Sports Transportation

Bike Lane Meeting Introduces Hybrid Concept for Commercial St. and Atlantic Ave. in North End

At an April 28, 2011 public meeting at the Nazzaro Center, city officials presented various options for a bike lane in the North End on Commercial St. and Atlantic Ave., from Hull St. to the Greenway.  Bolstered by strong support from Mayor Menino, the City is introducing bike lanes in many neighborhoods throughout Boston. The bike lanes would provide North Enders and visitors a link to four areas:  1) Charlestown, 2) the Charles River path 3) future Greenway bike lanes and 4) Harborwalk.

The City’s consultants have been working with residents and bike advocate groups on concepts that would minimize the loss of parking spaces while increasing the safety of bicyclists.

All of the designs presented remove one southbound lane from Commercial St. and Atlantic Ave. This would result in two northbound lanes and one southbound lane. According to the City’s analysis, the loss of one southbound lane will not have a material impact on traffic congestion.

The proposed hybrid route has a buffered “cycle track” lane on the harbor side of the street (northbound) and a standard painted lane next to traffic on the interior side (southbound) of the street. The northbound cycle track lane creates a dedicated lane away from vehicle traffic next to the curb. This moves the parked cars away from the curb further into the street. The buffered cycle track could also have flexible bollards to define the area between the bike lane and parked cars. On the southbound side of the street, the bike lane is more standard where parked cars would stay next to the curb and the proposed bike lane would be in the road next to vehicle traffic.

Several concerns were discussed by residents and bike advocates at the meeting, including funeral parking, double-parking in front of the ball fields on Commercial St., removal of parking spaces, MBTA/Trolley buses, Segways, valet activity, snow removal, enforcement and coordination with the ongoing HazMat Truck Route study.

The hybrid proposed concept would remove 5-10 parking spaces (6% of total). It was also mentioned that proposed city ordinances would allow Segways to use the bike lanes.

Click to view a pdf file with the slides from the bike lane presentation. (Courtesy: City of Boston, Bikes Program)

Nicole Freedman, from the City’s Boston Bikes program, said the City would hold a follow-up meeting in hopes of attracting more neighborhood participation. Comments can also be sent via email to

The video below contains the presentation by city officials and their consultants from Toole Design Group. (Click the play button on the video.)

The video shown below includes the question and answer period between bike lane officials and residents. (Click on the play button to start.)

The image shown below is the layout of the proposed hybrid concept for a bike lane on Commercial St. and Atlantic Ave. in the North End.

(Click to enlarge, Courtesy City of Boston, Bikes Program)

Comments on the North End Bike Lane can be emailed to

View the City’s Boston Bikes program website.

20 Replies to “Bike Lane Meeting Introduces Hybrid Concept for Commercial St. and Atlantic Ave. in North End

  1. All the bike lanes will do is encourage more bike riders. And the bike riders will use the bike lanes only when they choose to. They will continue to speed around adults and children on our crowded sidewalks. They will continue to illegally blow through stop signs and red lights, causing oncoming cars to hit their brakes. As usual, pedestrians and vehicles will just have to get out of the bike riders' way. The Mayor doesn't seem to know or to care. He lives out in Hyde Park.

  2. All additional traffic lanes will do is encourage more people to drive cars. And they will use their signals and follow parking regulations only when they choose to. They will continue to speed around adults and children on our crowded crosswalks. They will continue to illegally blow through stop signs and red lights, causing oncoming cars to hit their brakes. As usual, pedestrians and bicycles will just have to get out of the cars' way. The Mayor doesn't seem to know or to care. He lives out in Hyde Park.

  3. When a child or senior gets seriously injured or worse when bikes ignore red lights, stop signs, crosswalks, one way streets, normal travel directions..then people who think this is a great idea will change their tune. Commercial St and Atlantic Ave are dangerous to cross as it is with cars speeding and blowing through red lights. At least you can hear cars coming and try to get out of the way. Not so with bikes.

  4. I hope the people commenting will watch the beginning of the presentation which clearly shows that safety for everyone is greatly enhanced with bike lanes. Spreading unfounded paranoia is not helpful.

  5. To M and JS: Look around and you'll see it isn't "paranoia" – it happens all the time. We still need cars, we don't need bikes. There is plenty of public transportation for people who don't want to drive or who can't afford a car. Also, most drivers obey traffic laws, most bike riders don't. Cars don't drive on sidewalks, but bike riders ride on sidewalks. Bike riders want the rights of cars and pedestrians without accepting the responsibilities of either group. Most cars do stop at traffic lights and stop signs, almost no bikers do. We know this because we live here and see it all the time.

  6. <<We still need cars, we don't need bikes.>>

    Wow. Where to begin with a statement that is so backwards. Most people in the NE don't need cars. Bikes have been around for centuries and most cities are relying more on them. In many cases, they have saved European cities from endless gridlock and smog. Obviously, the environmental benefits are huge and so are the traffic benefits.

    I can't afford a car right now and sorry, the T goes pretty much no where. The folks that drive around for hours every night looking for spots are more of a safety hazard than any bike. And what's the price of a garage parking spot in the NE? $300/month?

