Tag: Birmingham Parkway

MassDCR Birmingham Parkway Comment Letter

MassDCR Birmingham Parkway Comment Letter

April 7, 2021

Jeff Parenti
Deputy Chief Engineer, Division of Planning and Engineering
Department of Conservation and Recreation

Re: DCR Birmingham Parkway

Dear Jeff:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments at this early stage of project development. We are very excited to see DCR’s approach that improves safety for people walking and biking, that repurposes significant areas of pavement into enlarged parklands, and that is designed to slow and tame traffic.

We have several overall observations about the designs, as well as more detailed comments organized into three areas as they were presented during the March 25th public meeting.

Overall comments

  • As we have commented during several DCR design processes, we believe that multilane, relatively high speed traffic roundabouts are less safe for people walking than signalized intersections. We are especially wary of multilane roundabouts where pedestrians can face a double threat when crossing the approaches and exits. People with low or no vision are particularly disadvantaged at these uncontrolled crossings. In this location, less than a mile from the Perkins School for the Blind, this is a specially cogent issue.  We urge DCR to refrain from considering multilane roundabouts.  Tight, traffic calming mini-roundabouts (see MassDOT Guidelines for the Planning and Design of Roundabouts page 11) on VERY low volume, low speed neighborhood streets where sharp turning angles are maintained (primary vehicle movement is not essentially a straight-through path) may be safe.
  • We urge DCR to provide separate walking and bicycling paths wherever there is the space to do so. The speeds of walkers and bicyclists are quite different, and as the number of cycling commuters increases, the conflicts between these two modes are becoming more and more pronounced. In particular, the Birmingham Parkway project area presents ample space for separate paths. This project area includes the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path which is a heavily used bike commuter route so separation is even more important.

The “Eye”

Alternative 1A is our preferred approach in this area because it:

  • Simplifies, rationalizes and signalizes the intersections (and does not use a multilane roundabout).
  • Returns significant usable square footage to the parkland along the river.
  • If better access to the recreation area at the old pool site is deemed to be important for its future use, Alternative 1D could be a reasonable approach.

We suggest considering several design details as the project advances:

  • Add pedestrian safety refuge islands where the crossing distances are long.
  • Tighten up turning radii wherever possible, particularly on those approaches where trucks and buses are not permitted to travel.
  • Ensure that the signal timing is set to allow fully adequate crossings times for walkers of all ages.


Alternative 2B is our preferred approach in this area because it:

  • Maximizes the amount of land returned to park and active transportation use.
  • Re-uses the existing pavement in an efficient manner.
  • Will help to calm traffic by having two-way traffic.

We suggest considering several design details as the project advances.

  • Reduce the pavement and lane width of the roadway to help calm traffic.
  • As noted above, provide separate walking and biking paths.

Secondary Intersections

The approach described at the meeting of calming traffic, providing signalized intersections that will provide WALK phases for pedestrians, and reducing the amount of paving all seem appropriate. We look forward to seeing the design concepts as they are developed later in the project.

We look forward to seeing the next iteration of the project concept.

Best regards,

Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director
Wendy Landman, Senior Policy Advisor