MassAve4 Impacts Analysis

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Publish date: April 30, 2020
Authors: Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD); Department of Public Works (DPW); Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department (TP+T)

The Cambridge Fire, Law, and Information Technology Departments provided significant support in the production of this report.

Tip: Use the table of contents to navigate to various sections of this report. Click the blue  ≡  button on the right side of the screen to expand the table of contents. Click the  x  button to close the table of contents.

If you have a question contact us.

Accessibility Information: The City of Cambridge does not discriminate, including on the basis of disability. We may provide this material in alternative formats to people with disabilities. For more information contact Najah Casimir at ncasimir@cambridgema.gov, 617-349-4359 (voice), or via relay at 711.

Report Summary

The Cambridge Cycling Safety Ordinance was originally passed in 2019. At that time, it set requirements for the construction of separated bike lanes when streets are being reconstructed as a part of the City’s Five-Year Plan for Streets and Sidewalks and they have been included in the “Greater Separation” category of the Bicycle Network Vision.

In 2020, the Council passed amendments to the Cycling Safety Ordinance which set ambitious requirements for the installation of approximately 25 miles of separated bike lanes within the next five to seven years. One of the requirements of the Ordinance is this report which details the impacts of installing quick-build separated bike lanes on four specific segments of Massachusetts Ave.

In order to analyze the impacts of quick-build separated bike lanes at this early level of planning, we needed to make assumptions about the design options. These included:

  • the requirement to include separated bike lanes in the design,
  • the need to maintain access for emergency responders, and
  • the need to maintain access for other motor vehicles, to allow for the movement of people and goods across Cambridge.

Based on these assumptions, we came up with a design for the four segments of Massachusetts Ave, which was used as the basis for analyzing impacts.

This report is organized into the following sections:

  • Background Information - Provides information about the Ordinance and how this report relates to it
  • General Impacts Analysis - Provides information about the general impacts (i.e., impacts that are not location specific) of installing quick-build separated bike lanes along the four segments of Massachusetts Ave
  • Location-Specific Impacts Analysis - Provides information about location-specific impacts of installing quick-build separated bike lanes along the four segments of Massachusetts Ave
  • Alternatives We Considered - Provides information about the two additional designs that we considered for the sections that are north of Harvard Square and were determined to not be viable
  • Next Steps - Information about what happens after this report has been submitted and a general overview of the steps involved in quick-build and construction projects

Background Information

The Cambridge Cycling Safety Ordinance sets ambitious requirements for the installation of approximately 25 miles of separated bike lanes within the next five to seven years. One of the requirements of the Ordinance is that we install separated bike lanes on the entirety of Massachusetts Ave. However, the Ordinance acknowledges that there are four segments of Massachusetts Ave that have complicating factors (i.e., the two major bus stops in Harvard Square and the sections with overhead catenary wires for electric buses). We call these segments the MassAve4. They are Massachusetts Ave from:

  • Plympton St to Dunster St;
  • Church St to Garden St, in the northbound direction (this segment is Peabody St);
  • Waterhouse St to Roseland St; and
  • Beech St to Dudley St.
Image Caption: Map of Cambridge with the four segements of Mass Ave highlighted.

About this Report

Quick-build projects allow us to change pavement markings, add vertical separators (commonly referred to as flex posts), install or remove signs, and make some modifications to signal timing. Depending on the location and the current pavement condition, we may also repave portions of the street before adding markings. Quick-build projects do not allow us to remove medians, move curbs, build floating bus stops, or move catenary wires. In short, quick-build projects do not require any digging.

Image Caption: A person biking in a quick-build separated bike lane on Ames St between Broadway and Main St.

If digging is required, then the project is a construction project and will have a significantly longer timeline. The primary benefit of quick-build projects is that they can be implemented much more rapidly than construction projects.

Image Caption: A person biking in a constructed separated bike lane on Broadway near Galileo Galilei Way.

The Ordinance acknowledges that installing quick-build separated bike lanes on the MassAve4 may lead to significant negative impacts on other people who use the road. Construction projects would allow us to make more significant changes (e.g., removing the median) and reduce the negative impacts of installing separated bike lanes. Therefore, the Ordinance requires that the City compile this report, “a block-by-block analysis determining the impacts of installing Temporary Traffic Control Device Separated Bicycle Lanes and or Quick-Build Separated Bicycle Lanes” on the MassAve4.

This report does not include information about the feasibility of a quick-build project. It also does not indicate whether or not we will proceed with installing quick-build separated bike lanes. We are simply providing information on the impacts of installing quick-build separated bike lanes.

Within the next year, the City Manager will further review the information in this report and identify the blocks, if any, where it’s appropriate to install quick-build separated bike lanes. For blocks where the City Manager determines that it is not appropriate to install quick-build separated bike lanes, City staff must get City Council approval, by the end of April 2022, on a construction timeline for those improvements.

Image Caption: An aerial view of Harvard Square with Boston and the Boston Harbor in the background.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

Temporary Traffic Control Device Separated Bike Lanes

The Ordinance asks us to identify the impacts of installing “Temporary Traffic Control Device Separated Bicycle Lanes” (TTCD bike lanes). As defined in the Ordinance, TTCD bike lanes are not functionally different than quick-build separated bike lanes except that we do not have to affix the separators to the ground. Therefore, impacts of TTCD bike lanes are the same as the impacts of quick-build separated bike lanes.

