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Tag: jamaica plain

Lead a Jane’s Walk this May in your neighborhood

Lead a Jane’s Walk this May in your neighborhood

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Jane’s Walk is happening the first weekend of May (5th-6th-7th).
Last year, 1,000+ walks happened all over the globe!

Think of this as an opportunity to:

  • start a conversation with your neighbors,
  • continue highlighting safety issues that have been identified through initiatives like Boston’s Neighborhood Slow Streets application process
  • get outside and enjoy a weekend in May!

Create your walk idea on Janeswalk.org, or get in touch with us at WalkBoston (contact Brendan!). We’re happy to help you or your neighbors with suggestions, promote your walk, and answer any questions you may have.
We look forward to helping you get out walking!

Edit: We’ll add neighborhoods/cities/towns below that will be hosting walks on this post (and include links to the separate walks within the communities as we find out about them.) 

Boston – West End – “Jane’s Walk West End Tour”
Meet at the West End Museum
Saturday, May 6, 2pm
http://janeswalk.org/united-states/boston/janes-walk-west-end-tour/

Boston – West Roxbury – “West Roxbury Walk Audit”
Meet at the Hastings Street Lot
Saturday, May 6, 2pm
http://janeswalk.org/united-states/boston/west-roxbury-walk-audit/

Boston – Jamaica Plain – “Growing the City: Washington St from Forest Hills to Green St”
Meet at Brassica Kitchen & Cafe
Sunday, May 7, 11am
http://janeswalk.org/united-states/boston/growing-city-washington-st-forest-hills-green-st/

Boston – Roslindale – “Roslindale Gateway Path & proposed Blackwell Path Extension”
Meet at SE corner of the Arboretum (look for Walk UP Roslindale Banner)
Sunday, May 7, 1pm
http://www.walkuproslindale.org/weblog/2017/04/21/janes-walk-planned-sunday-may-7-at-1-pm-start-at-the-southeast-corner-of-the-arboretum/

Cambridge – “The Dense Layers of History in Old Cambridge”
Meet at Out of Town News Kiosk, Harvard Square
Saturday, May 6, 10:30am
http://www.janejacobswalk.org/upcoming-2017-walks/the-dense-layers-of-history-in-old-cambridge

Worcester – Jane Week (May 1 – 7, 2017) gives Worcester residents and visitors a chance to connect to each other, explore Worcester by foot and participate in interesting discussions on how we can enhance the design and function of our city. – 20+ events and walks throughout Worcester.
http://janeswalk.org/united-states/worcester-ma/

Lowell – “Labor Movement in Lowell”
Meet at Lowell National Park Visitor Center, 246 Market St
Saturday, May 6, 10:30am
http://richardhowe.com/event/labor-movement-in-lowell-walk/

Dedham – “Walking Tour of Proposed Dedham Heritage Rail Trail”
Meet at the parking lot by the football field/track on Whiting Ave
Sunday, May 7, 4:00pm
Saturday, May 13, 10:00am
http://mailchi.mp/f20ef35375c4/rail-trail-happenings-this-spring

Somerville – “A Metamorphosis of Industrial Buildings Along the Rails”
Kickoff to Somerville’s Preservation Month, ending at Aeronaut Brewery
Saturday, May 13, 9:30am
http://janeswalk.org/united-states/somerville-ma/meta/

Boston – Jamaica Plain – “Walking Tour of Monument Square”
July 1 & August 19, 12:45pm
http://janeswalk.org/united-states/boston/walking-tour-o/

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

Comment Letter: ENF and the PNF for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project MEPA: #15502

Comment Letter: ENF and the PNF for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project MEPA: #15502

June 17, 2016

Matthew Beaton, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
ATTN: MEPA Office
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

Brian Golden, Director
Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201-1007

RE:  Comments on the ENF and the PNF for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project MEPA: #15502

Dear Sirs:

WalkBoston reviewed the ENF and PNF for Back Bay/South End Gateway Project.

We are very interested in this project, which is superbly located to be served by public transportation, walking and biking. However, we have concerns about pedestrian access into, through and around the site which we would like to see addressed in the next project submissions. These are:

1. Relocation of the layover site for the Route 39 bus
The proposal states that the layover site for the Route 39 bus will be located “off-site.” Back Bay Station is one end of this bus route, which is one of the busiest in the MBTA system, serving Back Bay, the Fenway and Jamaica Plain. Buses congregate here and wait until schedules require them to return to the main route.This bus route is too important to the MBTA system and its many riders to shift the layover site to another location which could lead to a major change in the frequency of bus service. A layover location must be found nearby.

