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Tag: bike lanes

Comment on Mount Auburn Corridor Study

Comment on Mount Auburn Corridor Study

September 27, 2017

RE: Mount Auburn Corridor Study – Comments on Concepts Presented on August 18, 2016

WalkBoston would like to submit the following comments on the draft concepts for the Mount Auburn Corridor Study presented on August 18, 2016. We understand that the concepts may have changed since the presentation, but we feel it is valuable for these comments to be captured. We have organized our comments according to specific intersections.

While we appreciate the detail with which the consultants have addressed road crossings for people walking, we feel that the overall pedestrian pathway network has not been adequately addressed. Overall, there needs to be more attention paid to the areas of overlap where people walking and people biking intersect.

Intersection of Mt Auburn Street at Brattle Street

Under the assumption that vehicular traffic volumes at this intersection warrant a traffic signal, the plan diagram (shown on slide 9 of the August 18 presentation) shows both a crosswalk and bike crossing at the east side of the intersection. At the southern end of this dual use crossing, the sidewalk appears to narrow and there is limited (if any) area for people walking to wait for the signal. We would like some assurance that there is a continuous sidewalk and adequate space for pedestrians waiting to cross.

The northern end of the dual use crossing appears to require pedestrians to cross the bike lane to reach the sidewalk running east on Brattle Street and to use the crosswalk when walking west along Mount Auburn Street. There is also no delineated path for people walking west along Mt Auburn Street to safely cross the proposed driveway connections or the proposed bike path leading west from Brattle Street. While we realize this diagram is preliminary, we would like to see that people walking are given the same connected network as people biking and driving.

Gerrys Landing, Memorial Drive, Eliot Bridge, Greenough Blvd

The shortened crossing distances and single-phase crossings in the Two-T Alternative concept are significant improvements to the pedestrian infrastructure that exists today (shown on slide 46 of the August 18 presentation). Our concerns in this area lie in the interactions between cyclists and pedestrians at the crossing locations. The diagrams indicate that cyclists and pedestrians will be sharing waiting areas and in some cases crossing paths to reach destinations. We would like to see a finer grained delineation of space for each user group. Furthermore, the bike paths appear connected, but the sidewalk network is either disjointed or not present.

Intersection of Fresh Pond Parkway at Huron Ave

The plan diagram (shown on slide 52 of the August 18 presentation) shows a raised intersection at Fresh Pond Parkway and Huron Avenue. Given the vehicular traffic volumes in this location and the allowance of trucks, we were surprised to see this proposal. Furthermore, the pedestrian refuge island at the intersection’s southeastern corner seems to interrupt the bike lane without providing benefit to walkers. If there is extra room at this location, we would rather see a curb bump-out or wider sidewalk.

Mid-block Crossing on Fresh Pond Parkway at Larch Street

The mid-block crossing proposed across Fresh Pond Parkway near the Larch Street intersection (shown on slide 55 of the August 18 presentation) seems dangerous even with the introduction of a raised crossing and Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs). Pedestrians using this crossing may presume cars will stop once the beacons (RRFBs) are flashing which could lead to tragic consequences. The sight lines along this curvy section of Fresh Pond Parkway and the traffic speeds make this proposal inadvisable. We would suggest that more study be done to substantiate the need for the crossing, and for a safer location to be identified should the need be justified.

Intersection of Fresh Pond Parkway and Brattle Street

The proposed tightening of curb radii at this intersection is welcomed, but we question the proposed raised intersection once again given traffic volumes.

At the August 18 presentation, the guardrail along the western edge of Fresh Pond Parkway was discussed. Some people in the Stakeholders Meeting felt that the “highway scale” guardrail may make drivers feel that they can speed. Furthermore, the railing is not in character with the “park-like and historic” space adjacent to it. Neighborhood residents advocated for the guardrail to be installed to protect children and other pedestrians walking along Fresh Pond Parkway. Several harrowing stories were told about high traffic speeds and erratic drivers. If there is a solution that protects walkers and is more in character with the surroundings, then it could be considered. However, safety must be prioritized in this location given its proximity to Shady Hill School and Buckingham Browne and Nichols School.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments and for inviting us to be a member of the stakeholder group. We welcome any questions you may have about these comments and look forward to your response.