Image Caption: A person biking on Massachusetts Ave in Central Square in a bike lane that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic with temporary traffic control devices.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

General Impacts Analysis

These impacts are not specific to individual locations.

Impacts on Safety for the Most Vulnerable Bike Riders

For most people who are biking on busy streets, separated bike lanes are safer and more comfortable than sharing a lane with motor vehicles. Separated bike lanes create dedicated space for people biking to travel at a comfortable speed, generally 12 mph or less. This is especially important for people who are biking with children, elders, and people who are new to riding in the city (or riding a bike in general).

There are currently standard bike lanes next to parking on the MassAve4. Separated bike lanes are safer than standard bike lanes because they significantly reduce the potential for a conflict between people driving and people biking. There are many safety benefits, but it is important to note that separated bike lanes remove the potential for crashes that sometimes occur when:

  • people have to drive across the bike lane to get to the parking lane, and
  • drivers and passengers have to open car doors into a standard bike lane.

These everyday behaviors can cause serious safety hazards for people biking. People may also feel startled when exiting a vehicle directly into a standard bike lane.

Image Caption: A person biking with a young person seated on the back of the bike.

Impacts on Safety for People Walking

Separated bike lanes make streets more comfortable for people walking because they generally reduce the number of lanes that people have to cross at one time. For example, when a separated bike lane replaces a standard bike lane, the buffer area creates space for people to pause before they finish crossing the street.

Image Caption: Mount Auburn St at Holyoke St before the 2020 safety improvement project was completed. There is a standard bike lane next to travel lanes. A person is walking across the street.

When separated bike lanes result in a reduction in the number of travel lanes (e.g., Brattle Street in Harvard Square), or a reduction in the width of travel lanes (e.g., Cambridge Street), the roadway is narrowed, both physically and visually. As a result, vehicle speeds tend to decrease. However, some designs that remove parking may visually widen the roadway. As a result, vehicle speeds may increase. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes, we will measure speeds before and after the project is implemented.

Separated bike lanes help keep sidewalks clear for people walking. When people feel safe biking in the roadway, they are much less likely to ride on sidewalks. On busy streets like Massachusetts Ave, people are more likely to feel safe if there is a separated bike lane.

Image Caption: Mount Auburn St at Holyoke St after the 2020 safety improvement project was completed. The standard bike lane has been replaced with a separated bike lane. The buffer area of the separated bike lane creates a space for people who are walking to pause before they finish crossing the street.

Impacts on Comfort of People Driving

Some people feel more comfortable driving on city streets when there are separated bike lanes because the lanes help them know where to look for and expect people on bikes. As mentioned above, separated bike lanes also reduce the potential for conflicts and crashes that can occur as the result of everyday actions like parking or getting out of a car.

Image Caption: An aerial photo of Brattle St in Harvard Square between Church St and Farwell Pl. The street has a separated bike lane with parking.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

Impacts on Opportunities for Transit

To improve bus reliability and travel times, the City installs signal priority and/or dedicated lanes for buses. We have studied bus reliability and delay to identify where interventions are most needed. We found that buses on the MassAve4 experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes on the MassAve4 we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes.

Image Caption: A bus at a stop in Harvard Square.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

Impacts on Curb Access

On most streets in Cambridge there is curbside access in the form of loading zones, pick-up/drop-off zones, metered parking, resident parking, and/or disability parking. When separated bike lanes are added to a street, we typically have to remove some of the parking or loading to create space for the bike facility. In cases where the street is narrow or multiple lanes are needed to allow people to travel down the street, we may remove all parking/loading. Removing this parking/loading may make it harder for trucks and other delivery vehicles to access businesses. When a project results in significant impacts to parking or loading, the City tries to identify locations, on side streets, where loading zones and metered parking spaces can be placed to support the local businesses. Relocating these spaces always involves tradeoffs as the curbs on the side streets likely already have existing uses, typically resident parking.

Image Caption: A metered parking mobile payment sign. In the background, cars are parked next to the curb, and bikes are parked on the sidewalk.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

Impacts on the Number of Motor Vehicle Trips

As we install more separated bike lanes across the city, we know that more people will feel safer riding a bike. Some people will opt to bike for a trip when they would have otherwise taken a car. This reduction of motor vehicle trips aligns with a number of City Ordinances and Plans including the Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance and the Climate Action Plan.

Image Caption: Massachusetts Ave between Harvard Square and Porter Square. There is a significant amount of traffic on the street.

Image Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki

Impacts on Crashes

Past separated bike lane projects have resulted in a decrease in the likelihood of crashes. People in all travel modes are significantly less likely to be injured in crashes that do occur, which is consistent with the City’s Vision Zero policy. While this reduction in the likelihood and severity of crashes is most important for vulnerable road users (people walking and biking), it is important to acknowledge that every crash has the potential to be a significant life event for anyone involved.

Image Caption: The buffer area between the parking lane and the separated bike lane on Cambridge St near Line St.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

Location Specific Impacts

This section includes information that is location specific. The four segements of Massachusetts Ave are broken down into smaller segments. Information for the two two-way segments is broken out by direction since there is a median that cannot be removed with a quick-build project. The following information is provided for each segment of the street.

