State Approves Bike-Friendly Reconstruction of Commonwealth Avenue

The BU boulevard will lose a lane in a Manhattan-inspired redesign.
Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

The state has approved a $20.4 million reconstruction of one of Boston’s most frequented thoroughfares, taking a cue from Manhattan’s avenues to ensure better safety for cyclists.

The half-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue between the Boston University Bridge and Packard’s Corner will be reconfigured to place cycle tracks between parked cars, a curb, and the sidewalk. The current bike lanes put cyclists between parked cars and traffic. As a result of the change, Comm. Ave. will go from three lanes to two in both directions, and new traffic islands will shorten pedestrians’ walk across the street.

This new design will have “essentially eliminated that issue of dooring,”— that is, car doors opening in a cyclist’s path—David Anderson, MassDOT’s deputy chief for design, told State House News Service.

Image via City of Boston

Image via City of Boston

The federal government will fund 80 percent of the project, Boston Transportation Deputy Commissioner James Gillooly told SHNS. Newport Construction had the winning $17.6 million bid, per MassDOT.

The stretch of Commonwealth Avenue that runs through BU’s West Campus has been the site of an “inordinate amount of bicycle crashes,” State Highway Administrator Tom Tintin said. BU grad student Christopher Weigl, a talented photographer, was killed in 2012 when he collided with a 16-wheel tractor-trailer at Comm. Ave. and St. Paul Street. Weigl was wearing a helmet and traveling in the designated bike lane when the truck made a wide right.

Image via City of Boston

Image via City of Boston

The project’s other features include water filtration to block pollutants from reaching the nearby Charles River, better sidewalk accessibility, and new traffic signals that give transit vehicles preference at stop lights.


Kyle Scott Clauss Kyle Clauss, Digital News Writer at Boston Magazine bmagdigital+kclauss@gmail.com