Cyclists Campaign For Bike Lane On Mass. Ave.

Published April 14, 2011

Many bikers already use Mass. Ave. to cross the city. (David Salafia/Flickr)

Many bikers already use Mass. Ave. to cross the city. (David Salafia/Flickr)

The City of Boston is considering building a bike lane on Massachusetts Avenue in the heart of Boston, stretching from Symphony to the Mass Ave. Bridge. Sounds great, right? There is a small catch.

Building a bike lane on the already-crowded roadway would require the elimination of either parking or a travel lane. That’s sure to be controversial.

The Boston Cyclists Union, a bike advocacy group, is campaigning for the creation of the bike lane and plans to show up in force at a public meeting on the plan tonight.

“Cyclists are always going to use that street, there really isn’t another option,” said Peter Stidman, the director of the BCU. “There’s no way to get rid of the cyclists, they’re already there. What we’re just trying to do is make it safer for everyone.”

The city already has plans to build a bike lane that connects the Boston Medical Center to Symphony. The Mass Ave. Bridge and the Cambridge side of the river already feature bike lanes, too, so this section would connect the area for bikers.

There’s little doubt that it’s the parking that will be removed — there’s already a ton of car and bus traffic on the street — so some area businesses are sure to provide opposition to the plan. The parking isn’t that important to business though, Stidman and other cyclists claim.

“Pedestrians travel in herds on that street, so it would be hard for any business owner to argue that the two-hour parking that’s there comprises a significant portion of their customer base,” Stidman said.

Anyone who has walked around Newbury Street and Boylston Street in that area can attest to the frequent traffic jamming Mass Ave., so the bike lane proposal would mark a drastic change to the landscape.

“It is going to be a test for Boston, to see if we can be progressive and think about alternate forms of transportation,” Stidman said.

The public meeting on the bike lane plan is tonight at the Boston Public Library from 7-9 p.m. The city’s bike czar has a neat website full of resources and includes a map where you can share your bike-friendly ideas.