Note: In names of each segment, "NB" means to northbound, "SB" means to southbound.

Street Characteristics

  • Adjacent land uses: the types of buildings or facilities that are located within each street segment
  • Existing curb use(s): existing regulations, including loading zones, no stopping areas, and outdoor dining

Use the map to get specific information about the land and curb uses. This information is also listed out for each segment below.

Use the "+" button to zoom in on the map, use the "-" button to zoom out.

Impacts on Massachusetts Ave

  • Motor Vehicle Trips - Impacts on motor vehicles (passenger cars, delivery vehicles, trucks, etc.) traveling down the street; note: impacts on bus trips (MBTA or shuttle) are detailed in a separate category
  • Bus Trips - Impacts on buses (MBTA or shuttle) and riders along the routes
  • Curb Access - Impacts on curb access, including loading and parking
  • Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane - Impacts of someone stopping briefly in one of the travel lanes; in locations where there is parking, this would be known as “double parking”

Impacts on Side Streets

  • Traffic on Other Streets - Impacts that we would expect to see on other streets as a result of changes to motor vehicle throughput on Massachusetts Ave; specifically, in areas where there are severe impacts to motor vehicle trips, we would expect some number of people to choose to take a different route
  • Curb Access on Side Streets - Information about whether or not we would expect to have to evaluate ways to provide curb access on side streets for businesses on Massachusetts Ave; note: this analysis does not determine what types of changes we may be able to make, it simply notes where there are businesses with known loading needs in locations where we would have to remove all parking and loading

Location Specific Impacts Summary Table

The table below provides a summary of the information provided for each segment. More details are provided below.

Segment Vehicle Trips Bus Trips Curb Use Double Parking Other Sts - Traffic Side Sts - Curb Use
Plympton St to Dunster StPlympton St to Linden StNo changeOpportunity costNo changeNo changeNo changeNo evaluation needed
Linden St to Holyoke St
Note: Doesn't meet requirements
No changeOpportunity costNo changeNo changeNo changeNo evaluation needed
Holyoke St to Dunster StNo changeOpportunity costHalf removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation may not be needed
Church St to Garden StChurch St to Garden StSevereExtremeNo changeRoad blockedExpected increaseNo evaluation needed
Waterhouse St to Roseland St - East Side/​NorthboundWaterhouse St to Everett StNo changeOpportunity costNo changeNo changeNo changeNo evaluation needed
Everett St to Hudson StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Hudson St to Exeter PkNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Exeter Pk to Roseland StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Roseland St to Waterhouse St - West Side/​SouthboundRoseland St to Linnaean StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Linnaean St to Sacramento StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Sacramento St to Chauncy StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Chauncy St to Waterhouse StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation may not be needed
Beech St to Dudley St - East Side/​NorthboundBeech St to Blake StNo changeOpportunity costNo changeNo changeNo changeNo evaluation needed
Blake St to Walden StSevereExtremeNo changeNo changeExpected increaseNo evaluation needed
Walden St to Rindge AveNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Rindge Ave to Dover StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Dover St to Dudley StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Dudley St to Beech St - West Side/​SouthboundDudley St to Hollis StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Hollis St to Rindge AveNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Rindge Ave to Cogswell AveNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Cogswell Ave to Hadley StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed
Hadley St to Beech StNo changeOpportunity costAll removedNo changeNo changeEvaluation needed

Plympton St to Dunster St

This is a one-way street segment next to a major bus stop.

Plympton St to Linden St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Linden St. The street is 50.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a parking/loading lane, a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane adjacent to the sidewalk, so the right parking lane and the bike lane have switched locations.
Map of curb and land uses in this segement.

Note: The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
North Side
1-hour, metered: 3 spaces
Bus Stop: 1 stop
South Side
Outdoor Dining - 1 Restaurant
30-minute, metered: 5 spaces
Disability: 2 spaces
Land Use
North Side
Educational Institution - College or University
South Side
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Office
Other - Bank
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 1, 68, 69, and the Harvard HUIT, Harvard Mather, and MASCO M2 shuttles. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2397 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

No change - Parking and loading would remain.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

No evaluation needed - All of the parking or loading would remain so we do not need to consider how to shift the existing uses to the side streets.

Linden St to Holyoke St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Holyoke St. The street is 43 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a parking/loading lane, a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, and a bus stop. The potential cross-section identifies the bus stop area as for buses and bikes. There is not a spearated bike lane.
Map of curb and land uses in this segement.

Note: The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Image Caption: A floating bus stop next to a separated bike lane on Western Ave. There are two people sitting inside the bus shelter at the stop. An MBTA bus is next to the bus stop.

The Ordinance requires that we ensure that any bike facilities installed along this segment are separated from the bus stop. In order to ensure that people, and specifically people with mobility-related disabilities, can get on and off the bus, we must ensure the that bus stop is next to a curb. It is not possible to provide a separated bike lane in this location using quick-build tools. We will need to construct a floating bus stop similar to the floating bus stops along Western Avenue.

