Thanks to a handful of dedicated Union members in Jamaica Plain who noticed an unannounced state repaving project on Morton Street late last month, there are now buffered bike lanes on part of Morton Street.
Sarah Freeman of Jamaica Plain was the first to let the Union office know of the project, recalling community interest in connecting the future Casey Aborway project to Mattapan with a cycletrack. With a flurry of phone calls, the Union quickly caught the interest of MassDOT in providing accommodations of some kind, and then garnered the support of Nicole Freeman of Boston Bikes and the Boston Transportation Department, who hired consultant Toole Design Group to crank out a design in short order. The particular section of Morton between Forest Hills in JP and Blue Hill Avenue had not been measured, so two of the Union’s summer interns, Cooper Thomas and Brand Koster went out with a measuring wheel, dodging high speed traffic to create a safer street for bike commuters.
Toole’s original design originally included a mix of buffered bike lanes and regular bike lanes, but MassDOT rejected half of the plan due to a pinch point at Canterbury St. which included 10-foot travel lanes for motor vehicles. Typically the agency disapproves of narrow lanes where buses travel, but has made exceptions in the past on other projects with limited width-such as the BU Bridge.
Given the short time frame, there was no opportunity to appeal the decision to reject the 10-foot lane, but on the upside there may be opportunities in 2014 to strip out the lines and repaint–and thus connect two neighborhoods that have long been separated by a dangerous and impassable street for bikes. Given the right amount of push from Jamaica Plain, Mattapan and Dorchester residents, the city might even find a way to add plastic “flexposts” in order to further protect cyclists from traffic.
Stay tuned as the Union’s new organizing group and volunteers in JP and Mattapan craft a strategy. If you’re interested in participating email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.