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Person biking on Garden Street

Garden Street Safety Improvement Project

About This Project

Installed October/November 2022

Through this quick-build project, we installed 1.25 miles of separated bike lanes along Garden Street from Huron Avenue to Mason Street near Cambridge Common. Major changes to the street also included a reduction in street parking spaces and changing the operation of Garden Street to a one-way for vehicles between Huron Avenue and Concord Avenue. 

Separated bike lanes create space that is physically separated from vehicle traffic, which improves safety and comfort for people biking. This project is quick-build, meaning we made improvements using pavement markings, traffic signal modifications, signs, and flex posts.

Project Plans

Current Status: Project Installed & Collecting Data

We are conducting traffic counts each month and will compare traffic volumes to counts taken in October 2022 before the project was installed. 

City staff have been observing the impacts to side streets, listening to feedback from community members, and making changes to reduce traffic backups. Please reach out with feedback—while we're observing the area regularly, it's very helpful to hear about specific spots where you have concerns.

Jump to New January 2023 Data

Contact Us:


Changes Since Installation

We are listening to your feedback and making changes to the project to address your concerns. Attend one of our listening sessions or contact the project manager to provide feedback. 

In addition to the changes listed below and other adjustments that we may make based on your feedback, we plan to study the impacts of converting part of Garden Street to a one way. We will:

  • Conduct a parking study within the next few months. Learn more about our informal observations in the FAQ section of this page.
  • Conduct regular traffic counts until March or April of 2023 (depending on weather). We will compare traffic volumes to traffic counts taken in October 2022, before the project was installed. See data from the before and interim counts in the "Data" section below. 

 

Feedback: There is severe traffic congestion on Concord Avenue during the PM commute.

What we did

We made signal timing adjustments at the Concord Avenue at Huron Avenue traffic signal to give Concord Avenue more green time. This adjustment was made midday on Monday, November 7. As a result, fewer cars were stuck behind the red light and traffic flowed more efficiently. Before the project, peak-hour traffic queues usually went as far back as Madison Street or Buckingham Street. Peak-hour observations on November 7, 8, and 9 showed queues returning to this pre-project extent.

Feedback: Huron Avenue is backed up eastbound from Concord Avenue to Garden Street during the PM commute.

What we did

As part of our original project plan, we made signal timing adjustments at the Garden Street/Huron Avenue/Sherman Street traffic signal to give Huron Avenue more green time. This time was taken from the Garden Street phase, since westbound flows were eliminated with the change to one-way. Appropriate green time was retained for Garden Street to accommodate eastbound traffic as well as bi-directional bicycle traffic. This change was made midday on Tuesday, November 8. We made green time adjustments at Walden Street and Sherman Street at the same time to help address a related issue.

Feedback: It is hard to turn left onto Sherman Street from eastbound Huron Avenue, because of opposing westbound Huron Avenue traffic.

Our plan

We will add a leading protected left turn phase for eastbound Huron Avenue traffic to provide an opportunity for people to take left turns without waiting for a suitable gap. This will help the signal process more left turns and clear the block more efficiently.

Feedback: There is a steady flow of left turns from Garden Street onto Walker Street.

What we did: Wayfinding apps

We determined that these turns were a result of wayfinding apps trying to loop drivers back around to Linnaean Street. Apps told drivers to take a (now illegal) right onto Garden Street at Linnaean Street and when they couldn’t do that, the apps directed them down Walker Street to go back to Linnaean Street to try again. We have confirmed that our changes to wayfinding apps have been accepted and this movement no longer occurs (as of Saturday, November 5). We still see some added traffic compared to before the one-way change, but the high initial volume of turns has subsided.

What we did: Harvard transportation

We have reached out to Harvard transportation staff to request that their drivers not use Walker Street when approaching or departing the loading docks on Garden Street.

Our plan: Signage

We will be installing a warning sign for large trucks at the corner of Walker Street and Garden Street warning of the sharp turn on the block of Walker Street between Garden Street and Shepard Street.

Feedback: Drivers on Garden Street find themselves stopped behind parked cars at the Concord Avenue traffic signal, thinking they are queued.

We’re evaluating

We plan to install tan-colored markings within the buffer zone areas at the crosswalk to better define the walking, parking, and driving spaces. Once installed (when weather permits), we will evaluate whether these changes fix the issue. Observations indicate that this issue has subsided as drivers adjust to the new configuration of the street.

Feedback: People biking and scooting are going the wrong way in the new Garden Street bike lane between Shepard Street and Concord Avenue.

Our plan

The previous condition did not have a bike lane in the eastbound direction, so we are already seeing some eastbound cyclists and scooter riders use the new bike lane instead of traveling the wrong way or using the sidewalk. For those who are still traveling the wrong way within the one-way bike lane, we installed “wrong way” biking signs. These signs were installed at decision points to discourage this practice. We will educate users on-location and coordinate with Harvard about potential outreach strategies to students.

Feedback: Through traffic that should be using Concord Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, and/or Rindge Avenue is using local residential streets.

