Allston’s Cambridge Street Gets Designated Bike Lanes

But drivers are frustrated by the traffic buildup caused by the reduction in space for cars.

Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

Biking along Cambridge Street became a bit safer on Saturday as the city started to install designated lanes for cyclists that will hopefully keep crashes from occurring on the busy roadway connecting lower Allston to the rest of the neighborhood.

The new bike lanes, marked with white “buffered” paint in both directions, knocked out a portion of the roadway that used to be for cars. But despite some early complaints from drivers, bike advocates believe traffic congestion will eventually smooth out, and the safety it will provide riders will be incalculable.

“Cambridge Street is one of the most dangerous streets in the city [for cyclists],” said Boston Cyclists Union executive director Pete Stidman. “We are really happy to have [the lanes].”

Stidman said he’s sympathetic to driver concerns over congestion and backups, but in due time the issues should subside. “I think with any new infrastructure, especially one that changes a lane configuration, there will be an initial period of confusion where drivers need to go get used to it,” he said. “But once people make it into their daily routines, I’m sure it will be rolling a lot smoother.”

The installation of the lanes marks a huge win for the cyclist community, who kept on the heels of city officials to lay down the space for riders to avoid future fatalities and crashes. Cambridge Street is the site of two recent cyclist deaths, one in 2004, and another in 2007.

“I consider it to be ground-zero for bike activism,” said Stidman. “[Those] crashes really sparked a lot of the bike activist groups forming that you see today.”

The lanes were painted on Cambridge Street the same day that Mayor Marty Walsh took a ride around Boston with Stidman and other cyclists, so he could get a feel for what it’s like to travel on two wheels as part of a daily commute.

The lanes are temporary, and will be replaced by separated bike lanes when MassDOT does a complete overhaul of the bridge deck that carries commuters over the Turnpike and the railroad tracks in Allston.

Bike lanes