Comment on Mount Auburn Corridor Study

Comment on Mount Auburn Corridor Study

September 27, 2017

RE: Mount Auburn Corridor Study – Comments on Concepts Presented on August 18, 2016

WalkBoston would like to submit the following comments on the draft concepts for the Mount Auburn Corridor Study presented on August 18, 2016. We understand that the concepts may have changed since the presentation, but we feel it is valuable for these comments to be captured. We have organized our comments according to specific intersections.

While we appreciate the detail with which the consultants have addressed road crossings for people walking, we feel that the overall pedestrian pathway network has not been adequately addressed. Overall, there needs to be more attention paid to the areas of overlap where people walking and people biking intersect.

Intersection of Mt Auburn Street at Brattle Street

Under the assumption that vehicular traffic volumes at this intersection warrant a traffic signal, the plan diagram (shown on slide 9 of the August 18 presentation) shows both a crosswalk and bike crossing at the east side of the intersection. At the southern end of this dual use crossing, the sidewalk appears to narrow and there is limited (if any) area for people walking to wait for the signal. We would like some assurance that there is a continuous sidewalk and adequate space for pedestrians waiting to cross.

The northern end of the dual use crossing appears to require pedestrians to cross the bike lane to reach the sidewalk running east on Brattle Street and to use the crosswalk when walking west along Mount Auburn Street. There is also no delineated path for people walking west along Mt Auburn Street to safely cross the proposed driveway connections or the proposed bike path leading west from Brattle Street. While we realize this diagram is preliminary, we would like to see that people walking are given the same connected network as people biking and driving.

Gerrys Landing, Memorial Drive, Eliot Bridge, Greenough Blvd

The shortened crossing distances and single-phase crossings in the Two-T Alternative concept are significant improvements to the pedestrian infrastructure that exists today (shown on slide 46 of the August 18 presentation). Our concerns in this area lie in the interactions between cyclists and pedestrians at the crossing locations. The diagrams indicate that cyclists and pedestrians will be sharing waiting areas and in some cases crossing paths to reach destinations. We would like to see a finer grained delineation of space for each user group. Furthermore, the bike paths appear connected, but the sidewalk network is either disjointed or not present.

Intersection of Fresh Pond Parkway at Huron Ave

The plan diagram (shown on slide 52 of the August 18 presentation) shows a raised intersection at Fresh Pond Parkway and Huron Avenue. Given the vehicular traffic volumes in this location and the allowance of trucks, we were surprised to see this proposal. Furthermore, the pedestrian refuge island at the intersection’s southeastern corner seems to interrupt the bike lane without providing benefit to walkers. If there is extra room at this location, we would rather see a curb bump-out or wider sidewalk.

Mid-block Crossing on Fresh Pond Parkway at Larch Street

The mid-block crossing proposed across Fresh Pond Parkway near the Larch Street intersection (shown on slide 55 of the August 18 presentation) seems dangerous even with the introduction of a raised crossing and Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs). Pedestrians using this crossing may presume cars will stop once the beacons (RRFBs) are flashing which could lead to tragic consequences. The sight lines along this curvy section of Fresh Pond Parkway and the traffic speeds make this proposal inadvisable. We would suggest that more study be done to substantiate the need for the crossing, and for a safer location to be identified should the need be justified.

Intersection of Fresh Pond Parkway and Brattle Street

The proposed tightening of curb radii at this intersection is welcomed, but we question the proposed raised intersection once again given traffic volumes.

At the August 18 presentation, the guardrail along the western edge of Fresh Pond Parkway was discussed. Some people in the Stakeholders Meeting felt that the “highway scale” guardrail may make drivers feel that they can speed. Furthermore, the railing is not in character with the “park-like and historic” space adjacent to it. Neighborhood residents advocated for the guardrail to be installed to protect children and other pedestrians walking along Fresh Pond Parkway. Several harrowing stories were told about high traffic speeds and erratic drivers. If there is a solution that protects walkers and is more in character with the surroundings, then it could be considered. However, safety must be prioritized in this location given its proximity to Shady Hill School and Buckingham Browne and Nichols School.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments and for inviting us to be a member of the stakeholder group. We welcome any questions you may have about these comments and look forward to your response.

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