Archive for the ‘cycling’ Tag

Arlington, Lake St. light, miss out on State funding this year

The plan to speed traffic on Lake St. by signalizing the Minuteman Path hit a speed bump this week when MassDOT declined to fund it this year.

traffic signal

Also losing out were a raft of smaller projects to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and bus riders that were not submitted to MassDOT in order to make room for the Lake St. proposal. Continue reading

New center design, scofflaw drivers may put cyclists at risk

A video showing motorists making illegal turns into bicycle and pedestrian traffic seems to corroborate fears that the design of a new bike lane in Arlington Center is flawed.

The illegal turns are shown in a bike-cam’s-eye view of the ride across Arlington Center outbound, using new bike facilities including a new signal at Swan Place. It was recorded and posted on YouTube by Brian Ristuccia.

Nobody was hurt, but someone could have been.

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Snappy new video is vague on bicycles

Experienced cyclists, like motorists, may proceed through the intersection cautiously after stopping at the stop sign.

That explanation is one of the few things missing from the 2-minute video the Town of Arlington made to explain the new traffic signal in Arlington Center.

Source: Town of Arlington.

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MassDOT to hear latest plan for Center transit

A revised facelift for Arlington Center that would shift 7 parking slots from Mass. Ave. to Swan Place will be the subject of a design hearing in Arlington by the state’s Department of Transportation on November 6.

The new parking will also require approval from the Arlington Redevelopment Board, according to the Town Manager.

This design was make public at Town Day. Click for a close up. Note new parking at lower right.

This design was make public at Town Day. Click for a close up. Note new parking at lower right. Source: Town of Arlington.

The design would create bike lanes to help cyclists navigate the Town’s central intersection at Mass. Ave. and Route 60, add a new signalized pedestrian crossing on Mass. Ave. by Swan Place, and lengthen the southbound left-turn lane from Medford Street.

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Many stories in fire hose of Mass. Ave. public record

Here’s what one Grafton Street resident told the Massachusetts Department of Transportation about crossing Mass Ave.:

student_crosswalk_sign_2I would like to tell you a true story of crossing that street with my son when he was nine, and two other boys as I was taking them to the Hardy School in the morning.

I am an extremely safety conscious person and yet, at the other end, as we were approaching Sabatino’s, it just so happened that one of the three boys who was with me was hit by a car.
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Arlington Center to get conventional bike lanes, improvements

The plan calls for a new signalized crossing at Swan Place, bike lanes, and other improvements. Click drawing for larger view.

The Board of Selectmen last night approved a plan for the intersection of Route 60 and Mass. Ave. that features a new pedestrian crossing, bike lanes, and other tweaks to improve safety and traffic flow.

The Board also gave a preliminary go-ahead to a plan that would bring temporary art installations to Mass. Ave.

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Wisdom from a bicycle advocate

He is a cyclists’s cyclist: published author on bicycle safety, expert witness in bicycle accident lawsuits, member of MassDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, former member of the governing boards of MassBike and the League of American Bicyclists, former contributing editor at Bicycling magazine.

And many other things besides.

And in October of 2008, John Allen was at the very first public workshop that Arlington’s consultants held to redesign Mass. Ave.

Here’s what this two-wheeled Robespierre, this Lenin of the lanes, had to say about Mass. Ave. in 2008:

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The face of a new Mass. Ave.

Never mind the sausage factory of process and meetings and interim drafts.

If Mass. Highway approves the 25-percent plans as submitted, what will we get? What will be different?

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Design evolves, at the margins

The latest iteration of plans for Mass. Ave. in East Arlington would, like previous version, introduce bicycle lanes and a three-lane configuration for much of the length of the street.

The drawings, made available to the public at a meeting of Arlington’s Mass. Ave. Review Committee at the Senior Center on August 4, largely tinker at the margins of the design. They are still drafts labeled “for discussion.”

But compared to the plans unveiled at the community meeting last June, the new version sports narrower travel lanes for cars, wider sidewalks in the business district, and a 3-foot flush buffer zone between bicycles and cars on the westbound side of the street.

Not restored in the latest version is a five-foot traversable median, flush with the street, that would provide a refuge for pedestrians.
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Public views Mass. Ave. plans

About 200 Arlington residents and fellow travelers came to Town Hall last night for the seventh public hearing on much-delayed plans to refurbish Mass. Ave, which is still slated for 2012.

It was the first opportunity for the public to question the consulting engineers about the plan since April of 2009. The Board of Selectmen submitted the plans for State review last August.

New drawings were on display at the meeting

New drawings were on display at the meeting

Most of the basic elements of the plan are unchanged: the lane configuration, including bicycle lanes, new pedestrian crossings, and traffic signals at Teel/Thorndike, Lake, Bates/Marion, and Linwood/Foster.

As described last week, however, the latest drawings remove a proposed traversable median from  much of Mass. Ave., widen traffic lanes, and reduce or eliminate proposed sidewalk widening in the business district around the Capitol Theater.

One sidewalk would even be narrowed in one place to accommodate the wider traffic lanes.

The engineers made these and other changes in response to criticism of the 2009 version made earlier this year by Mass. Highway District 4.

Comments and questions following a presentation by Rick Azzalina of Fay Spofford & Thorndike were wide-ranging. Azzalina repeatedly described the design as “a work in progress” that could be influenced by public comments.

However, his responses to comments mostly explained why particular changes were unlikely or inexpedient.

Azzalina said the plan is to resubmit the so-called 25% plans to Mass. Highway next month, for a formal hearing in September paving the way (through many intermediate steps) to advertise the project in December of 2011.

My notes, incomplete and unofficial as usual, follow; my personal comments are in red.

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The attack of the road-eating bicycles

The width of Mass. Ave. is a finite resource, and the Town would dedicate ten feet of it to bicycles (plans here).

How did the lycra-clad elites engineer this stunning coup d’etat? I’ve got to warn you, it’s not what you think!

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6/16 Meeting: bike lanes

Tuesday June 16 was the first meeting of Arlington’s Mass. Ave. Review Committee that included the ten new members added by the Selectmen the week before. We’ll meet again next Wednesday night, June 24.

The committee neither made any decisions nor tried to, but new members had the chance to ask questions and air grievances. I don’t think I can do a good job of summarizing or representing that discussion, but as a new members I learned a few things. For this my first blog entry “covering” the committee, I’ll stick to describing some of the things I learned about the proposed bike lanes. My personal comments are in red; yours are welcome.

Bicycles: State law now requires designs for roads like Mass. Ave. to include an “accommodation” for bicycles. The choices are as follows:

  • a five-foot bike lane, alongside travel lanes of at least 11 feet (for a total of 16 feet of width)
  • a single 15-foot travel lane (the extra width to allow cyclists to ride on the right but not too close to the doors of parked cars). Left lanes, if any, can be 11 feet wide.

If you eliminate the bike lanes, you must add space to the travel lanes. The net savings of space is only two feet (for both sides of the street).

With this requirement, a four-lane street with parking would be wider than parts of Mass. Ave. in East Arlington.

This isn’t a very complete account—only one part of the meeting—but I’m just getting warmed up.