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Lonfellow Bridge Final Design Announced

Written by Boston Biker on Mar 08

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.

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Longfellow Bridge Public Meeting

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 07

Got this from Livable Streets Alliance.  The Longfellow is a major cycling route, show some support for better cycling infrastructure.


Monday, April 11, 6:30-8:30 pm
@ Shriners Hospital for Children, 51 Blossom Street, Boston

WHAT? Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is holding a public meeting regarding the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project. MassDOT is preparing to submit an updated Environmental Assessment to the Federal Highway Administration this Spring, which will include the recommendations of the Task Force that met in the Summer of 2010.

WHY GO? We have achieved a more open, transparent process, and temporary improvements to the sidewalks entering Charles Circle/MGH, but now is the time to speak up about final designs! LivableStreets encourages the public to attend and support designs that allocate more space to pedestrians and bicyclists than the bridge does currently.

BACKGROUND: The Longfellow Bridge is one of six Charles River bridges undergoing full reconstruction in the coming years as part of the State Accelerated Bridge program. LivableStreets started the Better Bridges Campaign to ensure that in addition to structural repairs, improvements for people on the bridges are part of each project. We are advocating for bicycle lanes, safer crossings, access to parklands, bridge underpasses, and improved transit connections.

For more information about the Better Bridges Campaign, click here

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Important: Longfellow Bridge Public Meeting

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 05

This is super important, seriously if you can go to this and speak up for bicycle infrastructure on the Longfellow. This will most likely be the only chance for 50-75 years to make changes to the way this bridge works, show up and speak out make this bridge work for cyclists.

Wed, Oct 6, 6:30-8:30 PM @ Shriners Hospital for Children Auditorium, 51 Blossom Street, Boston 02114


From Livablestreets:

Longfellow Bridge Public Meeting

Wed, Oct 6, 6:30-8:30 PM @ Shriners Hospital for Children Auditorium, 51 Blossom Street, Boston 02114

Come out and speak up!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a world class Longfellow Bridge, one that allows people to experience the best views of the City, and one that encourages more people to walk, bike and take transit to and from Boston and the surrounding communities.

The number of pedestrians and bicyclists using the Longfellow Bridge has been growing over the past 10 years, while the number of private automobiles has been decreasing.
Now is the time to reallocate space on the
bridge to create a safer more comfortable space for walking and bicycling.

It’s absolutely essential that pedestrians and bicyclists do not get unnecessarily squeezed at the inbound approach to Charles Circle in order to accommodate motor vehicle traffic.

Better connections from the Longfellow Bridge to the Esplanade are a must too. We have an opportunity to reclaim parkland and create a new ADA-accessible pedestrian/bicycle bridge between Charles Circle/the Longfellow Bridge and the Esplanade. It’s important that these improvements be made in conjunction with or in parallel to the Longfellow Bridge project!

More info here (pdf)

From MassBike

Want to find out what the Longfellow Bridge Task Force has been doing since MassDOT gave us the opportunity for more public input into the reconstruction of the Longfellow Bridge? How about speaking up for improving bicyclist access and safety getting on, crossing, and getting off the Longfellow Bridge between Boston and Cambridge? Then you need to come to the public meeting this Wednesday from 6:30-8:30pm at the Shriners Hospital Auditorium at 51 Blossom Street, Boston.

The Task Force will present design concepts currently under consideration, including concepts for crossing the bridge by bike, on foot, and by car; for the approaches/intersections at either end of the bridge; and for better connections from the bridge to the Esplanade on the Boston side and to the parkland and paths on the Cambridge side.

This is the one-and-only opportunity for the general public to comment on the design concepts before the Task Force completes its work and submits its recommendations to MassDOT. The concepts represent a range of bicycle facilities from bike lanes similar to what exists now to some much larger and truly innovative ideas. The Task Force wants your comments, and we need your support to make sure that bicyclist (and pedestrian) interests are fairly balanced in this immensely complicated project.

For more information, visit the Task Force Google Group.

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Racing The Red Line

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 31

I have this thing with the Longfellow Bridge I will putter through my whole commute but when I get to this bridge I drop the hammer, and just go for it. Its a stretch of road where I know no one is going to pull out of a drive way, its very unlikely any peds will try to cross the street, and no one is going to be making any turns. Plus its a long hill perfect for really making your legs sing.

