Pearl Street Complete Streets Design

Your help needed on Casey Arborway one more time

The western end of the Casey Arborway project, notated with the improvements being added.

The western end of the Casey Arborway project, notated with the improvements being added.

WE at the Boston Cyclists Union apologize for having to post this important action alert, but if you live in Boston, we need to ask for your immediate action to support a decision many Jamaica Plain residents supported by a factor of 3 to 1 back in 2012, because it is again being dragged into Boston’s City Council chambers——this time with a citywide focus. Bridging Forest Hills has convinced City Councillor Charles Yancey to order a public hearing on the project to explore the health impacts of dust as the bridge is removed AND in Yancey’s words, to question the decision to build at-grade.

Please take a moment before tomorrow’s city council session to remind your Boston City Councillor, your at-large councillors, and particularly Councillor Charles Yancey, that you support a bike and pedestrian friendly Forest Hills. (See below for their phone numbers and emails).

There have been 36 public meetings on the Casey Project, including 10 widely advertised community meetings, including one in Mattapan. Yancey did not recall that there was a meeting in Mattapan for the project when the Bike Union called him today, but the meeting was organized by State Rep. Russell Holmes of Mattapan. But despite this being the second largest MassDOT public process in recent memory (the Big Dig had a few more meetings), a small but determined group of highway-like infrastructure supporters in Jamaica Plain have never accepted the majority-approved decision to build an at-grade boulevard instead.

We’re asking that:

  • There be no further delays of the Casey Arborway reconstruction project. There have been too many delays to this project already.

A few talking points around the at-grade option (check meeting minutes or this interview with neighborhood activist Clay Harper for more info.)

The Casey Arborway project will mean:

  • A more inviting place to walk.
  • A more inviting place to bike.
  • A more scenic and enjoyable place to drive.
  • Along with the DCR’s new Arborway project and a future effort to get a cycletrack on Morton Street almost all the way to Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan, this project will create an off-road route all the way from Franklin Park to the Landmark Center in the Fenway neighborhood.
  • A new farmer’s market and other events are made possible in a new park the size of Copley Plaza at the end of the SW Corridor and next the Forest Hills MBTA station.
  • Commuters will no longer have to cross the Arborway to get to the Forest Hills Orange Line station (a second headhouse is being added).
  • An expanded busway for the 39 bus.
  • Walking and biking paths connect the Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park.
  • An under-the-bridge environment will not attract drunken loitering and crime.
  • Car commuters passing through will have an opportunity to stop and support local businesses.
  • More pedestrians and cyclists in the area will increase revenues for local businesses.
  • A visible gateway to the Arnold Arboretum that includes 69 different species of trees and shrubs (most of which would never thrive without access to sunlight).
  • Congestion and overall trip times for motor vehicles will actually be reduced from current conditions for the majority of drivers (although speeding over the area on a bridge to get to traffic tie ups on Murray Circle and at the Morton St. and Blue Hill Avenue intersection will not longer be a possibility).

The only defendable drawback to the bridge is that the 7 percent of users who want to turn left off of the Arborway will be taken a couple minutes out of their way, they will have to make a U-turn and turn right instead. For the benefits of this project, the Bike Union and the coalition of organizations supporting the Casey At-Grade decision think this small sacrifice is worth making.

Please email or call your city councillors now (and apologize for having to call on this issue that should have been resolved in 2012)!

President and District 2-Bill Linehan Bill.Linehan@boston.gov 617-635-3203

D1-Salvatore LaMattina Salvatore.LaMattina@boston.gov 617-635-3200

D3-Frank Baker Frank.Baker@boston.gov 617-635-3455

D4-Charles C. Yancey Charles.Yancey@boston.gov 617-635-3131

D5-Timothy McCarthy Timothy.McCarthy@boston.gov 617-635-4210

D6-Matt O’Malley matthew.omalley@boston.gov 617-635-4220

D7-Tito Jackson TJackson@boston.gov 617-635-3510

D8-Josh Zakim Josh.Zakim@boston.gov 617-635-4225

D9-Mark Ciommo Mark.Ciommo@boston.gov 617-635-3113

At Large-Stephen Murphy Stephen.Murphy@boston.gov 617-635-4376

At Large-Ayanna Presley Ayanna.Pressley@boston.gov 617-635-4217

At Large-Michael Flaherty Michael.F.Flaherty@boston.gov 617-635-4205

At Large-Michelle Wu Michelle.Wu@boston.gov 617-635-3115

Comm Ave cycletrack serves as kickoff for Vision Zero in Boston

The morning after his staff received a standing ovation for their safety-centric redesign of Commonwealth Ave in Allston, Mayor Marty Walsh held a press conference to tie the project into a much broader initiative: Vision Zero.

