bridge

Boston Cyclist Union Still Fighting For Improvements To Longfellow

Anyone who has ridden over the new Longfellow bridge knows…its not good.  Even with the new “improvements” it still is pretty bad, especially considering how much better it could be.  But the BCU and a lot of other people are STILL FIGHTING!

Update from them below:

It’s been more than a month since you’ve received an update on the Longfellow, and a lot has happened!

The Boston City Council unanimously passed a resolution last month endorsing our proposed striping design, joining the Cambridge City Council, which passed a similar resolution in April. Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone and Rep. Mike Capuano also endorsed the plan, with Capuano writing to MassDOT, “…the Boston Cyclists Union raises legitimate concerns, and I urge MassDOT to address them.”

Responding to mounting pressure and working with advocates, MassDOT has already committed to several safety improvements we have been asking for. This includes reducing the speed limit to 25 miles per hour, and installing a speed feedback board; narrowing inbound travel lanes by a total of one foot, while widening the bike lane from 5.5’ to 6.5’; installing flex posts on the inbound and outbound sides to physically separate cyclists from moving car traffic; and adding signage directing large vehicles to use the left inbound lane, to give additional comfort to cyclists in the bike lane. All of these changes to the original design are slated for completion in the first week of June.

These are all welcome changes that will make the bridge dramatically safer than it would have been under MassDOT’s original plan. We applaud MassDOT for listening to and heeding the voices of so many cyclists, advocates and elected officials, and for showing a commitment to working with us toward a safer solution.

What’s more, MassDOT is not done making improvements to the bridge. After hearing from us, many of you, and other stakeholders who have engaged with them over the past few months asking for safety upgrades to the bridge’s design, MassDOT is working hard to respond to our concerns. Yesterday, MassDOT met with stakeholders, who have engaged over the past few months with safety concerns over the bridge design, to discuss future plans to make the bridge even safer. Secretary Pollack committed to working with stakeholders to run a pilot on the inbound side of the bridge, testing out the narrowing of the bridge to one lane for cars with a wider, separated bike lane that would allow safe passing. We’ll be looking to you to give feedback as this change happens, to help secure the safer, wider lane permanently, so please continue to follow the progress and be in touch with us!

This is a huge victory, and it would not have been possible without you showing up and speaking up. Whether you canvassed for signatures, signed our petition online or in person, emailed or called your state rep or city councilor — YOU made a difference and are impacting a decade-old decision that many felt was unchangeable. We are accomplishing the impossible, all because we stood together to ensure MassDOT listened. This is our collective strength in action.

We look forward to seeing this project progress. We hope the flex posts and other design changes make you feel safer when the bridge reopens to full beneficial use, and we are eager to see what further improvements we can achieve by continuing to work together. Momentum is on our side.

Boston City Councilors Support Protected Lanes on Longfellow

From U-Hub:

City Councilors Michelle Wu (at large) and Josh Zakim (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill) will ask other councilors to join them tomorrow in urging the state to use barriers to protect bicyclists when the revamped Longfellow Bridge finally opens later this month.

At the regular council meeting, the two will formally ask other councilors to agree to a resolution calling on MassDOT to take one of the vehicle lanes on the inbound side and convert it to bicycle use, with something separating the cars and trucks from the bicyclists.

In their formal request, the two say the traffic disaster predicted when the state began shutting parts of the bridge five years ago never materialized, and that more people now commute by bicycle than when construction began. Also:

The incline on the first half of the inbound side of the bridge makes it particularly challenging to accommodate cyclists of varying abilities without a lane wide enough to facilitate passing.

Amercian Students Rethink Copenhagen Neighbourhood Part 02

Mikael, on behalf of Copenhagenize Design Co., is a teacher in the Bicycle Urbanism Studio led by urban liveability expert Bianca Hermansen at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS). Since 1959, DIS has given American students the chance to study in Denmark. Our Bicycle Urbanism Studio features American architecture students.

Mikael led a portion of the course involving a massive Desire Lines analysis of two intersections at either end of the Dybbøls Bridge in the Vesterbro neighbourhood. The students’ final project was broader than that. They were given the task of rethinking the entire area. The wide swathe of unused railyards, access to the harbour and bicycle traffic through the area.?

Working with the students was brilliant and inspiring. Mikael was also an external examiner on the final projects at DIS. We thought it worthwhile to get the students to present their projects in short form. Showing off their abilities, ideas and visions. We’ll divide them up into two articles. Here’s the second one.?

