Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Boston cycle path

The following pictures were taken on the cycling path along Vassar Ave in Cambridge (Boston) MA. Vassar goes through the MIT campus, and recent streetscaping had been done to narrow the road, add boulevard trees, and a bike path which was heavily used when I viewed it on several occasions. In the picture below, it transitions from on-road to being at the same grade as the sidewalk, set back from the street by a row of trees.

Despite being in front of the most prestigous engineering school in the world, there is a puddle in the path.

The path was blue asphalt where cars and cyclists shared pavement. Here is a car crossing of the path. Note the car has to rise up a slope about six inches which helps convey the message to the driver that they have left the car realm:

Note also the paving change where the sidewalk is crossed by the driveway.

The photo below shows another example. The path is set back from the travelled portion of the road about 16' -- the width of the parking space plus the boulevard with trees. The example below allowed vehicles to access a small parking and loading zone. Other crossings were at building entrances (drop off and pick up zones) and into very large parking garages which would have a similar traffic volume to many residential streets.

Here is a closeup of the sign that advises motorists to watch for cyclists and yield to them:

Here the path passes by the parked cars in the distance, the path is blue where it crosses a driveway, and has rougher textured pavers and then ped pavers where it crosses a major pedestrian path at an intersection (foreground):


  1. Even with the puddle, I'd take that in a second here in Ottawa.

  2. As a current Ottawan and former Bostonian (and sometime cyclist), I have to say that that kind of streetscaping is very rare, and Boston is an exceedingly difficult area to bike in. The areas around the college campuses in Cambridge are definitely the exception to the rule.

    Drivers do NOT expect there to be cyclists on the regular roads, and if you are seen to be holding them up at all you WILL be subject to abusive language/behaviour. You have to be fairly aggressive to be a driver in Boston (especially in the morning commute) and that leads to unpredictable driving, really difficult to cycle in.

  3. If you're interested in the cycling situation in Montreal you might find this article illuminating.

    It breaks down Montreal's 512 km of routes into defined categories:

    - bicycle paths, 248 km
    - designated bicycle lanes, 90 km
    - bicycle lanes, 82 km
    - bicycle paths on road, 67 km
    - sidewalk-level bicycle paths, 11 km
    - designated bicycle lane and bicycle lanes in opposite direction, 4 km