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Tag: bicycling

To make progress on our roads

To make progress on our roads

The Boston Herald article “Shattuck: Marty Walsh, IndyCar dare us to think fast” (5/22/2015) had one excellent quote, challenging Boston “To make progress on our roads, like they do in other first-world nations.”

Here are three examples of progress on roads in other first-world nations.

Sweden:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/02/economist-explains-16

“With only three of every 100,000 Swedes dying on the roads each year, compared with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, 11.4 in America and 40 in the Dominican Republic, which has the world’s deadliest traffic, Sweden’s roads have become the world’s safest.” … “Planning has played the biggest part in reducing accidents. Roads in Sweden are built with safety prioritised over speed or convenience. Low urban speed-limits, pedestrian zones and barriers that separate cars from bikes and oncoming traffic have helped. ”

Netherlands:
http://www.northeastern.edu/studyabroad/programs/netherlands-sustainable-urban-transportation/ (Northeastern University does summer study abroad in the Netherlands, led by Professor Peter Furth.)

“While the Netherlands is as affluent a country as the US, the Dutch drive cars half as much as Americans, ride trains 10 times as much, and ride bikes 40 times as much. They also have the world’s best traffic safety record, with a traffic fatality rate 67% lower than ours. Dutch bicycling infrastructure makes it safe for everyone – children and elderly as well – to ride bikes anywhere, and is a major reason that more than 25% of trip nationwide, and more than 40% in cities like Delft and Amsterdam, are made by bike. The goal of this program is learn Dutch principles for planning cities and for designing bikeways, roads, and transit networks that make ABC (all-but-car) transportation so attractive, and that make cities livable and safe.”

France:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11586802/Large-chunk-of-the-river-Seines-Right-Bank-to-be-cut-off-to-cars-in-Paris.html

“‘This is an urban, almost philosophical project, which consists of seeing the city in another way than through the use of cars,’ she said, citing as examples the French cities of Lyon and Bordeaux, whose riverbanks have been successfully reclaimed for pedestrians.”

Codman Academy Walk Audit

Codman Academy Walk Audit

In 2014, a student was struck and seriously injured on Epping Street, a one block, one lane roadway bordering the Codman Academy. The 9th grade student got off an MBTA bus and started walking across Epping Street and was hit by a car. The student was hospitalized.

Epping Street is a one-way street used by drivers to avoid traffic signals at Norfolk and Talbot. This usage represents safety hazards for the students and faculty at Codman Academy. This report looks at the safety benefits of closing Epping Street.

Information for this report was collected and analyzed by 10th grade students at Codman Academy as part of their physics and math classes in the fall and winter of 2014-2015. They were assisted in this effort by staff from WalkBoston, a non-profit walking advocacy organization.

Read the full report here:
WalkBoston-CodmanAcademyReport-Dorchester

New wayfinding signage is on the way in Dorchester. This project was made possible through Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center with support from Citizens Bank, Boston Moves for Health, Mass in Motion / Healthy Dorchester & WalkBoston!

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MassDOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program

MassDOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program

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With MassDOT and the Massachusetts Dept of Public Health (DPH), WalkBoston and MassBike are helping develop and implement pedestrian and bicycle safety strategies aimed at achieving the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) goal of reducing fatalities and injuries among bicyclists and pedestrians by 20% in the next 5 years. 

The three major components of the strategy are:
1.     Enforcement
2.     Education/Awareness
3.     Preparation of communities for infrastructure improvements 

The pilot program is focused on 12 communities which were selected based on high rates of non-motorist crashes, high rates of walking and biking activity, and participation in the DPH Mass in Motion program (8 of the 12 communities selected are Mass in Motion communities).

The community-based efforts to increase walking and biking in Mass in Motion communities provides an excellent platform to support increased pedestrian and bicycle safety strategies, and then make effective infrastructure investments to make the built environment safer for those trips.

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Beacon Street Multimodal Improvements Comment Letter-Somerville, MA

Beacon Street Multimodal Improvements Comment Letter-Somerville, MA

May 13, 2014

Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: Alex Strysky
100 Cambridge St., Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

Mark Kolonoski
MassDOT Highway Division
Environmental Services Section
10 Park Plaza, Room 4260
Boston, MA 02116

RE: Comments on the Environmental Notification Form for the Beacon Street Multimodal Improvements and Streetscape Enhancement in Somerville, MA

Dear Secretary Sullivan and Mr. Kolonoski:

The Beacon Street project area extends from the bridge abutment at Oxford Street to Dickinson Street, a distance of approximately 1.1 miles. The project is intended to enhance pedestrian and bicycle movements with improved streetscape, wider sidewalks, a new cycle track/bicycle lanes, and new ADA compliant curb ramps. The project goal is to enhance the multimodal connectivity of the Beacon Street Corridor.

We have reviewed this project and offer the following comments:

1. Updated and continuous sidewalks on Beacon Street
The program for complete streets along Beacon Street will result in new cycle tracks and a significant reconstruction of both the street and the sidewalk. Sidewalks are to be updated and rebuilt to correct current deficiencies, including substandard slopes and lack of ramps at intersections. A sidewalk will be added to the south side of Beacon Street in a location where no sidewalk now exists. Adherence to this plan is essential for the safety and convenience of all users of the sidewalk.

The proposed sidewalks will replace the existing 10’-11’ wide sidewalks with new ones of substantially the same width. Retention of this dimension as a minimum is extremely important because some space within the sidewalk will accommodate other uses, such as trees. In only one portion of Beacon Street, where there are space constraints due to an existing stonewall, will the 10’-11’ width be precluded; we note
that no trees are planned for the sidewalk in this section.