Many of the students mention “Bicycle Snake – Cykelslangen”. This refers to the coming elevated cycle track in the area. Here’s a map of the area in question.

DAVID MITCHELL

Our Urban Design Studio features the analysis of the existing bicycle infrastructure connecting Vesterbro, Fisketorvet Mall and the Fisketorvet Bridge and a proposal based on the information documented in our research. ?The research component of the studio consisted of video taping bicycle behavior (monumentalists, recklists, and conformists), counting the number of parked bicycles by the hour, and documenting conflict zones. ?These details, which are so often overlooked by the every day user, are the components that we, as designers, used to design. ?This form of development is called “fact-based decision making” and is a form of research that I found to be enlightening. ?At a personal level, I chose to focus on how to best resolve areas of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, reduce automobile traffic, and facilitate the needs of families living in Vesterbro. ?
A whopping twenty-four percent of residents in Vesterbro own cargo bikes. ?This means that these people have found an environmentally friendly way to not only travel, but perform errands, whether that be grocery shopping, dropping off kids at friends’ houses, or picking up flowers. ?Improving safety conditions for these travelers is the driving factor behind my design. ?Also, a statistically significant aspect of the project is how many users per day currently use the inconvenient staircase depicted below. ?A staggering 4,700 users on the day of our observation. ?And, with the installation of the snake, we can expect travelers between Vesterbro and the bridge to increase.
Nearly 5,000 travelers use this staircase to get to their final destination, daily. ?Proposing a convenient and safe alternative to this is one of the demands of the project.
The plan proposed is meant to be a realistic reconfiguration of the site. ?The bridge, which currently has a large void ought be filled. ?With the creation of new space I propose a walking promenade with a series of overlook and nodal spaces which allows for people to sit and watch pedestrians go along to either the mall or Vesterbro. ?Beneath the bridge, and expanding northeast and southwest is a park which connects with the larger context of Amagerfaelled. ?Access would be gained from the s-tog platform or ramps descending from the bridge.?
Riders ascending to the level of the shopping mall are greeted by a bi-directional bike path, with distinguishable paving patterns, to clearly delineate spatial usage. ?By combining the bike lanes, pedestrians are no longer at risk of accidents by bikers. ?I have proposed to close down one of the ramps curving up to the plaza level and be replaced by a department store and a series of mom and pa shops which align the northeastern edge of the street. ??
A section of spatial types along the proposed bridge shows which type of users are being provided for; green= pedestrian, yellow= bicycle, red= automobile, blue= bio-swale, and orange= nodal space. ?This section cut goes through two nodal spaces, the larger of which overlooks green space to the northeast.

ELAINE STOKES


The area surrounding the Fisketorvet shopping center consists of zones of extremely high and extremely low use.? While the bridge crossing over the Dybbølsbro S-Tog station experiences such high pedestrian usage during afternoon and evening hours that people overflow sidewalks and crowd the cycling lane, the unused land below the bridge is left completely vacant for the majority of the day.? Additionally, most road space leading up to Fisketorvet is allocated to cars, even though car traffic falls far behind cyclist and pedestrian traffic during all hours of the day.

The Cykelslangen, or “Bicycle Snake,” is the current solution supported by Copenhagen municipality to improve cyclist flow through the Fisketorvet-Dybbølsbro area, yet this design fails to improve the livability of the neighborhood, nor does it increase resources for pedestrians who pass through the area.
Instead, the Inhabit—Habitat proposal seeks to remedy the Fisketorvet-Dybbølsbro area by creating accessible connections between retail, the harborfront, and open green space, while also improving storm water management and the natural habitats of the site.? Instead of simply remedying the cyclist route through the area, this proposal calls for a complete restructuring of the traffic hierarchy of the site.
First, by transforming the Dybbølsbro Bridge into a gradual ramp rising from the ground level of the Fisketorvet mall to cross over the S-Tog stop, cyclists could remain at ground level while traveling past the mall from Brygge Broen.? This, in turn, would eliminate the need for the Cycle Snake to be elevated.
Next, the car entrance to Fisketorvet would be relocated to the southwest side of the mall and the freeway along Kalvebod Brygge would be simplified and narrowed, making the northern side of Fisketorvet available for additional retail space reflecting a typical Copenhagen streetscape.



