The project area on Route 9 stretches from the Jamaicaway Bridge down to the intersection with Washington and Walnut streets. If it could be made into a true 8-80 route for cyclists (comfortable enough for people ages 8 to 80)——it would connect several relatively pleasant biking routes, including the Emerald Necklace Path, Walnut Street, Harvard Street, and Washington Street. The improvement would be a massive bicycling game changer for the town.
In the fall, a team including Roslindale resident Mark Tedrow and Bike Union board member Dr. Peter Furth engineered a full conceptual design for a cycletrack on Gateway east. Union volunteer Jessi Flynn put pen to paper and created a rendering of what the Bike Union’s cycletrack concept would look like. With this vision in hand the Bike Union successfully engaged MassDOT and the town of Brookline, convincing them to reconsider the project design and try to include cycletracks.
Then Brookline resident and bicycle researcher Anne Lusk requested an open design charrette from the town, which is apparently eliciting many different ideas for the project——some of which presumably may not include a cycletrack. The charrette’s benefit lies in allowing public input, which is a very good thing, but preserving bicyclists from injuries has not been high on the list of priorities for all people. Competing plans may be developed that put amenities like trees and decorative flowers over the need to reduce bicyclist injuries and fatalities at the site.
In light of this possibility, it is extremely important that all Brookline residents and those who use Route 9 regularly attend the design charrette on Dec. 3. If you cannot make it, please encourage your town meeting member or selectman to attend and speak on your behalf in favor of a cycletrack design that promises to reduce injury.
The need for community voices is heightened by the fact that unlike the City of Boston, which now has some of the best bicycle crash data in the country thanks to a study the Bike Union was part of, Brookline has not analyzed crash data on Route 9. Anecdotes about crashes that have occurred here will be an important part of the ongoing conversation around Route 9 in light of the lack of strong data.