Mayor Marty Walsh kicked off Boston's first Vision Zero initiative this morning in the Eagle Room at City Hall. The Bike Union will be a member of the new task force.

Mayor Marty Walsh kicked off Boston’s first Vision Zero initiative this morning in the Eagle Room at City Hall. The Bike Union will be a member of the new task force.

“We had a couple bike fatalities last year and seven pedestrian deaths, we can do [all modes of transportation] better,” said Walsh. Vision Zero in Boston will begin with extending the crash data work done with bikes to pedestrians, and identifying hot spots. The task force will seek to create rapid response improvements and create “residential slow zones.”

Along with the Boston Cyclists Union and WalkBoston, the Boston Police Department, the Public Works Department, the Boston Public Health Commission, and Boston Emergency Medical Services will be involved in the task force–convening roughly the same group that has been working on the Health Commission’s Crash Data Task Force for over 2 years.

In other cities such as New York, San Francisco and Portland Oregon, Vision Zero has expanded to include a much broader set of policy changes at various city departments. The likelihood is that as the task force studies the problem of road injuries and fatalities, more initiatives will arise.

The Commonwealth Avenue project itself is a major step forward for Vision Zero, and the mayor defended the plan with confidence.

“Their purchase[s] may be smaller, but they’re more frequent,” he said of pedestrians and cyclists–an oft cited fact in before-and-after studies of cycletracks and other facilities that typically increase local business revenues.

A rendering of one of the protected intersections planned for Comm Ave.

In particular the protected intersection design in the Comm Ave planis rather new in the U.S., having only been installed in a suburban area in Austin Texas so far. NACTO has been holding special design charrettes with Boston and other cities who are working to implement it. The design helps reduce the common “right hook” crash type by creating more visibility between cars and bikes, and will likely change the way cycletracks are built in cities around the country.

During door-to-door canvasing by the Bike Union and local advocates Galen Mook and Matt Danish, the business community expressed support for the plan. However, in this morning’s Boston Herald, City Councillor Mike Flaherty criticized it.

“At a time when we just overspent tens of millions on snow removal and the administration is talking about the need to close five schools, someone comes up with the idea to remove 73 parking meters from the streets of Boston, meters that could generate up to $341,000 a year,” Flaherty said to the Herald. “I want to know who did that cost-benefit analysis.”

Talking to Councillor Flaherty today, the Bike Union confirmed his support for the safety improvements to the street. His priority is to find a way to replace the $341,000 in lost revenue, and his comments were made last night. This morning the Mayor announced that the city will be replacing all of Boston’s traditional parking meters with smart meters-which typically raise parking revenue by 33 percent where they are implemented.

The two announcements coupled with Mayor Walsh’s first-in-the-nation ordinance on truck sideguards are putting Boston on the map as a leader on bike safety on the national level. A large part is due to your continued support of the work the Boston Cyclists Union is engaged in every day. If you appreciate our work, please donate or join now.

New Arborway cycletrack could transform Boston

Send your comments to DCR to make it real

A new plan for the Arborway would transform dangerous rotaries into roundabouts with safe crossings and bike paths.

A new plan for the Arborway would transform dangerous rotaries into roundabouts with safe crossings and bike paths.

Last Thursday the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) took a dramatic new step forward for people who bike, for Jamaica Plain and Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace park system, and possibly for creating safer designs for all the parkways in the Commonwealth.

“For us to be able to successfully implement these changes would mean a lot for the wider network because it shows what’s feasible,” said DCR’s Director of Partnerships Conrad Crawford. “And we have to thank the advocacy community for clarifying our thinking on this. Knowing that we have the demand and the support in the human-centered advocacy community means that we feel a lot more supported in being creative. If people weren’t able to attend the meeting we urge them to share their opinions on this project.”