Finally, the unused land adjacent to the S-Tog stop would be allowed to return to a natural habitat, with inlets from the harbor uniting the park to the new retail development and the waterfront.? Through these measures, the disjointed spaces of the Fisketorvet-Dybbølsbro zone would be refitted to form a cohesive, environmentally conscious, accessible, and livable neighborhood center.

MICHELLE WOODS

Urban Current: a surge of life through Dybbølsbro

With 26 total hours of recorded video footage made up of 13 hours of documentation at the Fisketorvet Shopping Center intersection and 13 hours at the Dybbølsbro intersection, a large amount of data and insight into how cyclists move through and within our site was observed.

First Impressions

From on-site observations and viewing of the video footage, the first thing I thought of was how this site did not seem to reflect the values of Copenhagen.? Cars and other vehicular traffic are placed ahead of cyclists and pedestrians. The infrastructure allows for easy and flowing car movement, while cyclists and pedestrians face crowded spaces, stairs, and other obstacles throughout the site.

The site also creates a large disconnect between the vibrant neighborhood of Vesterbro and the harborfront. While walking across the Dybbølsbro bridge, there seems to be no presence or atmosphere. The punctuation of the bridge in the Fisketorvet mall also does not add much to the site.

Proposed Solution

A 20 year plan that restructures the site will help to bring life back to the area.?

The first proposed action would be to make a huge infrastructural change. A bridge with infrastructure of separated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians should be built on both sides of the car lanes. Eliminating the bridge and flattening the infrastructure by Fisketorvet would result in a ramped structure that would curve to connect cyclists and pedestrians directly into the ground level next to the mall, creating a smooth connection. A new, normal intersection would be created. This change places the needs of cyclists and pedestrians ahead of that of cars and stays in line with the values of Copenhagen.

The next step in this plan would be to develop the empty land beneath the current bridge. Having a development of mixed-use buildings and great public streets and gathering spaces can bring a new vibrancy to the site. This development would also be able to pay for the large infrastructural changes that would occur prior to this.?

Although a large and ambitious plan, I think that this restructuring and development of the entire site would in the long run bring a new and exciting life to the site that would celebrate the everyday cyclists and pedestrians.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Islands Brygge – Application of the "Desire lines" tool – Part one: the study

Islands Brygge - Stones

By applying the Copenhagenize Design Company?concept of “Desire Lines” to an urban space, we were able to observe behaviours of cyclists, as shown in our latest research about?the Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection. We used the idea of “Desire Lines”?to observe cyclists at Islands Brygge moving through a space shared with pedestrians, and we assessed the ways in which geography impacted movement.?

Recently, the municipality decided to divide this space by placing stones in the middle of it, with the intention of using the stones to channel the flow of cyclists. When looking at this new layout, we immediately noticed that this remodelling did not respect instinctive human desires. Our philosophy suggests that infrastructure should cater to the desires of cyclists and pedestrians as much as possible. The following illustrates what we observed in Islands Brygge, close to Bryggebroen – the cyclist/pedestrian bridge which is being used everyday by thousands of people. Here is a quick analysis that demonstrates the ways in which “Desire Lines” can be applied in order to better understand public space. ?

The increasing number of cyclists who use Bryggebroen
Approximately 8.000 bicycles cross Bryggebroen every day, as it is one of the best short-cuts joining the southern districts of Copenhagen. The elevated bike track called “the Bicycle Snake – Cykelslangen?will be launched in the near future,?and the Municipality expects that its?opening will encourage at?least twice as many bikes to cross the bridge each day. Cyclists will join Dybbølsbro without carrying their bike down the stairs. What a relief!

Although Bryggebroen is a fantastic example of bicycle infrastructure, the spatial layout on either side of it does not effectively cater to the needs of cyclists and pedestrians when they continue their journeys after they have crossed the bridge.?So far, the number of users creates a comfortable flow, and ensures safe interactions between cyclists and pedestrians. However, with the rising of cyclists using the bridge, this shared space will see a more complicated relationship between those who travel by foot and by bike.?

It is likely that the use of stones was an attempt to organise pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The Municipality first placed stones in between the Gemini Residence and the Wennberg Silo in June. The stones were put in the middle of the shared space between cyclists and pedestrians in order to channel the different flows. Anticipating an increased flow was the right approach, but placing stones in the middle of a bike path is clearly not the ideal solution. Does this solution deliver the right results?

