Sunday, June 23, 2024

Bicyclists have been finding “no bikes on road” signs on Route 16, also known as the Alewife Brook Parkway, for weeks. But not for much longer. (Photo: Ron Newman)

Bicyclists seeing the “no bikes on road” signs on Route 16 can stop worrying that they’re breaking the law. It’s actually the signs that aren’t in compliance, and Reggie Zimmerman, an assistant press secretary with the state, said Tuesday that they’ll be coming down.

The signs will be down within a week, he said.

The six signs between Route 2 and Mystic Valley Parkway — three in Cambridge, three in Somerville — were put up several weeks ago and quickly drew comment from bike advocates, Zimmerman said. That helped convince the state to review its decision and make a discovery:

“The signs were put up in error due to a miscommunication between the Massachusetts State Police and Department of Conservation and Recreation,” Zimmerman said.

Officials are acknowledging state law doesn’t support the signs’ installation, he said, showing familiarity with Chapter 85, Section 11B in the state’s general laws, which says only that bicyclists “shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted.”

Ron Newman, who spotted the signs more some weeks ago and posted about it on Facebook, noted that Route 16, also known as the Alewife Brook Parkway, “is full of street intersections, traffic lights, rotaries, crosswalks, private residential driveways, gas stations and parking lot entrances. That’s about as far from ‘limited access’ as you can get.”

“These signs don’t appear to have any basis in law,” Newman said.

While state officials agree, that’s not to say the Department of Conservation and Recreation disagrees with the “no bikes on road” message itself, Zimmerman said.

“We don’t think the roadway is currently suitable for mixed travel,” he said, citing its “narrow lanes and lack of sufficient shoulder.” Bicyclists were instead “strongly encouraged” to use off-road paths such as the Minuteman Trail and Alewife River Greenway.

He got support from Andy Plaisted, a Somerville resident who commented on Newman’s Facebook posting.

“I have no idea why you want to ride in the most dangerous, disruptive place you could possibly ride. I don’t need to a sign to know that I don’t want to ride over there. It is a parkway and it has no room for bike lanes or breakdown lanes, and there are plenty of other safer routes that you can take,” Plaisted said. “And didn’t they just build a bike path off the road?”