Tag: Belmont

Wicked Local Belmont – Keep our students safe

Wicked Local Belmont – Keep our students safe

Wicked Local Belmont: “Keep our students safe

We are writing to express our concern about student safety in the proposed design for the new Belmont High School. Over the past several months, the School Building Committee has sought input from Belmont residents on the inside design of the building as well as the exterior traffic and parking plans. The Building Committee met with community members, the Traffic Advisory Committee, and the Planning Board as well as Safe Routes to Schools and Walk Boston — organizations that advise communities on how best to design access.

Posted June 7, 2018

Wicked Local Belmont – A Growth Mindset for the New High School

Wicked Local Belmont – A Growth Mindset for the New High School

Wicked Local Belmont: “A Growth Mindset for the New High School
By Kate Bowen

Transit: Did you know we charge for school buses, while we provide school parking for free? Did you know that Belmont once plowed sidewalk routes to schools? Facing practices that are at odds with our goals of reducing vehicular traffic, we are responding. We are conducting a town-wide traffic study, applying to the Complete Streets program, learning from experts including WalkBoston and Nelson/Nygaard, and re-examining our policies for buses, parking, and commuter programs. We are learning from peers like Melrose, which plows walking routes to schools:
and safely utilizes on-street drop-off areas. We are learning that, despite our small geography, we need to actively support walking, biking, and public transit to achieve our goals.

Posted May 22, 2018

Letter to Town of Belmont Re: Belmont High School Building Project

Letter to Town of Belmont Re: Belmont High School Building Project

WalkBoston met with the Belmont High School Building Committee, Belmont Superintendent of Schools, Assistant Town Manager and representatives from the Design Team after writing this letter. We discussed site design changes that promote walkability, and policies and programs that could increase the number of students walking and biking to school. Based on our meeting and the recent HS Building Committee meeting presentation (5-16-18) we feel that the Town and Design Team are now looking at the campus through the lens of people walking and biking to school. The proposed site plan now reflects pedestrian and bicycle desire lines, and the Design Team has committed to refining these paths as the design process continues. The Town is also studying reducing student parking and locating a drop-off zone on Concord Avenue.

WalkBoston will continue to monitor this project moving forward. We have also offered to be a resource for the Town as they evaluate parking policies and incentives to increase the number of students walking and biking to school. Thanks goes out to the residents of Belmont for speaking up for walkers!

Mr. Jeffrey Wheeler, Senior Planner
Town of Belmont
Community Development – Planning Division
Homer Municipal Building
19 Moore Street, 2nd Floor
Belmont, MA 02478

May 2, 2018

Dear Mr. Wheeler:

We are writing to express concern regarding the proposed site plan for the new Belmont Middle/High School building, specifically around the safety of students walking and biking to the school. We feel that the needs of those driving to school and the larger town-wide traffic issues have been placed above the desire to create a walkable and bikeable campus for the students and staff.

The site plan details the vehicular circulation patterns on the site including two drop-off loops, over 350 parking spaces, and a long access road that runs the length of the northern edge of the site along the railroad tracks. Other than simple pedestrian and bicycle circulation diagrams which show lines along vehicular travel ways, there is little evidence that the needs of students walking and biking to school have been considered. We understand that the site plan is only in the schematic phase, however we can tell exactly where to park and drop off students arriving by car, yet we can’t tell a student how to walk to school or where to park a bike.

It is clear that the proposed vehicular circulation pattern has been designed to absorb more traffic on site in hopes of relieving traffic queues that now occur around the high school campus. The “Implementation Measures for All Options” slide in the Perkins + Will presentation on January 16, 2018, lists improving queuing issues in 5 of the 9 measures. The access diagram suggests that walking, biking and transit access will also be improved, but the dashed lines along travelways do little to instill confidence that the needs of these vulnerable users are being taken seriously.

It only takes one dangerous intersection for parents to decide that walking or biking to school isn’t safe for their children. Designing the Belmont Middle/High School campus to accommodate more cars without safe, convenient ways to bike and walk will only promote more parents and students to drive to school rather than walk or bike.

We ask that the Town elevate the safety of and improve access for students walking and biking to school. Walkable and bikeable campus design is a proven way to reduce vehicular traffic, to improve the well being of students choosing a healthier way to get to school, and to foster greater independence and responsibility among middle and high school students.

We would welcome an opportunity to come and speak with the Building Committee or the Planning Board about the benefits of walkable campus design and to share more detailed comments on the proposed site plan. Our email addresses are listed below our signatures.

Thank you.

