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Cambridge, MA is DA BOMB!

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Cambridge, MA is DA BOMB!

Old 08-07-08, 06:32 PM
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MrPolak
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Cambridge, MA is DA BOMB!

I'm in Cambridge, MA, on business for 4 days. Instead of renting a car I rented a bike, which was my plan before I knew anything about the area. With MIT and Harvard in the near area there bike lanes and cyclists everywhere... I'm in HEAVEN! I feel fortunate to have experienced such a great place to bike and such cordial motorists. If you live in Cambridge, I hope you know you're in what must be USA's best cities to cycle.

My home Atlanta could learn a few things from this place.
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Old 08-07-08, 06:44 PM
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I rode a few days in that area 2 years ago and I agree. One of the really great things is that cars will stop for bikes at the road / bike path intersections.
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Old 08-07-08, 07:07 PM
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I don't know about the "cordial motorists"... But yes, the roads are nice, and if you like bike lanes you'll be happy. The best thing though is the number of cyclists. When there's a presence like that, it makes things easier for everyone.

P.S. I would like to say that my favorite bike lane is the one on Mass. Ave through Central Sq. I'm not a real bike lane enthusiast, but I love the way it merges into the center of the road, to the left of the right hand lane. If only more bike lanes did that... (Though for all I know such a thing could be common in other places.)
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Old 08-07-08, 07:54 PM
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Be careful on Mass Ave - the bike lanes hug the door zone. A few years ago a cyclist was run over by a bus and killed after being doored while riding in a bike lane on Mass Ave.
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Old 08-07-08, 08:20 PM
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I drove in Cambridge the other day in the afternoon. I have never seen so many bikes on the road in a city in my life, and in such a variety too. The coolest one was a Masi single gear in bright orange.
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Old 08-07-08, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by randomgear View Post
Be careful on Mass Ave - the bike lanes hug the door zone. A few years ago a cyclist was run over by a bus and killed after being doored while riding in a bike lane on Mass Ave.
I ride that stretch of Mass Ave daily. Dana Laird was killed on July 2nd, 2002 trying to avoid getting doored on Mass Ave and was fatally struck by an MBTA bus. Most of the Cambridge bike lanes are still fully without a door zone so it's important you ride to the far left side of the lane.

https://www.bikexprt.com/massfacil/ca...one/laird1.htm

https://www.cambridgerunning.org/dana.php
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Old 08-07-08, 08:35 PM
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Heaven? You must have a different definition of that word than I do. I lived there for four years, and rarely envied bikers. Particularly not when I saw them racing down Mass. Ave between a block of cars trying not to get squeezed off the road. Maybe things are different farther uptown, or away from the main streets. What I do remember was lots of traffic, non-existent bike lanes, and what appeared to be generally stressful conditions for people who dared to cycle anywhere beyond campus, trails, or paths.

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Old 08-07-08, 08:49 PM
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I agree, the roads in Cambridge are quite manageable and the drivers are used to cyclists. Watch out for the suicidal pedestrians and bike-eating potholes, however, and lock your bike thoroughly--I have had three bikes stolen, all of them in Cambridge.
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Old 08-07-08, 09:02 PM
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Interesting, because my experience of commuting in Boston over the past several years is that, between the horrible road conditions and the borderline psychotic drivers, Boston is a pretty miserable place to bike. Maybe I'm just jaded because I got dumped off of my bike by a jackass cager cutting across three lanes in an attempt to parallel park and clipping my back wheel, only to have exactly zero of the myriad of bikers that rode past me ask if I was OK (and the driver just shrugged at me). Sorry to sound like a buzzkill, but I'm still a bit irritated by the whole episode (not my first accident either).

Granted, that stretch of Mass Ave through Central and into Harvard Sq and even up through Porter can be fun to ride (albeit a rather bumpy in places).
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Old 08-07-08, 09:50 PM
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I used to live in Arlington (just north of Cambridge), and I would ride everyday down Mass Ave into Boston. I've never really had a problem with it, and I find Cambridge to be a fine place to ride a bicycle. Yeah, the bike lane kinda hugs the door zone at times, but that's why you stay out of the bike lane in those places.

One of my lasting impressions of that commute was the difference in road quality between Boston and Cambridge. I always found the roads Cambridge to be relatively smooth and easy to ride on (for the most part), but literally as soon as you cross the bridge into Boston, the pavement's a disaster. Mass Ave in Boston is an absolute wreck.

