Select Board weighs safety measures as bus lane returns


Back of MBTA 79 bus as it moves past stalled trafficalong the temporary bus lane demarcated with orange and white traffic cones.

it went away but is coming back: the bus lane in East Arlington during the October pilot unsing the parking and bike lanes to speed bus transit.

The Arlington Select Board approved a plan this evening to restore the morning bus lane to an eastbound stretch of Mass. Ave. in East Arlington.

The bus lane would be permanent from the hours of 6 – 9 AM on weekdays.

The motion approving the plan also called for mitigation for the permanent removal of a bump out at the Lafayette Street crosswalk, and for a public meeting in East Arlington before the lane becomes operational again.

The bus lane

  • will operate on the Cambridge-bound side of Mass. Ave. from just after Varnum Street until Boulevard Road
  • will exclude motor vehicles except for MBTA buses
  • will include bicycles
  • will be demarcated by road markings and signage, not traffic cones as in the pilot
  • will again displace 19 parking spaces, and the marked bike lane, in the morning
  • will mean that the curb extension (bump out) by Lafayette Street that was removed during the pilot will not be restored.

Removal of the bump out last fall allowed buses to operate in the bus lane, which is flush with the curb.

The bump out was a safety feature added to the crosswalk in 2015 as part of the Mass. Ave. project.

Mitigation for its permanent removal could be anything that improved the safety of the crossing, the site of a 1996 traffic fatality.

Mitigation might, for example, include better lighting, or a flashing pedestrian-activated signal such as those recently installed in North Cambridge.

There is currently no street light at the crosswalk.

A crew working on the sidewal, with the Lafayette St. crosswalk in the foreground.

Removal of the bump-out at Lafayette St. (above) was supposed to be temporary. Now that it is permanent, the Select Board has expressed interest in making compensatory safety improvements there.

Select Board Member John Hurd suggested that a system of traffic flags be added at the crossing as a stopgap, similar to that at Orvis Road.

It is the removal of the bump-out, not the operation of the bus lane in the morning, that has raised concerns.

Before the vote, the Board heard a presentation from the planning staff about the results of the pilot and summarizing some key points of the nine-page report that recommends bringing back the bus lane.

In her presentation to the Board, Allison Carter, the Town’s economic development coordinator, noted that the bus lane was the only element of the October pilot that had not yet been implemented permanently.




3 comments so far

  1. Ray Jones on

    At a minimum, there should be “yield to pedestrians” bollards at both the left edge of the bus lane, as well as at the double stripe.

    I suggested that they add a skinny pedestrian island & bollard at the left edge of the bus lane, but I expect difficulties around plowing makes that unlikely.

    • Adam Auster on

      I think a street light would be nice.

      Honestly, it must be the only crosswalk with no streetlight in all of East Arlington.

      • Ray Jones on

        True. That’s more important than a bollard.

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