Mass Ave to have bike lanes from Albany Street to the bridge!

There will come a day when the Mass Ave gateway from Cambridge to Boston will not be where the bike lane disappears!

Thanks to a massive long-term effort by LivableStreets and hundreds of Boston cyclists, the city of Boston’s top transportation and policy officials announced today that they will stripe bike lanes along Massachusetts Avenue from Albany Street to Symphony Hall, and stated that they are determined to find a way to fit them in all the way to the Mass Ave Bridge. The first section is scheduled to be paved and striped by the fall of 2011.

This major advocacy effort dates back years, and has included several ups and downs in a design process complicated by the city’s fear that last-minute design changes might jeopardize state funding for a total reconstruction of the street. The original reconstruction plans for Mass Ave between Albany St. and Symphony Road were created in the mid-90s, when bike lanes were still extremely hard to come by in Boston.

In 2009, several advocates, including bike-lawyer Andrew Fischer and members of DotBike and LivableStreets, filed a lawsuit against the city for not accommodating bikes on Mass Ave. The lawsuit was thrown out of court because the state law recommending bike accommodation was found to be non-binding. But since then policy makers in the city have been struggling to find a way to include bike lanes given the extra wide median included in the original plan.

One obstacle has been the state’s reluctance to fund a 10-foot lane. But a city proposal for 10.5-foot lanes on Mass Ave was later accepted by the state, and reportedly approved by the feds also earlier this month. [Thanks to Charlie of LivableStreets for the details on that-Ed.]

The effort to apply bike lanes to the street from Symphony to the bridge will require massive support from the public and the institutions and businesses owners along Mass Ave. The BCU will be working with LivableStreets and other advocates to make this support a reality. Local groups like the BCU owe LivableStreets a huge debt for paving the way to better, safer, and more enjoyable cycling in Boston.

Also new this week—Vineet Gupta of the Boston Transportation Department expressed the city’s determination to someday add a bike lane to the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

“We are going to get to the Greenway,” said Gupta at Thursday night’s Cities for Cycling at Boston University. “There are big challenges there reorganizing the lines, but we are going to get there.”

[This article was edited from the original version-Ed.]


  1. Charlie Denison on May 21, 2010 at 8:51 am

    This is a much-awaited victory indeed. There were many people who fought long and hard to make this happen, and I’m so glad we all finally got there. Just to clarify on the design details, the original bike lane proposal that was rejected by MassDOT did have a 10′ inside lane against the median, with a 1′ offset. The final plan that was just approved narrowed the offset to .5′ and widened the inside travel lane to 10.5′. The biggest concern that MassDOT typically has about narrow lanes on arterials is the width of MBTA buses, which is 8.5′ for the body of the bus and 10.5′ from mirror to mirror. Although MBTA buses do already travel on many roads with 10′ lanes, that extra .5′ (10.5′ vs 10′) seems to make MassDOT much more comfortable from a safety perspective.

  2. matt on May 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

    the Globe article says it’s only from Symphony to BMC:

    I hope they’re wrong, as I thought they announced what you had said…

  3. pete on May 21, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Thanks Matt,

    In our excitement we forgot to make it clear that what was announced this morning was BMC to Symphony, but also a determination to connect to the bridge. Public and business support will be crucial to paving the way for bike lanes on the Symphony to bridge stretch. (The story has been edited to reflect that)

  4. matt on May 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I just checked the video, and it indeed from Symphony to BMC. they said “we’re looking at how to do the stretch between the bridge and Symphony” or words to that effect. so, not quite as exciting as I’d hoped.

  5. pete on May 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

    In our discussions with BTD officials during and after the announcement, it was clear that the city is determined to continue the bike lanes through the stretch from Symphony to the bridge. It will be up to us, the advocates to ensure they have the public and business support from to make it happen. The exciting thing is how serious they are about accomplishing this!

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