We have placed variable message signs at two key decision points on Massachusetts Avenue to direct drivers departing Harvard Square to preferred through routes.

Feedback: There are many safety concerns regarding the intersection of Raymond Street and Huron Avenue.

Our plan

We will install an all-way stop at the intersection of Raymond Street and Huron Avenue. The Department is also planning to purchase permanent speed feedback signs for locations around the neighborhood. In the meantime, we are working with the Police Department to place the speed feedback trailer on Raymond Street.

Data

Traffic Count Data: About Our Counts

Traffic counts help us to monitor the impacts of the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project on surrounding streets. We performed "before" counts on October 12 plan to continue regular interim data collection and analysis and share this publicly. Final data collection that reflects the longer-lasting impacts of the project will come in early Spring 2023.

When significant changes are made to traffic patterns, it can take three to six months for drivers to adjust to new routes. We are still seeing road users learning and making adjustments. This is mostly from people outside of the neighborhood who came to the area infrequently or that are newly returning to the area after COVID-19 office re-openings. People unfamiliar with the area tend to make peculiar choices in response to road changes, and we are still in the settle-in period, without a full picture of what the fully developed effects will be. We recognize that this is also challenging for residents and we will continue to hear from the community, make adjustments, and collect data and observations.

Methods

  • The City uses independent traffic data collection firms to collect speed and volume data.
  • Equipment is placed on the street in the same locations each time to allow for comparisons over time.
  • Weather can impact our ability to collect data, as the equipment can malfunction due to snow, but we will make all efforts to take advantage of good weather days between now and March/April to demonstrate trends over time.
  • In the December data collection, and moving forward, we will be collecting two days of data each month. We then average the two days to compare to the single day of data collection done prior to the project implementation.
  • Speed Data: We track the 85th percentile speed, which is consistent with industry best practice. This is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the drivers travel on a road segment. Most motorists (typically 75 percent according to research) drive within 5mph of the 85th percentile speed, making it more representative of the speeds experienced on the roadway when compared to average speeds.

Count Dates

As part of this project, we collected count data on:

  • October 12, 2022
  • December 7 and 8, 2022
  • January 11 and 12, 2023

For some streets, we have additional data from previous counts. When we have this information, we include it in the "Counts by Hour" charts and data downloads below. 

Count Locations

Click here to see a map of count locations.

We performed "before" counts on October 12, 2022 on:

  • Garden Street east of Ivy Street
  • Walden Street east of Wood Street 
  • Newell Street north of Upland Road
  • Raymond Street north of Gray Gardens East
  • Linnaean Street west of Gray Street
  • Shepard Street west of Avon Street
  • Bond Street west of Garden Street
  • Concord Avenue North of Buckingham Street
  • Madison Street west of Holly Avenue
  • Chauncy Street east of Garden Street
  • Huron Avenue north of Garden Street (Note: Huron Avenue data is a different kind of data than the others. Instead of tubes, data on Huron Avenue is collected with an existing MioVision traffic detection monitor, rather than tube counters)

On December 7 and 8, 2022, and January 11 and 12, 2023, we performed interim counts on the above locations and added a counter on Walker Street. 

Traffic Count Data: Latest Graphs (updated January 2023)

The files below include summary graphs of our traffic counts. For the full data, see the "Count Data: Downloads" section.

We collected data in and around the project area in October 2022, before the project was installed. For some streets, we have additional "before" data from past counts. In December 2022 and January 2023, we collected interim data to monitor the impacts of the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project. 

We plan to continue interim data collection and analysis in the coming months and share this publicly. Final data collection that reflects the longer-lasting impacts of the project will be collected in early Spring 2023. 

Summary Graphs

Graph show vehicles per day on 12 streets from October 12, two days in December, and two days in January. On Garden Street east of Ivy Street, cars decreased from 4,405 in October to 3.803 in January. On Walden Street, cars went from 7,666 in Oct to 5,928 in Dec to 8,047 in Jan. On Newell, cars went from 405 to 447 to 448. On Raymond, cars went from 2,497 to 3,097 to 3,056. On Linnaean, cars went from 4,486 to 4,083 to 3,677. On Shepard, cars went from 3,442 to 2,850 to 2,789. On Bond, cars went from 2,892 to 1,791 to 1,555. On Concord, cars went from 10,296 to 11,433 to 12,213. On Madison, cars went from 893 to 1,560 to 1,329, On Chauncy, cars went from 2,359 to 2,196 to 1,988. On Walker, cars went from 455 in December to 399 in January. On Huron, cars went from 3,545 to 4,213 to 3,982.

