Saturday, October 20, 2007

Group Recommendations

Intersection of Willow Ave and Elm Street

Deciding what to do was in some cases easy and in others more difficult. Here's what the group came up with. This intersection is really complicated in part because half the intersection is in Cambridge and in part because there's just a lot of pedestrian, bicycle and car traffic coming from every direction. We are focusing here on the two corners that are in Somerville (Northeast/ Northwest). We recommend:

Curb extensions on both curbs to narrow the distance that pedestrians have to walk and to slow traffic. In addition to the curb extensions we think there should be a raised crosswalk going from the corner with Ace Wheel works to the other side of Willow heading towards Davis Square.

Recognizing that curb extensions might be a budget buster for the City, a temporary alternative would be to put high quality/ attractive planters along the line of the proposed curb extension to achieve the same benefits until a permanent curb/ sidewalk can be installed.

Intersection of Willow Ave and Summer Street

Install a raised intersection with an all-way stop including blinking red stop lights. At the block party, people were firmly for a raised intersection and firmly against an all-way stop. We feel the raised intersection should not be coupled with a standard traffic signal (red-yellow-green) because the green light and the table create conflicting messages. The table is telling drivers to slow down to an "almost stop" while the signal is telling them to get going and make the light.

Alternatively, if the neighborhood wants to keep the current traffic signal, we recommend fully painting the intersection with a decorative colorful design (see the Portland in previous posting) or a simply cross-hatch the entire intersection with a "dutch crossing". If this option is chosen we recommend that curb extensions similar to those recommended on Elm and Summer be implemented on the Northeast and Southeast corners of the intersection.

Willow Ave/ The through street

We recommend that a bike lane be installed on Willow Ave to narrow the travel lane (slowing car traffic) and to encourage bicycle use. Most members of the group liked the idea of a contra-flow (against traffic) bike lane. Yet, residents at the block party, and those participating in our group strongly opposed a contra-flow lane, because it might cause additional conflicts with driveways on the street. In favor of a contra-flow bike lane, our traffic observations showed that 10 bikes per hour were traveling against traffic.

A broader vision: Davis to Union Square by bike:

We suggest that the Somerville Bike Committee study the possibility of creating bike lanes or a bike boulevard on Hancock and/or Cedar Street to accommodate the desire of bicyclists to travel south-bound towards Elm Street near Porter Square. In addition we suggest that the Somerville Bike Committee study bicycle accommodations for Elm Street to provide continuous bicycle access from Davis Square to Union Square via Willow Ave, the Community Bike Path, Elm Street and the bike lanes on Somerville Avenue (under construction).


At November 15, 2007 at 6:16 PM , Blogger Rob said...

A few questions:

Bike Lane:
-You recommend a contra flow bike lane, do you have references where this has been used successfully? When reviewing Traffic Control for Bicycle Facilities in MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) I don't see examples of this type of bike lane.

-Can you explain the reasoning for a contra flow bike lane and how the intersections at Summer and Elm will be affected?

-Will the proposed narrowed intersection at Elm be compatible with a contra flow bike lane on Willow?

-How many bikes were not going against traffic during the time of the traffic observations, how long was the period and what days / time of day?

Intersection with Summer St:
-If you keep the current traffic signal, will there be a recommendation to add pedestrian walk signals at the intersection with Summer street. Your analysis of timing does not take into account the difficulty faced in crossing the East side of the intersection due to vehicles making right turns onto Summer Street from Willow Ave., or Right turns onto Willow Ave. from Summer Street.

-You suggest as a possibility: "fully painting the intersection with a decorative colorful design (see the Portland example below) or a simply cross-hatch the entire intersection". Do drivers know what to expect when they see this at an intersection? It's not in MUTCD that I can find - and if drivers don't know what it means they might not do what you want them to.

Elm Street Intersection:
-Do you have elevation views of the proposed planters? Will whatever is grown in them be kept short - I'm concerned about possible line of sight issues for motorists and pedestrains.

-Are there plans to make the planters retroreflective or illuminated at night?

-Will the planters create difficulty with in plowing in winter?

At July 24, 2008 at 12:51 PM , Blogger dshugrue said...

Here's a belated attempt to answer rob's questions:

We didn't end up recommending contra-flow bike lanes b/c the Willow Ave neighbors were largely against the idea.

We did end up getting extra "Walk" signals at Summer and Willow (thanks to Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz). I wonder if you have further input now that the walk signals are in place?

The mayor has agreed to a raised intersection instead of a painted intersection.

The planters idea was ultimately rejected by the mayor b/c the incremental cost of doing the bulb outs wasn't as much as we had estimated.


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