Commonwealth Avenue Carriage Road Update

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Bike Newton welcomes back guest blogger Jane Hanser, who has lived beside and observed Commonwealth Avenue’s bicycle and pedestrian traffic for many years. Her insights, recommendations and efforts are a critical addition to the growing consensus that Commonwealth Avenue could be much safer and better, and complements the 2009 Northeastern University Capstone Project Study and the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s Bicycle Network Plan (pdf).

Last I posted on this topic on BikeNewton.org, we reported our optimism that areas along the Commonwealth Avenue Carriage Road which we had identified as unsafe for bicycles, along with suggestions for improvement, changes we proposed, would see the light of day: We had strong confidence in the leadership of The Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC), then chaired by Lois Levin, and in Newton’s Transportation Director, Bill Paille. In the intervening months, we have seen many safety improvements implemented due to the the responsiveness of Bill Paille, Jim McGonagle, Gloria Son, Shane Mark and Mayor Setti Warren. John Pelletier, the current Chair of the BAC, is continuing to support the improvements proposed and we continue to work closely with the Transportation Department and the Office of the Mayor to improve safety for bicyclists.  Come and read, and see a few photos, of some of the improvements that have been made, and a few that are on the drawing board!

SIGNAGE AT: BULLOUGHS POND ROAD

Signage: First, this important safety sign warning drivers of bicycles and pedestrians crossing was designed and installed along the west side of Bulloughs Pond Road for northbound vehicles, right before where the Carriage Road  “ends” and continues as a path for bicyclists and pedestrians only (before it intersects with Walnut St.):

BulloughsParkRoad_Just the NewSignAfter neighbors enthusiastically approved  of that sign, a similar safety sign warning drivers of bicycles and pedestrians was installed in the berm on the south side of the Carriage Road for vehicles coming from Commonwealth Ave and turning and entering onto Bulloughs Pond Road:

BulloughsParkRoad_other NewSign

BICYCLES MAY ENTER!!!

Bicyclists, Were you ever concerned that you might receive a traffic ticket if you continued straight along the Carriage Road at the following intersections: Bulloughs Pond Road, Lowell Ave., Chestnut, and Lyons Park? Well, you can now pedal on without concern due to new signage at the following intersections: Bulloughs Pond Road, before Lowell Avenue, before Chestnut St., and before Lyons Park.

Here are a few photos (Sorry; no photo yet for Lyons Park):

BULLOUGHS POND ROAD: “DO NOT ENTER EXCEPT BIKES”

BulloughsParkRoad_ExceptBikes

CHESTNUT: “RIGHT TURN ONLY EXCEPT BIKES”

LOWELL AVENUE: RIGHT TURN ONLY EXCEPT BIKES

Chestnut_ExceptBikes

COBBLESTONE CROSSWALKS

Here’s a nice set of before and after photos! Many of you are familiar with this – we’re happy to say – former danger to bicyclists, runners and other pedestrians, right before (east of) Bulloughs Pond Road:

photo_1..which now looks like this:

Carriage_Road_NewPaving

The “crosswalks” before and after Morseland have been repaired. On the priority list of cobblestone crosswalks to be removed and paved with the Transportation Department when warmer weather arrives are many of the remaining cobble crosswalks, in particular those that are of low elevation and that receive the runoff from the higher elevations, and those that are already crumbling, thus presenting a danger to runners and bicyclists.

CARRIAGE ROAD SIGNAGE: Graphic “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Ahead”

The Transportation Department installed many more Bicyclist and Pedestrian Ahead signs at ten  intersections where no stop sign currently exists for southbound vehicles before they enter or cross the Carriage Road. These new eye-catching graphic signs have been placed for both southbound and northbound vehicles, a significant statement about Newton’s concern for Carriage Road and pedestrian and bicycle safety and use.

The streets with these signs are  Commonwealth Park, Beaumont Ave.Higgins St., Valentine, Wauwinet, Wimbledon Circle, and Melrose Street.  These signs are already having an impact and raising driver awareness of the pedestrians and bicycles ahead and are effectively slowing down, if not stopping vehicles altogether prior to entering the Carriage Road.