2. Sidewalks that surround the site
Sidewalks along Stuart and Clarendon Streets have been designed at minimum widths for their functions. The MassDOT Design Guide calls for sidewalks in busy downtown areas of cities to be between 12 and 20 feet in width. These guidelines should be generously incorporated into the planning for this project.  The City’s Complete Streets Guideline Manual suggests that 8 feet is a minimum but prefers a width of ten feet.

This is particularly important for the Dartmouth Street side of the project. Foot traffic on Dartmouth Street is already heavy and likely to increase, due to the new development and to moving the principal entrance to the station to the center of this frontage. The plan calls for a portion of the Dartmouth Street frontage to be as narrow as 8 feet at one point, and 13 feet otherwise. The 8’ foot width, which appears along a planned ADA ramp into the first-floor retail area, is not adequate for this location. Perhaps this width could be expanded by moving the ADA ramp into the retail area of the building or by selectively eliminating portions of the drop-off/taxi lane which extends from the station entrance to Stuart Street. Alternatively, perhaps a thoughtful reduction of the number of trees and their placement might be appropriate to widen the clear width of the walkway.

3. Garage exit on Dartmouth Street
One of the unfortunate consequences of the design for re-use of the Garage East and West portions of this project is the potential use of Dartmouth Street as one of the exits from the on-site garage. This appears to result from redesign of the existing garage which currently has two entrance and exit ramps.

The proposed new parking facility removes two the existing garage access ways – those leading in and out of the garage in drums connecting with Trinity Place. It retains the existing entrance and exit ramps on Clarendon Street. The design calls for no new entrance ramps. However, it calls for a new exit ramp that requires removal of the Turnpike on-ramp. If the Turnpike ramp is retained, the proponent maintains that there is a need for a replacement exit onto Dartmouth Street.

The proposed exit ramp onto Dartmouth Street is deeply consequential for pedestrian traffic. It is difficult to imagine a more inappropriate design than the insertion of a major vehicular exit from the garage onto the Dartmouth Street sidewalk, the primary pedestrian access route to and from Back Bay Station. Certainly there must be a better place to provide a garage exit than this, possibly by retaining one of the drums could be retained for exiting traffic directly onto Trinity Place.

4. The station area concourse
Back Bay Station was designed as a large arched hall, flanked on both sides by hallways leading to ticket and waiting areas. Each platform has its own stairways, escalators and /or elevators connecting the platform to the station concourse. Train platforms are split, with the Worcester/Amtrak Chicago line platforms near the north edge of the station concourse, and the New York/Amtrak Washington platforms near the south edge. Access to the Orange Line platform is directly in the center of the station, under the arched portion of the station structure. On either side, outside the arched hall, two wide concourses connect through the block between Dartmouth and Clarendon Streets.

Within the large arched hall, pedestrian movement is presently blocked for concourse movement by a fence that surrounds the major access stairways and escalators to and from the Orange Line. The proposal calls for a removal of some of this blockage and relocation of the two principal concourse pathways between Dartmouth and Clarendon Streets into the arched hall. The present concourses, outside the arched hall, are then repurposed for retail and other facilities.

The relocation or shrinking of the passenger concourses and repurposing the space occupied by the old ones raises a concern as to whether the new routes are sufficiently wide to handle projected growth in passenger volumes. Although it is uncertain what projections of passenger volumes might show, according to the project proponent, the station already handles 30,000 passengers per day. The MBTA currently maintains there are 36,000 Orange Line passengers here, plus 17,000 commuter rail passengers. Amtrak may constitute an additional 2000 passengers. New projections of traffic should be undertaken to determine likely future volumes of people using the station.

With the knowledge of the likely future traffic of patrons of the Orange Line, the commuter rail lines and Amtrak, the plan must provide good access to and egress from the following locations:

– The Dartmouth Street entrance
– The Orange Line station (two stairways, escalators, one elevator)
– The underpass beneath Dartmouth Street to the Copley Place mall (one stairway)
– The commuter and Amtrak rail lines west toward Worcester and ultimately Chicago (two stairways, one elevator) serving 15 stations and communities
– The commuter and Amtrak rail lines that generally go south and follow the east coast to Providence, New York and Washington D.C. (two stairways, two escalators, one elevator) serving 47 stations and communities
– The proposed new passageway to Stuart Street and into the Garage West office structure
– Ticket machines for passes and Charlie cards for the subway lines.
– Amtrak ticket offices
– Commuter rail ticket offices
– Restrooms for the entire station concourse area
– Food and retail outlets proposed for the concourse level
– Food and retail proposed for the second level
– Food and retail outlets proposed for the third level
– Waiting areas including seating for passengers traveling by rail
– The existing and new parking garages in the Garage West/East areas
– The new residential building in the Station East area at the Clarendon Street end of the project