Islands Brygge - the stones

Islands Brygge - the stones

These stones force cyclists who are coming from the right side of the bike path and heading to the left, to perform a wide bend on the right before turning left. This means that cyclists are redirected away from their desired path, and are pulled in the opposite direction.

As for the pedestrians, they are invited to walk only in-between the stones. This is a strange way to divide the spaces allocated to each group. At first sight, it seems unnatural for a cyclist not to take the shorter way.


That’s why Copenhagenize Design Co. has decided to apply its «?Desire Lines?» tool to this shared space in order to analyze the behavior of cyclists and the pedestrians.

We observed the space for two hours during a single day (one hour in the morning rush hour, and one in the afternoon rush hour) on July the 3rd. To cross this space, the cyclists followed no less than 14 different trajectories. Here are the results.

The cyclists follow 14 different desire lines
ISLANDS BRYGGE - desire lines - different colors - all lines

ISLANDS BRYGGE - desire lines - different colors - all lines

Looking at the cyclists’ behavior, 14 different lines were observed: 11 in the morning, when most cyclists were heading to work, and 14 in the afternoon, including some very unique desire lines. ?

In total, we counted:
- from 8 to 9 o’clock: 876 cyclists going through the public space + 43 cycling along the water;
- from 4 to 5 o’clock: 835 cyclists going through the public space + 60 cycling along the water.

Even if most of the cyclists follow the new lines that are organised by the stones, they will not be taking routes that are particularly suited to their behaviour. We can?sum up the consequences of the stones on the cyclists’ trajectories:
    - In the morning, when cyclists were heading to work, 5% of them keep on using the shortest possible way to go through this space even if they risked bumping into the cyclists coming the other way (line G);
    - 6% of cyclists took a short-cut even if the sidewalk is not lowered, ?therefore risking to damage their tires (line H);
    - as in the Choreography of an Urban Intersection, 1% in the morning and 2% in the afternoon of the cyclists rode where they want (lines I, J, K, L);
    In the morning:
    - 87% of the cyclists followed the new rules driven by the stones (lines A, B, C, D, E, F);
    - However, 26% did not have to adapt their behavior as they were riding straight (lines C, F, E);
    - 73% have to start turning right when they want to head left (lines A, B) + (lines D, H, G);
A cyclist generally chooses his or her route in a way that guarantees the shortest distance. For instance, 77% take a bend as short as possible when they turn (line A). The ones who take a large bend, do it in order to avoid a pedestrian, or a cyclist coming in the opposite direction. A few cyclists do it without specific reason.

As many desire lines as the number of pedestrians
In general, fewer pedestrians (71 in the morning, 127 in the afternoon) than cyclists use this space, but our analysis did not include the pedestrians walking on the private ramp of the Gemini residence.?Compared to cyclists, there are almost as many desire lines as pedestrians (or runners) walking in this space.?That is why we have divided the pedestrians into 4 groups:
    - The pedestrians walking in the gravel (not encountering the cyclists’ path) – line A;
    - The pedestrians using the space in between the stones (interacting with the cyclists to reach this zone) – line B;
    - The pedestrians sharing the same zone as the cyclists – line C;
    - The pedestrians crossing the stones and walking both in the pedestrian and cyclist zones – line D.

Print







Print Thus, we can draw the following conclusions:

    - The pedestrians do not use the space dedicated to them in between the stones. Approximately 6% of them used it from the beginning to the end in the morning, and 15% in the afternoon – line B;
    - 76% (morning) and 72% (afternoon) of the pedestrians kept on using the space shared with the cyclists (walking a few meters away from the pedestrian space or even right into their trajectories) – line C and line D;
    - 8% (morning) and 13% (afternoon) walked on the gravel – line A.
To sump up, the new layout does not fit the pedestrians’ behavior. The flows are not completely divided and the pedestrians and cyclists keep on sharing the space. The majority of the pedestrians weave through the stones, which is quite a nuisance for them. Moreover, there is no crosswalk in the continuity of the pedestrian area.
To conclude, this remodeling of the public space around Bryggebroen does not follow the basic behavior of the cyclists and does not bring obvious and relevant solutions for the pedestrians. That’s why we would like to present a number of suggestions for a new layout (part two).

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Building the Bicycle Snake

UPDATE: A year back we blogged about the Bicycle Snake – Cykelslangen - being built to both help connect the popular Vesterbro and Islands Brygge neighbourhoods of Copenhagen, and to create a simpler more direct route around Copenhagen’s unfortunately quintessential American-style shopping mall for the 9000 cyclists that transit that area every day. We’ve been talking about it, waiting for it, and with it’s elegant Danish design – really been looking forward to it.

Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when to discover yesterday that construction has started. A year behind schedule, but hey it’s on its way.

As I wiggled down a little ramp on a cargo bike, bumped over cobblestones, and squeezed past delivery trucks (the maze the Bicycle Snake will relieve us from), these are the developments made thus far:

Ok, so it’s not much, but in the lower left corner you can see where construction has begun. You can also see a cyclist riding off the sidewalk/current bike lane onto cobblestones where he then dismounts his bicycle and carries it up two flights of stairs. In a few months, he should be sans cobblestones, dismounts, stairs, and riding (10 metres) high. For a brief reminder, taken from approximately the same angle, here’s what it will look like:

photo of Cykelslangen from architect Dissing + Weitling

Until then, we’ve got the City’s standard friendly post reminding us that, roughly translated, they’re building better connections for pedestrians and cyclists and until it’s finished this summer they hope we can bare with them and have a bit of extra consideration and respect for each other in the construction zone.

I think we can.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Lonfellow Bridge Final Design Announced

From MassBike (who did a lot of work with other groups to get this awesome design)  I suggest you support them for their hard work.

—————————–

 

MassDOT recently released the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, which reveals the design MassDOT has chosen for the bridge. To its credit, MassDOT clearly listened to much of the input from the Longfellow Bridge Task Force (on which I served):

Click to enlarge

 

As seen above, the outbound (Boston-to-Cambridge) side of the bridge as proposed will be truly multimodal, with a single travel lane for motor vehicles, a wide buffered bike lane, and a wide sidewalk. While we can (and will) push to further narrow the remaining travel lane to provide even more space for bicyclists and pedestrians – and to slow down the traffic that speeds over the bridge – MassDOT has the right idea for the outbound side.

Throughout the process, the design for the inbound side has been the focus of discussion and disagreement. The alternative chosen by MassDOT does not represent an improvement over current conditions for bicyclists; at most, the bike lane is six inches wider than the current shoulder/bike lane. So bicyclists who are not comfortable riding across the bridge today will not feel any safer riding across the reconstructed bridge. And the sidewalk, while wider than what exists today, is still narrow – too narrow to be comfortably shared by pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, and the inevitable less-confident bicyclists drawn by the wider-but-still-inadequate sidewalk.

Another option proposed by the Task Force would configure the inbound side much like the outbound side: wide sidewalk, wide buffered bike lane, and a single travel lane (see below). While there is disagreement over whether this configuration would provide an acceptable level of service for cars, one thing is certain: the decision we make now will determine whether or not we will ever be able to realize the Task Force’s vision of maximized space for bicyclists and pedestrians, if and when future traffic volumes support doing so.

Click to Enlarge

At the recent public hearing on the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, MassBike joined with other advocates to speak out in support of this longer-term vision for the bridge. Click here for our full joint statement.

There are tradeoffs for bicyclists and pedestrians in these design choices. The MassDOT plan would mean losing the opportunity for a wider sidewalk until the next time the bridge is rebuilt (50-75 years), because the crash barrier cannot easily be moved once built. Faster cyclists would be in the same narrow bike lane we have today, while slower, less confident cyclists would probably be jockeying for space on a narrow sidewalk (if they felt safe enough to use the bridge at all). On the other hand, the advocates’ plan would move the crash barrier inward, creating a much wider space for bicyclists and pedestrians to share on the sidewalk, but eliminating the on-street bike lane. Neither proposed solution is optimal from either the bicyclist or pedestrian perspective.

Advocates for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, the disabled, and the Charles River parkland all agree that the longer-term vision is the one we want and this is the only way to preserve that option. In the short-term, less confident bicyclists will feel more protected being physically separated from cars, and many more people may choose to bike over the bridge to Boston or the Esplanade. Some may view it as bikers and walkers sacrificing separate space for the possibility of a better deal in the future, but I don’t see it as a sacrifice. Instead of separate but inadequate space for bicyclists and pedestrians, we’ll get a much wider more flexible space that will be safer and more inviting for more people. It can work, and is already working on bridges elsewhere, like the busy Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.

