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Tag: bicycle

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Assessment Holyoke

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Assessment Holyoke

Holyoke is one of 18 communities participating in the MassDOT multi-disciplinary program to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in Massachusetts. One of the components of the MassDOT program is to conduct walk and bike assessments that identify infrastructure challenges to biking and walking, and recommend short- and long-term improvements. These assessments are also a means of building local knowledge of the importance of well-designed bicycle and pedestrian facilities. WalkBoston and MassBike led a walk and bicycle assessment of two locations in Holyoke: the intersection of Beech Street at Resnic Boulevard / W Franklin Street and the Appleton Street Corridor between Sycamore Street and Chestnut Street.

 

Read the full report here:

BicycleandWalkAssessment-Holyoke

Comments on the Seaport Square NPC, MEPA 14255-3/24/17

Comments on the Seaport Square NPC, MEPA 14255-3/24/17

March 24, 2017

Matthew Beaton, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office Analyst: Alex Strysky
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

Gary Uter
Boston Planning and Development Agency
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201

Re: Comments on the Seaport Square NPC, MEPA 14255

Dear Mr. Beaton and Mr. Uter:

WalkBoston is pleased to submit comments on the revised Seaport Square project in the South Boston Seaport District.

We applaud the developer’s broad and thoughtful approach to creating a walkable and pedestrian focused sense of place. In particular, the new walking connection to Summer Street; the extensive, interesting and continuous connection to the harbor via Harbor Way; and the fact that the development is at the same grade with the rest of the Seaport District provide great opportunities to help transform the district into a lively part of the City.

Our comments are focused on several detailed design and management issues that we believe should be further considered as the project moves toward final development and implementation.

  1. We are very pleased that the proponent is providing an additional entrance to the Courthouse Silver Line station. This will provide weather-­protected access to transit and provide very convenient transit access for people walking in the area. We urge the developer to ensure that safe crosswalks are provided to the Silver Line station on Northern Avenue and on the nearby intersecting streets -­ Marina Park Drive and Boston Wharf Road -­ two cross streets that are not precisely aligned with one another. The crosswalks should serve desire lines for walkers going to or from the station.
  2. Several of the key pedestrian crosswalks that will serve the project require further attention to pedestrian safety.
  • The lane widths shown on Figures 1-­35 and 1-­36 show that Congress Street and East Service Road will have overly wide 12’ and 15’ travel lanes. The un-­‐signalized pedestrian crosswalk on Congress Street is 70’ wide and we believe that substantial safety measures are needed to make this a safe place for pedestrians, in particular because many of the vehicles using this street will be coming from or heading toward I-­90, a situation that causes drivers to think that they are in a higher speed situation. Among the measures that should be considered are: addition of a traffic signal, narrowing the lanes and the crossing distance, and addition of a raised crossing.
  • The diagrams of other streets show 10.5 – 11’ foot lanes. We urge the proponent to work with the City to shrink all lanes to 10’ or 10.5,’ which the City’s Complete Streets Guidelines suggest as a reasonable width for an urban street.
  • At the edge of the project, a crossing of Summer Street to connect Seaport Square with the BCEC is absolutely essential. This crosswalk must be fully protected by a traffic signal. We believe that a gracious and safe pedestrian crossing of Summer Street will be important to the financial success of Seaport Square in addition to fulfilling the needs for a walker-­‐centric design.
  • No signals are provided for five pedestrian crossings of Northern Avenue. While this may be viewed as a slow-­‐moving street, great care should be taken with the design to ensure that all the crossings are safe for pedestrians, with minimal crossing distances and street designs and parking management that ensure that pedestrians waiting to cross can be seen by approaching motorists.
  • It is noteworthy that signalized crossings are added along Seaport Boulevard at pedestrian crossings between Farnsworth Street and the Harbor Shore Drive pedestrian way, between Thompson Street and Fan Pier Boulevard, and at the important pedestrian crossing where the Summer Street–to-­‐harbor pedestrian way intersects the Seaport Boulevard and also leads to the new entrance to Courthouse Station on the Silver Line.
  1. The shadow conditions in the project area suggest that the proponent will need to make special provisions to make the pedestrian zones comfortable during colder parts of the year. The developer might look to some of the work highlighted by WinterCities (http://wintercities.com/home/about/) for ideas on this topic.
  2. The proposed design for Seaport Boulevard as shown in Figure 1-­6 does not yet accomplish the goals for a truly walkable urban district. Except for a partially widened median strip, the roadway appears to have few distinctions from the existing conditions. Among the measures that should be considered for Seaport Boulevard are:
  • Narrow lanes and frequent raised crossings to slow traffic
  • Pedestrian scale lighting
  • Activated ground floor uses to give a sense of place for people walking along the street •  Pedestrian wayfinding
  • We also urge the proponent to consider whether a widened median is a desirable design feature to be continued throughout the project area. The landscaping with rocks, grasses and sculptures might truly make the boulevard distinctive. Landscaping features could also be added on the sidewalks, making the walking experience more pleasant.

