Archive for the ‘traffic’ Tag

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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Sign of the Times

Source: MassDOT

Before the new default speed limit of 25 miles per hour goes into effect on May 1, the Town will post 16 of these signs at entry points to Arlington.

The new limit, authorized by Town Meeting last fall under a new state law, will apply to most, but not all, of the streets in town. It was adopted by the Board of Selectmen on February 27.

More information in this report, which I wrote last month.

The design of the sign, and the wording “Thickly Settled Speed Limit 25 Townwide Unless Otherwise Posted,” is specified by the state Department of Transportation.

The generic 25-mph sign I used to illustrate my report is not what we’ll see.

Arlington slows down

Speed Limit 25

The default speed limit town wide will drop to 25 miles per hour, from 30, on May 1, after a vote by the Board of Selectmen. Will it make a difference?

The new limits will apply generally to roads in town that do not have a posted limit. Route 2 is not affected.

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Added: Visual nudge to merge

A few licks of paint added last July direct drivers to merge as they enter Arlington westbound from Cambridge. Are they effective?

Two arrows and a dotted line point drivers left. The markings were added in late July and were not part of the original pan for the street.

Two arrows and a dotted line point drivers left. The markings were added in late July and were not part of the original pan for the street.

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Driving under the influence

keysA reader recently chided me for including a drunk-driving incident in a list of Mass. Ave. crashes that killed or injured pedestrians.

In 2009, a drunk driver struck a local business owner in the Teel St. crosswalk and sent him to the hospital.

None of the other collisions involved alcohol, at least as far as we know.

But if we are honest we will admit that we are all driving under the influence.

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No easy fixes for Lake Street traffic

Arlington’s Board of Selectmen will consider a plan February 5 to ease rush-hour traffic on congested Lake Street by putting a traffic signal on the Minuteman Commuter Bicycle Path.

The Minuteman and Lake St. in a less-congested hour. View is north. Photo: Phil Goff.

The Minuteman at Lake St. in an uncongested hour. View is north. Photo: Phil Goff.

The Transportation Advisory Committee, which has been studying the problem for more than a year, recommends the project with an estimated cost of $150,000. If approved, the Town would establish a design committee.

At the risk of oversimplifying a very complicated problem, I warn: Be careful what you wish for.

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Traffic stand still

All is calm and bright on Mass. Ave. during a snowstorm on January 27. Photo: Phil Goff of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition.

All is calm and bright on Mass. Ave. during a snowstorm on January 27. Photo: Phil Goff of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition.

Mass. Ave. and the dubious pleasures of the “stroad”

Writing at YourArlington.com today, Doug Davidoff of East Arlington speculates that Mass. Ave. is a stroad, an awkward street-road hybrid that fulfills none of its purposes well:

Where a futon is a piece of furniture that serves both as an uncomfortable couch and an uncomfortable bed, a stroad moves cars at speeds too slow to get around efficiently but too fast to support productive private sector investment Continue reading

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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23 seconds

StopwatchTrips along the Town’s 3-lane design for Mass. Ave. in East Arlington will take about as long as on a 4-lane alternative, according to a controversial new software model.

The Town’s consultants performed the analysis even though the Mass. DOT has found 4 lanes to be unsafe and unacceptable.

Safety aside, both designs perform similarly in terms of average trip times. That is what you would expect based on the traffic data, which show that the 3-lane design meets peak traffic as well as a 4-lane design.

Bu that’s not what you might have thought from reading the January 23 letter from the Federal Highway Administration to MassDOT.

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Clash of bureaucracies led to Mass. Ave. delay

Last month a long-simmering dispute between the Federal Highway Administration and MassDOT over the redesign of Mass. Ave. became public. On Valentines Day MassDOT’s response hinted at a dense back-and forth over traffic merges, trip times, and public participation.

One consequence is that MassDOT bowed to a federal request for another public hearing on the design (7 pm Tuesday February 26 at Town Hall).

Another is that MassDOT has delayed the project by 3 months, with advertising for the project now scheduled for June 1.

But what of the issues that the FHA raised on its January 23 letter to MassDOT? Those would be traffic merges, trip times, and public participation.

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