So let’s thank MassDOT for demonstrating some real multimodal thinking on this project, and push them to think just a little further into the future we all want to see.



Lonfellow Bridge Final Design Announced

From MassBike (who did a lot of work with other groups to get this awesome design)  I suggest you support them for their hard work.

—————————–

 

MassDOT recently released the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, which reveals the design MassDOT has chosen for the bridge. To its credit, MassDOT clearly listened to much of the input from the Longfellow Bridge Task Force (on which I served):

Click to enlarge

 

As seen above, the outbound (Boston-to-Cambridge) side of the bridge as proposed will be truly multimodal, with a single travel lane for motor vehicles, a wide buffered bike lane, and a wide sidewalk. While we can (and will) push to further narrow the remaining travel lane to provide even more space for bicyclists and pedestrians – and to slow down the traffic that speeds over the bridge – MassDOT has the right idea for the outbound side.

Throughout the process, the design for the inbound side has been the focus of discussion and disagreement. The alternative chosen by MassDOT does not represent an improvement over current conditions for bicyclists; at most, the bike lane is six inches wider than the current shoulder/bike lane. So bicyclists who are not comfortable riding across the bridge today will not feel any safer riding across the reconstructed bridge. And the sidewalk, while wider than what exists today, is still narrow – too narrow to be comfortably shared by pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, and the inevitable less-confident bicyclists drawn by the wider-but-still-inadequate sidewalk.

Another option proposed by the Task Force would configure the inbound side much like the outbound side: wide sidewalk, wide buffered bike lane, and a single travel lane (see below). While there is disagreement over whether this configuration would provide an acceptable level of service for cars, one thing is certain: the decision we make now will determine whether or not we will ever be able to realize the Task Force’s vision of maximized space for bicyclists and pedestrians, if and when future traffic volumes support doing so.

Click to Enlarge

At the recent public hearing on the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, MassBike joined with other advocates to speak out in support of this longer-term vision for the bridge. Click here for our full joint statement.

There are tradeoffs for bicyclists and pedestrians in these design choices. The MassDOT plan would mean losing the opportunity for a wider sidewalk until the next time the bridge is rebuilt (50-75 years), because the crash barrier cannot easily be moved once built. Faster cyclists would be in the same narrow bike lane we have today, while slower, less confident cyclists would probably be jockeying for space on a narrow sidewalk (if they felt safe enough to use the bridge at all). On the other hand, the advocates’ plan would move the crash barrier inward, creating a much wider space for bicyclists and pedestrians to share on the sidewalk, but eliminating the on-street bike lane. Neither proposed solution is optimal from either the bicyclist or pedestrian perspective.

Advocates for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, the disabled, and the Charles River parkland all agree that the longer-term vision is the one we want and this is the only way to preserve that option. In the short-term, less confident bicyclists will feel more protected being physically separated from cars, and many more people may choose to bike over the bridge to Boston or the Esplanade. Some may view it as bikers and walkers sacrificing separate space for the possibility of a better deal in the future, but I don’t see it as a sacrifice. Instead of separate but inadequate space for bicyclists and pedestrians, we’ll get a much wider more flexible space that will be safer and more inviting for more people. It can work, and is already working on bridges elsewhere, like the busy Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.

So let’s thank MassDOT for demonstrating some real multimodal thinking on this project, and push them to think just a little further into the future we all want to see.



Lonfellow Bridge Final Design Announced

From MassBike (who did a lot of work with other groups to get this awesome design)  I suggest you support them for their hard work.

—————————–

 

MassDOT recently released the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, which reveals the design MassDOT has chosen for the bridge. To its credit, MassDOT clearly listened to much of the input from the Longfellow Bridge Task Force (on which I served):

Click to enlarge

 

As seen above, the outbound (Boston-to-Cambridge) side of the bridge as proposed will be truly multimodal, with a single travel lane for motor vehicles, a wide buffered bike lane, and a wide sidewalk. While we can (and will) push to further narrow the remaining travel lane to provide even more space for bicyclists and pedestrians – and to slow down the traffic that speeds over the bridge – MassDOT has the right idea for the outbound side.

