DCR lays down unusual, unsafe bike lanes on Arborway

A recently painted bike lane on the Arborway was done without any public review of plans. This picture clearly shows the additional space that could have been used to create a more comfortable protected bike lane.

A recently painted bike lane on the Arborway was done without any public review of plans.

Design flaws in the new Arborway bike lane include poor transitions in and out of the bike lane, untreated intersections, and lanes narrower than the four foot minimum. Many of these problems would likely have been resolved if the Bike Union had been able to review plans as requested on May 5.

Design flaws in the new Arborway bike lane include poor transitions in and out of the bike lane, untreated intersections, and lanes narrower than the four foot minimum. Many of these problems would likely have been resolved if the Bike Union had been able to review plans as requested on May 5.

The Department of Conservation has made significant progress this year on becoming more bike-friendly, but has not been open and transparent with the process of adding new bikeways on the Arborway in the short span between Kelley Circle (at Jamaica Pond) and Murray Circle (the Arboretum).

The Bike Union officially requested the any plans for Arborway bikeways in a letter on May 5, but was told plans did not exist, and that there would be a longer planning process for the Arborway in the fall. When bike lanes were painted this week, it became clear that the plan requested may have, in fact, existed, and in any case a short-term plan for bike infrastructure was carried out but not shared with the Union.

The slip up has DCR on damage control duty, and the Bike Union scrambling to finish a more polished proposal for a protected bike lane (cycletrack). The proposal was originally being developed to be an aid to the DCR in the fall, when facilities on the Arborway were slated for discussion and study. Early findings are that the side roads along this particular stretch of the Arborway are 30 feet wide, with two car travel lanes and no parking. With two standard travel lanes at 11-feet wide each, there is still ample room for a six-foot wide cycletrack and a two foot physical buffer, such as plastic flexposts or planters that would be removable in winter to allow for snow storage. Conveniently, DCR is well equipped to plow cycletracks using vehicles now devoted to bike path maintenance.

The remaining challenge in the plan for the Arborway will be finding safe and comfortable ways to navigate around the Kelley and Murray traffic circles. Because both of these circles are adjacent to parkland, there may be short-term solutions to be had, and in the past there have been more drastic long-term reconstruction proposals   to calm them and give more access to the parks in the area.

An early draft of the cross section the Bike Union was preparing to recommend to the DCR, based on the understanding that planning was ongoing.

An early draft of the cross section the Bike Union was preparing to recommend to the DCR, based on the understanding that planning was ongoing

The bike lane painted this week is not acceptable bike accommodation, and may put cyclists in danger by encouraging them to ride too close to traffic, or by not providing clear options to navigate the traffic circles. The Arborway has Average Daily Traffic (ADT) of over 30,000 vehicles per day making this bike lane a high-stress facility that does very little if anything to encourage more bicycling.

By signing this petition you are encouraging the DCR to implement safe, comfortable cycletracks (protected bike lanes) on the Arborway in the short term.

9 comments to DCR lays down unusual, unsafe bike lanes on Arborway

  • Jameson Brown

    Why are there bike lanes in only one direction?

  • Jorge Abellas

    The arborway is dangerous enough for cars, adding bicycles to the mix, specially when there is a perfectly lovely bike path that runs along it is hopelessly foolhardy and not a battle that I as an avid cyclist feel that the Union should squander political coinage on.

  • Ben Emmert-Aronson

    I’m not sure Jorge, but I think this proposal is asking for improvements by the circles at either end of a section of bike lane that was already painted, a section that is not along the bike path, but further out, once the path ends. Looking at the pictures above it looks like the section between Francis Parkman and Centre with carriage lanes up the sides, in addition to lanes in the middle.

  • yurij lojko

    jorge makes a good point, but he overlooks the fact that the lanes are already there. either the DCR should take the lanes away or make them safe – if things are left as is, people will use the lanes and be in a dangerous situation.

  • Eric Herot

    Jorge,

    This project is about the Arborway. The bike path is along the Jamaicaway.

  • Sarah Freeman

    Clarification (also in the JP Patch): The Jamaicaway is the parkway between Route 9 & Kelley Circle (by Jamaica Pond); it has 4 lanes and an off-road bike path. The Arborway goes from Kelley Circle to Franklin Park, has more lanes & pavement than the Jamaicaway, and in the section between Kelley Circle/Jamaica Pond & Murray Circle/the Arboretum, there are 6 to 8 lanes for cars, but until now, nothing for bikes. There is plenty of pavement & space for much-needed enforcement by State Police – it is not OK that this is such a high accident area. It can be safer for all users while still accommodating the traffic. At a public meeting in May, DCR announced: – re-paving between Kelley & Murray Circle – re-striping: outer lanes would be narrowed to create wider breakdown lanes that could be used by cyclists – this summer, there will be a bike feasibility study between the circles. I hope the community will put public safety first and support a design that will be safe for all users. All users should obey the rules of the road – pedestrians, bicyclists & motorists. If the study reveals that protected bike lanes are feasible, that would be a huge safety improvement. Thank you to the Boston Cyclists Union for seeking the safest solution for this gap in the bike network.

  • LK

    @Jorge Abellas – the path doesn’t start until Kelley Circle, so navigating this part of the Arborway is necessary in order to get to it. Riding inbound, I either brave the Arborway traffic until I can cross to the bike path at a pedestrian crossing just past Kelley Circle, or avoid the Arborway altogether by coming down a side street and using the sidewalk for a short distance to go against the Kelley Circle traffic. The latter is safer, but requires me to dismount if pedestrians are using the sidewalk – annoying for both me and them!

  • Mieke Citroen

    Jorge – I suspect you’re talking about the bike path along the Jamaicaway. This is about where that path ends, and the bikes get dumped onto the Arborway, with no path.

  • Cezanne

    I live in JP and travel this section of road frequently. As this section does not have a bike path which can be used to avoid being on this fast moving section of the road, providing clear markings so that everyone can know where they should be seems like it would behoove all. As a nurse who has worked in the ED at the Brigham, I’ve seen too many people- cars, bikes, pedestrians- brought in off this road.

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