    We're not talking Segways here. Didn't you ride a bike as a kid? Don't you think NE kids should have that opportunity? Only with a dedicated bike lane can that happen safely.

    Your statements against people who bike are borderline discriminatory.

    Oh, and where were you at the meeting? I don't see any opposition there. I guess I'll see you at the next one. Or do you just sit around and hide behind the blogs.

  7. @MIchael , u know as well as I do that bike lanes are not being set up for North End kids. They are for commuters, the bike tours companies ,other tourists, and local recreational bikers. Most bikers in Boston do not stop for red lights or stop signs, yield to pedestrians in a cross walk, signal when they are turning, obey one way signs and travel with the flow of traffic. Then again this is a neighborhood where people drive their cars the wrong way on one way streets, make u turns in the middle of intersections on Hanover St to snag a parking space, double park, block handicapped ramps and cross walks, make left hand turns on a red light and pedestrians jay walk al the time. Atlantic Ave and Commercial street are dangerous to cross normally in certain places ( near the skating rink, the pool, by starbucks) and the bike lanes are going to add to the problem unless everyone starts obeying the rules of the road (cars, bikes, pedestrians)

  8. M: Yes, I have a bike, always have had a bike. The kids in my family all have bikes. But we don't ride them through heavy traffic in the city. And yes, many people in NE (including families) still need cars for a variety of reasons. It would be nice if Boston was like some European cities I've been to but it isn't: bike riders in those cities are generally good citizens who obey the traffic laws. Not so the bike riders in Boston. Anyone who has lived here could see that for themselves. Also, there is no evidence that people looking for parking spaces are "safety hazards". And the MBTA "goes pretty much nowhere"? That's news to most of us who take it regularly all over Boston. Also, most bike riders can't afford to own a car, so they aren't riding their bikes to save gas and are not helping the environment any more than if they took public transportation. Bike lanes are just rewarding a group of people who don't think the rules of the road apply to them.

  9. Looks great. I'm looking forward to trying the new lanes. Part of living in the city is having infrastructure that is best for everyone. The negative commentary here is disheartening, but I hope that the general consensus of my neighbors is more rational. Just because some folks break the law, doesn't mean we shouldn't have infrastructure that makes everyone safer. The MBTA is not perfect, and its shortsighted to say that the city doesn't need other options.

  10. I think both concepts are very good, both the standard bike lane option and the parking protected cycle tracks. However, I'm not a big fan of doing one of each. With only a cycle track on one side (and a standard bike lane on the other), I fear that the cycle track will attract wrong-way bicyclists who are looking for the protection from traffic, but don't have it when they use the bike lane in the other direction. I'd prefer that both sides either have bike lanes or cycle tracks, but not one of each.

    The City should be applauded for doing their homework and thoroughly studying the impacts of adding bike facilities on both traffic flow and parking. What seems really cool is that by removing a southbound travel lane and adding bike facilities, the level of service at some intersections will actually improve! This really seems like a win-win for everyone.

  11. 90% of bikers in Boston have no disregard for the traffic laws. Just stand at the intersection of Hanover and Congress sometime.

  12. People that are willing to bike in the city today as things stand are a very… courageous? They are overtly comfortable on their two wheels and make risky traffic movements. Just like cars….and JUST LIKE PEDESTRIANS. By creating bike lanes, we are allowing people that may want to bike to work or around the city but are too petrified to do so (aka…me). I wear a helmet and abide by traffic rules…I stop at crosswalks and red lights and stop signs (and I would like to point out that as someone that is 90% pedestrian, I have had more and more bikers stopping for me to cross the street over the past 2 years…I've seen more and more stopping at red lights and abiding the rules-yes its still a problem but to say it hasn't gotten better is lying people).

    I think that with the construction of safe accommodations, more bikers like myself-people that bike on off-road paths and on weekends because it seems the only appropriate time while feeling safe, may start biking during the week! If more people are biking instead of, say, driving then congestion will go down. If more safe bikers are riding the streets, there will not only be pressure on the dangerous bikers to yield to rules of the road (yes, I've seen bikers shaking a finger at other bikers for unsafe biking habits), but it will hopefully mend the obvious conflict that exists on the roads between bikers and drivers and pedestrians. The roads of Boston are like a war zone-EVERYONE is at fault…everyone too aggressive. I've been hit by a bike while crossing the street…I've almost been hit by a car while crossing the street….I've seen some bad accidents involving car vs. bike (and the car was most certainly at fault). With these bike lanes, they are trying to make things better….

    Bikes don't ruin roads like cars do…they don't take up much SF on the road like cars….they are good for our health (we could all use some cardio..), and don't emit harmful gases into the atmosphere (plus-no $4 plus a gallon gas to deal with). I think everyone should grab a bike and get out there and see what its like. We can keep fighting over who is is at fault that makes our roadways unsafe…why we are all always yelling and beeping and screaming and threatening each other during rush hour…or we could take this as an opportunity to work together and make a safer, cleaner, healthier, less congested Boston!