All but the last two of these movements take place primarily in a compressed space that extends about 100’ from the main entrance on Dartmouth Street into the station. The proposal significantly diminishes this portion of the existing concourse, serving the movements listed above and lowering the space of the waiting area from 9,225 square feet (41 bays each roughly 15 feet square) to 6,075 square feet (27 bays, each roughly 15 feet square. It calls for eliminating the principal existing waiting area and replacing it with a large food service facility. All waiting passengers will be moved to backless benches located in busy pedestrian passageways, including the major entrance to the building. The proposal also calls for diminishing the size of the concourse by narrowing the existing passageways between Dartmouth and Clarendon Street and replacing them with retail space. It calls for new entrances to the proposed second and third levels in the midst of the existing waiting area. The proposal moves the ticketing area away from the waiting area and into new space along the proposed new passageway, where queuing to purchase tickets (now possible in the waiting area) will compete with pedestrian movement. It is hard to imagine that all these activities can be accommodated in the space planned.

A new design should be undertaken to accommodate the growing number of pedestrians and waiting passengers as well as patrons of food and retail outlets who may choose to sit in this busy space. The existing waiting area should not be removed but instead enlarged to accommodate anticipated future use. Ticketing space should be provided close to passenger access areas. Access to and from the second and third levels should be moved away from the waiting area and into the space that is gained by closing the existing concourse passageways. Retail areas adjacent to the passenger waiting area should be scaled back to remove potential blockage of clear and very visible access to and from the stairways leading to transportation facilities below the concourse. Benches for rail passengers should not be relegated to busy portions of the concourse, especially where they might interfere with pedestrian traffic through the concourse.

5. Construction on the rail station platforms
The proposal calls for use of the station platforms for supports for the new high-rise building being built in the Station East portion of the project. These new obstructions narrow the platforms for waiting or alighting passengers and add complexity in an environment where moving to or from access points is already complicated. This true of both the Orange line platform, serving both directions for subway passengers and the southernmost railway platform serving commuter rail passengers to and from the south and southwest, including Providence, New York, Washington and the entire eastern seaboard.

Using the existing rail platforms for construction of these supports will obstruct passenger traffic during construction as well as after completion. Designs should be carefully integrated with existing obstructions such as columns to minimize interference with passenger traffic flow.

We are very concerned about the changes proposed for the station, the bus layover and the sidewalks and interior passageways. We would appreciate your consideration of our comments and look forward to your responses to them. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

November 4, 2015

Mass DCR
Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway Street
Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

WalkBoston Comments on the DCR’s Arborway Proposals

First of all, WalkBoston commends the DCR on its work to correct the serious safety issues to be found in the present Arborway configuration. We thoroughly endorse the project’s approach of channeling regional traffic to the center lanes and making the “carriageways” function as local, neighborhood streets with improved bicycle facilities and upgraded safety features and connections. We believe the proposed re-­design of the Arborway in Jamaica Plain will indeed improve bicycle and vehicular safety.

CONCERNS ABOUT PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE
However, we are not convinced that the changes, taken together, will actually improve safety for people on foot. We are concerned about the multiple pedestrian crosswalks at the Kelley and Murray new roundabouts, which we fear may not improve safety and will certainly make walking across the Arborway much less convenient. Before WalkBoston can support this project we need to sit down with DCR and their consultants, Toole Design, to discuss the safety and increased walking trip times to traverse the roundabouts.

The crosswalks appear to have multiplied since the February 2015 design. For example, slip lanes to facilitate through traffic have been added at both Kelly and Murray Circles. At the new Kelly roundabout pedestrians wishing to walk from Pond Street to Orchard Street will need to traverse nine crosswalks in order to cross from one side of the Arborway to the other. Currently, pedestrians can do this in a simple, two-­step crossing with a pedestrian-­actuated traffic signal. (See below for more detailed discussion of this issue.)

Moreover, many transportation engineers question the safety of multiple lane roundabouts: “Multiple-­lane roundabouts lose many of the safety benefits of single-­lane roundabouts. In general, multi-­lane roundabouts are not recommended in areas with high levels of pedestrian and bicycle activity.” (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning 2015) We at WalkBoston are unfamiliar with any multi-­lane roundabouts in eastern Massachusetts that are truly pedestrian friendly and would interested to know of any examples DCR or its consultants have found in the course of the planning process. WalkBoston appreciates that the re-­design calls for raised crosswalks, which will function as a traffic calming measure, WalkBoston would nevertheless like DCR to consider the efficacy of a signalized, mid-­block crosswalk between Kelly and Murray Circles, similar to the mid-­block crosswalk near the Arnold Arboretum main entrance.

To make the same journey today, pedestrians from Moss Hill have two signalized crosswalks. One can hardly call the proposed configuration an improvement for someone on foot.

