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State picks Longfellow Bridge design that features more room for pedestrians, bicyclists
By adamg on Thu, 03/08/2012 - 10:36am
MassBike reports MassDOT has picked a design for the renovation of the Longfellow that features just one vehicle lane outbound and wider lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians in both directions.
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The curb they call a sidewalk currently is comical if it weren't so dangerous.
No more squeezing by the five cars that want to turn right on Charles that don't notice/don't care about blocking the bike lane.
I don't see backups on that bridge much in either direction at either rush hour - the space can be better used.
Now if they can only fix the problems of giant divided highway flower pots on Cambridge St. and continue the bike lanes into downtown from there ...
I don't see where it says
I don't see where it says anything about the bike lane at Charles circle?
no bike lanes in the circle
But the currently proposed bike lane would transition to the left of the right turn lane, something that would have to be resolved in the alternative "cycletrack" proposal. Of course if Charles got a cycletrack, you could just turn to the right of right turning traffic.
I did an experiment with a friend, where from Charles circle, she rode up Charles and I rode up Cambridge, and it took almost exactly the same time to make it to Broad street where we both work.
Cambridge Street has bike lanes
Do you know what happened to that? That article is pretty old, and I am having trouble searching. Google is giving me a lot of extraneous stuff about biking in the City of Cambridge.
This is great as long as they
This is great as long as they also fix the approaches into the Charles Circle and Kendal intersections. The lane shifts and narrowing of the road are Masshole collision acceleration machines. It's irritating that this effort and money gets wasted making bridges safe if both ends immediately dump one into a clusterf*ck of an intersection untouched by the project. (*Looks at the ends of the BU Bridge just past the recent scope of work with utter disgust*)
What's the point of 2 inbound lanes?
I agree with MassBike on this one. No need for more than 1 lane in either direction.
Certain days, certain times
There are certain days and times where the circle gets crazy and it causes both lanes on the bridge to back up a bit. I can still understand a desire for 2 lanes inbound.
When would those be?
If the circle is crazy, it backs up regardless of the number of lanes. The bridge simply doesn't carry that much traffic - every day I bike I use that bridge and the only serious back ups I have seen were during construction.
You say "the bridge simply doesn't carry that much traffic?" Are you serious? Really?
Sure, it carries a lot of traffic
It's just the vast majority of the traffic that uses the Longfellow is not automobile traffic.
Evenings from Cambridge
5-7 on weekday evenings there can be 40-50 cars waiting
at the light, although it is usually closer to 20-30.
Most of the cars are trying to get on to Storrow.
Agreed the circle itself isn't really up to a lot of traffic.
I would say that it is a lot of the cars that are slowly
filtered off of Storrow Dr in the morning through the much
worse Storrow West bound exit to the circle.
I have to agree I've never seen heavy traffic Cambridge
"The bridge carries approximately 28,600 cars and 90,000 mass-transit passengers every weekday" according to Wikipedia.
So what you are really trying to say is that other traffic (such as pedestrian and/or bicyclist) is more traffic than this? Really?
Wow. I. mean. just. wow.
No, I think he's saying
that cars do not carry the majority of travelers crossing that bridge. The very statistics you cite prove this point.
90,000 > 28,600
You answered it yourself
"28,600 cars and 90,000 mass-transit passengers"
The point is...
When it backs up, if you have 30 cars backed up in 2 lanes, they are only 15 car lengths long. If they are all in one lane, they are 30 car lengths long. If they back up too far, then they reach Mem Drive's off ramp which causes even further potential mess.
The other thing is that as soon as you get through that light, there are like 4 different ways to go. If any one of those were to be backed up for some reason, then your single lane just parked itself as people get jammed up by 3 people wanting to turn left at the same time...plus that tourist whose GPS is suddenly telling them to take the "third exit from the roundabout"...like that means anything there.
Granted, I haven't seen the traffic reach across the bridge since the construction period. But immediately at the end of the bridge is a light with a decently long red period. Going the other way is a few blocks of runway before you hit the first light at 3rd St and it's red cycle is fairly short (especially comparatively). So, I can see why one lane outbound to Cambridge makes a lot of sense and I can also see that you would still want two lanes inbound (maybe you could do something similar to the BU Bridge where it goes from 1 to 2 closer to the circle). In fact, it's 2-into-3 now. You could make it 1-into-2 and extend that back a little further onto the bridge than the current lane split is now and probably do better than 1 all the way and good enough not to need 2 all the way.
On the contrary
That's a good reason to reduce it to one lane inbound: puts less stress on the circle.
Just moves the stress
To the drivers stuck trying to get into Boston from Cambridge and Mem Drive as they crawl 5 cars at a time into the circle because everyone wants to turn onto Storrow all of the sudden.
Even in the 1 lane scenario
I believe that they would branch out to 2 or 3 lanes at the rotary itself. The current proposal calls for moving the storrow drive off ramp to Mugar way (the historic off ramp) and moving the non-historic railing (after where the granite stops) over into that space a couple of feet to allow the extra lanes.
That would solve the problem of bottlenecks.
