‘How the hell is that a good idea?’ Amid backlash, state reduces bike lane closures along Orange Line

A plan to close the Southwest Corridor Park bike path for two weeks was quickly scaled back on Wednesday after backlash from community members who were baffled that repairs to the path would coincide with the line suspension orange, disrupting yet another route to Boston.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation announced at noon Wednesday that it “implement rolling closures” along the popular Southwest Corridor Bike Route from Friday until September 2. But less than eight hours later, in the face of online outrage, the state backtracked on the plan, tweeting that repairs would be limited to just three days.

The “rolling detours” will now take place Thursday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to an announcement from Mass DCR. Cyclists will be “briefly moved to an adjacent path on a rolling basis with minimal disruption to travel”, with traffic patterns clearly marked and police detail on site, the updated review said.

Located in Southwest Corridor Park, the bike path stretches approximately four miles from Forest Hills to Jamaica Plain to Back Bay Station. The section follows the Orange Line, which will be closed for four weeks from Friday, and has been touted as an alternative route for commuters.

The DCR originally said at 12:46 p.m. Wednesday that the bike lane closures would last from Friday August 19 to Friday September 2 to “allow for repair work.”

The announcement caused immediate exasperation on social media.

“Have you considered doing this literally at any time other than at the same time as the Orange Line closes?” one person wrote on Twitter in response to the department’s initial tweet.

“How the hell is that a good idea while the Orange Line is closed?” Sounds like a great way for pedestrians to injure themselves during an already heavy traffic period? another person tweeted.

“This decision comes at a time when bike accessibility is more important than ever for people along the Orange Line!” tweeted State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, a Democrat representing the Boston neighborhoods where the closings will take place. “Heard loud and clear from voters about how this will affect them and I’m working to get more details from the DCR.”

Shortly after the closures were announced, the Boston Cyclists Union tweeted that it had spoken with Mass DCR and said it “prioritizes addressing trip hazards and bumps in the way to make it safer for cyclists”.

“We believe their work will improve the experiences there!” the group wrote on Twitter.

Some have pointed to the irony that the city is working with public bike-share company Bluebikes to provide free passes during the shutdown — when a major cycling thoroughfare is reportedly being repaired.

“Baker administration follows biblical advice, ‘don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,’ DCR closing bike lane parallel to Orange Line while Boston provides free blue bikes to commuters disrupted by the MBTA shutdown”, wrote State Senator Pat Jehlena Democrat who represents Somerville, Medford, Cambridge and Winchester.

By 8:41 p.m., DCR had scuttled its original two-week plan, in favor of just three days of repairs. The timing of closures now mostly avoids overlap with the Orange Line closure, which begins Friday at 9 p.m.


Anjali Huynh can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @anjalihuynh.

Wiley C. Thompson