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Middlesex Superior Court Rules for Cambridge in Bike Lane Lawsuit

A cyclist bikes down Masschusetts Avenue towards Harvard Square. A state judge allowed the City of Cambridge's motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the city's bicycle lane expansion as illegal on Monday.
A cyclist bikes down Masschusetts Avenue towards Harvard Square. A state judge allowed the City of Cambridge's motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the city's bicycle lane expansion as illegal on Monday. By Meimei Xu
By Ayumi Nagatomi, Crimson Staff Writer

A state judge allowed the City of Cambridge’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the city’s bicycle lane expansion as illegal on Monday.

Cambridge Streets for All, a local advocacy group, first sued the city in June 2022, alleging that the city’s construction of a 25-mile network of separated bike lanes under the contentious Cycling Safety Ordinance was an improper and unlawful use of taxpayer funds. A similar lawsuit against the city over the bike lane expansion was dismissed in March 2023.

That same month, Judge Maureen B. Hogan of Middlesex Superior Court denied CSFA’s motion for a preliminary injunction to temporarily pause the installation of bike lanes.

Hogan wrote Monday that the city’s traffic director was authorized to determine the location of bike lanes under state law.

The plaintiffs argued that they would have appealed the bike lane installations had the Traffic Board — a city board which existed on paper but was defunct until 2022 — been active to hear the appeal.

But Hogan wrote that bike lanes are traffic markings and not “rules and regulations” under state law, and therefore not subject to an appeal to the Traffic Board.

“While rules and regulations that the traffic director adopts, alters, or repeals under § 3(a) are appealable to the traffic board, the court agrees with the City that the installation of bicycle lanes is not an adoption, alteration or repeal of a rule or regulation,” Hogan wrote.

Cambridge spokesperson Jeremy C. Warnick wrote in an email that the city is “pleased” with the court decision and “will continue to defend its position if there is an appeal.”

Victoria L. Bestor, a member of Cambridge Streets for All, said that “no decision has been made yet by CSA” on whether an appeal will be filed.

“We do not oppose there being bike lanes in Cambridge, but they need to be done right,” Bestor said.

Clyve Lawrence ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor and a member of Cambridge Bicycle Safety, said that the series of lawsuits against the city’s bicycle lane expansion are “frivolous.”

“Suing the city to remove bike lanes is really a waste of city resources that could be used more toward continuing to build this infrastructure and save lives” Lawrence said.

Though Hogan dismissed the lawsuit, she rejected an argument from the city that the plaintiffs — a group of residents involved in Cambridge Streets for All — do not have standing on the matter, as the bike lane expansion has already “occurred and is occurring.”

She wrote that “as the installation of further bicycle lanes in Cambridge is ongoing, and as the City approves funding for the Five-Year Plan on an annual basis,” the taxpayers have standing.

In his statement, Warnick reaffirmed the city’s commitment to bike lane construction while acknowledging concerns about their potential economic impacts.

“Overall, the City continues to be committed to a safer bike infrastructure and we have seen an impact in lower crash rates and a significant drop in serious injuries,” Warnick wrote.

Warnick added that the city recognizes “the challenges that many residents and businesses expressed,” and will continue to “work to support the whole community.”

—Staff writer Ayumi Nagatomi can be reached at ayumi.nagatomi@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @ayumi_nagatomi.

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