Throughout the process, the design for the inbound side has been the focus of discussion and disagreement. The alternative chosen by MassDOT does not represent an improvement over current conditions for bicyclists; at most, the bike lane is six inches wider than the current shoulder/bike lane. So bicyclists who are not comfortable riding across the bridge today will not feel any safer riding across the reconstructed bridge. And the sidewalk, while wider than what exists today, is still narrow – too narrow to be comfortably shared by pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, and the inevitable less-confident bicyclists drawn by the wider-but-still-inadequate sidewalk.

Another option proposed by the Task Force would configure the inbound side much like the outbound side: wide sidewalk, wide buffered bike lane, and a single travel lane (see below). While there is disagreement over whether this configuration would provide an acceptable level of service for cars, one thing is certain: the decision we make now will determine whether or not we will ever be able to realize the Task Force’s vision of maximized space for bicyclists and pedestrians, if and when future traffic volumes support doing so.

Click to Enlarge

At the recent public hearing on the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, MassBike joined with other advocates to speak out in support of this longer-term vision for the bridge. Click here for our full joint statement.

There are tradeoffs for bicyclists and pedestrians in these design choices. The MassDOT plan would mean losing the opportunity for a wider sidewalk until the next time the bridge is rebuilt (50-75 years), because the crash barrier cannot easily be moved once built. Faster cyclists would be in the same narrow bike lane we have today, while slower, less confident cyclists would probably be jockeying for space on a narrow sidewalk (if they felt safe enough to use the bridge at all). On the other hand, the advocates’ plan would move the crash barrier inward, creating a much wider space for bicyclists and pedestrians to share on the sidewalk, but eliminating the on-street bike lane. Neither proposed solution is optimal from either the bicyclist or pedestrian perspective.

Advocates for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, the disabled, and the Charles River parkland all agree that the longer-term vision is the one we want and this is the only way to preserve that option. In the short-term, less confident bicyclists will feel more protected being physically separated from cars, and many more people may choose to bike over the bridge to Boston or the Esplanade. Some may view it as bikers and walkers sacrificing separate space for the possibility of a better deal in the future, but I don’t see it as a sacrifice. Instead of separate but inadequate space for bicyclists and pedestrians, we’ll get a much wider more flexible space that will be safer and more inviting for more people. It can work, and is already working on bridges elsewhere, like the busy Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.

So let’s thank MassDOT for demonstrating some real multimodal thinking on this project, and push them to think just a little further into the future we all want to see.



Lonfellow Bridge Final Design Announced

From MassBike (who did a lot of work with other groups to get this awesome design)  I suggest you support them for their hard work.

—————————–

 

MassDOT recently released the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, which reveals the design MassDOT has chosen for the bridge. To its credit, MassDOT clearly listened to much of the input from the Longfellow Bridge Task Force (on which I served):

Click to enlarge

 

As seen above, the outbound (Boston-to-Cambridge) side of the bridge as proposed will be truly multimodal, with a single travel lane for motor vehicles, a wide buffered bike lane, and a wide sidewalk. While we can (and will) push to further narrow the remaining travel lane to provide even more space for bicyclists and pedestrians – and to slow down the traffic that speeds over the bridge – MassDOT has the right idea for the outbound side.

Throughout the process, the design for the inbound side has been the focus of discussion and disagreement. The alternative chosen by MassDOT does not represent an improvement over current conditions for bicyclists; at most, the bike lane is six inches wider than the current shoulder/bike lane. So bicyclists who are not comfortable riding across the bridge today will not feel any safer riding across the reconstructed bridge. And the sidewalk, while wider than what exists today, is still narrow – too narrow to be comfortably shared by pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, and the inevitable less-confident bicyclists drawn by the wider-but-still-inadequate sidewalk.

Another option proposed by the Task Force would configure the inbound side much like the outbound side: wide sidewalk, wide buffered bike lane, and a single travel lane (see below). While there is disagreement over whether this configuration would provide an acceptable level of service for cars, one thing is certain: the decision we make now will determine whether or not we will ever be able to realize the Task Force’s vision of maximized space for bicyclists and pedestrians, if and when future traffic volumes support doing so.

Click to Enlarge

At the recent public hearing on the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, MassBike joined with other advocates to speak out in support of this longer-term vision for the bridge. Click here for our full joint statement.