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

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Assessments Dennis

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Assessments Dennis

Dennis 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 assessments along Route 6A between Old Bass River Road and Nobscusset Road, and at three Cape Cod Rail Trail road crossings near the South Gages/Great Western Road intersection.

Read the full report here:
WalkBoston-Bicycle&PedestrianInfrastructureAssessment-Dennis

Comments on the re-design of Melnea Cass Boulevard

Comments on the re-design of Melnea Cass Boulevard

June 8, 2015

Patrick Hoey, Transportation Planner
Boston Transportation Department
Room 721
Boston City Hall
Boston, MA 02201-2021

Dear Mr. Hoey,

WalkBoston is pleased that the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) conducted a public meeting that provided an opportunity for area residents and others to comment on the re-design of Melnea Cass Boulevard (MCB).

WalkBoston is well aware of the tremendous progress that has been made in trying to plan for and design an inviting, practical, pedestrian-friendly Melnea Cass Boulevard that will serve the local community as a city street and neighborhood asset. WalkBoston nevertheless finds that, despite significant improvements, the redesigned boulevard will continue to function primarily as an arterial roadway and not as a community-enhancing street.

BUS RAPID TRANSIT (BRT) CORRIDOR
The city’s decision to “reserve” a major swath of land along MCB for a possible future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor seems to WalkBoston to be an obstacle to the boulevard’s ability to serve the neighboring community as well as it could.

As we have discussed, buildings sited close to a street will fall within a driver’s line of vision. This perceived narrowing of the street’s width automatically slows speeds and makes it easier, safer and more practical for people to cross the road and better use the corridor. BTD’s current approach of reserving open land for BRT passage means that buildings will not be developed bordering the boulevard, thus seriously compromising its ability to function as a multimodal city street.

Practically speaking, if the “Urban Ring” BRT is ever built, its passage through the high-income areas of the Longwood Medical Area, Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway, Boston University, Back Bay, Charles River and Cambridge will doubtless run through a tunnel. Putting the one-mile Roxbury MCB portion in a tunnel would be a much easier cut-and-cover proposition than the rest of the route. Roxbury deserves this option so that new buildings can be built closer to Melnea Cass and the road will be humane in scale.

If land is not reserved for the BRT the width of the re-designed roadway corridor can be substantially reduced, resulting in the preservation of many trees, especially those on the north side of the roadway. For example, between Shawmut and Washington the roadway is shifted 40-60 feet north to provide a 40-foot wide sidewalk in front of Parcel 9. We assume this excessively wide space is incorporated into the design to preserve the BRT corridor.

However, if this sidewalk’s width were reduced it would not be necessary to remove many mature trees. WalkBoston also notes that the inclusion of parking on several blocks along MCB results in a wider roadway corridor that would provide space for a future BRT. However, the parking also results in the removal of mature trees. Developments along MCB have on-site parking, such as Tropical Foods. Hence WalkBoston questions the need for creating new parking on MCB.

OTHER SUGGESTED ADJUSTMENTS
We support the proposed design elements mentioned in the letter from the Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard (FMCB) – narrower curb radii (like those currently on MCB), improved signal timing and leading pedestrian indicators, and raised roadway crossings on streets intersecting with MCB. We also support recommendations made by Livable Streets to reduce traffic signal cycles to 80 seconds to encourage walker compliance, and bus stops located within 50 feet of a crosswalk and on the far side of the traffic signal to provide for signal priority. WalkBoston would like to discuss with BTD and its consultants how signal timing will work for pedestrians and how crosswalks might be straightened to shorten crossing distances. At high pedestrian crash locations such as MCB/Washington, perhaps an all-way WALK would be a safer signalization option for walkers, provided wait times were a reasonable length.

