For just a few moments Tuesday morning, cyclist Doug Johnson cruised down a portion of Beacon Street without worrying about a car door flying open in his path, or a bus or large truck encroaching on the designated bike lane.
The feeling of freedom, Johnson said, came during a city-sponsored demonstration of a parking-protected bike lane on the busy Back Bay thoroughfare, between Massachusetts Avenue and Charlesgate East.
“It was fantastic — it was amazing,” said Johnson, community organizer for the Boston Cyclists Union, a non-profit. “It was a stress-free and safe environment.”
Johnson said the city’s Vision Zero Task Force, which is taking on the bold initiative of eliminating fatal and serious crashes in the city by 2030, set up the temporary lane for roughly three hours. The task force is led by the Boston Transportation Department but includes community organizations advocating for safer streets.
That portion of Beacon Street had recently been repaved, he said, and the nearby Hubway station removed, providing a golden opportunity to test a parking-protected lane in an otherwise congested environment.
A parking-protected bike lane, Johnson explains, puts a bike path between parked cars to the left, and the curb on the right. Typical lanes for cyclists run between moving traffic and parked cars, and can cause serious or fatal crashes.
“A bike lane up against parked cars can potentially lead to dooring, and riders being pushed into traffic,” he said.
City officials, who tweeted a photo of people trying out the pop-up protected lane, sent an advisory this week inviting cyclists like Johnson to attend Tuesday morning’s demonstration.
“In the future, we plan to install these types of facilities at various locations across Boston,” city officials said in their newsletter.
City Council President Michelle Wu was impressed by protected bike lanes during a recent bicycle tour of Copenhagen, which has been voted the world’s best city for cyclists. In an op-ed piece in Tuesday’s Globe, she said that the use of the lanes “was the most cost-effective way to increase our transit capacity and move more people on our streets.”
Johnson, who took a video of his short ride, got first dibs on the experience.
“I wanted to test it out myself,” he said. “This is the type of infrastructure I advocate for everday for my job.”