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Tag: jamaica plain

WalkBoston Comments on DCR Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

WalkBoston Comments on DCR Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

November 6, 2020

Jeffrey R. Parenti, Program Manager
DCR
Division of Planning and Engineering
251 Causeway St.
Boston, MA 02114

Re: WalkBoston Comments on the DCR Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

Dear Jeff:

WalkBoston is enthusiastic about the direction that DCR is taking for the Arborway Improvement Project, both the range of choices that you have shown and the approach of providing opportunities for extensive public comments and input well before any decisions have been made about the project design. We look forward to working with you and the design team to arrive at a truly transformative design for this beautiful but dangerous piece of the Emerald Necklace.

Our comments are framed from the standpoint of design options and operations and are therefore not focused on the specific concepts that have been illustrated to date. As you and the designers have noted, the drawings are indicative of design approaches rather than design specifics.

  • We applaud the Common Features proposed in all three alternatives as outlined on the project website, including: the focus on safety for all modes, vehicle speed reduction throughout, increase in the amount  of parkland and reduction in the amount of pavement, and special care given to the landscape design and trees along the corridor.
  • We understand that the project is still in its early phases of planning and design, but echo the comments at the public meeting that the travel data for all modes is needed to better understand the pros and cons of each option. We caution that pedestrian and bike volumes will likely be understated if existing conditions are the baseline because so many walkers and cyclists avoid this portion of the Arborway in its present configuration. We hope that DCR and the consultant team can provide some understanding of how future conditions might reflect the likely increase in pedestrian and cyclist use of the project area.
  • We believe that separate walking and biking paths must be provided throughout the project area. The Arborway is an important bike commuting corridor, and mixing pedestrians and commuting (higher speed) bicyclists reduces the safety and comfort for both groups. Once the improvements to the Arborway are made, we believe that the corridor will see significant increases in both pedestrian and bike usage.
  • We like the introduction of a signalized pedestrian crossing between Kelley and Murray Circles in Alternatives B and C, and think it is an effective way of slowing traffic and making it clear to drivers that this is an area where there will be many pedestrians and cyclists.
  • We believe that eliminating the traffic circles at Murray and Kelley Circle will provide significant safety improvements for both pedestrians and bicyclists. As noted in MassDOT’s September 2020 Guidelines for the Planning and Design of Roundabouts, locations specifically called out as places where “roundabouts may not be advantageous” include those with “intersections with a heavy concentration of pedestrians and bicyclists,” and “intersections with acute angles between approaches.” Since the Arborway project is being specifically designed to address pedestrian and bicycle safety, and because its geometry may pose problems, we believe that the elimination of the traffic circles is an important element of project design.
  • While the different concepts show improved pedestrian crossings in many locations, we are concerned that there are still quite a few unsignalized slip lane crossings that remain in each of the alternatives. Significant design features, and possibly signals, will be needed to make these crossings safe for walkers and bicyclists.

In addition to our comments on the concepts and the broad conversation that DCR is undertaking, we also urge DCR to engage in more detailed conversations and outreach with the neighbors directly adjacent to the project whose travel patterns will be affected by the changes to the Arborway. We know that there is a long history of high concern by neighbors, and hope that intensive outreach can both answer questions and reduce anxiety about potential changes.

WalkBoston looks forward to continuing to work with you on this exciting project, and we also look forward to walking safely along a rejuvenated part of the Emerald Necklace from Jamaica Pond to Forest Hills in the (relatively) near future.

Sincerely,

Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director

Wendy Landman, Senior Policy Advisor

 

Cc: Nate Lash, nlash@hshassoc.com

Comments on Arborway Safety Audit Meeting and DCR Parkway Needs Along the Necklace

Comments on Arborway Safety Audit Meeting and DCR Parkway Needs Along the Necklace

February 7th, 2019

Commissioner Leo Roy
Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway St, 9th Floor
Boston, MA. 02114
Re: Arborway, Jamaica Plain, MA.

Dear Commissioner Roy:

We are writing to express our strong desire to partner with DCR and others to improve
safety for all users on the Arborway section of the Emerald Necklace in the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood for Boston. This area forms part of the larger Emerald Necklace and poses
serious challenges accommodating pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles safely in a
continuous manner along its length.

Over the last several years, DCR planning efforts have started, meetings have been held,
proposals made, but final plans or improvements are not yet planned or realized. We ask
that you re-double your efforts to improve Arborway from Jamaica Pond/Kelley Circle to
the new Casey Arborway. The Conservancy and our partners at Walk Boston and The
Boston Cyclists Union are very concerned with the number of incidents that have taken
place along the Arborway in Jamaica Plain recently. This section of roadway has proven to
be an increasingly dangerous stretch over the last couple of years, and we would like to
draw your attention to what seems to be a growing number of incidents in recent months.
The incidents have ranged in seriousness. Last year, a victim of a crash in 2013 succumbed
to his serious brain injuries and died.