Download Volume Graph

 

Graph compares 85th percentile speeds on 11 streets on Wednesday, October 12, two days in December, and two days in January. On Garden east of Ivy Street, 85th percentile speeds went from 26 mph on October 12 to 28 mph in December to 30.5 mph in January. On Walden, speeds went from 27mph to 26mph to 29mph. On Newell, speeds went from 14 mph to 16 mph to 17 mph. On Raymond, speeds went from 24mph to 23 mph to 21.5 mph. On Linnaean, speeds went from 27 mph to 28 mph to 29 mph. On Shepard, speeds went from 22 mph to 20 mph to 24 mph. On Bond, speeds went from 22 mph to 23 mph to 26 mph. On Concord, speeds went from 29 mph to 30 mph to 30.5 mph. On Madison, speeds went from 22 mph to 22 mph to 23 mph. On Chauncy, speeds went from 25 mph to 25 mph to 26 mph. On Walker Street, speeds went from 22 mph in December to 23 mph in January.

Download Speed Graph

 

Street-Specific Counts by Hour

To show how traffic volumes change by hour, we've prepared summary graphs showing vehicle counts for each hour of the day for:

Graphs compare counts from October 2022, December 2022, and January 2023. Several graphs also show counts from May 2018. 

Download Hourly Count Graphs

Traffic Count Data: File Downloads (updated January 2023)

The files below include the documents that Cambridge receives with all count data. For visualizations of the data, see the "Count Data: Latest Graphs" section.

We collected data in and around the project area in October 2022, before the project was installed. For some streets, we have additional "before" data from past counts. In December 2022 and January 2023, we collected interim data to monitor the impacts of the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project. Click here to see a map of count locations.

We plan to continue interim data collection and analysis in the coming months and share this publicly. Final data collection that reflects the longer-lasting impacts of the project will be collected in early Spring 2023. 

Click below to download count files for each location: 

Bond Street

Chauncy Street
Concord Avenue
Garden Street (near Ivy Street)
  • October 12, 2022
  • December 6 & 7, 2022 
    (Note: only partial counts were available for each day. In our charts, 12 a.m. to 10 a.m. counts are from Tuesday, December 6. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. counts are from Tuesday, December 7. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. counts are an average of the two days) 
  • January 11 &12, 2023
Huron Avenue

Huron Avenue data is collected via an existing Miovision traffic detection monitor, rather than tube counters. Vehicle numbers for October 2022, December 2022, and January 2023 are compiled from online dashboard insight tools.

Linnaean Street
Madison Street
Newell Street
Raymond Street
Shepard Street
Walden Street
Walker Street

December 15, 2022 City Council Memo

On December 15, 2022, the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department submitted a memorandum in response to the Cambridge City Council's Awaiting Report Item AR-22-79. The memo discusses data collected in and around the project area before and after project installation, outreach before and after project installation, and changes since installation to respond to residents' concerns and staff observations.

Read the Memo

Data

The memo included a summary of volume and speed data taken before and after project installation (see "October 2022 data" and "December 2022 data" tabs below for more detailed count data). October data was collected on October 12, 2022. December data was collected on December 7 and 8, 2022 and averaged. 

Change in 85th percentile speeds: October vs December 2022. Garden Street - 26 vs 28mph. Walden Street - 27 vs 26 mph. Newell Street - 24 vs 23 mph. Linnaean Street - 27 vs 28 mph. Shepard Street - 22 vs 20 mph. Bond Street - 22 vs 23 mph. Concord Avenue - 29 vs 30 mph. Madison Street - 22 vs 22 mph. Walker Street - 22 mph in December 2022, no data for October.

Change in volume (vehicles per day): October vs December 2022. Garden Street - 4,405 in October, no December data. Walden Street: 7,666 vs 5,928. Newell Street: 405 vs 447. Raymond Street: 2,497 vs. 3,097. Linnaean Street: 4,486 vs. 4,083. Shepard Street: 3,442 vs. 2,850. Bond Street: 2, 892 vs 1,791. Concord Avenue: 10,296 vs 11,433. Madison Street: 893 vs 1,560. Chauncy Street: 2,359 vs 2,196. Walker Street: no October data, 455 cars /day in December. Huron Avenue: 3,545 vs. 4,213.

Crash Data (Pre-Installation)

Our first community meeting on the project spoke about the project’s background, context, and the existing conditions, including crashes. Between 2019 and early 2022, there were 19 crashes along the project area.

Involving

Number of Crashes

Injury Crashes

Driver & Driver 9  11%
Driver & Pedestrian 3 100%
Driver & Cyclist 4 100%
Driver & Object  3 0%
Cyclist & Pedestrian  0 N/A
Cyclist & Cyclist 0 N/A

An injury crash is defined as a crash that resulted in a party being transported to the hospital. (Additional info). (Data source - City of Cambridge Police Department Crash Data)

However, there are likely more crashes than the 19 shown in the presentation, as we only have data from reported crashes (calls to the Cambridge Police Department), not ones that resulted in the two parties handling the crash repercussions privately. The available data show us that all reported crashes that included a driver striking a person walking or biking resulted in an injury to the person walking or biking. Separated bike lanes increase the space between people biking and driving allowing for additional time to identify, process, and avoid potential conflicts (additional info). They also reduce crossing distances for people walking and increase yielding rates at crosswalks (additional info). They are part of a proactive investment to reduce the likelihood of future crashes and injuries.

