Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Longfellow Bike Traffic update

I came in this morning across the Longfellow. As I jockeyed for position through Kendall, I knew it was going to be busy on the bridge. I've seen ten bicycles per light cycle on the bridge, but today the lane was chock-a-block with bikes all the way across the bridge. With minimal auto traffic, faster cyclists were swinging in to the right lane and passing slower cyclists. And when we got to the bottom, well, it was quite a sight.

I quickly hopped the sidewalk to take a picture. By my quick count, there were 18 cyclists in line waiting for the light to change at the bottom of the bridge. Last month, I'd assumed 10 bicyclists per light cycle, which would equate to 360 per hour. At 18 bicyclists, this is an astounding 648 bicycles per hour, or one every six seconds. That's nearly as many vehicles as use the entire bridge in the AM peak (707). And this is despite the fact that the Longfellow is a narrow and bumpy bicycle facility.

So it is a shame that the current plan for the bridge allocates just as much space to vehicles, and does not appreciably expand the inbound bicycle facility. As we crossed today there were few vehicles, but bicycles could barely fit in the lane. Since the bridge hasn't been rebuilt yet, there is still time to advocate for fewer vehicle lanes (one lane expanding to two would be mostly adequate) and a much wider bike lane allowing for passing and a buffer.

The current bicycle counts are only for the evening commute where, as I've pointed out before, it's much harder to get to the Longfellow due to traffic, topography and one-way streets. I think it's high time for a peak morning bike count on the Longfellow. And time to suggest to MassDOT they reexamine the user base for the roadway before it gets reconstructed and restriped.

Plus, if we have 650 bikes per hour using the current, subpar facility, imagine the bike traffic once the lane is wider and well-paved. To infinity and beyond! Or, at least, to 1000.

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