Riding Winter Street

John Allen



In the March Safety Corner, https://www.crw.org/content/winter-street-bridge-westbound, I addressed how to use traffic-signal timing when entering the east end of the Winter Street bridge in Waltham.  My attention was drawn to this bridge when the CRW Ride Leaders’ Ride in December crossed it both ways. The ride started and finished at the Craft Food Halls on one side of the bridge. Pleasant rural roads are beyond the bridge. It is seven lanes wide and built to interstate highway standards.

Intimidating? Not necessarily, using CyclingSavvy strategy. The March Safety Corner included a video of the full traffic-signal sequence when entering from Third Avenue in Waltham. I showed that there was a time when no more traffic would enter the bridge for a full minute.

And here is a follow-up video of a  ride, crossing the bridge and continuing past it – into the five-lane Winter-Street Oval. Mostly, this is a forward view, but from time to time I expand a rear view. 

In this ride, my lane choice gave motorists another lane in which to overtake, no matter what their destination. Making my left turn from Third Avenue, I chose the lane that led to the one I would to take across the bridge. On the Winter Street Oval, I rode in a middle lane and motorists could pass me on either side. And throughout the ride, I controlled the lane: I rode in its center. This may seem counterintuitive but it is safer. Riding between lanes invites close passes on both sides.

So, was this ride perfect? No. It was of an exploratory ride, and I’d do a couple things differently next time. There is always something to learn.

One thing I’d do differently is obvious, and I explain it in the video: Even though I was at the end of the queue on Third Avenue, a driver was able to make the left turn behind me, late enough not to see me until after turning onto the bridge. A solution, as I explained, would be to pull to the right-hand curb after turning and wait until the signal changed. Also, a closer examination of traffic-signal timing might reveal how long the light allowed the left turn, so I could slip in at the end.

The other thing I might do differently is less obvious: change lanes to the right earlier before exiting the Winter Street Oval. That would get me out from in front of motorists turning left onto First Avenue, which leads to a big Home Depot store. But this time, there was nobody heading for Home Depot, as I could see in my rear-view mirror.