All of the design features noted above could help shift the street from its existing character as an auto-­centric roadway to one that is attractive and safe for pedestrians.

  1. The proponent should consider walking conditions and amenities on the edges of the project as well as the center – people will be walking everywhere and the NPC is focused very heavily on the central Harbor Way. We urge that the many other streets be carefully planned as well.
  2. Because the project is so large and will create a significant portion of the Seaport District’s character, it seems to have the potential to provide a pedestrian and land use environment that can serve a diverse and multi-­‐generational population. We urge the developer to pay attention to the mix of uses, shops and restaurants and their pricing so that they are attractive to all members of the greater Boston community.
  3. Bicycle accommodations shown in the NPC do not seem to represent Boston’s current thinking about the need to provide low stress bicycle facilities. While this is not WalkBoston’s area of expertise, we believe that it is very important for the Seaport District to accommodate bicycles as well as possible.
  • For example, Figure 3-­13, Transportation Circulation Plan, shows bicycle lanes on Northern Avenue, Seaport Boulevard and Boston Wharf Road, without indicating connections to the City’s planned bicycle routes on Congress Street, Summer Street, the Northern Avenue Bridge, the Evelyn Moakley Bridge, and Seaport Boulevard east of East Service Road. Potential north-­‐south connections between these main routes are ignored. Possible bicycle lanes on Sleeper Street, Fan Pier Boulevard, Marina Park Drive or other connecting streets are not indicated.
  • Bicycle lanes on Seaport Boulevard are shown in ways the City is no longer supporting. Figure 1-­6 shows bicycle lanes adjacent to moving traffic, while the City is now working to provide protected bicycle lanes (between parked cars and the sidewalk) on arterials.
  • The crosswalk on Summer Street will also be used by cyclists on the Summer Street cycle tracks. Cyclists will be interested in crossing the street as they access the proposed development – particularly the critical and focal pedestrian path between Summer Street and the harbor. Special provision for cyclists should be included to preserve the safety of pedestrians throughout this potentially densely used walkway.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the project, and would be pleased to answer any questions that our comments raise.

 

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

 

Cc Yanni Tsipis, WS Development
Jonathan Greeley, BPDA
Vineet Gupta, Boston Transportation Department
Patrick Sullivan, Seaport TMA

 

Comments on Jamaica Plain and Roxbury Draft Plan:JP/ROX

Comments on Jamaica Plain and Roxbury Draft Plan:JP/ROX

August 19, 2016

Marie Mercurio, Senior Planner
Boston Redevelopment Authority
1 City Hall Sq, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02210

Re: Draft PLAN: JP/ROX

Dear Marie:

LivableStreets Alliance, Boston Cyclists Union and WalkBoston appreciate the work the BRA has done thus far to ensure that neighborhood development in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury aligns with residents’ wishes and is done in a sustainable way that preserves neighborhood character. However, our organizations believe that the policies and recommendations outlined in the BRA’s draft plan can be improved. Washington Street is a high-density, transit-accessible corridor, with low rates of automobile usage and a high share of residents traveling via transit, bicycle and walking. The policies and recommendations outlined in the BRA’s report should further advance these aspects of the neighborhood. Please find comments from the LivableStreets Advocacy Committee, WalkBoston, Boston Cyclists Union, and local residents below. Many of these recommendations align with work WalkBoston is pursuing in partnership with the Elderly Commission’s Age-Friendly Boston initiative and other city agencies to improve safety and comfort for seniors and other vulnerable populations.

First, we would like to recommend general improvements for the area in the following categories: Policy Initiatives, Pedestrian Safety and Infrastructure, Bicycle Infrastructure, Transit Improvements, Placemaking and the Public Realm, and Parking. In addition, we recommend a number of specific infrastructure improvements throughout the PLAN: JP/ROX study area, which are detailed later in this letter.