On some rare occasions I will enter the base of the bridge just as the red line is departing the MGH station, or just as its coming up from the Cambridge side…I look to my left, see the red train lumbering up to speed, and the battle has begun. I have been told that the red line can go about 30 mph over the bridge, I have no idea if this is true, but I would like it to be true because its how I judge my performance.

The battle starts as a mad uphill dash, the red line accelerates slowly but inevitably like the specter of death (or taxes.) I have the initial advantage my much lower weight allows for much faster acceleration, but the train has a higher top speed, and it will catch me if I stop accelerating.

The WHHHRRRRRR of electric engines bearing down on me, speed is my only escape. Faster and faster I redouble my efforts as my legs start to protest. “Why for the love all all things holy do you do this to us!” they scream as I froth and struggle, “shut up legs I am the boss of you!”

Meanwhile someone has cleverly allowed the expansion joints to get so bad that each one is like a mini speed bump. I am turning myself inside out in a futile attempt to show my speed supremacy against an big dump inanimate object, and the road surface as the audacity to supply me with moguls? The nerve.

As I reach the crest of the bridge I am usually a car or two behind. Like Jure Robič the red line never sleeps, and has slow and steadied past me. I don’t give up, the downhill portion of the bridge has arrived and my legs are rejoicing. My lungs however usually take this moment to remind me that they fucking hate me and are about to exit the building if I don’t slow down.

Digging deep for the last of my breakfast energy I force my lungs to shut up and my legs to spin even faster (fixed gear + speed + downhill weeeeee). I look over, the red line is approaching the station/tunnel entrance, its her and me, me and her…and its over. The red line comes to a stop, or disappears into the ground, and now I am left alone panting and sweaty at the red light.

In the end it doesn’t matter who wins, but that we battled. We shall meet again red line, this isn’t over.

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The Longfellow Bridge And I

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 01

The Longfellow and I have an agreement. I agree to attack the bridge as hard as I can, putting forth every effort to fly over its metal and stone structure. To fight its persistent and fickle head winds with every ounce of energy I have. To go as fast as I am able every single morning and every single night, never once succumbing to the urge to take it easy. In return the bridge agrees to stick up really far out of the water, and catch as much wind as possible.

So far its been a good relationship.

Anyone else have a part of your ride that holds a special fixation for you?

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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Do You Want Protected Bike Lanes On The Longfellow? April 13, 2018
      TweetFrom Cambridge Bike Safety: The Longfellow Bridge, a critical bike connector to Boston, is going to be restriped and reopened in May. You may be surprised to learn that in the final design, the inbound bike lane will be similar … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 7 April 7, 2018
      TweetThis is better! A sunny, somewhat cool spring day. Me on my bike, my daughter on a trail-a-bike, and my son on his bike. We rode down the Southwest Corridor, stopped at Ula Cafe for lunch, rode over by Jamaica … Continue reading →
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt should be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt shoudl be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
    • #30DaysofBiking Days 3,4,5, and 6 April 6, 2018
      TweetIt’s been cold, rainy, windy, and I’m not sleeping well. These days of biking are short rides on Hubway to get from here to there, head down, and shivering. This is not the joyous Days of Biking I signed up … Continue reading →
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 2 April 3, 2018
      Tweet Easter Monday.  The first work day of April.  Today is the day I’m going to start riding my bike to work again! Or not.  Because it’s snowing.  And I’m tired and lazy. But every bit of biking counts no … Continue reading →
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 1 April 2, 2018
      TweetI didn’t think I was going to go for a bike ride on Easter Sunday.  As tends to be my habit, I ride less and less in the winter time and then find it hard to get back into the … Continue reading →
    • Police Seek Driver Who Struck Cyclist In Hit And Run March 23, 2018
      Tweet Cambridge police are asking for the public’s help in finding a driver who allegedly struck a 14-year-old boy on the morning of March 15 and fled the scene. A silver Toyota Prius struck the boy around 7:22 a.m. that … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Pewter Cast “Gem” Earrings March 9, 2018
      Carved, cast and made these pewter (lead free) “gem” earrings.  They have a lovely faceted surface that catches the light and has a lot of depth and interesting texture.  My first real effort at making my own beads.  If you lik... Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Silver “Rock” Earrings March 9, 2018
        I carved and cast these silver “rock” earrings for my partner. The hardest part was getting those little jump rings soldered to the top of the “rock” without melting them or the rock…but I did it and she loved them. Continue reading →
      Boston Biker