Dear members and friends,
Thanks to the letters and emails you sent to MassDOT over the past month we have won some key safety improvements for people biking over the Longfellow Bridge. While it’s not everything we asked for, conditions on the bridge have improved considerably thanks to the steps taken by MassDOT. There are now approximately 2 weeks left until the start of Phase 3, when cyclists will begin using the upstream side of the bridge, while vehicles and pedestrians continue to use the downstream side of the bridge.
Without the emails and letters you sent to MassDOT voicing your concerns, we would still be biking under the hazardous conditions present in early December. The biggest change that came about from your letters was the removal of the “pinch” at the base of the bridge on the Cambridge side. If you recall, at the beginning of December, jersey barriers were placed in the bike lane, dangerously narrowing the bridge and forcing cyclists to abruptly merge left, without any warning to drivers or cyclists (pictured below).
The “pinch” has since been removed, and the work being done behind those jersey barriers has been held off until after bike traffic is switched to the upstream side of the bridge. An email from MassDOT states : “The bike lane was closed and barriers placed at the Kendall Square approach to allow access to a manhole for signal and electrical work to activate the Red Line shoo-fly track. Remaining work will be postponed until after bike travel is shifted to the upstream side [Feb 1]. In the meantime, the concrete barriers have been placed against the MBTA reservation. The 2.5-foot wide barrels between the bike and vehicle travel lanes will be replaced with 1.5-foot wide cones, increasing the space available to bike travel.” The variable message sign on the approach to the bridge has also been reprogrammed to read “Yield to bikes”, and the signage and paint from previous phases is being removed to eliminate confusion for bridge users.
Unfortunately, MassDOT will continue to instruct outbound cyclists to walk their bikes on the sidewalk for the next two weeks, but with the start of Phase 3 on February 1st people biking over the bridge in either direction will be able to enjoy a vehicle and pedestrian free ride!
None of this would have happened if you hadn’t spoken up for safe biking on the Longfellow!
– The staff of the Boston Cyclists Union