6/16 Meeting: bike lanes

Tuesday June 16 was the first meeting of Arlington’s Mass. Ave. Review Committee that included the ten new members added by the Selectmen the week before. We’ll meet again next Wednesday night, June 24.

The committee neither made any decisions nor tried to, but new members had the chance to ask questions and air grievances. I don’t think I can do a good job of summarizing or representing that discussion, but as a new members I learned a few things. For this my first blog entry “covering” the committee, I’ll stick to describing some of the things I learned about the proposed bike lanes. My personal comments are in red; yours are welcome.

Bicycles: State law now requires designs for roads like Mass. Ave. to include an “accommodation” for bicycles. The choices are as follows:

  • a five-foot bike lane, alongside travel lanes of at least 11 feet (for a total of 16 feet of width)
  • a single 15-foot travel lane (the extra width to allow cyclists to ride on the right but not too close to the doors of parked cars). Left lanes, if any, can be 11 feet wide.

If you eliminate the bike lanes, you must add space to the travel lanes. The net savings of space is only two feet (for both sides of the street).

With this requirement, a four-lane street with parking would be wider than parts of Mass. Ave. in East Arlington.

This isn’t a very complete account—only one part of the meeting—but I’m just getting warmed up.

2 comments so far

  1. Chris W on

    Since state law only calls for “accomodation” of cyclists, it’s not clear what exactly is required. Are those specific choices (5ft bike lane or 15ft travel lane) our only legal options, and how authoritative is this selection of options?

  2. Adam Auster on


    The law makes the state highway commissioner the arbiter of this accommodation — specifically to “make all reasonable provisions for the accommodation of bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the planning, design, and construction, reconstruction or maintenance of any project undertaken by the department.”

    According to the consultant retained by the town, the two options above — 5-ft. bike lane or 15-ft. travel lane — represent the minimum that the Commissioner would require for a road like Mass. Ave.

    I infer (no one has told me this) that Arlington could ask the Commissioner to consider another way to meet this requirement as long as it (a) met the “all reasonable” standard (it can’t be less accommodating than what is feasible) and (b) is safe.

    The state law is Chapter 90E, Section 2A.

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