On January 20, DCR presented four alternative designs for the Arborway between Jamaica Pond and Forest Hills. We have reviewed the designs extensively with BCU supporters, other advocacy organizations and area-residents who walk, bike and move through here on various modes and have the following suggestions to make the Arborway as safe, accessible and park-like as possible! Comments on either the Survey Monkey or the DCR website are due by February 10. The four alternatives can be seen here.
We enthusiastically support DCR’s project goals to return the arborway to being a parkway, reduce vehicle speeds and calm traffic, increase access to parks, “rebalance” pavement and turn it back into green space, and improve safety for all users. In order to meet these goals, the Boston Cyclists Union suggests:
- Including a shared-use path on both sides on the Arborway. We also suggest adding a dirt running/walking path parallel to a shared-use path wherever possible since this is a desirable location for jogging, dog walking and outdoor recreation and this will limit conflicts between people on bikes and on foot.
- Removing any rapid flashing beacon crossings over multiple lanes and replacing it with a signal with a pedestrian phase.
- Any time shared-use paths are added that they be 12-feet wide when adjacent to a sidewalk option and even wider when it is the only space for pedestrians, cyclists and other users so that conflicts are limited.
- Ensure that whatever is built, has adequate plans for snow removal on the walking and biking paths and crossings.
- Coordinating with other agencies to re-time the traffic signals at Forest Hills to prioritize vulnerable road users over motor vehicle throughput including eliminating concurrent turns for motor vehicles while pedestrians and cyclists have the walk/bike signal. This will make it easier for people to access the shared-use path that is only on one side of the Arborway.
- Although outside this scope, there is a bicycle gap from the Arborway into Brookline. We suggest exploring bicycle access from the Emerald Necklace into Brookline, ideally via a cycletrack or shared-path on Francis Parkman Drive.
All the options have merits and have elements to improve. In any final design, we want to see shared-use paths adjacent to both carriage roads as there is ample space to do that, and it allows people going various speeds via foot, bike and other mobility devices, choices and ample space. As currently proposed we:
- Prefer Alternative 2 or 3 because the multi-lane crossings are signalized and they open up a lot of new green space to be accessible to people. Alternative 3 has the additional benefit of a shared-use path next to the existing sidewalk on the city-side of the road. Alternative 3 does need the addition of a crossing island across Francis Parkman Drive. Alternative 2 has the additional benefit of a shared use path that continues past Pond St on the Pond side of the Arborway, but needs a shared-use path on the city-side of the road that continues all the way to the Eliot St crossing like in Alt. 3. We also like Alternative 2 because it has the most pedestrian crossings across the Arborway of any design.
- In both Alternative 2 and 3, we suggest adding a parallel, unpaved path next to shared use paths since people on foot will likely prefer to walk/run in the green space rather than the sidewalk.
- Alternative 4 also has the benefit of increased green space and fewer crossings than the current design, but the proposed multi-lane, unsignalized crossing by the new roundabout is not safe or comfortable for people walking and biking. Alt. 4 also lacks a crosswalk across the Arborway. Perhaps the shared-use path could be moved to the signal so that people walking and biking have a traffic signal to stop with and a crosswalk could be added across the Arborway to improve this design.
- Prefer Alternative 2 because it has the most crosswalks across the Arborway that will slow down traffic and create more access via foot/bike. However, it needs to incorporate more traffic calming on the carriage roads to discourage cars from using those roads, and it needs to add a shared-use path on the city-side of the Arborway.
- Shared streets do not take the place of a shared-use path separated from cars. Shared streets only go in one direction, though cyclists will want to go in 2 directions, and we cannot be sure that traffic volumes will be very low. With the ample space we have when removing a driving lane in the carriage roads, we want to see shared-use paths and/or physically separated cycletracks and walking paths on both sides of the Arborway in the final design. Separation should be via raised curbs and intervening green spaces, not merely painted lines.
- We also suggest adding a dirt running/walking path parallel to a shared-use path.
- In any final design, we encourage additional traffic calming, especially at the entrance to the carriage roads to discourage cars from traveling there as a cut-through. This could be raised entrances, speed humps, or chicanes.
- Because it is not safe or comfortable for people walking and biking to cross multiple lanes of moving cars, the final design needs to be signalized, so alternative 3 or 4.
- We prefer Alternative 4 because it only keeps the one necessary slip lane and it has crossing islands across Centre St.
- Right turns in Murray Circle should NOT be allowed when pedestrians have the walk signal. If that means that a right-turn lane must be added from Centre St to Arborway South, that is ok.
- We suggest a crossing island at Orchard St and Upper Arborway, which is more effective in getting cars to stop for pedestrians than a raised crosswalk. We also suggest only 1 crosswalk across Centre St at Orchard St to simplify that crossing.
Arboretum block/Upper Arborway:
- We prefer Alternative 4 because of the new trees between the road and shared-use path and the parking retained to visit the arboretum.
- We would like to see a traffic signal across the Upper Arborway coordinated with the one across the Arborway, for people crossing near the Arboretum entrance.
- Please widen the existing crossing island across Arborway so that more people can cross simultaneously.
- In all scenarios, there will be a need for clear signage to direct cyclists from the Southwest Corridor and other existing bicycle facilities to the shared use path across along the Arboretum side of the Arborway.