Bike Union helps improve Harvard Square for bikes

Traffic leading out of Harvard Square northbound.

Cycling out of Harvard Square northbound on Mass Ave can be confusing and dangerous, but major improvements are on the way thanks to comments the Union and others made on an upcoming reconstruction project there, one of the Bike Union’s first forays into street design in the city of Cambridge. That city is working on major renovations of the Cambridge Street Tunnel and the Cambridge Common which are also coordinated with a renovation of the Science Center Plaza on the Harvard University campus.

Over the summer Bike Union intern Christina Kim studied plans for a five-foot wide bike lane through a tunnel where cars routinely travel over 35 miles per hour, and made several suggestions with the help of ED Pete Stidman. Not all of them were followed to the letter, but many were accepted and a much more pleasant commute is in store for many who pass through the area.

Instead of a 5-foot bike lane, which is the minimum in most situations, the Cambridge Street Tunnel will host a 6.5-foot bike lanes with a 1-foot painted buffer zone separating cyclists from traffic—inspired by the buffered bike lane on Commonwealth Ave under Mass Ave in Boston. For cyclists heading north on Mass Ave from Harvard Square, a unused traffic island named Dawes Island Park (a.k.a Flagstaff Park) will be widened to incorporate a short bike path that will allow riders to avoid the traffic circle almost entirely. Cyclists heading south will be similarly safe from traffic when the take advantage of a bike access included in a new renovation of the Cambridge Common. Bikes will also be allowed on the Harvard Science Plaza giving people the opportunity of avoiding Cambridge Street altogether.

Big thanks to Christina K. for helping the Union expand its influence to the other bank of the Charles River!

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