Why Is This Utility Pole Blocking A Somerville Bike Lane?

somerville bike lane utility pole

(Chris Fama/WBZ NewsRadio)

SOMERVILLE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's a construction blunder that's getting a lot of attention.

On Beacon Street in Somerville, there's a utility pole smack dab in the middle of a newly-painted bicycle lane.

"I don't know what they were thinking when they put that there, it seems a little silly," one woman told WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama. "It's sort of like building a wall in front of your front door."

Somerville City Councilor J.T. Scott told The Boston Globe that the Eversource-owned pole is "not supposed to be there," and said MassDOT's plan called for the pole to be moved, as was the case for several other utility poles. He said the city is set to meet with MassDOT to figure out why that didn't happen.

MassDOT spokesperson Patrick Marvin said in a statement that officials were “looking into this situation and the history of this roadway project, and coordinating with stakeholders regarding potential long-term options for the utility pole at this site.”

There are now traffic cones and caution tape around the pole to give cyclists a heads-up that it is there.

Here's a video of a cyclist navigating the bike lane:

According to the City of Somerville website, MassDOT began "full-depth reconstruction" of Beacon Street in 2016, and the project is still ongoing. Part of that project is the construction of bike lanes separate from foot and vehicle traffic.

The pole stuck out in an otherwise cyclist-friendly city named a gold-level bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists just two years ago.

But when asked how they felt about the pole, area cyclists didn't seem to think it was much of a problem—and noted that Beacon Street is better than it used to be.

"I hadn't really noticed it," said one cyclist. "I mean, I think I notice it more now because they painted a line there, but it's been plenty of room otherwise.

Another rider summed up the plight of the urban cyclist by saying it's better than having no lane.

"I'd rather have a cycle track with poles than nothing at all," she said.

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WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports

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