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Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

November 4, 2015

Mass DCR
Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway Street
Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

WalkBoston Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

First of all, WalkBoston commends the DCR on its work to correct the serious safety issues to be found in the present Arborway configuration. We thoroughly endorse the project’s approach of channeling regional traffic to the center lanes and making the “carriageways” function as local, neighborhood streets with improved bicycle facilities and upgraded safety features and connections. We believe the proposed re-­design of the Arborway in Jamaica Plain will indeed improve bicycle and vehicular safety.

CONCERNS ABOUT PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE
However, we are not convinced that the changes, taken together, will actually improve safety for people on foot. We are concerned about the multiple pedestrian crosswalks at the Kelley and Murray new roundabouts, which we fear may not improve safety and will certainly make walking across the Arborway much less convenient. Before WalkBoston can support this project we need to sit down with DCR and their consultants, Toole Design, to discuss the safety and increased walking trip times to traverse the roundabouts.

The crosswalks appear to have multiplied since the February 2015 design. For example, slip lanes to facilitate through traffic have been added at both Kelly and Murray Circles. At the new Kelly roundabout pedestrians wishing to walk from Pond Street to Orchard Street will need to traverse nine crosswalks in order to cross from one side of the Arborway to the other. Currently, pedestrians can do this in a simple, two-­step crossing with a pedestrian-­actuated traffic signal. (See below for more detailed discussion of this issue.)

Moreover, many transportation engineers question the safety of multiple lane roundabouts: “Multiple-­lane roundabouts lose many of the safety benefits of single-­lane roundabouts. In general, multi-­lane roundabouts are not recommended in areas with high levels of pedestrian and bicycle activity.” (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning 2015) We at WalkBoston are unfamiliar with any multi-­lane roundabouts in eastern Massachusetts that are truly pedestrian friendly and would interested to know of any examples DCR or its consultants have found in the course of the planning process. WalkBoston appreciates that the re-­design calls for raised crosswalks, which will function as a traffic calming measure, WalkBoston would nevertheless like DCR to consider the efficacy of a signalized, mid-­block crosswalk between Kelly and Murray Circles, similar to the mid-­block crosswalk near the Arnold Arboretum main entrance.

To make the same journey today, pedestrians from Moss Hill have two signalized crosswalks. One can hardly call the proposed configuration an improvement for someone on foot.

HISTORIC STONE WALL
WalkBoston supports retention of the historic stone wall, however, if it is necessary to break through the wall in order to make a crucial connection to improve vehicular Kelley circulation, and then re-­build the new wall ends to look like the historic wall ends, WalkBoston would support this — and it’s likely that most local residents would, too. We do not think it is necessary to protect the stone walls in their entirety. The February plan for Kelley had a more logical connection from the roundabout to Orchard Street.

PARKING ON THE CARRIAGEWAYS
At the October public meeting, someone suggested that the new proposed parking lane on the carriageways be eliminated to enhance the parkway appearance. A surprising number of people agreed with this. WalkBoston strongly supports local parking on the carriageways for the following reasons:
Residents along the Arborway are entitled to have street parking for guests as residents on adjacent streets do.
Parking along the carriageways is a benefit for overflow, event parking for Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum. The demand was clearly present. Even though Kelley Circle is posted as “no parking”, visitors have habitually parked there when visiting Jamaica Pond.

 

CONCLUSION

WalkBoston remains deeply concerned about pedestrian safety and accessibility along the Arborway. The proposed DCR redesign is a major step forward for bicycle and vehicle safety and convenience. It is not as large a step forward for pedestrian safety and may be a step backward in terms of pedestrian friendliness and convenience. We believe very strongly that the Arborway should be designed to be a fully multimodal roadway with vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic treated on an equal basis. The parks and ponds in the area are a unique attraction and the area’s residential and commercial neighborhoods are well suited to walking and biking. The Arborway should support and promote both forms of transportation in order to prevent ever-­‐increasing vehicular traffic volumes and to meet the recreational and health goals of the Emerald Necklace of which it is an integral part.

 

Sincerely,

Dorothea Hass, WalkBoston                                 Don Eunson, Jamaica Plain resident

cc: Julie Crockford, President
Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

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