Here are a few photos of some intersections:

VALENTINE, southbound

Valentine, Northbound
Valentine_new_south

WIMBLEDON CIRCLE, southbound

WimbledonCircle_new_southWIMBLEDON CIRCLE, northbound

WimbledonCircle_north

Still to be dealt with are Westbourne, Sumner, and Islington. It is our hope that in the future some of the southbound signs can be replaced with STOP signs, but this requires a lengthy and bureaucratic process of Traffic Council (a committee of the City Council) approval. In the meanwhile, we are happy to see these signs!

DO NOT BLOCK THE BOX

It was previously a challenge for bicyclists to ride safely along the Carriage Road  (in either direction) when north/south vehicles waiting for a light to turn green blocked bicyclists’ safe path across. With these painted Xes at key intersections,  bicyclists and pedestrians have access to cross safely while vehicles heading south are lined up awaiting a green light. In addition, signs have been placed right before the painted Xes to make it clearer to drivers what intersection is being referred to.

Before Striping: before Lowell (looking west)

BN_90011_Lowell_e_rszeAfter Striping:

X at LowellSignage: View from Lowell, looking south:

Lowell_do not block box signand Valentine (before Valentine, looking west):

x at ValentineView from Valentine, looking south: (Sign and road paint)

Valentine_do not block box intersectionFOLIAGE REMOVAL

At most of the northeast and northwest intersections, foliage obstructs good visibility. My husband Phil and I volunteered through the Parks and Recreation Department to “Adopt a Corner” and the two corners we adopted were located at Bulloughs Pond Road and the Carriage Road. It took us three days to cut everything down, and a DPW front loader to haul everything away. But the result is both safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers, and much more aesthetically pleasing for the neighborhood.

Northwest corner – before

bulloughsNorthwest corner – after (We did more touch-up after this photo was taken, removing tree stumps, carrying away a bit more of the refuse, etc.)

BPR_NWcorner_clean shaveNortheast Corner – before
BPR_CR_before_2 Northeast Corner – after:BPR NE corner_clean shaveConversations with the DPW indicate their intention to remove much more of this obstructing foliage when warmer weather arrives.

SUMMARY

All these changes, which have been the result of considerable thought, planning and attention to the safety of bicyclists, in particular as they interface with motor vehicles and pedestrian, are very exciting. Pleased as we are for what has been done, we look forward to the warmer weather and more improvements.  Little by little, sign by sign, intersection by intersection, cobble removal by cobble removal, bike lane by bike lane, we are on a track toward safer bicycling, running, strolling, and walking for people of all ages along the Newton portion of this acclaimed Olmsted parkway.

FUTURE REPORTS: Auburndale Square redesign, Moving Stop Signs along the Carriage Road to be closer to the Intersections, Adding more pedestrian crossing striping, and much more!

MassDOT MBTA Fare Increase Proposal meeting

MassDOT will hold a meeting on 2/4/2016 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bigelow Middle School Auditorium, 42 Vernon Street, Newton to seek public comment regarding proposed MBTA fare increases.

Full schedule of all public hearings on both MBTA fare increases and changes to commuter rail schedules:  http://bikenewton.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/MBTA_PublicMeetingCalendar_Translated_v6-1.pdf

 

IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEARING-Bicycle Accommodation Beacon St. Westbound (Marion to Westbourne Terrace) Brookline

Thursday, January 7, 2015, 7 PM

Brookline Town Hall, Selectmen’s Hearing Room, 6th Floor, 333 Washington Street, Brookline, MA

Transportation Division staff will present the proposed bicycle improvement plan for the Beacon Street westbound (Marion to Westbourne Terrace) portion of the corridor. Following the presentation members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and Transportation Board will take public comment on the proposed plans under consideration. No action will be taken by either Board on January 7th. Copies of the report and two alternative plans are available at http://www.brooklinema.gov/140/Transportation-Division-of-DPW

We hope that you can attend the public hearing, but if you cannot, we would welcome your comments via our contact page: http://brooklinebikes.org/ContactUs.html