One of my all time favorite stretches of road to ride on is Mass Ave going through Harvard Square heading south. you have to swing around to Mt. Auburn St. for a bit before you get back on Mass Ave, and there's this banked hard left turn that's tons of fun to take at high speed. Wheeeee!
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Old 08-08-08, 06:54 AM
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Yeah, I commute through Somerville and Cambridge, and while I'm the first to say that Boston drivers are some of the worst in the world (and I've driven/ridden in many countries), they have a nasty combination of aggression and incompetence but at least they are used to bikes and mostly treat them as legitimate road users. Also, Somerville, Cambridge and Boston have recently got significantly behind bike traffic. They've painted a load more bike lanes. I am in favor, even though they're 2/3 in the door zone, I can ride near the left line and be pretty safe, and the cars now show more respect for my right to be there.

People here are so used to the road laws being ignored, and mostly don't even know what the rules are, that they often relinquish their right of way for bikes when they don't have to. e.g. I have had cars wait for me and wave me through at a all-way stop. This is actually infuriating (I wish people would just follow the rules), but it's better than not having any rights recognized.

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Old 08-08-08, 08:26 AM
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I'd go the other way with the bike lane through Central Sq. Even though a) there is one, and b) it is layed out well, including the nice allowance for proper positioning on the left of the right turn only lane, it is also to left of a) a taxi stand, b) a bus stop, and c) parking, usually with at least a taxi, bus, or car (or two or three) somehow blocking the lane. Better than many, still far short of ideal.

I trust Boston drivers more than I trust the rural yahoos in Maine... In Boston, they treat you like traffic. Which is good in some cases because they are more aware of cyclists, but bad in others because Boston drivers are an agro-ignorant bunch to begin with. Sure, they treat you like any other road user, but sit on a bench some day and count the number of cars with dents... or rather the number of cars without dents--it will be easier that way.
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Old 08-08-08, 08:43 AM
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I don't ride in the city a whole lot (2 or 3 times a month) so my opinion only counts for so much but...

I very much appreciated the bike lanes in Cambridge the first few times I rode into the city. Good to get used to city riding a bit until I got the confidence to start taking/splitting lanes. Doorzone sucks, but like others have said its nice to treat it as a wide shoulder and just hug the left side of the bike lane.

The key to getting around Boston, I think, is to realize that everyone on the road, be they on four wheels, two wheels, or two feet, will go where ever they like when ever they like. As long as you know where you're going and can get there fast you're all set, once you start slowing down or being lost you're screwed. Personally I kinda like the cantankerous nature everyone has, keeps things fast-paced and fun. I figured out the first time I drove a car in Boston that not only does everyone drive like an arsehole, but if you don't drive like one you're in fact a bigger arsehole. We work hard for our Ma55hole status =D
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Old 08-08-08, 11:41 AM
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cycling in boston/cambridge is my personal hell.

i live downtown and am a vehicular cyclist as well as a roadie. The motorists in the area are ridiculously bad, the roads have potholes that can swallow your entire bike, and the "bike lane" on Mass Ave must be one of THE most dangerous places to ride in the entire country. Seriously, don't ride there. It's not safe. Just go a block over and take Prospect or one of the other streets instead of mass ave.

Saying that, one of my favorite road rides is to leave my apartment and ride down the charles towards harvard, then ride up through harvard square and out towards belmont on the bike path. riding through harvard square can be insanely fun if you do it right because you are SO much faster than traffic due to the extreme congestion. Messenger style, uber urban riding is a thrill, but you really have to watch out.

But I have been hit by two cars in Harvard Square (one taxi, one suv), and have been knocked off my bike by pedestrians twice (once on each bike path - Charles and Minuteman) I have destroyed three wheels/rims on potholes, had my front derailer ripped off the bike by a tree's root system that had ripped through the pavement, and nearly killed a small girl who popped into Mass Ave without warning from inbetween two cars, and guess what, I was in the bike lane. She suffered a serious concussion and was twitching, lying in a pool of her own blood unconscious under my bike. I was unconscious about 30 yards down the road. The guy who drove the ambulance told me that she was 12. I've had a guy stop his car in the middle of the bike path on Alewife Brook Parkway and I had to dump my bike while going over 20mph. It was like sliding into third base, except I was skidding across pavement with a thin layer of lycra rapidly shredding under my legs, butt, shoulder, and side. My wheel taco'd under the tire of his car as he sped away, and I got many odd looks as I rode the T home covered in blood with a destroyed bike over my shoulder.