Policy Initiatives

 Commit to Complete Streets, Vision Zero, and other policies and standards that the City of Boston has adopted – don’t just aspire. Roadway design should prioritize pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and personal motor vehicles, in that order. Vehicular capacity/level of service should not trump other needs.

o Page 120 of the draft plan mentions that traffic calming, improved sidewalk and pedestrian crossings, and bike facilities should be created “where possible.” This statement does not go far enough and the words “where possible” should be eliminated from the final plan. Boston has committed to implementing Vision Zero, which requires that streets be engineered in ways that prevent vulnerable road users from being killed by motor vehicles when motor vehicle operators make errors. The term “where possible” implies that nothing will change on a street unless no parking spaces are lost and motor vehicle traffic speeds are not impacted.

 Implement fast and flexible programs for infrastructure that advance Complete Streets and Vision Zero goals. Use flex posts, paint and other inexpensive and temporary materials to demonstrate innovative roadway treatments such as physically separated bike lanes, curb extensions, and pedestrian plazas.

Pedestrian Safety and Infrastructure

 Improve pedestrian safety through appropriately configured WALK signals.

o All WALK signals should be on automatic recall, unless there are streets with very low pedestrian volumes.

o All WALK signals should be concurrent with traffic, unless there are high volumes of turning traffic or special circumstances (e.g. locations near schools or senior centers) that should be further reviewed.

o All concurrent WALK signals should provide a leading pedestrian interval (LPI) of 6 seconds.

o All WALK signals should provide countdowns that give sufficient time for pedestrians to cross the street. At major intersections the timing should be set to accommodate the MUTCD standard of a pedestrian walking 3.0 ft/sec. (MUTCD Section 4E.06, Paragraph 14)

 Establish an aggressive minimum standard for distance between crosswalks (signalized or not) and corresponding installation of new crosswalks at minor intersections and midblock locations.

 Create landscaped pedestrian refuge areas where possible at unsignalized crosswalks.

 Install sidewalk bump-outs at all pedestrian crossings where appropriate for pedestrian safety.

Bicycle Safety and Infrastructure

 Determine feasibility of implementing separated bike lanes along all collector and arterial streets.

o On page 133 of the draft plan, fig. 89 and fig. 90 depict two different conceptual drawings of bike infrastructure. We recommend the fig. 90 conceptual drawing of a separated bike lane.

 Create bike lanes/separated bike lanes, not sharrows, on major streets, and build as much as possible using paint on existing streets.

 Expand Hubway service and stations according to station density requirements and locations within a quarter mile radius of MBTA stations, including at transit hub Forest Hills MBTA Station.

 Bicycle and pedestrian access to the Southwest Corridor should remain as safe as it is today or be made safer.

Transit Improvements

 Study additional options for improving buses and expanding BRT. Options may include extending the Silver Line from Dudley through Forest Hills as an alternative to the BRT corridor planned for Columbus Ave.

 Use transit priority signals and far-side bus stops to provide better bus service, instead of queue jump lanes as currently recommended in the draft plan. Far-side stops are better for bus operations and also help to daylight crosswalks to oncoming traffic.

 Ensure that buses are accommodated if future development takes place at the Arborway Yard and either redesign or relocate bus operations. The memorandum of agreement between the City and the MBTA calls for building a permanent $250 million facility to house 118 buses.

Placemaking and the Public Realm

 Install attractive, high-visibility, main-street-style, pedestrian-scale lighting to not only provide better illumination but to help visually narrow the street and signal to motorists that they are not on a high-speed arterial but in a village/neighborhood commercial center.

 Install attractive and coordinated benches/street furniture, parklets, public art and other placemaking features

 Minimize curb cuts through use of shared driveways and ensure that they have the tightest possible curb radii and level sidewalks.

 Create more robust incentives to encourage store owners to remove metal security covers for storefronts or to replace them with less visually obtrusive interior-mounted alternatives.

 Where appropriate, require setbacks for larger buildings to accommodate wider sidewalks and sidewalk cafes. Any residential or non-storefront, non-active groundfloor uses permitted to front on Washington St should require deeper, well landscaped setbacks, such as those along Marlborough St. in the Back Bay.