 

Ride to End Alzheimer’s

Bike Newton is always willing to give a shout-out to other rides, and this year, with the weather cancellation of the Tour de Newton, it’s doubly important! Here’s one coming up soon:


 

Celebrating its 19th year, the RIDE to End Alzheimer’s will start and end less than an hour from Boston in Devens, MA. Choose from four different route options; the Family Ride (3-5miles), 30-mile, 62-mile, or 100-mile and ride the scenic roads of Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. Join hundreds of riders to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s research. Each year, 90% of funds raised go to research restricted grants.  In the last 18 years, the RIDE to End Alzheimer’s has raised more than $3 million dollars to fund critical Alzheimer’s disease breakthroughs.

Riders feel like VIPs at our pit stops every 15-18 miles, and support vans and medical teams are on hand to assist riders in need. Enjoy complimentary bike tech support. Our volunteers will cheer you on as you cross the finish line then celebrate your accomplishments at the post-ride celebration which includes live music, massages for riders, children’s activities and BBQ Lunch.

The Noonan family founded the original Memory Ride for Alzheimer’s Research hoping to save other families from experiencing the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. The Noonan family, whose story was featured in PBS’s Emmy-winning series, “The Forgetting,” struggled with multiple cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease within their immediate family over several generations.

Free Bike Safety Check

Saturday, June 6th from 1:00pm – 4:00 pm

City Hall, War Memorial Circle

landry's bikes logo

Bike Newton and Landry’s Bicycles are teaming up to make certain your bike is ready and safe for the beautiful biking season ahead, including the upcoming Tour de Newton. We will have mechanics on hand to check tires, brakes, gears and bike fit, making minor adjustments or repairs if necessary. Bring your helmets as well so we can check the fit. All bicyclists welcome.

More info on how to get your bike ready for the season

Just in case you haven’t yet registered for this year’s Tour de Newton, don’t miss out. Registration is filling fast!

Brookline Bike Parade

Here’s a note from our friendly neighbors in Brookline, Brookline Bikes:


Planning to ride in the Tour de Newton on June 21st? The Brookline Bike Parade on May 17th is a good way to start preparing!

The Brookline ride is fun, free, family-friendly (ages 8 – 88+), and just five miles. There are usually about five hundred riders.

photo of brookline bike parade

The Bike Parade will give you experience riding in a group – without having to share the road with cars – and the hill through Coolidge Corner will help you judge what kind of shape you’re in for the Tour.

Watch the 2014 Parade video.

Get more info and register.


 

Mother’s Day Ride for the CCG Foundation

Join us on Sunday, May 10th 2015 for the 4th Annual Christina Clarke Genco Mother’s Day Memorial Ride! Bike Newton has been a proud sponsor of the ride since its inception in 2012 and will continue this year in full support of safe cycling.

The Christina Clarke Genco Foundation is in loving memory of Christina Genco, a Newton resident, who tragically lost her life in 2011 in a biking accident.  The Memorial Ride will start at Newton City Hall and estimates over 300 cyclists and 100 volunteers.  The majority of funds raised will support affordable housing projects in partnership with Bike & Build and Habitat for Humanity.

The Ride is set up for families as well as experienced cyclists, with bike routes including 68 miles, 34 miles, 17 miles, and a 3.4 mile “Kid Fondo” Family Ride. Join us for a fun day of safe cycling, entertainment, music, food, and prizes!

Register today on BikeReg!
Check out what’s included in your $45 tax-deductible registration donation

Can’t ride, but still want to help?
Volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word by inviting your friends to our Facebook event!

Register for the 3rd Annual Tour de Newton

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I know it may be hard to believe, with glaciers still interfering with bike lanes, but registration for the 3rd Annual Tour de Newton is now open!

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Register for Tour de Newton, June 21, 2015

We’re introducing some new features this year, based on participant feedback from last year:

1. The Petite Tour: For less experienced riders, a 5 mile Tour starting and ending near Mason-Rice School. Details about the route will follow soon.