Curb Use
North Side
Bus Stop: 1 stop
South Side
1-hour, metered: 3 spaces
Land Use
North Side
Educational Institution - College or University
South Side
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Office
Other - Bank

The Ordinance requires that we ensure that any bike facilities installed along this segment are separated from the bus stop. In order to ensure that people, and specifically people with mobility-related disabilities, can get on and off the bus, we must ensure the that bus stop is next to a curb. It is not possible to provide a separated bike lane in this location using quick-build tools. We will need to construct a floating bus stop similar to the floating bus stops along Western Avenue.

Image Caption: A floating bus stop next to a separated bike lane on Western Ave. There are two people sitting inside the bus shelter at the stop. An MBTA bus is next to the bus stop.

Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 1, 68, 69, and the Harvard HUIT, Harvard Mather, and MASCO M2 shuttles. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2397 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

No change - Parking and loading would remain.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

No evaluation needed - All of the parking or loading would remain so we do not need to consider how to shift the existing uses to the side streets.

Holyoke St to Dunster St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Dunster St. The street is 42.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a parking/loading lane, a left turn lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane on the right side of the street in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses in this segement.

Note: The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
North Side
1-hour, metered: 6 spaces
South Side
Other - Taxi Stand: 90 feet
Land Use
North Side
Educational Institution - College or University
South Side
Retail - Restaurant
Educational Institution - College or University
Office
Other - Bank
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 1, 68, 69, and the Harvard HUIT, Harvard Mather, and MASCO M2 shuttles. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2397 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

Half of parking and/or loading removed - Half of the existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation may not be needed - The side of the street where the parking would be removed is next to Harvard Yard, which has multiple other parking options.

Church St to Garden St

This is a one-way street segment next to a major bus stop.

Church St to Garden St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Church St. The street is 24 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane and a travel lane with buses. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane next to the curb and one fewer travel lane.
Map of curb and land uses in this segement.

Note: The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
East Side
Educational Institution - College or University
West Side
Other - Open Space
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

Severe - At this location, the road is 24 feet wide. If we were to install a quick-build separated bike lane, we would have to remove one of the travel lanes. Our traffic analysis shows that there would be severe traffic delays during most of the day. Traffic would be backed up through the other signalized intersections in the heart of Harvard Square. This would negate the recent signal and roadway changes that we made to improve safety for people walking and biking.

Bus Trips

Extreme - Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 1,565 riders who passed through this location each weekday. We studied bus reliability and delay and found serious issues in this location. If quick-build separated bike lanes are installed here, the impact for bus riders would be extreme. While people who are in personal motor vehicles would experience severe delays and may opt to take alternate routes, the impacts for the bus system would reach much further. We know that these delays would result in unreliability and delay on other sections of Routes 66, 68, and 69. The MBTA works to ensure that schedules accurately reflect travel times. They would adjust schedules so that each bus has enough time to complete its route. The time between buses would be increased and riders would have to wait longer for the next bus to arrive. Overall, these routes have an average daily ridership of 15,404 people, and all of those riders would be impacted even if they don’t travel through this specific block.

Curb Access

No change - There is not currently parking or loading in this segment.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

Road blocked - If a vehicle stops in the travel lane, the road would be fully blocked as there is no room to pass.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

Expected increase - Due to the severe impacts on motor vehicle throughput we expect that some number of people would choose to take a different route. While some drivers may choose other arterials, many drivers might opt to use smaller, local roads that are less suited to higher volumes of traffic.

Curb Access on Side Streets

No evaluation needed - There is not currently loading or parking in the segment of Massachusetts Ave, so we do not need to consider how to shift the existing uses to the side streets.

Waterhouse St to Roseland St - East Side/Northbound

This area has overhead catenary wires. Massachusetts Ave is two-way here. However, there is a median, which we would not change with a quick-build project. As a result, each side of the street is listed separately.

Waterhouse St to Everett St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Everett St. The street is 33.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, and a separated bike lane. The potential cross-section is the same as the existing cross-section.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
Bus Stop: 1 stop
No Stopping: entire block
Land Use
Educational Institution - College or University
Other - Religious Institution
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, 83S, 96, and the Harvard Allston Express and Harvard Mather shuttles. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 1925 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

No change - There is not currently parking or loading in this segment.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

No evaluation needed - There is not currently loading or parking in the segment of Massachusetts Ave, so we do not need to consider how to shift the existing uses to the side streets.

Everett St to Hudson St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Wendell St. The street is 33.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
1-hour, metered: 9 spaces
2-hour, metered: 8 spaces
Loading: 30 feet
Bus Stop: 1 stop
No Stopping: 70 feet north of Mellen St and another small segment in front of a driveway
Land Use
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - Restaurant
Retail - Salon or Barber
Educational Institution - College or University
Office
Other - Bank
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, 83S, and 96. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2213 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets

Hudson St to Exeter Pk - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Prentiss St. The street is 34 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 22 spaces
Loading: 70 feet
No Stopping: 120 feet infront of a driveway and 30 ft approaching the Prentiss St intersection
Land Use
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Grocery or Convenience Store
Educational Institution - College or University
Office
Other - Bank
Other - Medical Office
Other - Gas Station
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, 83S, and 96. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2213 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets

Exeter Pk to Roseland St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Forest St. The street is 33.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
Outdoor Dining - 2 Restaurants
2-hour, metered: 20 spaces
Loading: 20 feet
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
Residential
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Educational Institution - College or University
Other - Medical Office
Other - Religious Institution
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, 83S, and 96. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2249 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Some of the curb space in this area is currently being used for in-street outdoor dining. Near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with local restaurants to identify opportunities to use sidewalk and curb space to create safe places to eat. This space would no longer be available for outdoor dining.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets

Roseland St to Waterhouse St - West Side/Southbound

This area has overhead catenary wires. Massachusetts Ave is two-way here. However, there is a median, which we would not change with a quick-build project. As a result, each side of the street is listed separately.