2. Cycle tracks and bike lanes
Cycle tracks are proposed between Oxford Street and Museum Street, bike lanes between Museum Street and Park/Scott Streets, cycle tracks between Park/Scott Streets and Washington Street and bike lanes between Washington Street and the Cambridge City line. On the north side of the street, the alignments of the cycle tracks and bike lanes are end-to-end, resulting in a virtually straight path for the full length of
the project.

On the south side of the street the cycle tracks and bike lanes do not quite line up. The transitions between cycle tracks and bike lanes at the intersection of Beacon Street/Museum Street and Park Street/Washington Street are angled to accommodate the needed connections between cycle tracks and bike lanes. These intersections have crosswalks where pedestrians will cross near the bike routes. Since separate traffic signals for bicycles are not included in the project, WalkBoston is concerned that walkers may not be aware that bicycles are approaching at these intersections and need to be especially careful because these diversions might distract the cyclists or the
motorists. We request that special signage and/or pavement markings be provided to alert walkers, bicyclists and drivers of these shifts in alignment and the need to be aware of movements by others.

3. Separation of cycle tracks and sidewalks
In several locations, the proposed cycle tracks are immediately adjacent and at the same grade as the sidewalk. In effect the cycle track will be located on an extension of the sidewalk. A pronounced and clear separation between bicyclists and walkers is needed to deter cyclists from using the sidewalk to bypass slower moving bikes. The
starting and stopping of cycle tracks and bike lanes may be confusing and lead to cyclists using the sidewalks to avoid merging into traffic or worrying about people opening car doors directly in front of them.

Since all 208 of the street trees included this project are to be planted within the width of the sidewalk, we assume that they will help to separate the cycle track from walkers. Other street furniture such as the existing utility and lighting poles, or new benches, trash containers, bollards or signs might also help. The precise location of each element should be carefully considered, as they have the potential to interfere with pedestrian or bicycle movements.

4. Placement of trees
Although the sidewalks are 10 feet wide in nearly all locations along Beacon Street, some of that width – perhaps up to 5 feet – will be lost due to the planting of 208 trees directly in the sidewalk. All of the proposed new trees should be placed in long narrow tree pits (we have seen tree pits that are 2’ wide by 6’-8’ long). More typical 4-foot square tree pits that intrude into the sidewalk should not be used. Irrespective of the shape of the tree pit, tree grates and or special permeable but sturdy filler (similar to that used in some South End locations) should be explored. This is important for the safety of walkers, as is the long-term maintenance of the tree pits so that they do not pose tripping hazards for walkers or for the visually-impaired.

5. Traffic signals at crosswalks and mid-block
New traffic signal equipment and signal timing at the intersections of Beacon Street with Park/Scott and Washington Streets are planned. In addition, two High-Intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) pedestrian signals on mast arms are planned for pedestrian crossings at the Sacramento Street intersection and at the Buckingham/Cooney intersection. The project thus appears to have signals of some sort at intervals of about ¼ mile; however, in the portion of Beacon Street between Sacramento Street and the rail overpass at Somerville Avenue, the intersections with Oxford and Prentiss Streets have no traffic signals. With no signals to slow traffic these mid-block crossings may be difficult for pedestrians. Signage or other warnings may be essential to inform drivers and cyclists of the crosswalks.

6. Crosswalk paving
The proposed use of concrete pavers at crosswalks has been cited by one of our members as a hazard for nearly all walkers, and we agree. For all crosswalks on Beacon Street, the customary white reflective thermoplastic strips should be used. Pavers have low visibility and are uneven, making it harder for wheelchairs, seniors, and people pushing strollers or grocery carts.

7. Pedestrian signal phasing
At existing signal locations the exclusive pedestrian phase will be replaced with concurrent pedestrian phasing. For all new signals, a leading pedestrian interval (LPI) is proposed to allow pedestrians to enter the crosswalk before vehicles approaching the intersection have a green signal indication. It will be important to coordinate the LPI at each signalized intersection with any preferential treatment given to bicycles at the same location, to avoid potential conflicts.

8. Signage
There is a need for sidewalk and cycle track signs that make it clear to walkers, bicyclists and drivers how the cycle tracks function. In particular, since all the street’s users will be unfamiliar with cycle tracks it will be important to let pedestrians know what to expect in bicycle movements adjacent to them. Signs should advise bicycles to stay within the cycle tracks and avoid using the sidewalks. Signs should advise walkers of approaching bicycle traffic,places to wait before crossing the street, and to not walk in the cycle tracks. Specific notice should be given to cyclists and pedestrians of potential conflicts at intersections, where turning bicycles, vehicles and pedestrians present many different movements.

9. Lighting
New street lighting has not been proposed, and cyclists may be ‘invisible’ to walkers and drivers. The City should explore the need for additional lighting, especially at intersections where so many different movements will be taking place. In addition, as part of the introduction of the cycle track, the City should explore the opportunity to market and enforce state laws requiring bicycles to carry white front lights on bicycles visible that are visible from 500 feet. WalkBoston has received comments from a number of our older members that they find it impossible to see bicyclists approaching at night if they do not use head lights, and with the addition of a sidewalk level cycle track they are very nervous about crossing the track at intersections.

10. Driveways
A great number of private driveways will be accommodated with this design, with each rebuilt to cross both sidewalk and bicycle facilities. The north side of the street has 43 driveways and the south side has 30. Most of the driveways are narrow, and will involve drivers who will back out to reach Beacon Street. Drivers backing vehicles into the street may have obstructions that limit abilities to see approaching walkers, runners or cyclists.

11. Speed control
Speeds on local streets that are primarily residential such as Beacon Street should be strictly regulated. The current 30-mph limit should not be raised. It should be made lower with advisory signs if possible. Reminder signs should be posted at intervals along the route to warn drivers not to go faster.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this project. Please feel free to contact us if you should have questions.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Robert Sloane
Senior Planner