One-Way Impact Analysis

To understand the impacts of making Garden Street one-way, Toole Design analyzed how people currently use the corridor and analyzed how trips might be impacted by making directional changes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

For a full overview of changes, read through the presentation from the fourth community meeting

 

This project removed parking on Garden Street. Where will those cars go?

We removed a little over 50 of the approximately 110 parking spaces on Garden Street within the project limits. As part of the design process, parking was prioritized in the eastern section, largely between Linnaean Street and Mason Street. Between Shepard Street and Mason Street, only about five spaces of about 37 were removed. The majority of the parking loss was located on the Huron Avenue end of the project, where most houses have driveways.

Our informal observations (on the evenings of Monday, November 7; Tuesday, November 8; and Wednesday, November 9) noted that between five and seven parking spaces remained available each night in the blocks between Linnaean Street and Shepard Street, showing that this parking removal still resulted in an excess of spaces being available each night for residents.

We plan to do a more thorough parking study with multiple observation windows within the next few months and will post the results on the project website.

How can a June traffic count be used to accurately predict the one-way impacts?

Our design consultant, Toole Design, performed a study using StreetLight Data to estimate the effects of a change to one-way. StreetLight data shows only those using navigation devices (such as navigation apps on phones). To perform a StreetLight Data analysis, you pick a time period, an origin point, and several destination gates to get navigation app counts, and then adjust the values to reflect real-world conditions using actual count data. This method scales the StreetLight data up to align with real-world volumes as best they can.

From the analysis memo: "Analyses looked at daily trends and averaged hourly data in the morning peak period from 7 to 9 a.m. and the evening peak period from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) in October 2021. Based on discussions with the City, October 2021 trends were evaluated such that typical school-year trends unaffected by holiday travel in November and December would be represented."

The June 2022 counts were used to scale the volumes up, but the routes analyzed reflected a multi-date time period in October 2021 when Harvard was in session and the community back from summer vacations. We have a permanent traffic count station at the Garden Street at Huron Avenue/Sherman Street intersection, and it shows that total vehicle volumes vary by about 5 percent between June and October, which is within the margin of error for both the StreetLight analysis in general, as well as day-to-day swings.

Did crash data inform the decision to make changes on Garden Street?

Our first community meeting on the project spoke about the project’s background, context, and the existing conditions, including crashes (additional info). However, there are likely more crashes than the 19 shown in the presentation, as we only have data from reported crashes (calls to the Cambridge Police Department), not ones that resulted in the two parties handling the crash repercussions privately. The available data show us that all reported crashes that included a driver striking a person walking or biking resulted in an injury to the person walking or biking. Separated bike lanes increase the space between people biking and driving allowing for additional time to identify, process, and avoid potential conflicts (additional info). They also reduce crossing distances for people walking and increase yielding rates at crosswalks (additional info). They are part of a proactive investment to reduce the likelihood of future crashes and injuries.

Pre-installation FAQs

We posted the FAQs below before we installed the project. 

How will Garden Street change for people driving?

One way for vehicles

Garden Street will become a one-way for vehicles between Huron Avenue and the triangle at Concord Avenue. People driving on this part of Garden Street will only be able to travel eastbound, toward Cambridge Common/Harvard Square. People driving away from Harvard Square may use Concord Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, or otherwise reroute their trips. We will share information about the directional change with Google Maps, Waze, and other wayfinding apps so that they aren’t directing drivers westbound on Garden Street.

Between Huron Avenue and Concord Avenue, people driving will travel one-way toward Cambridge Common/Harvard Square. Between Concord Avenue and Mason Street, the road will remain a two-way for people driving. 

Green paint indicating where to yield to people biking

People driving will notice green paint where separated bike lanes intersect with side streets – this reminds drivers who are turning that they must yield to people biking straight.

How will Garden Street change for people biking?

Separated bike lanes

This project will install separated bike lanes on each side of Garden Street. Eastbound separated bike lanes traveling toward Harvard Square will begin at Huron Avenue and end at Berkeley Street (slightly before Mason Street). Westbound separated bike lanes traveling away from Harvard Square will begin at Mason Street and end at Huron Avenue. Separated bike lanes will be at least five feet wide, with a striped buffer between the bike lane and vehicular travel lane. Flex posts in the buffer lane will add a physical barrier between people biking and people driving.

Temporary standard bike lane

Until overheard wires are removed, likely next year, there will be a temporary condition for people biking westbound between Waterhouse Street and Concord Avenue. In that section, there will be a standard bike lane between the parking and travel lanes.

Until the MBTA can remove overhead wires, there will be a standard bike lane between Little Concord Avenue and Waterhouse Street. Once the wires are removed, the bike lane and parking lane will switch places.

New bike signals

There will be new bike signals at the Huron Avenue/Sherman Street intersection, Linnaean Street intersection, and Concord Avenue/Follen Street intersections. These will indicate when people biking can safely proceed through the intersection.

How will parking and loading change?

