Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave) is a major thoroughfare in the Metro Boston area, running 16 miles from Dorchester to the northwestern suburb of Lexington. The street is shared by people who ride the bus, bike, walk and drive. With commitments to Vision Zero in Cambridge and Boston, and funding for bus priority in Arlington, municipalities are dedicating more resources towards decreasing congestion and increasing safety by redesigning sections of this busy corridor.
Why Mass Ave?
- Many sections of Mass Ave are over-designed for the number of motorists at rush hour and lack safe accommodation for other road users.
- A recent study showed that between 4 and 6pm, people riding the bus, walking, and biking make up nearly 45% of the traffic on Mass Ave (Source: Boston Transportation Department, MBTA, Toole Design Group).
- With daily ridership of over 11,000, the MBTA's #1 bus (traveling the length of Mass Ave) is the worst performing of all local bus routes, meaning that it regularly experiences below average speeds and the worst on-time performance rates (Source: Getting Boston on Board, LivableStreets, 2018).
“We've got to find a way to coexist and share our roadways...ensuring the safety of all, pedestrians, motor vehicle drivers, and cyclists. It's simply a matter of life and death.”
- Ayanna Pressley, City Councilor | WBUR
- Mass Ave has long been known as a crash "hot spot". Multiple fatal crashes in recent years have had advocates pushing for rapid safety improvements and long-term change to make the street safer for everyone.
- With the adoption of Vision Zero, Boston and Cambridge have made a commitment to focus resources on proven strategies to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes by 2030. Mass Ave was identified as a priority corridor in the Action Plans of both cities.
- BostonBRT issued a Request for Proposals in March 2017 to Massachusetts cities, planners, transit advocates, and community organizations who were interested in piloting bus rapid transit projects in local communities.
“We wanted to focus on the area of Massachusetts Avenue that had the most collisions because that's the focus of the current effort to address safety.”
- Vineet Gupta, Senior Planner, BTD | Boston Globe
Equity and Vision Zero
The City of Cambridge implemented the South Mass. Ave Corridor Safety Improvements Project, including a bus lane, separated bicycle lane, improved signal timing, and a new bicycle signal at the traffic signal in front of 77 Massachusetts Avenue. The project was prioritized as a part of Cambridge's Vision Zero Action Plan, which identified the corridor as one of the busiest bus routes in the city and a crash "hot-spot" with a higher than average rate of bicycle crashes compared to other streets in Cambridge.
Equity and Vision Zero
The MA Vision Zero Coalition releases the second annual Vision Zero Progress Report for the City of Boston. The Coalition noted that the Mass Ave priority corridor project has failed to implement any changes from Tremont Street to Columbia Road in Dorchester, scoring a "Needs Improvement".
Slowest Bus in the System
LivableStreets releases their report "Getting Boston on Board". Findings show that the MBTA's #1 bus (traveling the length of Mass Ave) is the worst performing of all local bus routes, meaning that it regularly experiences below average speeds and the worst on-time performance rates.
Bus Pilot Win for Arlington
The City of Arlington receives a $100,000 grant from the Barr Foundation to conduct a one-month pilot of several BRT elements on the three-mile #77 bus route along Massachusetts Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare, which has the highest ridership in Arlington and one of the top 15 highest-ridership routes in the overall MBTA bus system.
Cambridge Steps up protection
Cambridge installs a one-way separated facility on Mass Ave between Trowbridge Street and Quincy Street. Designated bikes lanes are also installed on Mass Ave between Beech Street and Route 16.
The Road Forward
Boston Transportation Department implements changes to Mass Ave from Beacon Street to Melnea Cass. These included repaving, restriping, and the addition of several blocks of separated and sidewalk level bike lanes.
Protect Mass Ave
Over 200 advocates attend the Mass Ave meeting, applauding the City's progress and calling for more substantial change.
The MA Vision Zero Coalition provides feedback on the City's proposed redesign for Mass Ave prior to the first public meeting.
Get to Zero
The City releases its Vision Zero Action Plan, identifying Mass Ave as a priority corridor for 2016.
A fatal bicycle crash at Mass Ave and Beacon St spurs the City's first rapid implementation plan.
Safe to Travel
The City eliminates over 60 parking spaces to install painted bike lanes along Mass Ave in Boston.
- Boston Cyclists Union has launched a Mass Ave campaign calling for protected bike lanes along Mass Ave in Dorchester between Melnea Cass and Columbia Road. Watch the video.
- The Town of Arlington select board unanimously approved implementing a permanent bus lane on Massachusetts Avenue after a successful pilot during fall 2018. The lane is expected to be implemented in summer 2019. Read more.
What You Can Do
Join the conversation: Attend a LivableStreets Advocacy Committee meeting.
Volunteer: Join us in spreading the word about the importance of safe and livable streets. Our volunteers are actively involved in all of our events and programming, including our Street Ambassadors program.
Stand up and be counted: Attend a public meeting. See the LivableStreets calendar — it's updated daily!
Become a member: Join the growing community of people invested in creating safe streets and livable communities. Become a member of LivableStreets today!