My friend, the Mass Ave bike lane

Thank you, Boston, for the bike lane.  It’s a swell idea.  It’s great to feel welcomed.

The execution of the lane, however, leaves something to be desired.  I pick up Mass Ave at Washington Street every morning and head across the river to Cambridge, where I leave it in Central Square or Harvard, depending on my day.

It’s fine from Washington Street to Symphony Hall, but there it degenerates into potholes-in-training and uneven pavement until it hits the Mass Ave bridge.  I am surprised by how much damage parked cars have done to the asphalt!

On the Mass Ave bridge, cars whip past at an unseemly speed, happy to be free of traffic lights for a few feet.  Maybe you should install speed bumps or traffic cameras that automatically give out speeding tickets.  Think of the money!

Also on the Mass Ave bridge, trash accumulates and the water runoff drains have been clogged with grit for years, despite repeated calls to the public works of Boston and Cambridge.

But the view is lovely.

And the wind was at my back once, I think.

Once I hit Cambridge, the large intersections of Vassar Street and Albany Street are major menaces.  Prime right-hook land.

What can be done about this problem where the cyclist is in the appointed lane, approaching a red light, and the car at the front of the line of cars stopped at this light is ready to make a right turn from what is essentially the left lane?  The cyclist gets to the front of the line only to be right hooked if the light turns green before the driver sees them.  Both the car and the cyclist think the other person made the mistake.  I think the city engineers made the mistake here.

My return trip hopefully happens after 6pm, when the traffic on Mass Ave is a little less insane.  People are angry idiots at this time, be they pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers.

But back to the quality of the lane.  Getting back into Boston, the lane degenerates again around Commonwealth Avenue.  Buses here are ready to crush cyclists.  Valet parking causes a lot of doors to be flung open.  The intersection of Mass Ave and Newbury Street (where I once witnessed a pedestrian get hit by a car) is always a mess.

It gets worse from Boylston to Symphony Hall.  The lane is in bad shape, there is constant double-parking,  and I often ride in the “car lane.”

If police are “directing traffic” at Symphony Hall, add two points of annoyance to the commute.  (Do they get any training in directing traffic?)

The lane disappears at the Mass Ave subway stop, leading cars to belive they can now threaten the cyclist.  As soon as the lane reappears, they magically back off!   This reminds me that the lane works!

If the bus doesn’t kill me, I leave Mass Ave again at Washington Street.

Farwell old friend, see you tomorrow!




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