Based on information received from local residents and the Arborway Coalition over the
summer months in 2018 there were:

  • 3 crashes through the fence across from the Arboretum resulting in damage to the fence and
    trees.
  • The pedestrian crossing sign at Murray Circle/Centre Steet /May Street was hit and
    knocked over twice, with tire tracks visible on the sidewalk.
  • A hit and run involving a motorist and bicyclist at Murray Circle.

Based on information gathered from a State Police Report (likely NOT complete) there were
approximately 150 reported crashes on the Arborway from Jan. 5, 2017 to Aug. 8, 2018,
which is an average of over 8 crashes per month.

In the fall of 2018, the Conservancy’s staff, Board of Overseers and others organized walks
through this area of the Arborway. Attendees included Nika Elugardo, new State Representative,
and Jennifer Norwood of DCR. The walks were helpful to see the issues along this section of
parkway (excessive speeds, lack of clear and safe pedestrian and bicycle amenities) and make it
clear that we are seeking a solution that improves safety for all – pedestrians, bicyclists and
automobiles.

We understand that alterations to the Arborway section of the parkways were put on hold until
the new Casey Arborway was completed. The Casey Arborway roadway work is now in place, so
we hope improvements can proceed without delay to the remainder of the Arborway.

We were pleased to recently learn that DCR is doing a comprehensive road safety audit of this
section of parkway and is working with MassDOT to collect all available data. We look forward to
joining an anticipated site walk and seeing a final report in April.

It is our hope that this safety audit will lead to good information, and will lead to a plan to make
improvements. Please let us know how we can support your efforts towards this goal.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter.

Sincerely yours,

Karen Mauney-Brodek, President
Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Wendy Landman, Executive Director
WalkBoston

Becca Wolfson, Executive Director
Boston Cyclists Union

Cc: Chris Cook Chief, Environment, Energy, and Open Space; Commissioner, Parks and Recreation;
Erin Gallentine, Director of Open Space, Town of Brookline;
Patrice Kish, Director of Historic Resources, DCR;
Jennifer Norwood, Director of External Affairs and Partnerships, DCR;
Conservancy Board of Directors and Overseers
Nika Elugardo, State Representative
Liz Malia, State Representative
Matt O’Malley, City Councilor

Comments on Morton Intersection Improvements, Project: 608755

Comments on Morton Intersection Improvements, Project: 608755

Patricia Leavenworth, P.E., Chief Engineer
MassDOT-Highway Division
10 Park Plaza Boston, MA 02116-3973

Attn: Roadway Project Management – Room 6340

Re: Morton Intersection Improvements Project: 608755

December 21, 2018

Dear Ms. Leavenworth:

We are submitting comments in regards to Intersection Improvements at three intersections along Morton Street after seeing the plans at a public meeting on December 19, 2018.

First, we ask the Department to please extend the 10-day public comment period given that the meeting was held just before the Christmas holiday and it may be hard for residents to get feedback in on time. We are pleased to see MassDOT undertaking this project and look forward to continuing to work with you on implementation of safety improvements to the corridor.

Overall, we feel the project will improve safety for drivers, but will do little to improve the safety or convenience for pedestrians or cyclists. In this area, pedestrian safety needs to be prioritized in the design utilizing Complete Streets guidelines. We also ask that these spot improvements are the beginning and not the end of a process to improve the entire stretch of Morton St and create connections from Mattapan to Franklin Park and walking/biking paths in Jamaica Plain, especially as this stretch is identified in Go Boston 2030 for connecting the Southwest Corridor to the Blue Hills Reservation. In addition, we are advocating for the following adjustments and additions the plans presented on December 19:

  • Increased traffic calming on Morton Street
    The high speeds on Morton Street make the street unsafe for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We applaud that the design calls for narrower travel lanes but additional measures need to be taken to slow speeds. Possible solutions might be raised intersections, additional STOP signs and/or traffic signals.
  • Create a safe pedestrian crossing between Morton/Blue Hill Ave and Morton/Harvard
    There is no crosswalk in the 1000-foot stretch between Blue Hill Ave and Harvard Street. This is a dense residential neighborhood and the lack of a safe crossing here is a major community concern. The crossing could either be at Courtland/Havelock/Morton or Wellington Hill/Morton depending on the neighborhood’s preference.The lack of a crosswalk contributes to the highway feel of Morton Street and hence the high speeds and extremely high crash clusters over the past four years. Any crosswalk should include a HAWK beacon for improved notice and safety of pedestrians crossing the street.
  • Design a traffic signal system which enables pedestrians to easily and safely cross Blue Hill Ave
    People wishing to cross Blue Hill Ave must now push a button to wait for a WALK signal. Once the intersection is redesigned they will still have to push a button to cross the street. We strongly request traffic signals that “rest in WALK”.
    Push buttons result in very long waits for walkers. Depending upon when a walker pushes the button in the traffic cycle he/she may wait for over two minutes to get a walk signal. Furthermore, pedestrians must be able to cross the six lanes of Blue Hill Ave in one cycle. Neither MassDOT staff nor their consultants could guarantee that walkers would be able to cross in one cycle.
  • The bike boxes at the Blue Hill Ave and Morton St intersection are an important safety measure however the placement of one in the Southeast corner of the intersection could pose a dangerous conflict with right turning cars. We would like to look more closely at the designs to assess this. An additional left-turning bike box is needed at the northeast corner in so that cyclists can safely turn left off of blue Hill onto Morton St towards Jamaica Plain.
  • We support the overwhelming response from residents who advocated to keep the bus stop where it currently is on Blue Hill Ave.
  • We applaud the design’s tightening of curb radii at Blue Hill/Morton and if floating bus stops are in a location supported by community members, we would support them and the addition of bike facilities at the intersection. It appeared that at least some people at the public meeting had never seen or experienced floating bus stops and more education is needed about how they work when proposing them. We understand that parking will not be permitted within 20 feet of the intersections but we also heard that there are many violations of this regulation. We recommend that additional curb extensions, either concrete or flexposts, be added to the design.

Sincerely,
Dorothea Hass, WalkBoston
Eliza Parad, Boston Cyclists Union
Galen Mook, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition
Tony Lechuga, LivableStreets Alliance

Jamaica Plain Gazette – “City Council holds hearing regarding dockless mobility, electric scooters”

Jamaica Plain Gazette – “City Council holds hearing regarding dockless mobility, electric scooters”

Jamaica Plain Gazette: “City Council Holds Hearing Regarding Dockless Mobility, Electric Scooters

Kristen McCosh from the Mayor’s Office of Persons With Disabilities said that part of her role is to make sure the path of travel on the sidewalks remain unobstructed.

“Sidewalks are the most common mode of travel for people with disabilities,” McCosh said. She said she was concerned about accessibility of the scooters themselves as well as their speed, and where they might be left in the way of someone who is blind or low vision.

“People with disabilities are not in a position to move them or even go around them,” she said.

In the third panel, Stacy Thompson, executive director of the Livable Streets Organization, and Brendan Kearney from WalkBoston, made suggestions about the implementation of the new scooters. Thompson told the City Council that she hopes they will meet their excitement about the prospect with “increased funding for the infrastructure that will be required to support this.” She also said that regulating the speed of the scooters is just a small portion of the conversation that needs to be had about regulating the speed of all vehicles. Redesigning streets and curbside management were things that Kearney said needed to be thought about.

Posted November 9, 2018

Comments on Jamaica Pond: Parkman and Perkins Access Enhancement

Comments on Jamaica Pond: Parkman and Perkins Access Enhancement

May 8, 2017

Commissioner Leo Roy
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

Re: Jamaica Pond: Parkman and Perkins Access Enhancements

Dear Commissioner Roy:

WalkBoston is very pleased that Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is designing safe pedestrian access to Jamaica Pond from adjacent developments and the larger communities of Brookline and Boston.

WalkBoston Supports the Proposed Signalized Crossings
As we stated at the Public Hearing on April 11, 2017 WalkBoston strongly supports a signalized crossing at Cabot Estates where residents have for years been pressing for a safe crossing to the pond.

We are pleased that the crossing at Parkman/Perkins will also be signalized and we echo what many others at the hearing said that there is no need for a slip lane at this intersection, and we request that the pork chop be eliminated. Typically, cars turn quickly at slip lanes, ignoring pedestrians.

WalkBoston Recommendations

  1. Shorten traffic signal cycles to 70 seconds
    Traffic signal cycle length will be 110 seconds according to the public presentation speakers. Pedestrians will not wait up to two minutes to cross a roadway. With this fact in mind, WalkBoston as well as other advocates such as Livable Streets is asking the City of Boston and state agencies such as DCR to develop shorter signal cycles of no more than 70 seconds. We are assuming from the presentation that the traffic signals are exclusive, but we would like to have the plans so we can review them.
  2. Undertake additional traffic calming measures
    Traffic often speeds on the Pond’s perimeter because there are few intersection streets. To slow traffic WalkBoston recommends lane widths be reduced from 11’ to 10’.
  3. Utilize white reflectorized thermoplastic crosswalk markings of a ladder design.
    The state standard of two parallel lines does not provide enough visual warning to motorists.
  4. Enhance pedestrian access to the west side of Jamaica Pond.
    The optional path is a pedestrian desire line and if constructed would addresses drainage and erosion.

WalkBoston is very pleased that these long-­awaited access improvements are coming to fruition. We look forward to working with DCR on this and other vital pedestrian safety access projects throughout Greater Boston.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman                           Dorothea Hass
Executive Director                         Sr. Project Manager