A cross-section how the proposed Arborway cycletracks would look as they left Forest Hills in the direction of Jamaica Pond.

A cross-section how the proposed Arborway cycletracks would look as they left Forest Hills in the direction of Jamaica Pond.

Fulfilling an official Bike Union request made in May 2014, the plan includes cycletracks between Forest Hills and Jamaica Pond that–along with work soon to get underway in Brookline’s Route 9 crossing–will someday mean an uninterrupted Bikeway for Everybody between Franklin Park in Dorchester all the way to Landmark Center in the Fenway neighborhood.

Notably, the Longwood Medical Area, with over 30,000 jobs on site, is on the route.

Another effort to get cycletracks on Morton Street to Mattapan will likely gain momentum from the new connection, as will other aspects of the Parkway Plan now getting underway at the DCR, including Centre Street and West Roxbury Parkway. It also provides a very exciting model for how the DCR can make its many traffic rotaries safer for pedestrians and people on bikes.

Instead of the Kelly and Murray traffic rotaries that exist today on the Arborway——in which traffic in the circle must yield to incoming high-speed traffic——the new plan proposes three “modern roundabouts.” Two of the roundabouts form a “dumbbell” pair that helps traffic merge from Centre Street and the Arborway at Murray.

Unlike rotaries, incoming traffic in modern roundabouts enters at a perpendicular angle and must yield to traffic already in the circle. This has the effect of slowing motorists down, calming traffic and creating awareness of pedestrians, bikes and other vehicles. Roundabouts also help optimize efficient traffic flow and prevent gridlock for motorists. The plan would remove four traffic signals. Because they take up far less space, there is more room for Bikeways for Everybody to skirt around them.

With these roundabouts, raised pedestrian crossings, and protected bike lanes, the new concept would encourage drivers to drive at slower speeds but also help move through the area more efficiently with fewer stops. All of this, said Ian Lockwood, a consultant with Toole Design Group who spoke at Thursday’s meeting, would help greatly reduce the number of injuries and deaths on the street. Over 130 crashes occurred on this stretch of the parkway between 2009 and 2012, according to Toole’s analysis.

The crowd of around 40 neighborhood residents, and at least one motorist/cyclist from Dorchester, were overwhelmingly positive about the plan. Asked if anyone didn’t like it, the crowd didn’t produce a single naysayer, though some urged the DCR to make sure to explain it well to people who drive.

Roundabouts were controversial when they were first introduced to the U.S. in the early 1990s, but a 1998 study concluded that though public opinion was often sour before installation at the time, 73 percent of the public supported roundabout installation after the fact.

A map showing just some of the DCR Parkways that could benefit from the example of safe comfortable bike infrastructure the Bike Union is working to support on the Arborway. The Bike Union is part the Urban Paths and Parkways Committee that is overseeing the plan.

A map showing just some of the DCR Parkways that could benefit from the example of safe comfortable bike infrastructure the Bike Union is supporting on the Arborway. The Bike Union is part of the Urban Paths and Parkways Committee that is overseeing a new $500,000 Parkway Study that will explore adding bike infrastructure to all of the systems parkways.

The introduction of the roundabout to the DCR’s parkway system could not come at a better time. The DCR’s $500,000 study of their entire parkway system, also triggered by the #WinterBiker and Arborway Cycletrack campaigns, will provide an opportunity to talk about replacing dozens of rotaries in Metro Boston to make conditions safer for all people who bike, as well as pedestrians and motorists.

It’s in the bike community’s interest to keep supporting the DCR so our state park system can be as awesome as every staffer working there believes it should be.

Please check out more of the plan and send in your supportive comments and suggestions to dcr.updates@state.ma.us. Please note “Arborway Bicycle Facilities” in the subject line, though this project is so much more! Deadline for comments is Friday, March 6.

You can also send comments to:
DCR Office of Public Outreach
251 Causeway St. Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114

Boston moves toward cycletracks on Commonwealth

Your support needed to make it to 100%

A remaining challenge will be ensuring the cycletrack reaches all the way to the intersection with the BU Bridge, as depicted here. Illustration created by a Bike Union volunteer.

