As you may have heard, the Longfellow Bridge, connecting Cambridge and Boston is scheduled to be “reopened” this May — without safe passage for people biking. You can read more in this post.
Based on the fact that the last 5+ years of construction have proven that we will do fine without two lanes for motor vehicles, we’ve been working to convince MassDOT and state and city officials to take advantage of the opportunity and timing presented by the completion of the bridge renovation, and spare a motor vehicle lane to create a safe, protected space for people to bike. We are calling on MassDOT to initiate a 1-year experimental pilot of an inbound protected bike lane.
The state is being presented with a critical opportunity to reduce traffic fatalities and be a leader in safe transportation infrastructure.
There is a massive amount of support for this idea so far. State Representatives Jay Livingstone and Mike Connolly sent this letter to the MassDOT Secretary and Highway Administrator urging them to implement our suggested striping alternative. The Cambridge City Council unanimously passed a Policy Order earlier this month, calling on MassDOT to do the same.
We have had volunteers tirelessly canvassing the Longfellow with our petition to bring awareness to commuters – on bike and foot alike – that we can still impact changes to the bridge, and push MassDOT to take advantage of this timely opportunity to finally provide a safe Charles River Bridge crossing. We have already collected more than 2,000 signatures from people who use the bridge on foot and bike who are in support of this ask.
We’re also now calling on people to call and write to your state legislators, the Secretary of Transportation at MassDOT, and Governor Baker.
Currently, MassDOT’s position is that while they think the idea has validity, they cannot “ignore” the public process… that concluded more than seven years ago. We are trying to help them see that the world was different seven years ago. Mode share was half of what it is now in Boston and Cambridge, and both Boston and Cambridge have committed to Vision Zero. The cities and state have made commitments to protect vulnerable road users, and we’re asking them to take action that matches their stated policies.
We now know conclusively that speed kills. The conditions that will be created on the Longfellow Bridge with two lanes will be like those on the Mass Ave Bridge. We must continue to build a groundswell of support for this ask so that it cannot be punted down the road. Lives are at stake if the 2011 plan is implemented now, even if it is made safer in one year, and we are forced to live with two travel lanes and dangerous conditions until 2019.