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Tag: Jamaica Pond

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

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

Comments on Arborway Walking and Bicycling Improvements

Comments on Arborway Walking and Bicycling Improvements

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

Comments on Arborway Crosswalk Improvements presentation

Comments on Arborway Crosswalk Improvements presentation

May 15, 2014

Commissioner Jack Murray
Attn: Office of Public Outreach
Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

Re: Arborway Crossing

Dear Commissioner Murray:

WalkBoston attended the May 6th public meeting and has reviewed DCR’s Arborway Crosswalk Improvements presentation.

First, we are pleased that DCR has responded to community concerns regarding the crosswalk’s unsafe existing conditions. The research by Toole Design Group seems thorough and we support their analysis. I personally live just a few blocks from the Arborway crosswalk. I use the crosswalk regularly to visit the Arnold Arboretum and I drive on the Upper Arborway. I see firsthand the risks of the current configuration.

We agree with some of Toole’s recommendations:
‐ Relocate the fence to improve sight lines
‐ Upgrade WALK signal (on main Arborway) to a countdown signal
‐ Improve signage and pavement markings

However, we do not support the “tiered” approach as presented. We believe that a geometric modification must be made to ensure that vehicles slow down at the crosswalk. Anything less than this will not adequately protect park visitors from driver error (or their own error). Geometric modifications should be a top priority, not postponed till the 3rd tier. This location needs either:
‐ Installation of a Raised Crosswalk in combination with a curb extension, or
‐ Installation of a Chicane with a curb extension on the west side of the Upper Arborway.

The changes that the Town of Brookline made to Pond Avenue along Olmsted Park are a good model for raised crosswalks. Pond Avenue formerly had similarly hazardous crosswalks, somewhat greater traffic volumes, and chronic speeding. The Town installed 3 or 4 raised crosswalks between Route 9 and the Chestnut Street rotary; these force vehicles to really slow down at the crosswalks.

In addition we would like to see:
‐ Construction of a larger queuing area where pedestrians and bikes can wait on the median between the main Arborway and the Upper Arborway
‐ Installation of some physical barrier such as bollards to clearly mark the edge between the waiting area and the Upper Arborway roadway.

With changes to roadway geometry the installation of Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons — while somewhat effective — would probably be unnecessary. (In the absence of geometric modifications, the RRFBs would be a necessity.)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Arborway crosswalk safety improvements. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with any questions. We would be happy to meet with you about our recommendations.

Sincerely,
Don Eunson
Former WalkBoston Board Member and Jamaica Plain resident

cc: Patrice Kish, DCR
Julie Crockford, Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Jessica Mortell, EIT, Toole Design Group