Roseland St to Linnaean St - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Newport Rd. The street is 33.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
Outdoor Dining - 1 Restaurant
30-minute, metered: 2 spaces
2-hour, metered: 14 spaces
Loading: 70 feet
Disability: 1 space
Land Use
Residential
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Retail - Salon or Barber
Office
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, and 96. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2101 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Some of the curb space in this area is currently being used for in-street outdoor dining. Near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with local restaurants to identify opportunities to use sidewalk and curb space to create safe places to eat. This space would no longer be available for outdoor dining.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Linnaean St to Sacramento St - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Garfield St. The street is 33 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
Outdoor Dining - 1 Restaurant
1-hour, metered: 2 spaces
2-hour, metered: 16 spaces
Disability: 2 spaces
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Office
Other - Bank
Other - Medical Office
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, and 96. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2127 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Some of the curb space in this area is currently being used for in-street outdoor dining. Near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with local restaurants to identify opportunities to use sidewalk and curb space to create safe places to eat. This space would no longer be available for outdoor dining.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Sacramento St to Chauncy St - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Langdon St. The street is 32 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
Outdoor Dining - 3 Restaurants
2-hour, metered: 5 spaces, loading zone from 7:00 a.m. to noon
2-hour, metered: 18 spaces
Loading: 40 feet
Disability: 1 space
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
Residential
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Grocery or Convenience Store
Retail - Restaurant
Retail - Salon or Barber
Office
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, and 96. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2121 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Some of the curb space in this area is currently being used for in-street outdoor dining. Near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with local restaurants to identify opportunities to use sidewalk and curb space to create safe places to eat. This space would no longer be available for outdoor dining.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Chauncy St to Waterhouse St - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Waterhouse St. The street is 31.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 18 spaces
Permit Only: 6 spaces
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Other - Open Space
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, and 97. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2121 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation may not be needed - This section of Mass Ave is residential, so residents may already have alternative parking options available to them.

Beech St to Dudley St - East Side/Northbound

This area has overhead catenary wires. Massachusetts Ave is two-way here. However, there is a median, which we would not change with a quick-build project. As a result, each side of the street is listed separately.

Beech St to Blake St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Blake St. The street is 33 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, and a separated bike lane. The potential cross-section is the same as the existing cross-section.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
No Stopping: entire block; before the nearby constuction began, the area included buffered bike lanes
Land Use
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Other - Fire Station, Religious Institution
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, 83, and, 83S. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 3279 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

No change - There is not currently parking or loading in this segment.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

No evaluation needed - There is not currently loading or parking in the segment of Massachusetts Ave, so we do not need to consider how to shift the existing uses to the side streets.

Blake St to Walden St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Walden Stl. The street is 32.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a left turn lane, a travel lane, and a travel lane with buses. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane next to the sidewalk and one travel travel lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
No Stopping: entire block
Land Use
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Educational Institution - Pre-School or Grade School
Office
Other - Bank
Other - Gas Station
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

Severe - In order to add separated bike lanes in this location, we would have to remove a travel lane. As a result, traffic would be significantly delayed, especially during the evening peak period, when northbound traffic volumes are the highest. Traffic would be backed up to at least Somerville Ave. This also means that nearby intersections would be blocked and that there may be a significant increase in cut-through traffic on adjacent neighborhood streets. Drivers may become frustrated by the delays and engage in poor behavior. These actions could have significant impacts on the safety of vulnerable users on Massachusetts Ave and streets in the surrounding area. Specifically, we would expect to see a number of people drive in the separated bike lane, make illegal U-turns, drive in the oncoming lane to turn onto side streets, and block intersections. Backups would be most severe during the morning and evening peak periods, but at all times of the day, trip lengths would be significantly longer than they are now.

Bus Trips

Extreme - Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 3,279 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. We studied bus reliability and delay and found serious issues here. If quick-build separated bike lanes are installed here, the impact for bus riders would be extreme. While people who are in personal motor vehicles would experience severe delays and may opt to take alternate routes, the impacts on the bus system would reach much further. We know that these delays would result in unreliability and delay on other sections of routes 77, 77A, 83, and 96. The MBTA works to ensure that schedules accurately reflect travel times. They would adjust schedules so that each bus has enough time to complete its route. The time between buses would be increased and riders would have to wait longer for the next bus to arrive. Overall, these routes have an average daily ridership of 11,075 people, and all of those riders would be impacted even if they don’t travel through this specific block.

Curb Access

No change - There is not currently parking or loading in this segment.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would still have two travel lanes. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would likely result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

Expected increase - Due to the severe impacts on motor vehicle throughput we expect that some number of people would choose to take a different route. While some drivers may choose other arterials, many drivers might opt to use smaller, local roads that are less suited to higher volumes of traffic.