But even though I'm a pedestrian and bicyclist most of the time, I DO admit that currently they need two lanes inbound from 5pm to 7pm on weekdays. I personally think that will change over time, and someday we may be able to go down to one lane.
One statistic that the traffic modeling guy from MAPC gave that I thought was mindboggling is the huge percentage of trips across the longfellow that are going to the AIRPORT I forget what it was, but it was strangely high. Not surprisingly 70% of trips are going to 93. I'd be curious if some of those trips could be diverted to Mem Drive/ Cragie as well.
Charles River Crossings
Since so many are going to I-93 or the airport, why don't we encourage them to use that flashy new bridge that was just built for them?
You have to go all the way up McGrath to be able to get going south again on 93.
Anyone south of Somerville Ave, east of Harvard Square, and east of Central Square (all of east Cambridge, basically) is going to have a much faster path by going over the Longfellow to get on 93S at Storrow.
I don't doubt you
But I wonder why this is? I mean why is the connection to Leverett circle through McGrath not more attractive? When I drive to 93 (admittedly not often) from just east of Harvard sq, I generally get either Storrow or 90 at Western Ave.
I just don't know the relative merits of Charles circle vs the Cragie bridge at rush hour, since I never do either at rush hour. I'd be interested to hear others' experiences.
Another ugly raised highway...dun dun DUNNN!!
Basically, once you get past around 3rd St in East Cambridge, it's next to impossible to navigate out to McGrath until you get back out to like the Union Square/Highland Ave area. Combined with Hampshire and Binney both sort of "capping" that direction and funneling everything towards the Longfellow, it just feels more natural and direct (technically the Longfellow nearly points straight at the airport).
Hope it doesn't lead to
more backups on the other bridges. BU Bridge is a nightmare already, thanks to fewer car lanes.
How so? During construction
How so? During construction over two years it was down to 2 lanes, now it is back up to 3. The BU bridge was even more of a nightmare with 4 lanes because of the awful intersections at each end.
The bridge itself is better with the current lane configuration handling turning and through traffic. The Cambridge side is now a bit better at the intersection, despite needing more work from DCR's end. The major problem with traffic flow to the bridge is the state controlled intersection over the pike. The width, markings, islands, signals, and timing of those lights as a complete system are utter rubbish and it doesn't help that everyone blocks the box there. The problem with the BU bridge isn't the bridge, but the Boston side intersection!
The same is true for the Longfellow. While somewhat improved over the previous incarnation before the MBTA station rebuild, it is still an awful juncture of traffic which causes back ups onto the bridge.
The Cambridge side
rotary gets completely gridlocked due to the limited number of cars the bridge can handle. Since the rotary incorporates traffic coming to Cambridge as well as away from Cambridge, everyone gets stuck. Sure worked a lot better when there were two lanes in either direction. Lots of cars getting moving slowly or not at all so that a much smaller volume of bikes can have access doesn't make sense to me.
The rotary back up is result
The rotary back up is result of the the signal system on the Boston side not having loop sensors and intelligent timing. When the bridge had two lanes the entire length cars were already backing up onto Memorial Drive. The bridge doesn't need to be wider, the signals need to be fixed to keep traffic from backing up all the way from the Commonwealth Avenue intersection into the rotary.
I'm pretty sure that
especially on nights the Red Sox play, there is not a lot you can do with the traffic lights at BU Bridge and Comm Ave that are going to eliminate, or even mitigate, the backups. Taking out a lane made the backups bigger. I switched a few years back to the Mass. Ave. Bridge. Even on game nights, it's a better bet.
If you add the lanes back
You just add more traffic back. You can't solve this congestion problem by restoring or adding lanes. But you will put at risk the thousands of pedestrians who cross this intersection at Comm Ave every day.
Outbound to Cambridge is good, but I do think that the 4" shoulder between cars and the MBTA should be reduced to create a bigger buffer between cars and bikes. With a 12' lane, cars are going to be going FAST and a bigger buffer (maybe even some flex-bollards) would help make that safer.
Inbound I think the current Mass DOT is not much of an improvement for bikes or really enough for peds. The view is SOspectacular there it could really be a fantastic urban promenade, especially with better connections to the esplanade.
Advocacy groups have come together to push Mass DOT to supersize the area beyond the crash barrier and split the sidewalk between off-street cycletrack and ped space. This is not optimal at the pinch points, but it's still 10' clear, which is wider than a lot of parts of the Charles river paths. It would be signed one way bike traffic and two way ped traffic, with either bollards or pavement textures/ colors to separate the bike space and the ped space.
The hope is that some day the balance of high fuel costs and the inefficiency for many people of driving downtown vs the increasing safety of bike infrastructure and facilities, plus a possible improved connection to I-93 through the Mem-drive side will reduce traffic here to a level that would support going to one travel lane, and a nice buffered bike lane on the road, with a wonderful wide sidewalk- the kind of sidewalk that could support vendors and benches, not just scuttling across as fast as possible.
In terms of fixing Cambridge street, the solution may actually be a cycletrack on Charles and cycletracks around the common that would provide an alternative route.
Smart move to separate the
Smart move to separate the cyclists from the pedestrians.