2. The Contra Tour: For more experienced riders who want to move a little faster, the Contra Tour will start and end in Newton Centre, and go in the opposite direction from the other 14 tours.

All ride start times are 9:30 sharp. Please arrive early!

The entry fee is the same as last year. (No inflation! Sweet!):

Children: $5
Adults: $10
Families: $25 (Must register entire group at once for the family rate.)

Want to be a ride leader or sweep? Please email Bike Newton. This year, ride leaders and sweeps will register on a separate form; don’t worry, that link will be posted soon.

Winter Biking, Extreme Winter Version

Bike on a snow pileFirst off, let me acknowledge that all people have their limits. Mine is 10 degrees and any snow. I’ve gotten some advice from folks whose lower limit of temperature hasn’t yet been plumbed, and I’ll be upping my game soon with the addition of a balaclava. But not for a while yet: once the snow starts flying, my old retrofitted Peugot takes a berth in the garage and I’m on foot and the T until Mr. Heat Miser comes out of hiding for a while.

But lately I’ve been hearing from the Boston Cyclists Union about serious winter bikers, the kind with fat tires or studs, and the celebration of bicycling through the worst that Mother Nature can dish out (and as we all know, the bar has been raised this winter). Then I discovered that one of Bike Newton’s own, Nathan Phillips, has been on two wheels through most of the last three weeks. To drive away cabin fever just after Winter Storm Neptune has finished, and because I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering whether winter bikers are more crazy or more heroic, I’ve asked him to answer a few questions:

BN: I know you go from Auburndale to BU, but what’s your route, how far is it, and how long does it take you?

NP: I mainly use two routes which I mix up for variety. One parallels the Mass Pike, mostly Washington St. to the multi-path on Nonantum Road, and side roads into BU. The other route wends over to Beacon Street at Zervas School all the way in almost to Kenmore Square. Each route is just over 9 miles and takes about 40-45 minutes one way.

BN: Have you been biking through all weather all year?

NP: Pretty much. I bike in rain or snow. I draw the line at blizzard conditions or when there is lots of ice on the ground – which is not often the case during snow.

BN: Is this your first season of battling the snow?

NP: No, but its definitely one of the biggest. The biggest obstacle is the lack of a shoulder, so I’m sometimes forced into ‘vehicular cycling’, that is, waiting in line with the cars.

BN: What would make you say, “No way. Not today”? Has it happened this year?

NP: Blizzards or conditions favoring black ice.

BN: Any special bicycle equipment, like studded tires?

NP: I’ve just used my regular single speed commuter bike, with its normal tires. They’ve worked fine in the the slush and ground snow, as long as I ride a little more deliberately. But I’ve been eyeing a fat tire Surly over at Harris Cyclery for some time now. They told me that these bikes are popular in Alaska for snow riding.

BN: What about snow and salt buildup on the bike? Do the brakes even work?

NP: This is the part that makes me dream about Hubway coming to Newton some day. The maintenance. I do have salt build up, and while I’ve squirted the bike down with a bottle mister, it really requires more of a pressure wash, which I’m reluctant to do around the house because it will cause a frozen mess.

BN: I know I have trouble below 10 degrees, because my fingers go numb and my eyes tear so much that I can’t see. How do you keep warm?

NP: I’ve had to upgrade my gloves, and by trial and error found that wearing six layers (poly + cotton longsleeve + 3 zippered pullovers + shell) works well no matter how cold it gets. The balaclava is super important. I also having eye tearing issues; I thought about some ski goggles but haven’t done that yet.

BN: Why?

NP: Biking is by far the most reliable way to commute on a schedule, under normal conditions and especially during these extraordinary conditions. I have no anxiety about automobile gridlock or the ailing MBTA. I feel very fortunate to have the health to be able to do this.

BN: What else can you tell our reading public about biking in a Boston Winter?

NP: With the snow, it’s better to ‘take the lane’ on narrow streets than to try to stay on the (non-existent) shoulder. I haven’t had any road rage directed at me yet, perhaps because I’m often on the tail of the car in front of me and not holding up car traffic.

pru snowdrift