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Jawnt Joins ACT Patriot Chapter's Cambridge Crossing Tour

Jawnt Joins ACT Patriot Chapter's Cambridge Crossing Tour

As a proud member of the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), Jawnt enjoys learning best TDM practices and networking opportunities from our membership. Last week, product manager Ruth joined the active transportation tour of new bike infrastructure in Cambridge and Somerville.

Ruth Miller
May 28, 2024

As a proud member of the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), Jawnt enjoys learning best TDM practices and networking opportunities from our membership. Last week, as our Boston-based member, I joined ACT’s active transportation tour of new bike infrastructure in Cambridge and Somerville.

Bikes as an agent of change

Boston has some of the worst traffic in the country. Fortunately, it also has some of the most ambitious local governments, developers, and community organizers who are doing the monumental work of unwinding Boston’s car-dependency. The Cities of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville in particular have ambitious goals to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips (solo car outings), and bikes play an enormous role in that mode shift. Every winter weekday morning, dozens of parents are out proving that snowy school drop offs are no match for electric cargo bikes and grade-separated bike lanes.

While our city governments are modernizing the streets and public rights of way, the private sector is stepping up, too. The first half of our tour explored several best practices for supporting bike commutes in the newly constructed office buildings of the new 43-acre Cambridge Crossing neighborhood development.

Members of our group traveled in from as far away as Maine and Connecticut, transfering easily from Amtrak to the Green Line and then arriving at Lechmere Station on-site. Surrounded by parks, cafes, bikeshare stations, and gleaming office buildings, there must have been parking garages somewhere, but they didn’t dominate the area. Most participants had been in the neighborhood years before the redevelopment, and everyone commented how radically different and more welcoming the place was now.

Bike-accessible stairs connecting to the Orange Line, near the entrance to Sanofi’s bike room.

Local transit departure times, provided by ActionFigure, in Phillips’ lobby.

Bike storage best practices

These buildings are both within the City of Cambridge, which is targeting 20% bike mode share by 2030, and publishes rigorous guidelines to make bike facilities more functional and effective. Several of us arrived by bicycle, and had no trouble finding available racks to lock up our bikes. There’s nothing as welcoming as a solid bike rack near the entrance but not in the way of the path of travel.

We then toured two of the bike rooms inside these corporate offices, designed to hold peoples’ bikes securely during their work day. Some best practices we observed:

  • Having direct level access between the ground floor room and the outside. No one likes having to drag their bike up or down stairs or through a long hallway.
  • Making the room bright and welcoming. Both had big windows with large decals clearly indicating the purpose of the room.. We especially enjoyed the mural of local historic cycling advocates in one room. Someone even commented that both rooms smelled nice (not like the sweaty locker room you might expect).
  • Ample, sturdy racks with good spacing. It was easy to move bikes in and out. 
  • Showers and lockers, with towels provided.
  • Offering e-bikes for day use. Even if someone drives into work, they can leave their car in the garage when they run out on an errand.
  • Guaranteed ride home, provided by the local TMA.
  • Outlets for charging e-bikes. We did note that the outlets could have been closer to the racks, so there’s an opportunity for improvement.

Staff from the development company were on hand to present the facilities and answer questions. They explained that given the tight market for office space, they saw bike storage as an important advantage in their competition for tenants. This discussion of course drew lots of excitement from our crowd of transit and bike advocates, because it confirms that bikes are more than just an accessory or an afterthought, but a central component in the future of our cities. The developers also shared that because biking is only going to become more popular, they intentionally “future proofed” these spaces to accommodate far more bikes than were required by ordinance.

Bike storage rooms in two buildings at Cambridge Crossing

Making the connection

After the tour, our group hopped on bikes ourselves (either on our own or rentals from BlueBikes) to explore the new nearby Somerville Community Path. The fully grade-separated path just opened last year, running 3.2 miles alongside the MBTA’s Green Line extension to Tufts. Its flyovers and protected intersections are an incredible improvement over the potholed and often confusing road network below, so it immediately became a popular route for walking, running, and biking across town. It’s also technically the last part of Boston’s Big Dig.

Riding onwards

Thanks to the ACT Patriot Chapter for organizing such an inspiring outing on such a perfectly sunny day! Jawnt looks forward to catching up with these folks and more at the ACT Forum in Denver this summer, and more locally at Transportation Camp New England in the fall. 

Ruth Miller

The Jawnt blog

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