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Tag: Museum of Science

WalkBoston comments on Craigie Dam/Bridge Design Alternatives

WalkBoston comments on Craigie Dam/Bridge Design Alternatives

Date: January 2, 2019

To: Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, Andy Paul, Jackie Douglas,
James Kersten, MassDOT, Commissioner Leo Roy, Jeff Parenti, Dan Driscoll, DCR

Re: WalkBoston comments on Craigie Dam/Bridge Design Alternatives

We are relieved that MassDOT and DCR are committed to acting to improve the safety of people walking and biking on this critical roadway segment.

We have reviewed the options that were presented to the community on December 18th and have several comments that are detailed below. However, we do not think that the relatively modest improvements that are planned for Spring 2019 are adequate to providing truly safe walking and biking conditions, and we urge MassDOT and DCR to develop more significant plans for safety for the Charles River bridges.

One approach that WalkBoston would like to see explored is the adoption of a pilot 20 MPH speed limit on all the Charles River Bridges from Harvard Square to the Craigie Dam/Bridge that would test an automated speed enforcement protocol. Over the last month we have attended meetings regarding safety and operations for the BU Bridge, the Longfellow Bridge and the Craigie Dam/Bridge. In each case, the completely fixed and limited right-of-way does not allow for the provision of protected bike accommodations within the roadway right-of-way without reducing the number of vehicle lanes. WalkBoston was distressed to hear suggestions by community members at one of these meetings to dedicate one of the sidewalks to bicycles rather than pedestrians in order to free up roadway space for vehicles (a suggestion that we were pleased was simply given, but then not taken up or discussed by any of the state or municipal staff).

MassDOT has already expressed its interest in adding automated enforcement to the state’s safety tools and we urge MassDOT to vigorously support a pilot program for the bridges. Setting and then enforcing a 20 MPH speed limit on all the bridges would significantly increase the safety of bicyclists using on-street bicycle lanes while at the same time allowing the number of vehicle lanes to remain as they are today.

Comments on Design Options A and B

Craigie Dam/Storrow Drive Intersection

Take the following steps to minimize conflicts between people walking, biking and driving:

  • For turns from Craigie into Storrow Drive put in place (and enforce) a permanent No Right on Red regulation and include the permanently illuminated NRTOR sign
  • Set the vehicle for Craigie Dam traffic approaching Leverett Circle stop line back from the intersection (with Don’t Block the Box markings and enforcement) to allow bikes to queue in a bike box ahead of traffic
  • Provide marked bike lanes from Craigie to Martha Way through Leverett Circle
  • Tighten the turning radius of the corner from Craigie onto Storrow Drive and provide a bike ramp to the Paul Dudley White Path at the corner rather than having bikes get on the sidewalk before reaching the intersection. The very tight sidewalk space should be reserved for pedestrians.

Museum of Science Driveway and Museum Way/Craigie Intersection

  • Add crosswalk striping across the Museum of Science driveway.
  • Narrow the driveway to the greatest extent possible given the truck and bus movements needed for Museum of Science operations.
  • Consider signalizing the driveway entrance to the Museum of Science in coordination with the Museum Way signal.
  • Eliminate the conflicting left turn arrow across the WALK signal at the Museum Way crosswalk across Craigie.
  • Improve the street lighting of the crosswalk across Craigie at Museum Way

Craigie/Land Boulevard/Gilmore Bridge Intersection

Configure the signal timing at the Land Blvd/Craigie/Gilmore Bridge intersection to allow safe pedestrian and bike movements. A detailed description is provided below of the maneuver needed to ride a bike safely through the intersection under current conditions. This is in urgent need of improvement.

  • “At the intersection with Edwin H Land Blvd/ Gilmore Bridge, to feel safe as a bicyclist I will often violate traffic signals. The problem is that, whether traveling either inbound or outbound, if you wait for the light to change, traffic builds up next to you. When the light turns green, you are forced into the middle of a pack of fast-moving traffic, with cars and trucks rapidly accelerating and changing lanes.

    The situation is particularly dangerous when traveling outbound and making a left on Cambridge Street (a route most bicyclists take, as Route 28 gets faster and more dangerous beyond the Cambridge St. intersection). As a bicyclist, if you leave the Gilmore intersection with vehicle traffic, you then have to work your way across 2 lanes of fast-moving traffic to get into your left turn, and then must hold your ground in the middle of four lanes of outbound traffic in order to end up on the right-hand side of the two lane Cambridge St. turnoff. You can also hug the left-hand side of the road by the median strip, but traveling on the left side of the road can be dangerous too.

    I have found navigating the Science Bridge is actually safer when breaking the traffic signals. For example, when traveling outbound, if I hit the red light at the Gilmore intersection, there is a break in the signal when I usually run the red light on my bike. The break occurs between the green light for vehicles coming from Charlestown towards Cambridge, and the following green light for traffic moving inbound on 28. Taking the light this way has dangers too – at least one or two vehicles coming from Charlestown almost always speed through their red light (committing their own traffic violation), and you need to be absolutely sure those vehicles have stopped. Nevertheless, this method still allows me to make my way over to the Cambridge St turnoff without needing to cut across vehicle traffic, and feels much safer to me.”