A remaining challenge will be ensuring the cycletrack reaches all the way to the intersection with the BU Bridge, as depicted here. Illustration created by a Bike Union volunteer.

One of the most challenging campaigns Boston’s bike advocate community has ever taken on is now benefitting from a very positive turn. Boston’s transportation department has been working on a cycletrack option for Comm Ave since December, and thanks to a highly collaborative effort between the Boston Cyclists Union, Livable Streets Alliance, BU Bikes and you, it may well become the most effective protected bike lane in the country.

“We’re heading toward bike tracks on Comm Ave but there’s some related issues there we’re trying to finish up,” said Boston’s Deputy Transportation Commissioner Jim Gillooly. “We’re intent on having the public meeting that we’ve been talking about for the past three months… in the last week of February.”

The Bike Union's redesign of Comm Ave suggested protected intersections, an idea that has been taken seriously by BTD.  Design created volunteer Fei Peng.

The Bike Union’s redesign of Comm Ave suggested protected intersections, an idea that has been taken seriously by BTD.
Design created volunteer Fei Peng.

A unique aspect of the Commonwealth cycletrack plan is the city’s close attention to intersection design. The design concept delivered to the city by the Bike Union has helped spark internal discussion about the pros and cons of the protected intersection design versus the signal-protected intersection design often used in New York City. Either design is said to reduce the “right hook” type of collision so common on Comm. Ave, according to Boston Police bike crash data analyzed by the Bike Union.

“We still need to iron out a few things about how the intersections would work, we need to do some further dialogue with our public works folks [about maintenance], we also need to do some work briefing abutters on the street,” said Gillooly. “And the other ingredient we need to sort through is implications of where curbs would go to, and continue the discussion with the utility companies. These snow days aren’t really helping us at all, but it is a reality out here we have to deal with.”

All in all, Gillooly is making a massive effort to alter the city’s plans for Comm. Ave to meet a September deadline for full construction documents, and a lot of his haste is in response to the full-throated cry he heard from you—-the active members of Boston’s bike community. A key turning point for the city seemed to occur around two big events, the Mayor’s Bike Ride with Marty Walsh on Nov. 22 and the Dec. 9 public meeting organized by BU Bikes with help from the Bike Union and presentations from Boston’s “Big 4” advocacy groups (the Bike Union, Livable Streets Alliance, WalkBoston, and MassBike). At the first, the Mayor experienced first hand Comm Ave’s dooring risk to people who bike, and at the second, over 130 of you braved rain and floods to let the city know how important this route is to you.

Just one month later on Dec. 23, leadership of the Big 4 were called in to City Hall to see an early draft of the plans that included a cycletrack idea to see if there was hope for a consensus based on the new direction—a requirement for state funding of the project. There was. Now, everyone is awaiting the results of this work at a public meeting Gillooly hopes will happen in the last week of February. It is essential that you show up once again, perhaps this time in 10 feet of snow, to express your continued support of the cycletrack on Comm Ave.

The Walsh Administration is working hard to make sure the bike community is protected from harm, and cyclists would do well support this plan in the public forum to ensure that bikeways are indeed built for everybody in Boston.

Somerville's Doug Johnson starts as Community Organizer

New position at the Union is about engaging more volunteers and members in the Union’s work

Doug Johnson

The Bike Union’s new Community Organizer Doug Johnson, speaking at the Annual Spring Kickoff in 2014. Photo by Jon McCurdy.

The Bike Union is looking forward to a banner year for its programs and advocacy campaigns thanks to the addition of Somerville resident Doug Johnson to the staff.

Doug first got involved with the Bike Union in 2012 as an Urban Planning Intern while earning a Master’s Degree in city planning from Boston University. He was motivated to focus his studies on ways to improve safety for all users after the tragic deaths of five cyclists in Boston that year, including fellow BU student Christopher Weigl. For the Bike Union, he helped analyze the growth of bike ridership in the city over time and got active in the Beacon Street cycletrack campaign.

During the summer of 2013 Doug co-led a cross-country cycling trip with the non-profit organization Bike & Build, raising money for and working with local affordable housing non-profits along the route. After returning from the West Coast, he worked as a tour guide at Urban Adventours, before taking a position as Community Organizer for the Union.

