Defend The Longfellow Bridge’s Protected Bike Lanes

Last summer, we won the first protected bike lanes across the Charles River. Now, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) wants to remove that protection in just a few days — while refusing to even consider protected bike lanes on another dangerous Charles River Bridge crossing.

We need all of you to join us in demanding that the state reverse course on both fronts. Tell MassDOT: Don’t prioritize motor vehicle convenience over human safety.

On Sunday, MassDOT plans to remove flexposts from the Longfellow Bridge for the winter to aid snow clearance. This decision would strip cyclists of a hard-won safety barrier right when weather and road conditions pose the greatest risk.

This is a problem of MassDOT’s own making. Had they implemented our preferred striping design (with a wider separated bike lane to accommodate emergency vehicles and safe passing) the positioning of flex posts would not have prevented adequate snow removal. MassDOT even promised to pilot a wider bike lane this fall, but has so far neglected to do so. While we understand that the flex posts as currently installed complicate snow clearance, simply removing the flex posts is an unacceptable solution.

This is particularly galling given that the final Longfellow plan specifically stated the flex posts would remain all winter. And it’s insulting that the agency, in straying from that plan, says it is acting in the name of safety. We demand that MassDOT and DCR come up with a better solution that doesn’t place riders in danger, or force them onto the sidewalk where they come in conflict with pedestrians.

With only a few days before the flex posts are due to come out, we urge you to join us in taking immediate action. Here’s what you can do:

Write to every official with oversight of this project to voice your displeasure (and CC so we can track our impact.) Your emails made a huge difference in winning physical separation of the bike lanes in the spring, and they’ll make a difference now.

Here’s a sample script:

Dear Secretary Pollack, Highway Administrator Gulliver, and Commissioner Roy,

I live in [CITY] and ride over the Longfellow [FREQUENCY/REASON].

I’m writing to urge you in the strongest possible terms to overturn MassDOT’s plan to remove flex posts on the Longfellow Bridge separating the bike lane from vehicular traffic. Protected bike lanes have been shown to halve risk to riders while doubling ridership. You also know, from the data you’ve been collecting since this summer, speeding is a rampant problem on the Longfellow Bridge. Currently, the flex posts are the only traffic calming measure we have on the bridge. It is unthinkable that MassDOT would remove this critical safety buffer in winter, when weather and road conditions pose their greatest threat to cyclists. The physical separation added to these bike lanes resulted from an exhaustive, years-long process that concluded physical separation was necessary to protect bicyclists crossing the bridge. While I understand the flex posts with the current design complicate snow clearance, simply removing them with virtually no public notice, and in the supposed name of safety, needlessly puts people at risk of grave injuries or death.

If your snow clearing equipment is not sufficient to clear the existing protected bike lane, I urge you to deploy barrels during the winter months to create a physically separated bike lane that is big enough to get a plow through.


This is a developing situation, so stay tuned for more info. If you don’t already subscribe to our mailing list, you can do so here.