On Tuesday night, I attended a community meeting hosted by DCR and MassDOT to present the Charles River Basin Bike and Pedestrian Connectivity Study. This study was commissioned as part of Governor Patrick’s Accelerated Bridge Program to identify connectivity gaps that place constraints on bike and pedestrian traffic throughout the Charles River Basin and make recommendations to improve connectivity throughout the reservation and access to the surrounding neighborhoods. The study area is from the Galen Street Bridge in Watertown to the Craige Dam Bridge/Museum of Science in Boston and Cambridge and access within a two block radius of the reservation.
The recommendations range from simple projects such as new crosswalks, bike lanes, signs and signals to more ambitious work such as a proposal to narrow Greenough Boulevard in Watertown in order to accommodate more bike, and pedestrian traffic and the Charlesgate Greenway project that will reconnect the Emerald Necklace to the Esplanade. The Charlesgate Greenway project would be funded as part of the proposed repairs to the Bowker Overpass.
We’d love to hear what you think of the study – are there recommendations that are particularly exciting, or perhaps some that should be reworked?
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger
A few months ago I went on a bike ride with my father which happened to trace almost exactly this study area.
I was struck by some stark contrasts. In some places, there is adequate infrastructure, clear markings and a safe path (if sometimes crumbling). In other places, there is almost no provision for non-motorized users at all. We had to dart across streets with no idea whether it was safe to cross because there was no visible signal. In some places, the path withers to a bare minimum, or the route veers off onto some dirt trail that people have made.
I also like the fact that access to the Charles River is included in the study, in particular Cambridge Street, for which much more planning is needed.
I’m happy to see the improvements you’re making in a general sense.
My bicycle commute has me making a left on Galen from Watertown St., so that’s the only portion that’s in this plan’s scope I know intimately and feel I have any useful comment on. Well, there’s a dangerously steep down slope from the sidewalk to the intersection at the North Beacon St. bridge, so I’m happy to see you plan on improving that. I rollerblade that sometimes and find it tricky.
But that left towards the Galen street bridge is challenging — maybe the most challenging intersection I face going to work (in Burlington). Other than go pedestrian, the only sensible choice in rush hour traffic is to cycle up to the head of the left turning lane of cars (or maybe one car back) and wait for the left signal. This isn’t so bad when it’s parking lot like conditions and none of the cars are moving. When there’s in between traffic, though, it’s dangerous. If the right lane gets moving on you, you’re in a no mans land between lanes with people whizzing by you on the right.
Then coming home, the right from Galen Street Bridge to Watertown Street is a bit tricky too. In the evening people are heading west on Watertown Street or headed over to California street in the right lane at high speed. Getting over to the left lane to head towards Watertown street feels perilous to me.
Not sure how any of this can be improved. Obviously there are so many cars going through there already that traffic calming or eliminating lanes may not be feasible. But even something to make it clear to drivers that bicycles belong on the street around there would be somewhat helpful, maybe. I get harassed by drivers sometimes around there (though not as bad as on the approach to Watertown Square on Mt. Auburn which I now avoid) because of all the confusion between two wheel folks and four wheel folks.
I live near the Fens, and I’m really happy about the Charlesgate Greenway project that will reconnect the Emerald Necklace to the Esplanade. I love to walk the Emerald Necklace, and it is difficult to walk the Esplanade and return to where I live – there are not many connection points crossing Storrow Drive. I think it will be a great improvement.
We’ll point bring this post to the attention of the Town of Watertown.
I think they might be able to give some thought to the problem you raise and take action independent from the Charles River Study.
Thanks for posting.
Yes, we are very pleased with MassDOT’s approval of this new connection!
How is it possible to commission a “Charles River Basin Bike and Pedestrian Connectivity Study”, and yet make not a single mention of bridge underpasses?!! What a waste!!!
Hi Doug, to be fair, the study identifies a great many opportunities for improvement. DCR and MassDOT are of the view that many of those are more important than the underpasses. But I agree the underpasses merit mention and I’d like to see them happen.
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