Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bicycle Jug-handle - Cambridge, MA

Submitted by Nicole Serafin

The thought of riding a bicycle in the city frightens me beyond belief. I recently brought my bike to the city, and am slowly trying to adjust to riding with city traffic. Although I chose not to ride my bike out to Cambridge, even in a vehicle I was very well aware of the rapport between motorist and cyclist. Cambridge has an entire network of various cycle facilities.

I originally set out to look at the marked bike route between the intersection of Memorial Drive and JFK Street, however there was one particular element that really caught my eye; a bicycle jug handle located at General McArthur Square in Cambridge, MA. This is right before Massachusetts Ave enters the rotary.

Unlike the the traditional jug-handles we think of for cars to make a left turn, the purpose of this on

e for cyclist is to move cyclists from one side of the street to the other when the location of the bike lane changes. This section of the roadway is one way. The bike lane moves to the left side of traffic as roadway approaches the rotary. This allows the cyclist to safely move through the rotary by reducing the number of conflict points between cyclist and merging vehicles.

To use the jug-handle, the cyclist moves to the right, and then loops across the traffic lanes at the cycle cross walk while vehicles are stopped at the light. Once across, you have the option to continue into the bike lane now on the left, or to reverse direction to avoid the rotary all together.

This layout works fairly well in accomplishing its goal of moving cyclists to the other side of vehicular traffic lanes. While I was out on site I did notice one cyclist opt to not use the treatment, however, many more people did us it. If there was going to be criticism to this design it would be that as a cyclist your natural flow to continue with traffic is thrown off, as you have to change directions and wait for the crossing signal. Since the cyclist would have to wait at the light anyways, just now it is for the light in the opposite direction, there is not a huge change in delay. Although this may not seem ideal at first for cyclists, it is a great solution to addressing the cyclist safety. The design is a great example of designing for the entirety of a corridor and not just a single point or location.


  1. What's special about the jughandle shape? Bikes could cross from right to left without one; what does this design attempt to accomplish, and is it successful in getting the desired behavior to happen?

  2. Also, if the bike path through the rotary moves to the left side here, what about conflicts where it moves back to the right side further on?

  3. I ride that way nearly every day, and I like using the "jug handle" (?) to make the left turn into Church street, a left turn that cars are not allowed to make. In fact, I thought that was the main point of the thing, and it works well for that. Only recently did I realize that it was also there to help us switch lanes. The jug handle doesn't perform this function as well as the left turn function--but if you arrive when the cars have a red light, it's great... TO answer Peter Furth's question, bikes actually avoid conflicts later on because they can get a head start through the rotary and move to the right (if they wish to) ahead of the cars.