Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Changes to onramp of Longfellow

 I made a special detour to go see what's going on on the Cambridge side of Longfellow this morning, because I've been biking via cambridgeport and the river the last couple of days, but heard from a couple of people asking what was going on there.  Basically, they turned the right lane of Broadway into a right turn only lane, in order to provide a dedicated lane for people coming off Mem drive onto the bridge.
Looking towards Cambridge
Looking towards Boston

My best guess is that it's an attempt to streamline diverted traffic from the Craigie bridge closure, which means it  may only be in place for a month while Craigie is closed.
They were anticipating a huge volume of traffic coming off of mem drive and trying to cross into Boston, and they wanted them to be able to merge onto the bridge faster.  I don't see that volume of traffic, so  it seems like overkill to me, and kind of a mess for bikers.  I don't mind the bike lane zig zagging, but there's so much visual clutter, that I'm worried that people entering the lane won't see bikers coming, what with the giant sign, the bollards and so on.  
I sent photos to someone who has better contacts at Mass DOT to ask what's going on, but that's my best guess.

Do you ride there?  What do you think they should do there? Anything?  Or does it seem clear now that you've passed through it a couple of times?


  1. Ahh, my old commute!

    But on to the point -- I tend to agree with you, here... looks like that when people (drivers, actually) get used to the "Dedicated Right-Turn Lane" they'll be less apt to slow/stop, which could spell some real trouble for bicyclists trying to continue over the bridge via Broadway.

  2. I don't know, but I've decided to stay away from the whole mess and take the Mass Ave bridge instead, so I have not been there for a while. Thanks for investigating it.

  3. I ride here each day, and the way they've set this up is to make the intersection more brainless for drivers, which is bad for me since I still have to cross their path.

    This was easily the worst part of my commute even before this kludge appeared. Since drivers go from an area of dense traffic lights to a veritable straightaway with none, they all speed up to 40-50mph. Then they have to negotiate the ramps right before the bridge; if they're making a right it gets hairy quick. Now that the bike lane crosses that nonsense we all have to be really careful there.

  4. mmm ... I don't mind it so much, it rather reminds me of the intersecting bike lanes at the Broadway/Hampshire split in Kendall Square and westbound on Kenmore; and I've rather liked those additions. Sure they can do more to highlight it as "hey, guy, bike lane ovah heah!" and they can get rid of those awful poles; but I sort of hope that it stays, if for selfish reasons. One consequence of it is that it forces cars to slow down as they come up on the Longfellow which, given the long gap between the light at 3rd Street and Broadway and the start of the bridge, is good. Second (and this, I realize, is completely selfish of me) it adds a nice buffer for sorting out cyclists as they climb the bridge. There aren't a lot of cars who merge onto the Longfellow from Memorial, so the pylons give cyclists a good 50 yard space to leave the bike lane when passing others who aren't in as much of hurry to get over the bridge as they are.