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Bike lanes vs. parking spaces: the battle heats up in Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — While the instruments at Guitar Stop on Mass. Ave. may sound nice, buying them could soon become harder — not because of pricing, but parking.

“About 70 to 80 percent of our customers come by car,” said Guitar Stop manager Anette Osgood. “We sell things that are heavy. We sell during the winter. We sell during the rain. People are already kind of hesitant to take home a nice piece of a wooden instrument on a rainy day. If you add in trying to transport it on a bicycle, you’re just not going to make the sale that day.”

There is a bike lane battle happening right now in Cambridge. While the city wants to turn some parking spots into separate bike lanes, some businesses are saying not so fast.

Next week, the city will vote on how to proceed with the construction of the bike lanes, which it says is a safety issue.

Businesses tell Boston 25 they were hit hard enough by the pandemic and don’t need the extra setback.

The city of Cambridge passed the cycling safety ordinance two years ago, requiring about 25 miles of bike lanes on the city’s most dangerous roads. And Mass. Ave. is on the top of the list.

“This particular section of the road is a place where many bikers have died and gotten seriously injured, and I myself have a pair of jeans from when I almost got hit on this section of the road,” said City Councilor Burhan Azeem. “Every example is unique in business. If you have large furniture, you need to have parking spaces, and we need to make sure as a city we address that. We’ve added a lot of bike lanes in Cambridge, before in Somerville, in Boston, and in general the business communities, they are thriving.”

But for 1,200 people who signed this petition against it, they argue the bike lanes will not only hurt business but bring more cars into residential neighborhoods.

“We are not against bike safety,” said Osgood. But other cities have found a way to put in these bike paths without taking all the parking away.”

City councilors say with 72,000 bikers in the city, they do have a lot of support.

“Out of the nine city councilors in office now, seven ran on building these bike lanes and won,” said Azeem.

The project is set to be completed in 2026.

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