HISTORIC STONE WALL
WalkBoston supports retention of the historic stone wall, however, if it is necessary to break through the wall in order to make a crucial connection to improve vehicular Kelley circulation, and then re-­build the new wall ends to look like the historic wall ends, WalkBoston would support this — and it’s likely that most local residents would, too. We do not think it is necessary to protect the stone walls in their entirety. The February plan for Kelley had a more logical connection from the roundabout to Orchard Street.

PARKING ON THE CARRIAGEWAYS
At the October public meeting, someone suggested that the new proposed parking lane on the carriageways be eliminated to enhance the parkway appearance. A surprising number of people agreed with this. WalkBoston strongly supports local parking on the carriageways for the following reasons:
Residents along the Arborway are entitled to have street parking for guests as residents on adjacent streets do.
Parking along the carriageways is a benefit for overflow, event parking for Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum. The demand was clearly present. Even though Kelley Circle is posted as “no parking”, visitors have habitually parked there when visiting Jamaica Pond.

 

CONCLUSION

WalkBoston remains deeply concerned about pedestrian safety and accessibility along the Arborway. The proposed DCR redesign is a major step forward for bicycle and vehicle safety and convenience. It is not as large a step forward for pedestrian safety and may be a step backward in terms of pedestrian friendliness and convenience. We believe very strongly that the Arborway should be designed to be a fully multimodal roadway with vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic treated on an equal basis. The parks and ponds in the area are a unique attraction and the area’s residential and commercial neighborhoods are well suited to walking and biking. The Arborway should support and promote both forms of transportation in order to prevent ever-­‐increasing vehicular traffic volumes and to meet the recreational and health goals of the Emerald Necklace of which it is an integral part.

 

Sincerely,

Dorothea Hass, WalkBoston                                 Don Eunson, Jamaica Plain resident

cc: Julie Crockford, President
Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

Comment Letter: Improving parkways in Emerald Necklace

Comment Letter: Improving parkways in Emerald Necklace

March 2, 2015

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

Re: Improving parkways in the Emerald Necklace

Dear Commissioner Murray:

WalkBoston thanks you for launching the public process to improve safety and connections for people walking, bicycling and driving the section of the Emerald Necklace parkways between Jamaica Pond and the future Casey Arborway (under construction). As well as creating new, separated paths for pedestrians and cyclists, proposed improvements include replacing Murray and Kelley Circles with new, safer “roundabouts.”

We understand that your office was initially responding to concerns of the bicycling community. However, your staff and consultants, Toole Design Group, quickly saw that the challenges facing cyclists and pedestrians in this area cannot be fixed without also solving the existing problems of confusing and dangerous vehicle circulation and chronic speeding. So, the scope and objectives were expanded to all users.

WalkBoston is happy to support this comprehensive package of improvements. The safety of people who are walking or bicycling is absolutely dependent on changing the traffic circles. We feel that the proposed plan would both provide good vehicle access and accomplish the following benefits for walkers:
Improve connections between Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum for all park visitors, whether on foot or on bike
Improve safety and reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths Improve quality of life for local residents
Make the movements through the roundabouts clear and understandable and prevent speeding

All of us are aware that the Arborway is unsafe. Between 2008 and 2012 alone there were 135 crashes on the Arborway, with more than 20 injuries. Murray Circle is especially dangerous because of high vehicle speeds and lack of clarity for drivers. Cars frequently jockey for openings and exits. No one wants to walk or bicycle across the roads that feed into Murray Circle!

Proposals
The process that DCR used to develop a set of “starter ideas” included both a public meeting and several meetings with local elected officials and pedestrian and bicycle advocates. The ideas presented by Toole Design at a public meeting on February 5 are impressive and promising.

  • Separate pedestrian sidewalks and bike paths would be provided in the area
  • The “circles” would be rebuilt as smaller, modern roundabouts that
    o    clarify vehicular movements
    o    make it difficult to exceed the “design speed” of 15‐20 mph
    o    provide multiple safe crosswalks (for people traveling in all directions)
  • Provide raised crosswalks to improve pedestrian visibility and slow traffic
  • Preserve the historic roads between today’s traffic circles including the allées of oak trees
  • Reduce the number of traffic signals that interrupt vehicle flow (reduced from 5 to 1)

What is strikingly innovative about the current “starter ideas” is the concept of replacing the enormous Murray Circle two smaller roundabouts, side by side, to sort and channel traffic clearly and efficiently – while providing multiple crossings for bikes and pedestrians.

In addition the plan provides local residents on both sides of the Arborway with multiple ways to access their homes, while using the outer roadways for local access only, making them safer for all users.

Naturally, a lot of details need to be worked out in the next phase of design (e.g. How will blind persons navigate the roundabouts? How will snow removal be handled?), but the big ideas are solid. Your agency’s intention is to make this area more livable for residents and park visitors alike while continuing to accommodate vehicles.

Sincerely,
Wendy Landman
Executive Director