Curb Access on Side Streets

No evaluation needed - There is not currently loading or parking in the segment of Massachusetts Ave, so we do not need to consider how to shift the existing uses to the side streets.

Walden St to Rindge Ave - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Russell St. The street is 32.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 15 spaces
Disability: 1 space
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
Residential
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - Salon or Barber
Office
Other - Medical Office
Other - Funeral Home
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, 83, and, 83S. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2844 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Rindge Ave to Dover St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Dover St. The street is 32.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
Outdoor Dining - 1 Restaurant
1-hour, metered: 2 spaces
2-hour, metered: 11 spaces
Loading: 20 feet
Disability: 1 space
Bus Stop: 2 stops
No Stopping: approximately 100 feet, this area is in front of a driveway and has a buffered bike lane
Land Use
Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Grocery or Convenience Store
Retail - Restaurant
Office
Other - Medical Office
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77 and 77A. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2419 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Some of the curb space in this area is currently being used for in-street outdoor dining. Near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with local restaurants to identify opportunities to use sidewalk and curb space to create safe places to eat. This space would no longer be available for outdoor dining.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Dover St to Dudley St - NB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Norris St. The street is 32 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 15 spaces
Loading: 20 feet
No Stopping: approximately 330 feet, 130 feet in front of a driveway and 200 feet from Shea Rd to Dudley St; there are buffered bike lanes in both areas
Land Use
Residential
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Retail - Salon or Barber
Office
Other - Bank
Other - Medical Office
Other - MBTA
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes . Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2418 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Dudley St to Beech St - West Side/Southbound

This area has overhead catenary wires. Massachusetts Ave is two-way here. However, there is a median, which we would not change with a quick-build project. As a result, each side of the street is listed separately.

Dudley St to Hollis St - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Hollis St. The street is 32.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
30-minute, metered: 2 spaces
2-hour, metered: 19 spaces
Loading: 60 feet
Disability: 1 space
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Grocery or Convenience Store
Retail - Restaurant
Retail - Salon or Barber
Educational Institution - Pre-School or Grade School
Office
Other - Bank
Other - Medical Office
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77 and 77A. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2306 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Hollis St to Rindge Ave - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Rindge Ave. The street is 32 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 9 spaces
Bus Stop: 2 stops
No Stopping: approximately 240 feet, 165 feet between Hollis and Day, which includes buffered bike lanes, and 75 feet in front of a driveway that is south of Haskell St
Land Use
Residential
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - Grocery or Convenience Store
Office
Other - Bed and Breakfast, Religious Institution
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77 and 77A. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2314 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Rindge Ave to Cogswell Ave - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Cogswell Ave. The street is 32 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 14 spaces
Disability: 1 space
Land Use
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Salon or Barber
Educational Institution - Pre-School or Grade School
Other - Bank
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, and 83. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2354 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Cogswell Ave to Hadley St - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Walden St. The street is 32.5 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 8 spaces
Disability: 2 spaces
Bus Stop: 1 stop
Land Use
Large Multi-Unit Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Retail - Salon or Barber
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, and 83. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 2715 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

There are disability parking spaces in this segment. The ordinance allows us to keep disability parking next to the curb for short stretches. If we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location, we will determine the best location for disability parking, including evaluating opportunities to relocate the spaces onto side streets.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Hadley St to Beech St - SB

Street Characteristics
Comparison of existing and potential lane configurations on Mass Ave at Blake St. The street is 32 feet wide. The existing cross-section includes a travel lane, a travel lane with buses, a bike lane, and a parking/loading lane. The potential cross-section includes a separated bike lane in the area that is currently a parking/loading lane.
Map of curb and land uses.

Note: The width shown in the existing cross-section includes a 1‑foot offset from the median. This offset exists today and is shown, but not labeled, in the potential cross-section.

The curb use information includes a count of existing spaces. The land use information gives general information about the types of land uses.

Curb Use
2-hour, metered: 15 spaces
Loading: 20 feet
Land Use
Residential
Retail - General
Retail - Restaurant
Retail - Salon or Barber
Educational Institution - General
Office
Other - Medical Office
Other - Senior Center
Impacts on Massachusetts Ave
Motor Vehicle Trips

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same, we do not expect any impact on the ability of people to travel down the street in motor vehicles.

Bus Trips

Opportunity cost - This section of Massachusetts Ave serves routes 77, 77A, and 83. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an average of 3072 bus riders who passed through this location each weekday. When analyzing bus service in Cambridge, we found that buses in this location experience significant amounts of unreliability and delay. Due to the limited amount of space available, if we install quick-build separated bike lanes in this location we cannot install quick-build dedicated bus lanes. Overall, conditions for bus riders would not change.

Curb Access

All parking and/or loading removed - The existing parking spaces and/or loading zones in this area would have to be removed.

Impact of Stopping in a Travel Lane

No change - This location would have the same number of travel lanes as there are today. Therefore, someone stopping in one of the lanes would result in the same outcome as it does today.

Impacts on Side Streets
Traffic on Other Streets

No change - Since the number of travel lanes would remain the same on Massachusetts Ave, we do not expect people to choose different routes.

Curb Access on Side Streets

Evaluation needed - This section contains businesses that may have loading needs that we would work to accommodate by providing the opportunity to conduct loading activities on side streets.