Doug has been enjoying his commute from Somerville to Bike Union Headquarters in Roxbury since accepting the position, and plans to participate fully in Boston #bikewintah. If you’re interested in getting more involved with the Union send Doug an email or call at 617-516-8877.

Show up, Speak up for cycletracks on JP's Arborway!

A rendering of a possible Bikeway for Everybody on The Arborway in Jamaica Plain. Rendering created by the Bike Union.

A rendering of a possible Bikeway for Everybody on The Arborway in Jamaica Plain. Rendering created by the Bike Union.

Since 2011, the Bike Union has helped lead local residents and other orgs to reconnect the Emerald Necklace for bicycles. Over the past 4 years, the coalition has successfully promoted an at-grade solution for the reconstruction for the Casey Overpass, and a buffered bike lane on Morton Street that now reaches halfway to Mattapan. One of the last remaining problems to solve is the connection between the Casey Arborway project and Jamaica Pond. Next week we have an opportunity to bridge one of the last gaps!

The Arborway cycletrack discussions were sparked last year shortly after the #WinterBiker campaign created by the many neighborhood groups in the Bike Union’s Organizing Group took place. The momentum started by that campaign birthed the new Urban Paths & Parkways Committee at the Department for Conservation and Recreation, and then, due to an internal communication breakdown, the DCR’s maintenance crew painted inadequate bike infrastructure on the Arborway. This sparked a Bike Union letter campaign that asked the agency to remove the dangerous new bike facility to make space for a more thorough discussion of how this portion of the Arborway (from Eliot Street to South Street) could be made comfortable for cyclists. Now, the DCR is moving forward with that discussion!

There will be two public meetings for this project within one week. At the first (Feb. 2) the DCR will seek community input on what kind of bike facilities would work along the Arborway. This includes Kelly and Murray traffic circles. At the second (Feb. 5), the DCR will present alternatives and gather more input.

It is extremely important that the DCR hears from people like you who would prefer cycletracks on Mon., Feb. 2, and also that you or your friends or family also show up on Thurs., Feb. 5 to support the cycletrack alternative moving forward.

Show up, speak up for Bikeways for Everybody!

Arborway Bicycle Facilities Public Meeting
Mon., Feb. 2 6:30 to 8:30pm
and
Thurs., Feb. 5, 6:30 to 8:30pm
Arnold Arboretum Visitor Center/Hunnewell Building
125 Arborway, Boston

Find out more here.

New Pearl Street design under attack in Cambridge

Pearl Street Complete Streets Design

Cambridge’s innovative plan will include a bike lane during the day and parking during the night, but only if you defend it. Forward this email to your friends in Cambridge NOW.


Write a letter to the city today!

By Joe Poirier

As of the beginning of last month, it looked as though a new design being put together for Cambridge’s Pearl Street would include a buffered bike lane during the day, and parking for residents at night. This ‘Complete Streets’ Option was a compromise meant to please as many people as possible after opposition to a bolder plan for a cycletrack was heard.

But now the city’s plans for encouraging cycling on Pearl Street, a major Cambridge-Boston connection, are being threatened by a small group of residents who are going door to door organizing opposition. Their work has apparently gotten to Cambridge City Councillor Tim Toomey, who independently filed a Council Order recommending the City Manager kill the Complete Streets plan for Pearl Street and reconstruct the road without improving it for people who bike. Toomey has supported many bike projects in Cambridge, including the Grand Junction Bike Path, so the move has surprised many.

Cambridge’s Community Development Department (CDD) and Department of Public Works (DPW) created the Complete Streets option after many cyclists reported feeling uncomfortable on the street, which is extremely narrow and also hosts a bus route. The plan allows safer and more efficient passage for MBTA buses, safer and more accessible cycling, and better snowplow and emergency vehicle service to the street. Cambridge’s CDD has also planned for accessible, separated bicycle facilities on Pearl Street as a part of the city’s official Bicycle Network Plan.

