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Mass. Ave. to get bike lanes as part of $18m rebuilding

Gregg Allen (left) and Michele Derrick joined other bicyclists on City Hall Plaza for the Boston Bike Festival yesterday. Officials announced that Massachusetts Avenue will get bike lanes. Gregg Allen (left) and Michele Derrick joined other bicyclists on City Hall Plaza for the Boston Bike Festival yesterday. Officials announced that Massachusetts Avenue will get bike lanes. (David L Ryan / Globe Staff)
By Martin Finucane and Shana Wickett
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / May 22, 2010

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Bike lanes will be created on Massachusetts Avenue, a busy downtown artery, from Boston Medical Center to Symphony Hall, city and state officials announced yesterday.

The 5-foot-wide lanes will be added as part of an $18 million reconstruction of the avenue, Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s office said. The project will be 80 percent federally funded and 20 percent state funded. Plans call for it to be completed by fall 2011.

“This is a big win for Boston’s biking community,’’ Menino said in a statement. “Massachusetts Avenue is one of the busiest and most heavily traveled streets in our city, and this project provides an opportunity to accommodate all modes of transportation without compromising safety.’’

The bike lanes were also supported by Governor Deval Patrick,

“The governor is proud of the swift action and positive solution we celebrated today,’’ said state Department of Transportation spokesman Colin Durrant.

The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition and other biking organizations lobbied the city and the state for the lanes, said David Watson, executive director of the coalition.

He said that section of the avenue is uncomfortable for many cyclists.

“If you are not the kind of very confident cyclist who can really take control of the traffic lane and ride mixed in with the cars, then it’s a very challenging stretch of road to ride on,’’ Watson said. “You end up getting really squeezed between the cars going by you on the left and the parked cars on the right.’’

Watson said a significant number of bike riders heading to and from landmarks such as Boston Medical Center or the Berklee College of Music can look forward to riding safely on the road.

“I think it’s a sign that the city has really taken to heart the need to better accommodate bicyclists,’’ Watson said.

The new bike lanes were announced yesterday at the Boston Bike Festival, the final event of the first statewide bike week.

Groups of cyclists formed convoys in Boston and various suburbs yesterday and were guided into the downtown, where they were took part in the festival on City Hall Plaza, which included a free breakfast.

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