Alternatives We Considered North of Harvard Square

When compiling this report, we looked at the impacts of two alternative designs for the sections of Massachusetts Ave, north of Harvard Square, where there are catenary wires. These two designs are not viable options for the reasons listed below.

Alternative A

Alternative A includes a “floating” parking/loading lane. This means that the separated bike lane is between the parking/loading lane and the curb. Similar designs exists in multiple locations around the city including Cambridge Street between Quincy Street and Fayette Street, and Massachusetts Avenue between Trowbridge Street and Quincy Street.

Image Caption: A cross-section drawing with a travel lane with buses, a parking lane, and a separated bike lane.

The complicating factor on Massachusetts Ave, north of Harvard Square, is the 600 volt catenary wires. These wires provide power to the Route 77A electric buses that travel on Massachusetts Ave and the Routes 71, 72, and 73 electric buses as they go between their garage and Harvard station at the beginning and end of shifts. While necessary for electric buses, the wires are extremely dangerous. Touching, or otherwise making contact with, the wires would likely result in death.

Image Caption: A Route 73 electric bus on Belmont St at Norman St. The catenary wires above the bus provide power to the bus.

Alternative A does not allow the Cambridge Fire Department (CFD) to adequately respond to fires. CFD tested Alternative A by parking a fire truck in the area where the travel lane would be. They then raised the ladder and tried to reach a building. When they tried to go under the wires, they were not able to raise the ladder.

Image Caption: A cross-section drawing overlayed over a photo of CFD's site visit. The catenary wires are highlighted in the photo.

When CFD went above the wires, the ladder was so high that Firefighters could not get close to the middle floors. The ladder needs to reach each floor of buildings so that CFD can evacuate people in the event of a fire or another emergency.

Image Caption: A photo from CFD's site visit. The ladder is raised above the catenary wires and cannot be lowered without making contact with the catenary wires.

CFD also considered whether or not they could park the fire truck in the bike lane. This is not a viable option because the truck and outriggers are 16 feet wide. Outriggers are legs that extend from the fire truck to provide additional stabilization when the ladder is up. The legs are small relative to the amount of weight that they support, so they exert a lot of pressure on the ground. There are many different types of sidewalks in Cambridge and some cannot withstand the pressure of outriggers. Factors include whether or not the sidewalk is hollow and the strength and thickness of the sidewalk material. As a result, CFD avoids placing outriggers on sidewalks. Therefore, the bike lane and the buffer area would need to be 16 feet wide. There would not be enough space left for a parking lane and a travel lane.

In short, Alternative A would mean that fire operations would be severely hindered because CFD could not use the ladder to reach any floor below the fifth floor in the event of a fire or other emergency. For this reason, CFD does not support this design and City staff determined that it is not viable and does not warrant further analysis.

Image Caption: A cross-section drawing illustrating that if the bike lane and buffer area are 16' wide, there is not enough room for a travel lane and parking.

Alternative B

Alternative B is a modified version of Alternative A. Rather than allowing parking and loading at all hours, this design would provide a bus lane during the morning and evening peaks and a loading lane at other times.

Image Caption: A cross-section drawing showing a travel lane, a bus-only lane, and a separated bike lane with a 4-foot buffer.

Alternative B would maintain curb access for people to make deliveries or do pick-ups/drop-offs. While Alternative B has vehicles stopped in the same location as Alternative A, it meets CFD’s needs because drivers would be expected to be near their vehicles at all times, and they could quickly move out of the way in the event of an emergency.

Providing this loading lane would leave Massachusetts Ave with one general travel lane in each direction. Our traffic analyses show that motor vehicles would be stopped for an additional 2 to 4 minutes at each traffic signal. Traffic would be backed up for over ½ a mile in most locations. This also means that nearby intersections would be blocked and that there may be a significant increase in cut through traffic on adjacent neighborhood streets. These backups would also negatively impact the ability of emergency responders to respond to calls. Drivers may become frustrated by the delays and engage in poor behavior. These actions could have significant impacts on the safety of vulnerable users on Massachusetts Avenue and streets in the surrounding area. Specifically, we would expect to see a number of people drive in the separated bike lane. Backups would be most severe during the morning and evening peak periods, but at all times of the day trip lengths would be significantly longer than they are now.

This design would also result in extreme impacts, delays, extended travel times, and unreliability for bus riders when the bus lane is operating as a loading lane. The MBTA works to ensure that schedules accurately reflect travel times. They would adjust schedules so that each bus has enough time to complete its route. The time between buses would be increased and riders would have to wait longer for the next bus to arrive.

For these reasons, City staff determined that this is not a viable option and does not warrant further analysis.

Image Caption: A cross-section drawing showing a travel lane, a loading lane, and a separated bike lane with a 4-foot buffer.

Next Steps

Within the next year, the City Manager will further review the information in this report and identify the blocks, if any, where it’s appropriate to install quick-build separated bike lanes. For blocks where the City Manager determines that it is not appropriate to install quick-build separated bike lanes, City staff must get City Council approval, by the end of April 2022, on a construction timeline.

Quick-Build Separated Bike Lane Process

For locations where we decide to install quick-build separated bike lanes, this is the process.

