The Bike Union and a handful of volunteers took a big step with the Town of Brookline this week when they agreed to take a serious look at a cycletrack option for a small but important section of Route 9 in Brookline Village. After a couple months of back and forth, the Bike Union laid out a convincing argument that cycletracks are feasible, and now the town’s going to explore the idea.
Let the town know you support their move by signing this statement of support for a cycletrack in Gateway East, and please forward this email to everyone you know in Brookline to do the same!
The town’s original concept was first presented back in 2011 at the 25 percent (conceptual) design stage and then sat on the shelf for a while. The plan sitting there didn’t have any bike accommodation on it so when it came off the shelf into a world clamoring for cycle tracks, it got a cold welcoming from the Brookline Bike Committee. Back in 2011 they had asked for cycletracks, to no avail, but this time the context had changed, cycle tracks are due to be installed in Jamaica Plain, downtown, in Somerville, and several already exist in Cambridge. Plus, the Boston Bike Union now works in Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville too.
The Union proposed presenting an alternative concept for the street to the Town of Brookline and MassDOT, similar to the one it is cooking up for Commonwealth Ave across town (update: still tweaking it). The plan was drawn up by Mark Tedrow, a Bike Union member and Livable Streets volunteer, with help and guidance from Bike Union board member Prof. Peter Furth and executive director Pete Stidman. Tedrow’s plan was then illustrated by talented Bike Union volunteer Jessi Flynn.
The concept, which is mainly meant to show that there is enough width throughout the scope of the project to include a cycletrack, includes one-way raised bike lanes (cycletracks) on either side of Route 9. It stretches from what is often referred to as the “Route 9 Crossing” of the Muddy River Path to where Washington St. (sometimes confused with nearby Harvard St.) branches off to the west.
After it was received by the Town and MassDOT, Assistant Director of Town Planning Joe Viola informed the Bike Union that the town was going to ask their consultant VHB (Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc) to create an option that includes a cycletrack. MassDOT is also talking to the town about potential solutions. In any case, it seems that by the time options reach the eyes of Brookline residents, they will include some very significant improvements for bikes.
Normally, very few would venture to ride on any part of Route 9, but this particular section is essential for people who want access the Muddy River Path, get over to Walnut St, Washington St., or Harvard St., or access the Brookline Village MBTA station. All of these access points connect to comfortable, relatively low-stress bicycling–making this part of Route 9 a significant barrier to cycling for a large number of potential riders, and the Gateway East project the key to eliminating it.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the design proposed by Tedrow and the Bike Union are the “floating bus stops.” The concept is common in Europe and it is included in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide that many American cities including Boston now endorse, but it would be a first time it is used in Massachusetts. Similar examples do exist however, such as the bus stop that exists along the Southwest Corridor at Roxbury Crossing, and the soon to be finished cycletrack on Western Avenue in Cambridge. In essence, the bikeway travels behind the MBTA bus stop instead of in front of it, creating a crossing point where pedestrians can access the bus stop. The room for this marvel at Gateway East was provided by the removal of a unnecessary travel lane.
The travel lane’s potential demise was daignosed by Professor Furth, who analyzed the traffic signal cycles at this intersection and discovered that if some of the different moves through the intersection were allowed to run concurrently, two turning lanes wouldn’t be needed for the right hand turn off Route 9 onto Washington. The same amount of cars would be able to get through with only one lane.
The Bike Union will need your help as we continue to work with the Town of Brookline on Gateway East. Please forward this email or the petition link to everyone you know in the town, but also, write your Town Meeting members and selectmen, and let the Bike Union know if they are open to the idea. CC us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 617-620-1989.