There are tradeoffs for bicyclists and pedestrians in these design choices. The MassDOT plan would mean losing the opportunity for a wider sidewalk until the next time the bridge is rebuilt (50-75 years), because the crash barrier cannot easily be moved once built. Faster cyclists would be in the same narrow bike lane we have today, while slower, less confident cyclists would probably be jockeying for space on a narrow sidewalk (if they felt safe enough to use the bridge at all). On the other hand, the advocates’ plan would move the crash barrier inward, creating a much wider space for bicyclists and pedestrians to share on the sidewalk, but eliminating the on-street bike lane. Neither proposed solution is optimal from either the bicyclist or pedestrian perspective.

Advocates for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, the disabled, and the Charles River parkland all agree that the longer-term vision is the one we want and this is the only way to preserve that option. In the short-term, less confident bicyclists will feel more protected being physically separated from cars, and many more people may choose to bike over the bridge to Boston or the Esplanade. Some may view it as bikers and walkers sacrificing separate space for the possibility of a better deal in the future, but I don’t see it as a sacrifice. Instead of separate but inadequate space for bicyclists and pedestrians, we’ll get a much wider more flexible space that will be safer and more inviting for more people. It can work, and is already working on bridges elsewhere, like the busy Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.

So let’s thank MassDOT for demonstrating some real multimodal thinking on this project, and push them to think just a little further into the future we all want to see.



Lonfellow Bridge Final Design Announced

From MassBike (who did a lot of work with other groups to get this awesome design)  I suggest you support them for their hard work.

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MassDOT recently released the long-awaited Environmental Assessment for the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, which reveals the design MassDOT has chosen for the bridge. To its credit, MassDOT clearly listened to much of the input from the Longfellow Bridge Task Force (on which I served):

Click to enlarge

 

As seen above, the outbound (Boston-to-Cambridge) side of the bridge as proposed will be truly multimodal, with a single travel lane for motor vehicles, a wide buffered bike lane, and a wide sidewalk. While we can (and will) push to further narrow the remaining travel lane to provide even more space for bicyclists and pedestrians – and to slow down the traffic that speeds over the bridge – MassDOT has the right idea for the outbound side.

Throughout the process, the design for the inbound side has been the focus of discussion and disagreement. The alternative chosen by MassDOT does not represent an improvement over current conditions for bicyclists; at most, the bike lane is six inches wider than the current shoulder/bike lane. So bicyclists who are not comfortable riding across the bridge today will not feel any safer riding across the reconstructed bridge. And the sidewalk, while wider than what exists today, is still narrow – too narrow to be comfortably shared by pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, and the inevitable less-confident bicyclists drawn by the wider-but-still-inadequate sidewalk.

Another option proposed by the Task Force would configure the inbound side much like the outbound side: wide sidewalk, wide buffered bike lane, and a single travel lane (see below). While there is disagreement over whether this configuration would provide an acceptable level of service for cars, one thing is certain: the decision we make now will determine whether or not we will ever be able to realize the Task Force’s vision of maximized space for bicyclists and pedestrians, if and when future traffic volumes support doing so.

Click to Enlarge

At the recent public hearing on the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, MassBike joined with other advocates to speak out in support of this longer-term vision for the bridge. Click here for our full joint statement.

There are tradeoffs for bicyclists and pedestrians in these design choices. The MassDOT plan would mean losing the opportunity for a wider sidewalk until the next time the bridge is rebuilt (50-75 years), because the crash barrier cannot easily be moved once built. Faster cyclists would be in the same narrow bike lane we have today, while slower, less confident cyclists would probably be jockeying for space on a narrow sidewalk (if they felt safe enough to use the bridge at all). On the other hand, the advocates’ plan would move the crash barrier inward, creating a much wider space for bicyclists and pedestrians to share on the sidewalk, but eliminating the on-street bike lane. Neither proposed solution is optimal from either the bicyclist or pedestrian perspective.

Advocates for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, the disabled, and the Charles River parkland all agree that the longer-term vision is the one we want and this is the only way to preserve that option. In the short-term, less confident bicyclists will feel more protected being physically separated from cars, and many more people may choose to bike over the bridge to Boston or the Esplanade. Some may view it as bikers and walkers sacrificing separate space for the possibility of a better deal in the future, but I don’t see it as a sacrifice. Instead of separate but inadequate space for bicyclists and pedestrians, we’ll get a much wider more flexible space that will be safer and more inviting for more people. It can work, and is already working on bridges elsewhere, like the busy Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.

So let’s thank MassDOT for demonstrating some real multimodal thinking on this project, and push them to think just a little further into the future we all want to see.