Cc:
State Senator Joe Boncore
State Senator Sal DiDomenico
State Representative Jay Livingstone
State Representative Mike Connolly
Joe Barr, Cara Seiderman, Cambridge
Chris Osgood, Vineet Gupta, Charlotte Fleetwood, Boston
Becca Wolfson, Eliza Parad, Cyclists Union
Stacy Thompson, Steve Miller, LivableStreets Alliance
Galen Mook, Tom Francis, MassBike
Nate Fillmore, Cambridge Bike Safety

Comments on the Charles River Resource Management Plan

Comments on the Charles River Resource Management Plan

October 31, 2014

Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
100 Cambridge St., Suite 900
Boston MA 02114

RE: Comments on the Charles River Resource Management Plan

Dear Secretary Vallely Bartlett:

WalkBoston reviews public planning documents to identify potential implications for pedestrians. The following comments are based on our review of this document:

We are very excited about the opportunities presented for potential improvements in the 3- mile long section of riverfront between the Harbor and the BU Bridge. Because the document gives each proposed improvement a priority ranking, we are able to sense where DCR is moving in its schedule to improve the Lower Charles River Basin.

Many of the improvements proposed are essential for all users of the parks and nearby neighborhoods. We commend DCR for its foresight in working toward protection from flooding that might be anticipated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy two years ago. Improvements to the dam between the river and the harbor will protect the basin, and much of the Back Bay and portions of Cambridge, from flooding.

We are also happy that DCR has been active in working on both the proposed South Bank Bridge behind North Station and the “drawbridge walkway” to be constructed as part of an MBTA replacement bridge. These measures will complete the connection of the riverfront paths with the Harbor Walk.

A related improvement is the proposed walkway behind the Science Museum that would provide connections into the museum, pass over the locks with a new bridge and perhaps through the state police barracks to connect with riverside paths and the existing sidewalk in front of the Museum. This improvement would add capacity of the paths around the basin by providing a new pathway for walkers and runners who currently have no option other than the narrow sidewalk that lies along the reconstructed Craigie Dam roadway.

The partnership of DCR and The Esplanade Association has resulted in proposals that are also moving forward. The relocation of Storrow Drive under one of the Longfellow Bridge arches will provide new park space. Overall goals of the Association’s Esplanade 2020 proposals include revitalizing the area around the Hatch Shell with redesigned paths, a café, and areas for audiences attending Hatch Shell performances. One of the recurring issues in the Hatch Shell work has been the mixing of pedestrians and bicycles at the proposed café that cannot be avoided until a high-speed bicycle path, separated from pedestrian ways, is provided under the Fiedler Footbridge.

We are very pleased the concept of providing separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists is a major feature of the report. In some cases, this kind of separation already exists, as in portions of the Boston Esplanade. In others, such as the Cambridge Esplanade, it will be a major improvement to separate paths for a substantial portion of the riverfront. This design provides high-speed bicycle commuters a special route away from quieter activities, such as strolling or playing with children. We trust that the users of the Cambridge Esplanade will benefit from a proposed greensward with trees and a slight differential in elevation that promotes safety by discouraging a mix of fast cyclists and slower users of the paths.

The report also cites several management issues that require relatively small expenditures. For example, the attention given to removing or controlling geese is important because the birds have become dominant in some sections of the Basin, interfering with safe, healthy and pleasant walking on paths near the River. Snow removal is extremely important to walkers and runners who use the riverside facilities during all months of the year.

However, WalkBoston is concerned that the aspirations expressed in the document do not extend as far as they might. We hope that DCR will explore giving more attention to the following issues.

Minimum widths for paths
The report points out that some stretches of paved paths are only five feet wide. This is insufficient to serve the mix and volume of users, often including both pedestrians and bicyclists. It is clearly inadequate for a multi-use path.

Reliance on multi-use facilities
Pedestrian volumes in the riverfront between the BU Bridge and Boston Harbor are significant. These volumes are reflected in user surveys undertaken by DCR and others, where “walking for pleasure” was shown to be the single most important purpose for many people using the parkland. In another survey, 55% of the respondents cited “congested pathways” as an issue they hoped would be addressed. In the same survey 86% of the respondents would support “separating paths by user types.” 67% of respondents reported a negative experience in using the park, with the majority citing the conflict of pedestrians and cyclists.

These surveys indicate that walkers desire safe and pleasant alternatives to multi-use paths. While it is not feasible to provide separate pedestrian paths along the full length of the corridor, it is clearly a desirable feature to include throughout the wider portions of the park. Multi-use paths would thus be limited to those locations where there are no other options such as narrow stretches of parkland or the recently completed North Bank Bridge.

Provisions for runners and joggers
One of the goals stated in the report calls for safe and continuous bicycle, skating and pedestrian access along the entire length of the park. We would add to that list of users the many runners and joggers who use River paths because they are relatively safe and removed from vehicular traffic.

While runners and joggers do not directly compete with pedestrians for space, they are better served by softer surfaces than asphalt or concrete. “Soft surface” paths have been discussed in locations such as the Greenough Boulevard reconstruction, where separate paths are proposed to serve cycling, walking and running. While the separation of walking and cycling paths is a recurring theme in the report, the possibility of also providing a separate path for runners is not. We would suggest including it in any revisions that might be forthcoming. The presence of so many “goat paths” adjacent to the paved paths clearly point to the need.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important project. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane
Senior Planner

Boston: Science Park Walking Map

Boston: Science Park Walking Map

Boston is America’s walking city — so on a nice day, enjoy a Charles River walk to the Science Museum or Esplanade. See parks, landmarks and Boston history along the way. Consider taking the shuttle one way and walking the other.

Click for “WalkBoston’s Science Park Walking Map” PDF