July 17, 2024

The Boston Globe

The clip, which was shared to X, confirmed newly-built infrastructure that was cheekily billed as an inconceivable feat right here within the US. Some individuals have been tricked, however others have been fast to name out the joke.

A cyclist travels down a separated bike lane in Cambridge's Inman Square.
A bicycle owner travels down a separated bike lane in Cambridge’s Inman Sq.. Jonathan Berk/@berkie1 on X

It was the sort of video footage that usually provides American cyclists pangs of jealousy.

A motorcycle lane the place cyclists journey in their very own part of sidewalk, away from automotive site visitors, with color-coded asphalt? And sign lights particularly for bikes in the course of a busy downtown space?

It was clearly infrastructure straight from the streets of Europe, sources that car-obsessed US cities may by no means muster the desire — or funding — to construct.

Or was it?

The clip of a motorcycle lane that was cheekily billed as being from “the Netherlands” and posted on X, previously referred to as Twitter, had individuals doing a double take this week. That’s as a result of it wasn’t filmed in a famously bike-friendly metropolis like Amsterdam in any respect — it was taken in Cambridge’s Inman Sq., which not too long ago welcomed a community of protected bike lanes in a busy intersection.

The video was recorded by Somerville resident Aaron Greiner, 27, who typically shares scenes of his bike rides alongside newly constructed paths. However this time he determined to “have a bit extra enjoyable” when posting it on-line, and tried to make some extent about bike infrastructure within the course of.

“My pal simply despatched me this video from the Netherlands,” he wrote, making an attempt to cross it off as a perk from abroad. “It’s so irritating we [can’t] do stuff like this within the US.”

Greiner, govt director of CultureHouse, a Somerville-based city design nonprofit, assumed “everybody would comprehend it was a joke.”

However what occurred as an alternative was typical of how info is commonly processed on-line: Folks took it at face worth, or thought he was deliberately making an attempt to mislead them.

“I used to be really fairly shocked on the variety of those who didn’t” get it, he stated of the video, which was “favored” greater than 2,000 occasions.

The submit struck a nerve, as scores of individuals rushed to both lament the shortcomings of American bike lanes, or debunk the video by stating clear indicators — an MBTA bus passing by, for instance — that it was in Massachusetts.

So many have been confused by Greiner’s joke that customers added a “neighborhood word,” a function that helps dispel misinformation, and clarified that it had certainly been filmed in Cambridge.

Many, although, understood the purpose of his tongue-in-cheek submit, and took it as a second to have a good time the venture’s completion.

“Good job Cambsterdam!” one particular person wrote.

Even officers from Somerville’s Division of Infrastructure chimed in on X to congratulate Cambridge on its “worldwide appreciated redesign.”

Attending to the purpose the place Inman Sq.’s bike lanes may trick individuals on the web into pondering they have been a part of a European metropolis recognized worldwide for its bike-friendliness was not straightforward.

The neighborhood’s redesign course of dates again to 2016 and included eliminating left turns on the intersection of Cambridge, Springfield, and Hampshire streets, an space that was typically treacherous for cyclists.

The trail depicted within the video was a part of a building venture that consists of shortened crosswalks and a brand new public plaza, in addition to lighting and utilities enhancements. It took greater than 4 years and $12 million to finish.

Not everyone seems to be thrilled in regards to the Netherlands-like modifications. The venture has confronted pushback from some residents and enterprise homeowners who supply the decidedly American critique that they shouldn’t should sacrifice parking spots for the advantage of bikes.

Greiner hopes his video can present motivation to cyclists in different components of the nation to push for bold — European, even — bike lane tasks of their residence cities.

“I feel the extra that folks see examples of excellent infrastructure within the US, the excuse of, ‘It could’t occur right here,’ will get a bit bit tougher,” he stated. “Seeing an instance of it occurring is a very highly effective strategy to counteract that.”