1. Community Input and Design Generation

We work with the community to identify answers to key questions about the project. This time is also an opportunity for us to reach out to people who live, work, and/or own businesses near the project area and hear about how we can best meet their unique needs.

During this time we also develop the design plans and give community members the opportunity to comment on them. These comment periods are an opportunity for people to let us know if there’s anything we missed before we finalize and implement the plans.

Image Caption: A CDD staff person speaks with a community member about the proposed plans during the Inner Mount Auburn Corridor Safety Improvement Project meeting in December of 2020.

2. Repaving or Other Minor Road Work

Before we install quick-build separated bike lanes, we check to ensure that the pavement quality is suitable for biking. This repaving work helps ensure that people have a comfortable, but more importantly, safe ride. Separated bike lanes are frequently installed in areas that were parking lanes and had not been repaved for a number of years. In these instances, the pavement may be of lower-quality and uncomfortable or unsafe for biking. Other minor road work includes things such as addressing settlement and minor drainage issues, in order to prevent puddles or icing in the new bike lane.

Image Caption: DPW staff fill a pothole.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

3. Pavement Markings, Followed by Flex Posts

Once the plans are finalized and any required repaving has been completed, our crews install the pavement markings. Markings can only be installed when the ground is dry and surface temperatures are above 45 degrees. This work is generally done at night when fewer people are using the streets. Depending on how much work has to be done, it can take a few nights to finish the pavement marking installation. Once markings are finished, we install flex posts as soon as possible.

Image Caption: A TP+T contractor installs a flex post on Brattle Street in Harvard Square.

Construction Separated Bike Lane Process

For locations where we decide to construct separated bike lanes, this is the process.

1. Project Scoping, Budget, and Funding

In order to determine if a proposed construction project can be funded, we start with a scope of the project and a rough budget. The scope identifies the work we intend to do and where we intend to do it. For example, we might ask, “Is this a $2 million project or a $20 million project? Is it one part of a larger $200 million program?” In order to identify the scope and draft a budget, we need to evaluate:

  • the condition of the water, sewer, stormwater, and gas infrastructure;
  • the condition of the street;
  • the condition of the sidewalk;
  • if the street is a part of the Network Vision in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan; and
  • understand if the area is subject to flooding.

Once a scope and budget have been developed, funding is prioritized through the City’s Annual 5-Year Capital Budget, the 5-Year Street and Sidewalk Plan, and the 10-Year Sewer and Drain Infrastructure Plan. This process allows legal requirements and infrastructure needs to be considered holistically. It also allows us to ensure that we’re investing in projects that align with City-wide priorities.

Image Caption: An aerial photo of Cambridge City Hall during sunset.

Image Credit: Kyle Klein

2. Utility Coordination

When you’re on a street in Cambridge, it’s likely that you’re standing over or under a significant amount of utility infrastructure, including: gas, water, electricity, communications (e.g., phone and internet), and sewer and drain. This infrastructure is what allows you to shower, go to the bathroom, turn on the lights, heat food, and do other basic things at home or indoors.

Much of the utility infrastructure in the City is over 100 years old. We’re constantly working to upgrade it. The City dedicates a significant amount of resources to the enhancement of our own utilities. We try to work as efficiently as possible to save time and money. One way that we maximize efficiency is by doing utility work and transportation projects at the same time. We also work closely with private utility companies to give them a chance to do any work they need to do while the street is already torn up.

Coordination efforts require time and limit the likelihood that any construction project can be a small one. While we do our best to estimate how much work needs to be done before we begin a project, we never know what we’ll find underground until we look. In addition, digging in the ground can undermine the structural integrity of older infrastructure that happens to be nearby. This is why coordination is critical in general, and a legal requirement when digging near gas infrastructure. Coordination also reduces the need for additional construction in the near future, which limits the number of disruptions in neighborhoods.

Our work to maintain and enhance utility infrastructure in Cambridge allows us to:

  • improve reliability of service;
  • improve water quality in the Charles River and the Alewife Brook;
  • reduce flooding; and
  • eliminate sewer backups and reduce combined sewer overflows (which send sewer discharges to the Charles River or the Alewife Brook).

While it takes time, our comprehensive approach significantly improves long-term outcomes, and leads to a safer and more resilient city.

Image Caption: Installation of site infiltration system at Longfellow Park.

3. Community Input and Design

While much of our construction work focuses on fixing what’s underground, each project is an opportunity to rethink and redesign the street. Depending on the complexity of the street, we spend 6 months to 2 years working with the community to develop a design that best fits their needs. Designs may include things like: accessibility improvements, upgraded sidewalks and ramps, traffic calming, new street trees, expanded green infrastructure, new bike facilities, upgraded bus stops, and new bus lanes. In some instances, the utility work can begin while the community design process is being completed.

Image Caption: A TP+T staff person speaks with a community member during a meeting about the River Street Reconstruction Project.

4. Construction

Construction typically takes 12 to 36 months, depending on the scope and complexity of the work. We complete, or give our partners time to complete, all necessary utility work before doing work on the surface of the road. Surface work includes putting the pavement back, adding markings, installing signs, updating signals, and planting street trees.

Image Caption: Two images of active construction sites in Cambridge.
Page was posted on 4/30/2021 4:37 PM
Page was last modified on 6/3/2021 10:16 AM
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