WalkBoston suggests wide crosswalk widths of 14-15 feet (such as those in Peabody Square in Dorchester and Huntington Avenue at the YMCA) with generous vehicle stop lines. We would also like BTD to assess whether more space could be found for wider sidewalks, for instance at areas like Tremont to Harrison Avenue and other locations.

Finally, we would like a fuller description of what is planned from Hampden Street to Massachusetts Avenue — trees, sidewalk, bicycle lanes, why parking has been added with the consequent loss of trees.

PRESERVING TREES
The issues of tree plantings and tree removal are of vital concern for pedestrians. Our 2013 summer walk showed how important mature trees are in providing shade and protection from traffic along MCB. WalkBoston hopes the City can find ways to preserve as many trees as possible as described above. Wider, tree-lined sidewalks are more appealing than specially built median strips put in place for trees. In our experience trees and plantings in medians rarely flourish, or even survive, and most importantly, they do not provide shade for walkers.

Currently the plans show two-way bicycle lanes on both sides of MCB. If the lanes were reduced to one lane on each side, the cycle track could be reduced from 10 to 8 feet or less, again, resulting in the preservation of trees. As suggested by other commenters, WalkBoston urges the layout of curving pathways for bicyclists and walkers in order to preserve mature trees.

THE TREMONT/MELNEA CASS BOULEVARD INTERSECTION
We are uncertain about the redesign of this intersection and the elimination of the slip lane. It seems a desirable change until one considers the effect of two right-turn lanes into MCB plus an additional lane added on the Tremont crossing. Both seem to create difficult conditions for pedestrians. Thus, we request traffic information in order to help us to assess the impacts of this design. (A recent Transportation Research Board publication may provide some helpful information on pedestrian impacts and benefits from slip lanes: A Report on the Development of Guidelines for Applying Right-Turn Slip Lanes – available at: http://www.trb.org/SafetyHumanFactors/Blurbs/172629.aspx)

WalkBoston would like to see these and other adjustments to the current design in order to further improve the pedestrian experience along the redesigned boulevard. We would, of course, be glad to assist in this design effort.

SOME PROCEDURAL REQUESTS
In order to address our detailed questions regarding the MCB design, we request that you schedule a working session with BTD and its consultants. WalkBoston understands that the FMCB have requested or will soon request a similar meeting and we would be happy to have a combined BTD, FMCB and WalkBoston meeting on these areas of concern.

Thank you so much for the City’s detailed and extensive work with WalkBoston and the Roxbury community on this important street. We believe the outcome will be better for everyone.

Sincerely,

Dorothea Hass and Ann Hershfang

cc: Representative Byron Rushing
Representative Gloria Fox
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
Austin Blackmon, Environmental Cabinet Chief
Councilor Tito Jackson
Councilor Ayanna Pressley
Councilor Michael Flaherty
Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard
Livable Streets
Boston Cyclists Union
United Neighbors of Lower Roxbury
Whittier Tenants Task Force
Madison Park Development Corporation

Inman Square Walk and Bike Assessment

Inman Square Walk and Bike Assessment

Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) and WalkBoston led a walk and bike assessment in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. The assessment is part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Awareness and Enforcement Program, funded by the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), in association with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The MassDOT program is a collaboration among Federal, State, regional, and local agencies, along with advocacy groups, WalkBoston and MassBike, working to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety in identified high – crash areas.

Inman Square is a vibrant residential and retail district between Harvard Square and Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA. The Square has several well – known neighborhood restaurants, entertainment and retail destinations. People coming to Inman arrive by bike, foot, bus and car. Unlike Harvard and Kendall Squares, Inman Square does not have a Red Line T Station.

Read the full report here:

WalkBoston-InmanSquareWalkandBikeAssessment-Cambridge