The state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the vertical flexposts that protect bicycle lanes from car traffic on the Longfellow Bridge will remain in place, while officials evaluate whether leaving them in for the winter is safe.
Cycling advocates and elected officials had urged the department to reconsider their decision to remove the plastic bollards for the season to allow for safe snow removal.
The plan is to plow the road on the bridge, while a sidewalk plow clears the bicycle lanes. Snow will also be removed from the sidewalks, MassDOT said in the statement.
“The public should note that snow may gather between the flexposts during winter weather events given the limited ability to plow in this area and bridge users should adjust their travel accordingly,” the department said. “Cyclists should travel with caution following storms, as the road surface may not be dry and some flexposts may have been impacted by snow clearing operations.”
After each storm, department engineers will evaluate the effectiveness of the sidewalk snow plow to determine whether that method provided safe and reliable travel for all users, the statement said.
If the sidewalk snow plow fails to maintain safe conditions for cyclists and other roadway users, the department will remove the flexposts, the statement said.
Last week, the department tweeted that the flexposts would be removed Dec. 16. Shortly after, bicycle advocates expressed concern for their commutes, which would become “much more dangerous and uncomfortable with this move,” said Becca Wolfson, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union.
Elected officials then sent a letter to the department asking them to delay the flexposts’ removal “given that there are no winter weather events in the immediate forecast.”
The Longfellow Bridge spans the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge. According to the statement, on an average weekday the bridge will carry 107,000 MBTA Red Line passengers, 21,600 motor vehicles, 4,800 pedestrians, and 2,400 bicyclists.
“MassDOT recognizes the importance of this roadway as a primary route for emergency vehicles, drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians and works to ensure that conditions are as accessible as possible during a storm event,” the department also said.
“MassDOT’s primary goal is to ensure conditions are safe for all road users, and ice and snow crews will prioritize clearing motor vehicle travel lanes as this bridge is a key crossing between Cambridge and Boston for ambulances and emergency vehicles,” the statement also said. “MassDOT encourages cyclists to consider walking bicycles over the bridge if conditions deteriorate and compromise safety.”
The department said travelers should be wary of potential bridge or lane closures during storm operations or snow cleanups. They also reminded travelers to reduce speeds and pay attention to what lies ahead on the road while on the bridge during winter storms.