Latest drawings lose buffer, gain bump-outs

New drawings for Mass. Ave. abandon the proposed buffer zone from last week’s meeting and shorten more pedestrian crossings with curb “bump outs.”

In place of a 2-to-4-foot buffer between the outbound bicycle and the traffic lanes, the latest plan would simply widen the outbound lane.

The bump-outs, also known as neck-downs, extend about 8 feet into the parking lane.

The Town has posted the new drawings from the consultant on the Town’s Mass. Ave. web page.

Update: More on the bump-outs here.

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4 comments so far

  1. dr2chase on

    What’s the rationale for that lane being so wide? I don’t see how that makes life better for pedestrians or cyclists. Pedestrians end up with even more street to cross, and since 5 feet is a darn minimal bike lane next to parked cars (because of potential dooring), they could make good use of it. A 7′ bike lane would be darn nice (but still wouldn’t do much for pedestrians), except that they could stand in the bike lane — since quite a few are comfortable standing in the MM trail, this seems somewhat reasonable.

    • Adam Auster on

      I think of this as “the case of the extra five feet.” That’s what you’ve got along most of Mass. Ave. after you’ve striped 11-ft travel lanes, 5-ft. bike lanes, and 9-ft. parking lanes.

      (Most of Mass. Ave. is 66 feet wide, curb to curb.)

      Last year’s version of this plan put this width in the middle of the street as a traversable median. The June edition axed the median, pealed off 2 feet to make 10-ft. parking lanes, and put the remaining 3 feet as a buffer between the outbound bike and auto lanes.

      With respect to the 5 feet, this latest version is plan number 2 but with the buffer removed. Thus 11 + 3 = 14-foot outbound.

      The benefit if this is that if an outbound car was turning left into a driveway and was waiting in the left side of the lane, drivers would have maybe 8 or 9 feet on the right side (incuding the bike line) to skootch around it. Or on the left side in the case of a truck or bust only partly pulled over to the right.

      That’s pretty tight. The 5-foot median, on the other hand, would have provided 10 or 11 feet on the same basis.

      The question for me is, do the benefits of the median (including some safety for pedestrians) outweigh the safety benefit (for cyclists) of the 10-foot parking lane? What’s the best use of this width?

      • dr2chase on

        The diagram I saw said 15, and thinking about it, I would reduce it to eleven, making both bike lanes 7 feet. It’s mostly a matter of paint stripes, but:

        1) the wider painted lane will lead to faster traffic, which I don’t think is a good thing;

        2) assuming that everyone can be graceful about it (I know, I know), you still get the same options for getting around temporary obstacles, you’ll just have to stray further over the paint into the side lanes when that happens.

        3) I would stripe that 7 foot lane as follows: 3.5 feet adjacent to the cars, cross-hatched, to indicate not-for-travel. That is for pedestrians, door-safety buffer between bikes and cars. 3.5 feet (decently far from doors, AND pedestrians wanting to cross) for bike travel. I don’t know that this is 100% good, but it’s the best that not-an-expert me can come up with (which makes me wonder who came up with the 15′ lane — why don’t we just aim for a landing strip down the middle, for the wayward Cessna or Terrafugia?)

        My rationale for the 3.5 + 3.5 split is that I know that 7 feet is wide enough to accommodate an alert pedestrian and cyclist, because we get that all the time in a single lane of the MM trail. And I assume that a crossing pedestrian is usually alert.

        So my buffer is in a different place. However, I am a little worried that I am thinking “effectively”, and not like a somewhat more timid cyclist (but those are the ones who hug the car doors, and get nailed).

        • Adam Auster on

          Dr2, in some ways your concerns mirror those of Rick Azzolina, the project engineer. The issue is that someone riding in the far right of the bike lane, close to parked cars, could be “doored.”

          Most cyclists would probably ride in the middle of the lane, but as you say inexperienced cyclists might hug the side. So it’s better to add the space to the parking lane than the bike lane.

          I share this concern, and raised it early at the public meetings on the project. Going from a 7-foot parking lane (like many in Cambridge) to a 9-foot lane clearly provides a huge safety benefit.

          Adding a foot to that adds how much safety, really? I just do not know.

          It’s probably not zero, but is it more, and more important, than the potential safety benefits (and other benefits) of a 5′ median (maybe with pedestrian islands)?

          I am not convinced that more width than that adds any safety whatsoever. And if you make the bike lanes too wide, people will drive their cars in them.


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