Red Light District

The city of Boston officially doesn’t mind

The intersection of Franklin Street and North Harvard Ave in Allston is busy.  Franklin is a little side street that happens to lead to a ramped footbridge that goes over the Mass Turnpike, which makes it an incredibly useful road for bikes, because on the other side of the bridge is the end of Harvard Street in Allston/Brighton.  It is probably the easiest way to get into Boston proper from North Cambridge.

So lots of bikes go along this little road, and more will be taking it in the future now that there’s a stand for the city’s new Bike Share Program a block away on Western Ave.

And it’s not a terribly safe intersection.  It had a blinking yellow light for years, so bikes and cars coming off of Franklin had to look for gaps in traffic along North Harvard in order to make it through.  So when the city elected to put a stoplight there instead, it made a whole lot of sense.

Here’s the problem: the light never changes for bikes.  It’s linked to a pad below the street so only something as heavy as a car will trigger the green.

Just to review

I have waited at that intersection many times.  I am usually there with another bike, and only occasionally with another car.  That’s because cars have little reason to come down the street.  Cars can’t use the footbridge at the end; most of the people driving down the street are coming from their homes, and there’s almost no through traffic.  But now, if I want to get onto North Harvard within the official laws of the road, I need to wait until a car comes up behind me and triggers the light.

And if a car doesn’t come along?  Well, I’ll have to run the light.  Clearly the city doesn’t care either way.


Other reading: Bikes and Red Lights

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