  13. K: I take exception to being told people are "lying" – bike riders have not improved their bad behavior in my neighborhood, which is the neighborhood under discussion here. And bikers shaking fingers at other bikers for unsafe riding? People who have no problem breaking laws are not impressed by someone shaking a finger at them.

  14. I concur with K. I ride to work daily from Somerville to downtown Boston. I have seen more bicyclists riding than I have in the past, and in general it seems that more of them are obeying the traffic laws and being more courteous. I find in general that bicyclists are much more likely to wait at a red light on a street with a bike lane or cycle track than on one without, since there is no "pressure" from being at the front of a line of cars. Along with bicyclists behaving better, I've also noticed pedestrians being more aware of bicyclists and motorists being more courteous and patient, giving bicyclists a bit more space when passing them, and also not honking when one may "slow them down" a little bit. Like K mentioned, as more "regular" people start bicycling, the risk takers will be diminished, and if anything they will feel more peer pressure to act more courteously and respectfully.

  15. Ralph, give it up. You're not adding to the discussion, but rather voicing your own biases.

    See how that doesn't work?

    My neighborhood is what I'm concerned about, and what I see frequently every week, when
    I'm walking and when I'm driving. You are free to disagree. But someone claiming that people posting here are "lying" is incorrect and needs to be addressed. What's also ironic is how self-righteous so many bike riders are: they claim they are saving the environment, promoting healthy activity, etc., when the majority of them in Boston can't afford a car anyway, don't obey traffic laws, and make the roads unsafe for everyone. And then they want bike lanes for their "safety." There's a big disconnect between what they say and what they do.

    So we've given up parking spaces for bike lanes. I'll enjoy watching bike riders share those lanes with skateboarders, Segways, pedestrians crossing the street, people going to their parked cars and sometimes even a moving car. Good times!

  16. Hang in there Heather! I'm with you! Between the bikes and the segways that ride on the sidewalks now – mostly from these new companies that are popping up in our neighborhood – they have no concern for the pedstrians that are walking on the sidewalks – several times on Commerical St I have almost been run over while walking with 2 children ages 5 an 8 – these tours come barreling through – and yell coming through as they are right upon you – each time we were on the water side of Commercial St – with the pretty trees… ( they make it a one lane sidewalk) we had to jump out of the way – the bikes/segways don't slow down – so we don't have the right of the way on sidewalks? my complaints to local pols have fallen on deaf ears…. the city is more concerned with promoting tourism than it is of its tax paying residents…. when is it going to slow down? Some say we are loosing our neighborhood – I say we've already lost it……… sad – I know I may sound like I am rambling but it is just so frustrating – to live here these days….. I liked the simple days – and I have raised my children here – we rode bikes – but we had manners. ~~ just my 2 cents for what it is worth….

  17. While I support bike lanes completely, I'm not sure why the City is investing in bike lanes on Commercial Street, which may be the easiest street in the city for bike riders. The real issue is how to get from the North End to South Station without riding on the Greenway and without being killed.

  18. As a manager at Urban AdvenTours I would like to address a couple of these points head on:

    Therese, I can tell you that our tours do not and will not ride on sidewalks. We leave from Christopher Columbus Park for which we have City approval and we respect and support the FOCCP and pedestrians enjoying the park. We do not buzz around on bikes at the risk of others. Our staff clean up litter and host neighborhood events to show the overall benefits of cycling, not just tourism. We clearly message to all of our rental customers that they are not allowed to ride on sidewalks and this is also stated in the maps we distribute.

    'Cyclists bike because they can't afford cars' Our employees and friends are cyclists who commute because it is environmentally friendly, healthy, and low impact on the city as a whole (and yes, some of us own cars). We ride with helmets and we follow the rules of the road. We are actively trying to change the perception that cyclists do not follow the rules as we have been doing for 8+ years. If anyone in the neighborhood sees any of my tour guides breaking a law or not being respectful of pedestrians I have left my direct email here for you to contact me. We are a green company and our mission is to be low impact in all of our actions. We live in a historic town and tourism brings in billions each year that is much needed to keep our city safe and clean.

    As for cyclists breaking laws as a whole, let's keep things honest here and recognize that cars and pedestrians are equally bad about breaking laws. The problem has been proven to improve as infrastructure increases. Provide safe places for cyclists and they will use it. This keeps them off sidewalks and out of traffic where most of these issues come from. I find it hard to believe that such a beautiful and family oriented neighborhood would be advocating on the side of more cars and traffic and not cycling. It makes me question the motives of those that argue for more cars.

    The city has done a fantastic job of doing research and providing real data to support real facts. I applaud them and I hope to see many of the North End cyclists I've come to see in our shop at the meeting on June 6th.

    To put it simply – Less cars, less congestion, less foreign oil, less pollution and runoff into the water. More local businesses, more families along the waterfront, more people getting active, less impact on the environment. Thank you all for your comments and support. I hope we can change some negative opinions through thoughtful and data supported discussion.

Comments are closed.