Permit Parking

A little less than half of the permit parking spaces on Garden Street between Huron Avenue and Mason Street will be removed (total spaces will change from 112 to 59).

Map showing the updated parking and loading areas on Garden Street

In response to community feedback, the final design retains a significant amount of permit parking close to Harvard Square.

  • Between Concord Avenue and Mason Street, the number of permit parking spaces will decrease from 19 to 13, with parking maintained on the north side of the street near the apartment buildings.
  • Between Shepard Street and Concord Avenue, the number of permit parking spaces will increase from 18 to 19.
  • Between Linnaean Street and Shepard Street, the number of permit parking spaces will decrease from 49 to 27.
  • Between Huron Avenue and Linnaean Street, the number of parking spaces will decrease from 26 to zero.

Click here for details on parking changes

Accessible/Disability spaces

We will increase the number of accessible/disability spaces between Concord Street and Mason Street from three to five. We will keep two spaces at First Church, relocate one space to the Berkeley Street accessible ramp, and add two new spaces along the curb on Waterhouse Street.

Loading

We will add one new loading zone and retain all existing loading zones. Changes to loading include:

  • A new loading zone near Shepard Street
  • A relocated loading zone near Chauncy Street

How will crosswalks improve?

Installing separated bike lanes improves existing crosswalks. By installing separated bike lanes, crossing distances become shorter, sightlines are improved, and each potential conflict can be handled separately (i.e., cross bike lane, then vehicle lanes). These lanes also visually narrow the roadway for drivers, encouraging lower speeds and higher yielding rates at crosswalks. At most crosswalks along the project area, tan-colored roadway paint will be added to add additional emphasis and provide clearer direction to people walking.

The Waterhouse Street and Shepard Street crosswalks were the most often mentioned as needing improvement during the outreach process for this project. In addition to the above improvements as part of the installation of separated bike lanes, we will do the following:

  • At Waterhouse Street, we will install a rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) as part of the project. This is a push-button activated flashing crosswalk sign.
  • At Shepard Street, we plan to add the second crosswalk across Garden Street or move the crosswalk to the other corner to improve visibility as part of an upcoming DPW reconstruction project (FY23).

Installing separated bike lanes improves existing crosswalks. By installing separated bike lanes, crossing distances become shorter, sightlines are improved, and each potential conflict can be handled separately (i.e., cross bike lane, then vehicle lanes). These lanes also visually narrow the roadway for drivers, encouraging lower speeds and higher yielding rates at crosswalks. At most crosswalks along the project area, tan-colored roadway paint will be added to add additional emphasis and provide clearer direction to people walking.

 

What will happen to current bus and shuttle routes?

MBTA

Three MBTA bus routes use a portion of Garden Street within the project area (between Mason Street and Garden Street). We will improve visibility for bus drivers by moving the Harvard-bound bus stop at Garden Street and Concord Avenue to south of the crosswalk across Garden Street. This stop is currently located within the intersection. There are no planned changes to the bus routes themselves as part of this project.

Lesley University

Lesley University shuttles that currently use Garden Street in the westbound direction will instead use Waterhouse Street for trips between their campuses. There are no changes to existing shuttle stop locations

Harvard University

Harvard University shuttles that currently use Garden Street in both directions to access Radcliffe Quad will instead use Massachusetts Avenue and Linnaean Street (their current backup route) in place of westbound travel on Garden Street. They will still travel eastbound on Garden Street as they do today when returning toward Harvard Square. On occasion, shuttles may use Concord Avenue and Madison Street as the new backup route--however, this would be infrequent. There are no changes to existing shuttle stop locations.

Installation Updates

December 15 Update: Concrete Curbing Installation Next Week

Beginning next week, the city's contractor, EM Lofgren, will install precast curbing on Garden Street between Concord Avenue and Mason Street. This curbing will separate bike lanes from the rest of the road on the section of Garden Street within the Old Cambridge Historical District.

We anticipate that this work will take place on Tuesday, December 20, or Wednesday, December 21.This work is weather dependent and we will communicate any changes to the schedule. Please look for signs directing you where to drive and/or park, and make sure to drive, walk, and bike carefully around installation crews.


November 17 Update: Installation Substantially Complete

In mid-November, we finished installing most elements of the project, including paint, metal street sign changes, traffic signal changes, bicycle stencils, and flex posts. we will install colored surface treatments as weather permits.  

With the change to the one-way, we are seeing an increase in traffic on many nearby streets. We expect much of this increase to be temporary. City staff have been observing the impacts to side streets, listening to feedback from community members, and making adjustments to reduce traffic backups. Please reach out with feedback—while we're observing the area regularly, it's very helpful to hear about specific spots where you have concerns.

October 25 Update: Installation Schedule Changed

Due to the rain, the City of Cambridge's installation schedule for the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project has changed slightly. We now expect to switch to one-way operation between Huron Avenue and Concord Avenue very early in the morning on Friday, October 28. 

