ave in the Back Bay in 2011, most cyclists regard the stretch as a minefield of double parked cars, speeding, and car doors opening into the bike lane without warning.

Well, thanks to a major campaign by advocacy organizations including the Bike Union, some tactical urbanism by activists, and the incredible dedication and hard work of the Boston Transportation Department, Mass Ave in the Back Bay now boasts stretches of protected bike lane! While implementing the project is still ongoing, it will be complete in the Spring! Check out the video below to see what it’s like to ride in the new protected bike lane!

Even better, after a massive campaign by Cambridge bike advocates and the Bike Union, the City of Cambridge agreed to pilot protected bike lanes on two segments of Mass Ave this year, with the intention of expanding on the protected bike lane pilot program in the Spring!

Also worth noting, the Town of Arlington recently installed bike lanes on a stretch of Mass Ave along with other traffic calming measures, and the intersection of Mass Ave and the Minuteman Bike Path was recently redesigned to provide better path connectivity and transitions from the path to the road!

In 2017 the Bike Union will be pushing the City of Boston to address safety issues on the stretch of Mass Ave between Melnea Cass and Uphams Corner, the only remaining part of Mass Ave that does not have any bike facilities.

This is the kind of progress that you help us make when you become a member or donate to the Bike Union! PLUS, when you join or donate between now and the end of 2016, you have a chance to win one of two bikes from our friends at Broadway Bicycle School in Cambridge or Wheelworks of Belmont and Somerville! Become a member today and help make 2017 the best year ever for biking in the Boston area!

 

Gifts of 2016!

Thanks to you we’ve made a lot of progress in 2016 in making the Boston area safer and better for biking!  While there is always more work to be done, now is a time to celebrate our victories as we prepare for next year. 

Read below for highlights of milestones from 2016. If you like what you read, and want to help bring even more progress to the region in 2017,  please consider making a tax-deductible year-end gift to the Bike Union. We also encourage you to get involved in our work or with your neighborhood advocacy group – none of this change happens without the passion and commitment of the community. 

We hope you have a great and restful holiday!

Becca Wolfson, Executive Director
Doug Johnson, Community Organizer

ps: If you donate now through Dec 31st you could win one of two bikes!


Milestones This Year

February

March

  • The City of Cambridge Adopted Vision Zero!  Following the City of Boston’s launch in March of 2015, Cambridge became the second municipality in Massachusetts to formally sign on to this policy to save lives and work to eliminate traffic fatalities.
  • The Town of Brookline began working on the Route 9 Emerald Necklace crossing, and it’s almost done! All that is left is to activate the traffic signals. 

May

  • We launched the inaugural Montreal to Boston Ride, where we took 15 riders to Montreal to show them what Boston could be in a few years, and then we rode our bikes 400 miles back to Boston to fundraise for the Bike Union!

Continue reading Gifts of 2016!