A safer biking proposal for troublesome spot in Cambridge, MA

The bicycle-crash-prone streets of Inman Square in Cambridge, MA — near the scene of a highly publicized June 2016 accident that killed a young woman — may become safer for cyclists, vehicles, and pedestrians if the city agrees next year to adopt a safer intersection design, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health bicycle researcher Anne Lusk, research scientist in the Department of Nutrition.

Lusk has been working for some time to make a case for a European-inspired, mini-traffic circle called a roundabout that would include a level-with-sidewalk cycle track for cyclists, according to a November 29, 2016 blog by attorney Steven Bercu, president of the Boston Cyclists Union (BCU).

Lusk was not dissuaded earlier this year when her idea for a first-in-the nation cycle track and roundabout combination for the square was not met with enthusiasm by city officials. In July 2016 she approached the BCU about pursuing the roundabout with a level-with-sidewalk cycle track, either as a peanut-style roundabout or double-roundabout solution for the square, Bercu wrote. She went on to identify a local engineering firm (Kittelson & Associates) that has studied and designed roundabouts in the U.S. With support from the Helen and William Mazer Foundation, Kittelson & Associates agreed to do a feasibility assessment and preliminary design for a peanut-style roundabout with the cycle track for Inman Square. She also met with a landscape architect for ideas on how to enhance the cycle track design with plantings.

“We were quite excited when Kittelson’s analysis concluded that such a roundabout could be accommodated in Inman, and we realized that we could have a part in promoting a first-of-its-kind (for the U.S.), European-inspired roundabout solution that unravels the gordian knot of Inmania,” Bercu wrote.

Joseph Barr, director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation for the City of Cambridge, said the concept is among those to be presented to the community over the winter and spring. The city hopes to agree on a final design and begin construction next fall.

“We have recently started a detailed design process for Inman Square, with the goal of coming up with a layout that improves safety for all users while preserving mobility through the intersection. We are particularly focused on making the intersection as safe as possible for our most vulnerable users, including cyclists and pedestrians, the elderly, and children,” Barr said in a statement.

Read the Boston Cyclists Union blog: The Inman Square “Peanutabout” – Birth of an Innovative Design Solution

Read a PeopleForBikes.org blog:  Behold the ‘Peanutabout’: A new bike-friendly intersection concept

Read a Streetsblog USA article: The ‘Peanutabout’ Concept Could Be a Breakthrough for Diagonal Streets

Learn more

Biking on cycle tracks safer than cycling in the road (Harvard Chan News)

“Bicycling, Brisk Walking Help Women Control Weight” (Harvard Chan Press Release)