Woman on bicycle struck at Mass. Ave. and Sidney St.

Another “just a matter of time” one, sadly.

The whole intersection is bad (you kind of just get used to it) but this particular corner always feels extra bad: 1. the approaching bike lane is a narrow, raggedy gutter, 2. you’re about to cross paths with the #1 bus which has to diagonally cut the bike lane – or with cars that continue straight-ish into the bike lane before realizing the lane shifts diagonally left, and 3. right-turning vehicles (including large trucks!) can be awfully eager. This is an intersection I have spent tons of time in and around over the years. 

Mass Ave Sidney Street

Also hearing this was a female on the bicycle, which makes it worse.

Her injuries are reportedly non-life threatening—which says nothing about the urgency and swiftness that we need to fix all bicycle infrastructure and intersections in Cambridge. Frankly, given the circumstances of the crash – a right hook by a semi – and the condition of the bicycle – bad – this could have easily been a fatality. After seeing the photos, it was surprising to hear it wasn’t.

Even in Cambridge, outside of a handful of spots, protected lanes and intersections are still far out of reach. Even at intersections like Mass Ave. & Sidney St., where there tends be a stream of bicycles passing through at all times of day and night and all seasons.

Even if we do get some kind of rapid, temporary protection at this corner or throughout this intersection, what does that say? That, at this pace (ref: Mass. Ave. southbound at Beacon St. in Boston), only a few more thousand of us have to get run over and mangled before we get a very basic 21st-century bicycle network?

Mass Sidney improvements

The SE side of this intersection particularly lends itself to floating bus stops with protected bike lanes against the curbs. All four right-turns could be protected in some way with some kind of rapid implementation (bollards). A longer-term solution might include good bicycle queueing areas and bicycle signal phasing. It’s a tough intersection but it’s nowhere close to good enough right now. It’s better than some in that it’s mildly predictable, but it’s not luring any would-be bicycle users onto the roads, that’s for sure. It’s a mess for buses and the crossings aren’t nearly as good as they could be. There’s certainly the real estate to ensure turn radii for the fire trucks coming out of the Lafayette house, and large trucks accessing the Main Street and Sidney Street corridors, while creating protected bicycle infrastructure and good bus infrastructure.

Now: we need temporary, rapid protection and calming implemented here and at all of our most-dangerous intersections.

Going forward: we need an aggressive Complete Streets/Vision Zero design focus for all streets and intersections, particularly those up for reconstruction.

What were we waiting for? What are we waiting for?

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Woman on bicycle struck at Mass. Ave. and Sidney St.