Stacey Beuttell, Deputy Executive Director

Laura O’Rourke, Development Director, Belmont Resident

Belmont Walking Map

Belmont Walking Map

Belmont is an ideal community for walking, with its varied neighborhoods, hilly terrain and vibrant commercial areas. The town was once known for farms and market gardens growing fruits, vegetables and flowers. Historic houses, barns and carriage houses still exist here. Our trails through wooded open space connecting to regional trails offer a choice of wonderful walks. Our town is compact and our commercial areas, with a variety of shopping and dining streets, are easy to walk to and explore.

Click for “WalkBoston’s Belmont Walking Map” PDF

Click for “WalkBoston’s Belmont Walking Map” on Google Maps

Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Alewife Brook Greenway MEPA #14431

Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Alewife Brook Greenway MEPA #14431

June 29, 2009

Secretary Ian Bowles
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Alewife Brook Greenway
MEPA # 14431

Dear Secretary Bowles:

WalkBoston is pleased to review the Alewife Brook Greenway Environmental Notification Form (ENF). We have found the proposal extremely interesting, as it expands the off-road network of trails and walkways that are so important to metro arearesidents for transportation and recreation. The ENF details improvements that will be made for both pedestrians and bicyclists on a corridor between Alewife Brook MBTA Station and the Mystic Valley Parkway that leads through Cambridge, Somerville and Arlington, and has connections to the Minuteman Pathway, the Linear Park/Community Path route into Somerville, the Mystic River parklands and future paths into Belmont and Watertown.

This is an extremely important piece of the regional trail network. We are happy to endorse its construction and even happier to realize that it may be constructed relatively rapidly as part of the national stimulus construction agenda.

In our review, we noted a few concerns of importance to pedestrians:

1. The proposed network does not provide for fully separated bicycle and pedestrian paths.
In two segments of the proposed improvement (1. Between the Mystic Valley Parkway and Broadway; and 2. between Henderson Street and Massachusetts Avenue) there appears to be a partial separation of bicycle and pedestrian paths. By contrast, there is only a single path between Broadway and Henderson Street and between Massachusetts Avenue and the MBTA Alewife Station. This will result in an effective capacity of two 10’-wide paths in the areas of separated paths and only one 10’-wide path in the other parts of the corridor. We are concerned about the safety of pedestrians in portions of the corridor where the capacity is limited. In those areas, consideration should be given to a wider cross-section on the path to accommodate potential demand.

2. The proposal does not indicate whether there will be signage to can foster safe walking. Pedestrian safety in mixed walking and cycling traffic can be an issue of concern, depending on the volume of traffic that uses the paths. While we would prefer separate facilities that are clearly designated as such, it does not appear to be feasible throughout the entire corridor. We therefore suggest that signing and warnings be provided to make the route safe for all users. This might include, for example:

  • Lane separation lines for the north and south directions.
  • Signs warning pedestrians to stay to the right of the path.
  • Signs advising cyclists to ring a warning bell as they approach pedestrians from behind.
  • Route signs designating a cyclist trail along the paths that abut Alewife Brooke Parkway.

3. The Boardwalk parallel to Alewife Brook Parkway has the potential for becoming a bottleneck, as it accommodates all path traffic in a narrow corridor. The boardwalk overlooks and is cantilevered over the river in the section extending north of Henderson Street and is one of the most accessible portions of the pathways for nearby residents. It is also close to Dilboy Field, which has occasional special sports events. If the boardwalk accommodates both pedestrians and cyclists and is closely fenced on both sides, it has the potential for becoming heavily used and potentially unsafe for people on foot. Would it be possible to widen the boardwalk to at least 12 feet in this location?

4. Seating and observation areas should be maximized.The path promises to be a very pleasant route. Many people will want to sit occasionally along the route, and children, among others, will be interested in closely examining the stream.

5. For the security of people who are using the path lighting may be appropriate. Lighting of the paths would extend their usefulness to walkers and cyclists in evening hours and in fall and winter.

6. Crosswalks may be needed in several locations. Near the Dilboy Park baseball diamonds, a fence opening and curb ramp have been provided that appear designed to help people cross Alewife Brook Parkway. The addition of a crosswalk in this location would be appropriate. Other crosswalks should be examined to cross Alewife Brook Parkway at Massachusetts Avenue, at Matignon Road, at Powder House Boulevard (two curb ramps), and at Broadway. For continuity of the path network, a Mystic Valley Parkway crosswalk should be considered at the north end of this project.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to provide comments on the ENF. Please let us know if you have any questions or need further detail.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Robert Sloane
Senior Planner

Cc Dan Driscoll, DCR Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner