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During first week of Orange Line shutdown, officials highlight obstacles cyclists often face

With people opting to commute by bike this month, both Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Cambridge City Councilor Alanna Mallon took to social media to discuss issues that need improvement.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu documented her bike ride in Boston on Wednesday.Michelle Wu/ Twitter

Bike lanes blocked by vehicles. Cyclists getting “doored” as they pass parked cars. Drivers coming too close on busy thoroughfares.

With more people thinking about biking to and from work during the month-long Orange Line shutdown, and part of the Green Line out of service, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Cambridge City Councilor Alanna Mallon took to Twitter this week to highlight common safety issues cyclists often face.

While advocates have long called for a greater effort to protect bike riders throughout the region, those safety concerns — and demands to address them — have come to the forefront since the T announced the closures.


“There has been an amazing amount of effort from [the state transportation department] to figure out safe biking situations for people during the shutdown, which years ago may not have been the case,” said Eliza Parad, director of organizing and operations for the Boston Cyclists Union, which has been communicating regularly with Boston and state transportation officials.

“With Mayor Wu and Boston city councilors trying biking as well, there are more people in decision-making roles out there experiencing the gaps in safety,” she added.

On Wednesday, Wu, who has faced criticism about not doing enough to improve bike infrastructure, biked into Boston with more than a dozen other cyclists. She led a couple of groups to City Hall before the shutdown as well.

During her trip this week, which began in Roslindale, Wu took a series of pictures that showed some of the hazards the group encountered along the way and later shared them to social media.

In a tweet thread, Wu drew attention to a troublesome intersection between Forest Hills station and the Southwest Corridor, saying it had a “stressful signal order,” a street crossing that requires “extra vigilance,” and a stretch of road that ends with a “dangerous painted door-zone lane.”


“Without protected infrastructure, double-parked cars or trucks push buses and other vehicles into the median and squeeze us,” said Wu, who often takes the Orange Line to City Hall. She followed up her post with a photo of a delivery truck blocking a large section of the bike lane and an angry emoji.

Since the Orange Line and a portion of the Green Line closed, cycling advocates say some people who typically take the subway are now biking to work.

“Anecdotally, at our pop-up bike repair on Sunday, almost 50 people came for repairs and most of them were dusting off bikes that had been sitting unused,” said Parad, whose group has led practice commutes in addition to offering free tuneups.

Several members, including Somerville resident Joan Liu, are also guiding a convoy of cyclists during the weekday commute “to show people how to bike into Boston.”

“One thing that I find that makes biking a lot more accessible to more people is if you show them safe routes and places to watch out for,” said Liu, 35. “It’s one of those things where I just feel like it’s so important just to give people other options.”

The area’s Bluebikes program has also seen an influx in demand. After offering free monthly passes to help compensate for the shutdowns, the company reported its highest ridership weekend ever — between Aug. 20 and 21 — with 36,664 trips.


In an interview on WBUR’s “Radio Boston” Monday, Wu said officials have seen “higher usage of Bluebikes than ever before in the system’s history.”

Over 20,000 trips were taken on the bikes on Wednesday alone, Bluebikes said.

“A good reminder that bikes are transportation and @RideBluebikes is a key part of our public transit system,” Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s chief of streets, said in a tweet about the number of recorded trips.

In Cambridge, Mallon, the city’s vice mayor, tweeted this week about a number of recent crashes “involving motorists and cyclists.”

One crash happened Tuesday when a driver opened their car door into the path of a passing cyclist in Harvard Square. The biker was taken to a local hospital; the person’s condition is not known. Earlier this month, a 72-year-old Somerville man died in a similar incident.

Mallon urged drivers to be more aware of their surroundings and advised them to practice a maneuver called the “Dutch Reach” when getting out of their cars. The move calls on people to reach for the door handle with their right hand while exiting, forcing them to turn their bodies and making it more likely they will check their mirrors or look over their left shoulder for oncoming cyclists.

“With the MBTA Orange Line and parts of the Green Line closed, combined with summer/fall cycling and students returning to [Cambridge], drivers *please watch for bikes* and practice the #DutchReach when exiting your vehicle onto a street [without Protected Bike Lanes],” she tweeted.


Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her @shannonlarson98.