Boston's Bike Network And Safer Streets Expanding
To build on her commitment to create safe streets for all modes of transportation, Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) announced a 9.4 mile expansion of bike lanes providing key connections within the City’s existing bike network and the launch of a Citywide design process to bring safer streets to every neighborhood. To do this, Boston is expanding Bluebikes to accommodate rising demand, designing traffic-calmed streets by building speed humps and raised crosswalks, and hiring more staff to aid in the design process.
The Mayor made the announcement at a press conference with community organizers from Bikes Not Bombs and Mattapan Food and Fitness, and representatives from BTD, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet, the Environment Department, the Community Engagement Cabinet, the Mayor’s Office of Housing, and the Office of Economic Opportunity & Inclusion.
“Now more than ever, the health, well-being, and economic empowerment of our communities depend on people having safe, reliable ways to get where they need to go,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We’re working to transform our streets so all road users are protected and everyone can benefit from the opportunities across our city. Building out a safe, connected cycling network will help close transportation gaps across our neighborhoods and advance our efforts to make Boston a city for everyone.”
“Bikes and e-bikes will play an important role in increasing access to reliable, affordable transportation in Boston and in helping to address the climate, safety, and congestion impacts of our overreliance on automobiles,” said Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “Today’s announcement moves us closer to a future where biking is a safe and convenient option for people of all ages and abilities in every neighborhood of Boston.”
Over the next three years, the City will:
- Expand our bike network so that 50 percent of residents will be a 3-minute walk from a safe and connected bike route, prioritizing links with a history of safety incidents.
- Grow our public bike share (Bluebikes) by 40 percent, adding more than 100 new stations.
- Build speed humps in 30 neighborhood zones, starting with ten neighborhood zones next year.
- Add 75 raised crosswalks at parks, libraries, and schools across the City.
- Help 600 women gain confidence in riding bikes through Boston’s free learn-to-bike workshops for women and gender-diverse adults.
Enabling more trips by bike is essential to reaching our climate and public health goals. Approximately one-third of Boston's greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Of that, 65 percent comes from passenger vehicles. These emissions create public health and environmental dangers for our residents and disproportionately harm marginalized and environmental justice communities.
“As a young person, my bike allowed me to get around the neighborhood until it felt unsafe to do so. Now as an adult I see young people riding around in conditions that also seem hazardous,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “We need to make sure that all people and particularly young people, can get through our city with bikes as an affordable, healthy, and environmentally-friendly source of transportation.”
In 2019, almost 700 people were seriously injured while walking Boston's streets. Another 365 were seriously injured while biking. We have already designed, built, and tested safety tools for Boston's streets. Now, the City is working to rapidly apply these tools in neighborhoods across Boston.
“The expansion of the City’s bike network program will provide a major boost for the health and wellness of our communities. The Boston Public Health Commission looks forward to supporting the safety measures to protect bikers, pedestrians, and motorists,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Greater biking accessibility means more opportunities for our residents to exercise and explore our city and a reduced carbon footprint that will support neighborhoods that are disproportionately harmed by air pollution.”
Today’s bike network includes 59 miles of off-street paths and 17.5 miles of separated bike lanes. The City is looking to build about nine miles of bike lanes, focusing on areas where safety incidents have occurred and routes that connect to Boston’s downtown employment hubs. The City will work urgently to build these bike facilities, with most of the links planned to be completed by December 2023.
Streets where the City is planning to build bike lanes include:
- Allston-Brighton: North Beacon Street, South Street, Western Avenue, Winship Street
- Back Bay & Downtown: Berkeley Street, Boylston Street, Milk Street
- Fenway/Kenmore: Commonwealth Avenue, Hemenway Street
- South End and Bay Village: Albany Street, Berkeley Street, Charles Street South/Tremont Street
- Mission Hill: South Huntington Avenue
- Jamaica Plain: Boylston Street, Green Street, Eliot Street, McBride Street, Seaverns Avenue, South Huntington Avenue
- Roslindale: Poplar Street
More on the City’s plans to build better bike lanes in Boston, and the types of bike lanes planned for each neighborhood, can be found here.
"The announcement of the bike expansion is very exciting to Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition (MFFC),” said Shavel'le Olivier, Executive Director, Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition. “These plans will not only benefit those who bike but also those who walk. As an organization whose vision it is to see the Mattapan community safe, clean, walkable and bike-able, we hope to see in the future biking and walking transportation expansion plans in Mattapan, Hyde Park, Dorchester, and Roxbury."
"I believe everyone deserves freedom to choose biking as a mode of travel and I’m so thrilled to support a Mayor who is building a sustainable Boston for all,” said Elijah Evans, Executive Director of Bikes Not Bombs. “I'm supportive not only for what this expanded network symbolizes but also because it’s a sign that we will no longer continue to be strangled by the car culture that forces many folks in the Black community into poverty, leaving us trapped in a world in which we continue to fight over resources."
During peak times, people on bikes are regularly 10 - 25 percent of all Boston traffic. Research shows more people will ride if they have access to separated bike lanes. According to a survey by MassINC Polling Group in 2021, 50 percent of Boston residents probably or definitely would bike more if separated bike lanes were in their neighborhood. And 77 percent of Boston respondents supported building separated bike lanes even if some space for driving or parking was removed.
Bluebikes, Boston’s public bike share program, is the third busiest bike share in the country. Bluebikes served 2.95 million trips in 2021, an increase of 17 percent from 2019. Bluebikes has also been experiencing record-breaking numbers during the MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown.
The bike network expansion builds on recent announcements to create vibrant, safe streets for all of Boston’s residents. In August, Mayor Wu announced free 30-day Bluebike passes to encourage biking during the MBTA’s Orange Line shutdown. This year, the City is hosting a weekly Open Newbury event series. The City has hosted two half-day Open Streets events, with another in Dorchester happening on September 24. In June, the City launched Copley Connect, a 10-day pilot that transformed Dartmouth Street into an open plaza space.
To deliver on the Mayor’s vision for a City where people can move safely, reliably, and efficiently by transit, on foot, or by bike, last week the Mayor announced the search for key Streets Cabinet leadership roles. More on the 46 new BTD positions, including the Deputy Chief for Infrastructure and Design and the Deputy Chief for Transportation can be found here.
About the Boston Transportation Department
The Boston Transportation Department’s vision is for Boston’s streets to be safe, inclusive, and vibrant. The team plans, builds, maintains, and operates roads across the City of Boston. For more information about their work, visit boston.gov/transportation or @BostonBTD on Twitter.
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- Published by: Transportation