Monday, August 13, 2012

Harvard Sq Lane Diet

Looks like the city of Cambridge is putting Mt Auburn Street on a diet-  a lane diet.

I'm just guessing, but I suspect that there are too many tour busses trying to park in too few spaces, which ends up with them just parking half in the bike lane and half in the travel lane.  I suspect they're going to enlongate the tour bus parking area, and take the road down to one bike lane and one car lane.

I'm a bit ambivalent about this.  One one hand, I think that one car lane is probably enough and it might slow traffic down a bit.  On the other, I am always nervous about riding next to tour busses- afraid that they'll pull out suddenly without checking their blind spots.  They also are not terribly careful about parking close to the curb, so even if they have a dedicated lane, they may park partially in the bike lane. Ideally, they'd make the bike lane wider to allow some buffer space if they're taking away a travel lane.
I don't feel bad about taking a lane when there are two lanes, but if it's down to one, it may become more uncomfortable.

They've progressed beyond these photos and ground out some of the old thermoplastic, but not put new paint/ thermoplastic down.  Am looking forward to a bit more clarity when they get the new markings in- at the moment its a bit confusing.  Although I think confusing isn't all bad- it slows people down as they have to actually think about where they're going!


  1. Compare what they are doing here with the recent Union Square, particularly Bow Street before the Summer St intersection. Cars lost a lane, parking gained by slanted stalls, and a bike lane. It looks hard to park but there is plenty of room for bikes, and the lost lane doesn't seem to slow traffic.

    I'll try to check out the Harvard Square renovation once the lanes are settled - I don't want confusing drivers not seeing me.

  2. I agree with what you say about lane overhang.
    Not much fun to be between parked buses and moving cars ...
    There is a street in our town (in Southern England) that has cycle lanes marked on both sides.
    It is
    1) only wide enough for 2 cars, so the cyclists are likely to get sqeezed whenever oncoming cars meet
    2) rather spoilt by the fact that everyone parks in the cycle lane, often on both sides at the same time (at least the awful parking keeps down traffic speeds!)

    The result is that almost everyone just cycles on the sidewalk instead - this was technically illegal, but the Govt. Minister in charge of such things issued a directive to all police forces that said that as long as cyclists are respectful to other sidewalk users, and as long as their primary reason for using the sidewalk is road safety concerns, and as long as there is not specific signage banning cycling on that particular sidewalk, then the law should not be enforced. The law still stands, but should not be enforced.
    Perhaps a very English solution to the sort of problem you mention

  3. I was a bus driver in a past life and I like to think that bus drivers - being professional drivers - are careful pulling in and out. Even if some aren't especially so, a bus is incapable of just darting out and anyway you'd probably hear the revving rumble before the pull-out.

    Speaking of lanes, have you seen Bikeyface's last posting of lane markings? Reminds me of the old satiric Boston driver's handbook with the Commonwealth Ave and Harvard Street intersectional chaos diagram with trolleys, 2 lanes traffic each way plus the 2 side carriageways.

  4. Its a major failure - I went through this evening and a tour bus was parked there; even with its tires tight to the curb, it still was over the bike lane. No change at the next street where the bike lane puts you to the right of right turning cars.