- Cambridge, MA became the first city in the country to require construction of permanent, protected bike lanes under an ordinance passed by the Cambridge City Council this week.
- Cambridge had previously identified a proposed network of 20 miles of protected lanes in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan. The newly passed Cycling Safety Ordinance requires that protected lanes be installed whenever reconstruction is done on any road in that network.
- In an interview with The Boston Globe, Mayor Marc McGovern said the ordinance would help the city in “more expeditiously installing this type of infrastructure,” removing the time spent debating whether a road under construction needed a bike lane.
Cambridge officials and bike advocates say they hope the order can be a model for other cities, incentivizing the city to put safety first and not have to debate whether bike lanes are necessary. It effectively puts the Boston suburb on track to having a full, 20-mile bike network that will connect major thoroughfares.
In a statement to the Globe, Cambridge Bicycle Safety volunteer Sam Feigenbaum said the intent “is that when the bike plan says a street needs a protected bike lane, that street will get a protected bike lane." That approach, Feigenbaum said, “gives the bike plan teeth.”
As cities — including Boston — have tried to push biking through bike-share networks and community initiatives, advocates have amplified their calls for safer infrastructure. In 2017, protesters in Philadelphia formed a human barrier to draw attention to a bike lane where a rider had been killed; in New York, the group Transportation Alternatives has called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to hire a “bike mayor” to handle safety issues. Cities have been putting more care into bike lanes. Notably, Portland, OR last year introduced a standardized guide for how protected bike lanes should be built, and what roads could use them. Cambridge now offers a new model for advocates to use when calling for more attention to safety infrastructure.