Parking

 Conduct a comprehensive neighborhood parking study to assess the proper regulations needed neighborhood wide.

o Regulate on-street parking in business districts for 15% vacancy using a combination of time limits and metering to encourage turnover.

o Assess residential streets, especially near transit stations, for viability of resident parking zones. Permits could be required during the day if people from outside the neighborhood are parking there during the day. Make residential permits required during the day and/or during the night if overnight parking by nonresidents seems to be an issue.

o Institute recommended parking ratios ranging from 0 to .7, consistent with research suggesting parking ratios of .5 to .7 spaces per unit in neighborhoods with similar mode share and vehicle ownership rates as this section of Boston. “Decoupling” usage of private parking spaces from specific residential units and encouraging commercial shared parking can further extend the usefulness of existing and proposed spaces.

o Provide enough loading/drop-off/pick-up zones to reduce/eliminate double parking.

o Explore maximums for off-street parking.

o Reducing parking would save residents more than $8,500/year, which will aid the BRA’s goal of affordable housing. (This is based on the estimate that car ownership costs an average of $8,500/year.)

In addition to these general recommendations, the plan should also address and mention specific infrastructure improvements to existing deficiencies, including the following:

 Create a road diet for Columbus Ave between Egleston Sq. and Jackson Sq.

 Add bump outs/curb extensions to narrow crossing distances and increase turning radii for vehicles turning right onto Washington St from Columbus Ave.

 Add visual cues such as rapid flashing beacons and other high visibility signage to slow northbound traffic on Columbus Ave coming downhill through Egleston Square at Washington St.

 Add and improve crosswalks throughout the study area.

o Add raised crosswalks on all side streets along Washington and Columbus.

o Add a crosswalk, preferably raised, with an in-street pedestrian crossing sign across Washington St at Beethoven St and across Washington St at Kenton Rd.

o Add crosswalks with in-street pedestrian crossing signs across Columbus Ave between Washington St and Seaver St, and across Washington St between Columbus Ave and Dimock St, to enhance pedestrian connections to and surrounding Egleston Square. (Currently there are very few crosswalks across the major arterials of Columbus Ave and Washington St along the aforementioned roadway segments. New crosswalks may be located at side streets or midblock, depending on the circumstances.)

 Fix the WALK signal across Columbus Ave outside Walnut Park Apartments (between Weld Ave and Dixwell St) to shorten wait time and provide regular pedestrian phase. Currently the wait for a WALK cycle is very long even when the button is pushed.  Widen the sidewalks on Amory Street from the Brewery Complex to School Street to a minimum of 8’.

 Establish wayfinding and pedestrian/bicycle links connecting and directing people from the Southwest Corridor, T Stations and Washington St to Franklin Park.

o Page 130 of the draft plan states that connections should be enhanced between the Southwest Corridor and Franklin Park. Maps and diagrams of proposed improvements should be updated to reflect this in the final plan.

o Page 152 of the draft plan cites proposed improvements for Egleston Square, including “new bike lanes, crosswalks, and connections to the Southwest Corridor.” Ideally these bike facilities should be two-way and protected from vehicle traffic. As with connections between the SW Corridor and Franklin Park, such proposed improvements should be consistently mentioned throughout all maps presented in the final plan.

 Install parking meters with 12-or-more hour maximum time on all streets within 1000’ of a train station to better manage commuter parking.

Thank you again for presenting to our group in July and for this opportunity to comment on the draft plan. We appreciate your consideration of our recommendations.

Sincerely,

Boston Cyclists Union
LivableStreets Alliance
WalkBoston

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Assessment Worcester

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Assessment Worcester

Worcester is one of 18 communities participating in the MassDOT multi-disciplinary program to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in Massachusetts. One of the components of the MassDOT program is to conduct walk and bike assessments that identify infrastructure challenges to biking and walking, and recommend short- and long-term improvements. These assessments are also a means of building local knowledge of the importance of well-designed bicycle and pedestrian facilities. WalkBoston and MassBike led representatives from the City of Worcester, local advocates, and students on a walk and bicycle assessment of Chandler Street in Worcester. Toole Design Group (TDG) prepared this summary and associated report. These summarize observations of and recommendations to the built environment by team members to increase the walkability and bikeability of the area.

WalkBoston-BicycleandPedestrianInfrastructureAssessment-Worcester

Walk/Bike Assessment Main Street Northampton

Walk/Bike Assessment Main Street Northampton

Northampton is one of 18 communities participating in the MassDOT multi -disciplined program to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in Massachusetts. One of the components of the MassDOT program is to conduct walk and bike assessments that identify infrastructure challenges to biking and walking, and recommend short- and long-term improvements. These assessments are also a means of building local knowledge of the importance of well-designed bicycle and pedestrian facilities. WalkBoston and MassBike conducted an assessment of Main Street in downtown Northampton.

Read the full report here:
WalkBoston-BicycleandPedestrianInfrastructureAssessment-Northhampton