Since the rain prevented our crews from making changes to major road markings on Monday, we started the week by prepping sign posts and traffic signals.

A member of the Cambridge Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department works on a traffic signal box on Garden Street.  A close-up shot of a traffic signal being prepped to go in on Garden Street

October 13 Update: Installation to Begin October 24

Timeline

We will begin installing this project on Monday, October 24, if weather permits. It will take about one week to install new traffic signals, update metal street signs, and add major markings on the road. We will add bicycle stencils, flex posts, and colored surface treatments in November. 

Parking Restrictions

Temporary parking restrictions will be in place during this work. We will post signs on these restrictions at least 48 hours in advance. 

Garden Street One-Way

Garden Street will shift to one-way operation between Huron Avenue and Concord Avenue. This will likely occur the evening of Monday, October 24, if weather allows workers to make the necessary changes to the street. 

Meetings and Background

November 2022 to January 2023 - Listening Sessions

We are hosting community listening sessions to hear about how the change to one-way operations is impacting nearby streets. City staff have been observing the impacts to side streets, listening to feedback from community members, and making changes to reduce traffic backups. 

Materials

November 9, 2022 Listening Session
  • Presentation (Presentation focuses on Raymond Street, but Listening Session was widely attended by residents from throughout the neighborhood) 
November 29, 2022 Listening Session
January 3, 2023 Listening Session

November 3, 2022 - Historical Commission Presentation

Part of the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project (between Chauncy Street and Mason Street) falls in the Old Cambridge Historic District. On November 3, 2022, TP+T presented plans to the Cambridge Historical Commission to use pre-cast concrete curbing to separate bike lanes from vehicle traffic in the areas of the street that fall within the Historic District. 

The City proposed:

  • Installing a combination of pre-cast concrete curbing and flexible delineator posts. Pre-cast concrete curbs reduce visual clutter on the road, and the height of flex posts provide added visibility. Flex posts will be installed at driveways, sidestreets, and other key locations. One area within the Old Cambridge Historic District, between Concord Avenue and Waterhouse Street, is too narrow to fit concrete curbing, lane width minimums, and lines. 
  • Installing pedestrian-activated crosswalk lights (rectangular rapid flashing beacons) at the Waterhouse Street crosswalk across Garden Street
  • Widening the concrete sidewalk along Berkeley Street near Garden Street to convert part of a loading zone into a new accessible/disability parking space.

The Cambridge Historical Commission issued a Certificate of Appropriateness for the proposal on November 21, 2022. 

September 22, 2022 - Community Open House

On Thursday, September 22, we held an in-person community open house to discuss safety improvements to Garden Street between Huron Avenue and Mason Street. City staff set up the project's roll plan and informational boards on the brick sidewalk at the intersection of Garden Street and Concord Avenue. 

Click here to see the boards shared at the open house

September 20, 2022 - Community Meeting 4

We held the fourth community meeting for the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project on September 20, 2022, on Zoom. At the meeting, City staff discussed plans to install the preferred layout for the street and heard comments on the plans. 

Based on the feedback we received in previous meetings, we will move forward with "Option 3" as the preferred layout for the corridor. This plan changes Garden Street to a one-way for vehicles eastbound (toward Cambridge Common) between Huron Avenue and Concord Avenue. People biking will still travel in both directions, with a one-way separated bike lane on each side of the street. This configuration addresses several preferences we heard from community members. We heard:

  • One-way bike lanes on each side of the street are preferable to two-way bike lanes on one side of the street
  • Preserve as much parking as possible.

Note: the materials below were created for this meeting. There may be future updates to the design of this project. Please look at more recent updates for the latest news.

Meeting Materials

Meeting Update

Please review the slides or watch the recording for a full overview of what was discussed at the meeting.

To zoom in on the plans, the project was separated into four sections. Click the links below to see draft layouts for each section. 

One-way Analysis:

To understand the impacts of making Garden Street one-way, Toole Design analyzed how people currently use the corridor. See the "One Way Impacts Analysis" tab below for the analysis. 

Key Intersections:

We discussed what six intersections in the project area will look like: 

Parking Impacts:

Click here for a parking impacts summary. Over the whole corridor, we expect to remove 53 parking spaces. Our layout retains a significant amount of permit parking closer to Harvard Square. Between Shepard Street and Waterhouse Street, we expect to only remove five permit parking spaces. 

The layout increases the number of accessible/disability spaces in Section D (closest to Harvard Square) from three to five. 

Improvements for People Walking:

Click here for a summary of improvements for people walking

Next Steps

  • Finalize the plan. We will compile feedback on the preferred layout and complete our final plans within the next few weeks. These will be posted to the project website. 
  • Notify the community about the installation timeline and what to expect. 
  • Historical Commission Meeting on November 3 to review flex posts and curbing changes between Chauncy Street and Mason Street. 
  • We plan to install a vast majority of the project by the end of 2022. 
    • The MBTA’s unused catenary wires above the roadway affect a portion of Section D between Concord Avenue and Waterhouse Street. This area will be partially installed until wire removal work takes place (anticipated 2023). Click here for interim designs for this section

August 9, 2022 - Community Meeting 3

We held the third community meeting for the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project on August 9, 2022, on Zoom. At the meeting, City staff presented three layout concepts that respond to community feedback we have heard so far.

Note: the materials below were created for this meeting. There may be future updates to the design of this project. Please look at more recent updates for the latest news.

Meeting Materials

Draft Layouts for Garden Street Safety Improvement Project

In the meeting, you learned that there are two options for the middle section of the project, between Linnaean Street and Concord Avenue. Below, see how these two options look in the context of the full corridor. See the meeting update below for further materials. 

  • Option 1 (two way traffic, two way bike lane from Linnaean to Concord)
  • Option 2 (one-way traffic from Shepard to Concord, one-way bike lanes from Linnaean to Concord)
  • Option 3 (one-way traffic from Huron to Conrod, one-way bike lanes through the whole project area)
Meeting Update

Please review the slides or watch the meeting recording for a full overview of what was discussed at the meeting.

To compare options, the project was separated into four sections:

Starting from the west, Sections A, B, and C which make up the area from Huron Ave to Concord Ave, are where we have the three layout options, while Section D, Concord Ave to Mason Street is the part that only has the preferred layout.

  • Section A: Huron Avenue to Linnaean Street
  • Section B: Linnaean Street to Shepard Street
  • Section C: Shepard Street to Concord Avenue
  • Section D: Concord Avenue to Mason Street

Based on community feedback and the width constraints of the roadway, staff prepared draft three layouts for the area between Huron Avenue and Concord Avenue (Sections A, B, and C). We have one preferred layout for the area between Concord Avenue and Mason Street, closest to Cambridge Common (Section D).

Sections A, B, and C – Option 1:

  • Two way vehicle traffic
  • Two-way separated bike lane on the south side

Sections A, B, and C – Option 2:

  • Two-way vehicle traffic from Huron Avenue to Shepard Street (Sections A and B)
  • One-way vehicle traffic eastbound (toward Cambridge Common) from Shepard Street to Concord Avenue (Section C)
  • Two-way separated bike lane on the south side from Huron Avenue to Linnaean Street (Section A)
  • One-way separated bike lane on both sides from Linnaean Street to Concord Avenue (Sections B and C)

Sections A, B, and C – Option 3:

  • One-way vehicle traffic eastbound (toward Cambridge Common)
  • One-way separated bike lanes on both sides of the street

Section D:

  • Two-way vehicle traffic
  • One-way separated bike lanes on both sides. The eastbound separated bike lane will go toward Berkeley Street only.

One-way Analysis:

To understand the impacts of making Garden Street one-way, Toole Design analyzed how people currently use the corridor. Click here for their full analysis.

Parking Impacts:

Click here for a parking impacts summaryfor each of the three options.

July 12, 2022 - Community Meeting 2

We held the second community meeting for the Garden Street Safety Improvement Project on July 12, 2022, on Zoom. At the meeting, City staff presented several layout concepts that respond to community feedback we have heard so far.

Note: the materials below were created for this meeting. There may be future updates to the design of this project. Please look at more recent updates for the latest news. 

Meeting Materials

Draft Layouts for Garden Street Safety Improvement Project

In the meeting, you learned that there are two options for the middle section of the project, between Linnaean Street and Concord Avenue. Below, see how these two options look in the context of the full corridor. See the meeting update below for further materials. 

  • Option 1 (two way traffic, two way bike lane from Linnaean to Concord)
  • Option 2 (one-way traffic from Shepard to Concord, one-way bike lanes from Linnaean to Concord)
Meeting Update

Please review the slides or watch the meeting recording for a full overview of what was discussed at the meeting.

Based on community feedback and the width constraints of the roadway, staff prepared draft layouts to discuss. The draft designs have two options for street layout in the section of Garden Street between Linnaean Street and Concord Avenue.

Updates included: 

In Section A (the part of Garden Street between Huron Avenue and Linnaean Street), only a two-way separated bike lane will fit. Draft designs: street-level view and overhead.

In Section B (between Linnaean Street and Concord Avenue), there are two layout options.

In Section C (between Concord Avenue and Mason Street), our draft design has a one-way separated bike lane on both sides of the street. Draft designs: street-level view and overhead.

Parking impacts: Click here for an overview of parking impacts with these designs.

May 24, 2022 - Community Meeting 1

On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, we held our first community meeting via Zoom to introduce the project. You can view a PDF of the presentation; or watch, listen to, or read a recording of the meeting. The video recording is captioned in English.

One-Way Impact Analysis

To understand the impacts of making Garden Street one-way, Toole Design analyzed how people currently use the corridor and analyzed how trips might be impacted by making directional changes. 

Project Goals

Separated Bike Lane Example

Mt Auburn St at Holyoke St - Before and After

The images below show Mt Auburn St at Holyoke St before and after separated bike lanes were installed as a part of the Inner Mount Auburn Safety Improvement Project.

The left image shows Inner Mt Auburn St with a standard bike lane, travel lane, and a parking lane. The right image shows Inner Mt Auburn St with a bike lane, buffer area with flex posts, a travel lane, a parking lane, and daylighting.

Key Components of Separated Bike Lanes

  • Bike lanes create dedicated space for people who are biking.
  • Buffers (painted lines on the street) create space between people biking and people driving. They help prevent unintentional collisions that could cause serious harm to the people involved. Depending on the location, there may be a parking lane next to the buffer area. In these instances, drivers can use the buffer area to safely get in and out of the car and to load and unload items.
  • Flex posts are placed in the buffer area and serve as a vertical barrier in the buffer area.
  • Travel lanes allow space for people to drive down the street, but can be used by anyone.
  • Green markings help alert people turning from the travel lane that they should look out for people on bikes. These are generally installed at intersections and across driveways.
  • Parking creates space for people to store their vehicles while they are in the area. This part of the street may also be designated as loading zones, which help make it easier for delivery people to do their jobs.
  • Daylighting is when the parking lane is pulled back 20 feet to make it easier for people driving down the street and people waiting to cross the street to see each other. These areas are generally marked with lines on the ground. There may also be flex posts.

Why Install Separated Bike Lanes

Separated bike lanes provide more space and vertical separation between people on bikes and people in cars. More people are comfortable biking in separated bike lanes than in traditional bike lanes or in traffic with cars, buses, and trucks. Separated bike lanes also increase safety for people walking by reducing crossing distances. As we install separated bike lanes, we also look for opportunities to increase visibility at intersections, refresh crosswalk markings, and install appropriate pedestrian crossing signs.

Outreach

Throughout this project, we have sent postcards, posted physical signage, and placed flyers at doors in the project area to inform nearby residents of the Garden Street Safety Improvement project. As the scope of the project expanded to include a directional change for drivers, we expanded our outreach to inform a larger group.

 

Webpage and Emails

We have consistently updated this project webpage and sent email updates.

Website: Throughout the project, we posted project updates, materials, and meeting announcements to the project website. All meetings have been added to the City calendar.

Email List: We send emails for project updates, materials, and meeting announcements. You can sign up for this email list here. You can read through those emails below:

City's Daily Updates: We have announced meetings in the City’s daily update emails. Sign up for those emails here.

Business and Institutional Outreach

At the start of the project, staff made in person visits to businesses, houses of worship, and institutions within the project area. For entities that we were unable to meet with in person, we communicated through email and phone call. We remained in contact with these entities as the project evolved.

Before Community Meeting 1 (May 24)

In addition to the email, web, and business outreach above, we announced Community Meeting 1 through:

Postcards: In May 2022, we sent postcards announcing the project to 3,500 addresses in and around the project area. 

Physical Signage: In May 2022, we placed 40 laminated posters sign poles on Garden Street and side streets. The posters announced the start of the project and the first community meeting. (These posters were removed following each meeting and replaced by new posters announcing the next meeting. To differentiate them, each poster was a different color than the one before it.)

Flyers: In May 2022, we distributed flyers at doors along Garden Street within the project area. These were smaller versions of the laminated posters that were placed on sign poles

Before Community Meeting 2 (July 12)

In addition to the email, web, and business outreach above, we announced Community Meeting 2 through:  

Physical Signage: In June 2022, we placed 40 laminated posters sign poles on Garden Street and side streets. The posters announced the second community meeting. 

Before Community Meeting 3 (August 9)

In addition to the email, web, and business outreach above, we announced Community Meeting 3 through: 

Physical Signage: In July 2022, we placed 40 laminated posters sign poles on Garden Street and side streets. The posters announced the one-way option and the third community meeting. 

Flyers: In July 2022, we distributed flyers at doors along the streets impacted by a potential one-way change. This flyer alerted community members about the three options being considered. These streets included: 

  • Garden Street
  • Concord Avenue
  • Chauncy Street
  • Walker Street
  • Walker Street Place
  • Garden Lane
  • Bond Street
  • Madison Street
  • Fernald Drive
  • Gray Gardens East
  • Gray Gardens West
  • Robinson Street
  • Raymond Street
  • Garden Terrace
  • Holly Avenue
  • Huron Avenue
  • Winslow Street
  • Tierney Street
  • Orrin Street
  • Sherman Street
  • Cutler Avenue

Before Community Meeting 4 (September 20)

In addition to the email, web, and business outreach above, we announced Community Meeting 4 through:

Postcards: In September 2022, we sent postcards with information on the meeting and intended directional change to over 4,700 addresses in and around the project area. 

Physical Signage: In September 2022, we placed 40 laminated posters sign poles on Garden Street and side streets. The posters included information on the directional change, the project as a whole, and upcoming meetings.

Before Installation

In addition to the email and web outreach outlined above, we announced the project's installation timeline through: 

Page was posted on 2/17/2021 5:17 PM
Page was last modified on 1/30/2023 6:26 PM
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