These are the things that will happen to you if you continue to ride in Cambridge. It's a hard place to get around, the T isn't so helpful and driving a car is a joke . Tons of students = tons of bikes. It's not a good place to ride. I used to love the city frenzy but now I hate it.
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Old 08-08-08, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Monument Man View Post
These are the things that will happen to you if you continue to ride in Cambridge. It's a hard place to get around, the T isn't so helpful and driving a car is a joke . Tons of students = tons of bikes. It's not a good place to ride. I used to love the city frenzy but now I hate it.
You've pretty much described why I walked everywhere. Once I left the place, I vowed never to return. I'm barely in my twenties, but no longer have the energy for that kind of stuff. Life's too short to have so much stress.
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Old 08-08-08, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Monument Man View Post
cycling in boston/cambridge is my personal hell.

i live downtown and am a vehicular cyclist as well as a roadie. The motorists in the area are ridiculously bad, the roads have potholes that can swallow your entire bike, and the "bike lane" on Mass Ave must be one of THE most dangerous places to ride in the entire country. Seriously, don't ride there. It's not safe. Just go a block over and take Prospect or one of the other streets instead of mass ave.

Saying that, one of my favorite road rides is to leave my apartment and ride down the charles towards harvard, then ride up through harvard square and out towards belmont on the bike path. riding through harvard square can be insanely fun if you do it right because you are SO much faster than traffic due to the extreme congestion. Messenger style, uber urban riding is a thrill, but you really have to watch out.

But I have been hit by two cars in Harvard Square (one taxi, one suv), and have been knocked off my bike by pedestrians twice (once on each bike path - Charles and Minuteman) I have destroyed three wheels/rims on potholes, had my front derailer ripped off the bike by a tree's root system that had ripped through the pavement, and nearly killed a small girl who popped into Mass Ave without warning from inbetween two cars, and guess what, I was in the bike lane. She suffered a serious concussion and was twitching, lying in a pool of her own blood unconscious under my bike. I was unconscious about 30 yards down the road. The guy who drove the ambulance told me that she was 12. I've had a guy stop his car in the middle of the bike path on Alewife Brook Parkway and I had to dump my bike while going over 20mph. It was like sliding into third base, except I was skidding across pavement with a thin layer of lycra rapidly shredding under my legs, butt, shoulder, and side. My wheel taco'd under the tire of his car as he sped away, and I got many odd looks as I rode the T home covered in blood with a destroyed bike over my shoulder.

These are the things that will happen to you if you continue to ride in Cambridge. It's a hard place to get around, the T isn't so helpful and driving a car is a joke . Tons of students = tons of bikes. It's not a good place to ride. I used to love the city frenzy but now I hate it.
Well, what can I say. My experience has been different than yours. I rode Mass Ave from Arlington to Boston on my commute until I moved back to Boston, and I never had any run ins. Of course there are bad motorists and peds (and bad cyclists too, lets not forget them), but I've never gotten into so much as a close call on Mass Ave in Cambridge.
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Old 08-08-08, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Monument Man View Post
cycling in boston/cambridge is my personal hell.

i live downtown and am a vehicular cyclist as well as a roadie. The motorists in the area are ridiculously bad, the roads have potholes that can swallow your entire bike, and the "bike lane" on Mass Ave must be one of THE most dangerous places to ride in the entire country. Seriously, don't ride there. It's not safe. Just go a block over and take Prospect or one of the other streets instead of mass ave.
I find Prospect (River St) to be a bigger death trap than Mass Ave. Whenever I commute from Brighton over to Sommerville (Union Sq area), I'd do my best to avoid Memorial Drive's MUP and Prospect by riding up Western Ave and cutting over to Columbia St (runs parallel with Prospect).

The real trick to cycling in Boston is to know what roads/intersections to avoid. For example the double rotary on Fresh Pond Pkwy.
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Old 08-08-08, 05:15 PM
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I commute every day from Davis to the Financial District down Beacon to Kendall and across the Longfellow (I'm the guy on the chrome Bianchi Pista with a Russian flag Timbuk2 bag). Somerville's roads suck. Straight up. Potholes aplenty and manholes smack dab in the bike lane, one every block. Still, once I hit Cambridge roads, it's great (save the Kendall area itself). Once in a while I'll take Mass. Ave. when I don't feel like taking all the bumps. Ditto on whitelining in order to avoid doors.

As far as traffic goes, it's alright as a cyclist. Drivers here are indeed agressive and otherwise incompetent, but if they see you, they're pretty accomodating. I've only had to "throw down" once when someone said I shouldn't be in the road, and for that I just shouted back that Massachusetts General Law chapter 85, section 11B says that I have all the rights and responsibilites as drivers, plus I get to pass on the right. That elicited an "oh," and made me pretty happy.

It's not the optimal cycling environment (I've heard that Davis, CA gets that honor, and I know that Eugene and Corvallis, OR are better), but it's not bad, I must admit.
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