According to a city-funded parking study, there is an excess of available parking spaces during the day. An extensive 2014 review showed that in the afternoon, 47 percent of spaces on Pearl Street were completely unoccupied, and 31 to 42 percent of side street spaces were unused. The morning saw 42 percent of parking on Pearl Street unused, and in the evening, one in four of all spaces on Pearl Street were vacant.

As Pearl Street is a very important connection for cyclists who live in Cambridge and want to access the BU Bridge over the Charles River and other destinations in Cambridgeport, the Boston Cyclists Union is working with local residents to encourage as many Cambridge residents as possible to write letters to their elected officals as soon as possible. The fate of Pearl Street hangs in the balance!

Write an e-mail right now and forward this to as many of your friends in Cambridge as you can!

Your email can be as short or as long as you like, just make sure to say you support the Complete Streets Plan for Pearl Street, tell them why and include your name and Cambridge address.

City Council: council@cambridgema.gov
City Manager Richard Rossi: rrossi@cambridgema.gov

Summer St Cycletrack questioned by waterfront advisory group

Write a letter by Dec. 31!

A rendering of the future cycletrack on Summer Street, created by the Boston Cyclists Union.

A rendering of the future cycletrack on Summer Street, created by the Boston Cyclists Union.

By Alex Nenoupolos and Pete Stidman

Just days before its initial public comment deadline, the advisory group for the South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan momentarily changed its tack and eliminated the long-planned Summer Street Cycletrack from its outlook. The move was seen as a major setback by neighborhood bike advocates who were at a Dec. 18 public meeting to ask for additional better bikeways on D Street and parts of Northern Ave.

“I was quite surprised,” said Joshua Schiedel, who brought his newborn baby Diego to the meeting. “What upsets me about this version of the plan is how it… reinforces the inefficient transportation model that already causes problems. They have an opportunity to build the neighborhood of the future here, but instead they’re giving us what’s already not working.”

Continue reading Summer St Cycletrack questioned by waterfront advisory group

Comm Ave meeting attracts 130 despite flooding

Commissioner “reevaluating” design

A rendering of the future Commonwealth Avenue cycletrack created by the Boston Cyclists Union.

A rendering of the future Commonwealth Avenue cycletrack created by the Boston Cyclists Union.

The BU Bikes Comm Ave public meeting on Dec. 9 was an unqualified success by most accounts, though city officials still have not committed fully to a cycletrack on Boston’s most dangerous thoroughfare.

Over 130 people shook off the pouring rain and flooded streets to attend the meeting, which was called by BU Bikes to ensure Boston University students would get their two cents in as the city’s public meeting on the project continues to be delayed.

Interim Commissioner Jim Gillooly spoke to the crowd after advocates from WalkBoston, Livable Streets Alliance, MassBike and the Boston Cyclists Union all voiced their support and made detailed for the cycletrack, including a presentation of the Bike Union’s conceptual cycletrack design and crash data analysis.

“We’re doing a reevaluation of some earlier design work,” said Gillooly in a post-meeting interview with the Bike Union. “We’re already on board with narrowing the travel lanes… Everybody has reason to be optimistic that this design will be improved, and I think they have to be realistic in terms of respecting the fact that we need to seek that balance (between travel modes).”

Gillooly has told advocates that the last public meeting on the project will likely be in late January, and it might include more than one option for the public to choose from. He has said publicly that the department is considering cycletracks as they reevaluate the original design.

Brookline goes big for Route 9 cycletrack design

A rendering of the Bike Union's redesign of a key section of Route 9 in Brookline. Rendering by Jessi Flynn.

A rendering by Bike Union volunteer Jessi Flynn of the Bike Union’s redesign of Route 9.

The Bike Union’s efforts to create a new vision for a protected bike lane (cycletrack) on Route 9 paid off big at a large public meeting in Brookline last Wednesday, Dec. 3.

The meeting was billed as a design charrette and several groups, some from local schools, gave presentations of their ideas for the street’s future. Several presenters projected a cycletrack rendering created by Bike Union volunteer Jessi Flynn. Her rendering was based on a redesign of the street complete with cycletrack created by volunteer Mark Tedrow and board member Peter Furth, which was also referred to. It became clear over the course of the evening that their design was a powerful tool that helped gather support for the cycletrack among Brookline residents.
Continue reading Brookline goes big for Route 9 cycletrack design