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Making Centre Street safer from Holy Name to Weld Street in West Roxbury

Members of the newly formed West Rox Walks recently walked the roughly mile-long stretch of Centre Street from the Holy Name rotary to Weld Street survey the street and compile notes on how to make the street safer - mainly for pedestrians, but also for bicyclists and drivers.

The group decided to walk that section as the neighborhood awaits proposals promised by the city to make the stretch from the rotary to Spring Street safer following Marilyn Wentworth's death as she crossed Centre at Hastings Street in February.

In a report on their walk, they start by saying the road is "not for the faint of heart" for pedestrians, because motorists treat it more like a highway than a neighborhood street and routinely ignore the official 25-m.p.h. speed limit.

In addition to police enforcement, the group says the city could force motorists to slow down by narrowing travel lanes - which would allow for installation of protected bicycle lanes - putting up much larger speed-limit signs and flashing speed signs, and reducing the road immediately outside the rotary to just one lane. Also recommended: Banning parking right next to crosswalks - and increasing walk times at current crosswalks.

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People speed because that street is four lanes wide with parking so it doesn't feel like a city street. Put a protected bike line between the sidewalk and the street parking (Holland style) This will also serve as a traffic calming measure.

There, fixed it.

In WR proper, make Centre St. one lane each way with a center turning lane, put in bump outs at the crosswalks and raise them. No idea why we're optimizing our streets for commuters from Dedham and Westwood.

Also, put in a raised side walk at the VFW post on Belgrade where there's no crosswalk light so people slow the fuck down coming into Roslindale.

You're welcome.

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wide between South and Weld St. It is one lane in each direction with parking and a bike lane.

How do you slow people down? That is the issue. Take a look at their report.

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Yes, it’s already one lane each way. But, it’s such a wide expanse drivers naturally go fast. As it’s painted now the driving lanes are too wide. Narrowing them to standard width for a 25 mph neighborhood street and making the adjacent buffer space and bike lanes stand out with paint and flex posts would make the road appear much more narrow to drivers and take the speed down naturally. In a perfect world flip the bike lanes and the parking to truly narrow it and make biking and walking much safer.
As it stands now it looks like a 40-50 mph road and nobody drives under 35 unless a cop is visible.

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There are already bike lanes painted onto the street. Moving them between the parked cars and the sidewalk would both make it much safer and by moving the cars closer to the travel lanes, calm traffic. By a lot. Narrower streets are slower, safer streets.

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You are correct: one recommendation in the walk audit is to create parking protected bike lanes, which is in line with goals set by the city of Boston. The report also recommends narrowing travel lanes from the current 11.5 feet down to 10-10.5 feet to slow vehicle traffic to the 25 mph speed limit that is currently posted.

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Agreed that the road needs a reconfiguration.

But there's no need to blame people from Dedham and Westwood for the road's problems, and no evidence that it's their fault. Plenty of West Roxbury residents have cars. And you don't have to take advanced driving politeness classes as a requirement to move north of the city line.

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How we protect our neighborhood from the fanatical idiots moving in.

As someone who’s lived in the area for decades, last bad accident was approx 20 yo at weld and centre. Said accident was cause by an idiot who ran a red light.

Provide data points or shut up with the bike lane BS. It’s Westie not the S End.

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Because long-timers NEVER do anything wrong.

20 years ago, you say? Hmm, wasn't that about the time the Fruits and Veggies gang was beating up people with baseball bats at Billings Field? Must've been all those newcomers from the South End.

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Protected bike lanes are good, but flipping the bike lane is really a way to narrow the street and limit speeding. That will make it safe for people to cross the street walking to work, school, etc. I assume folks did those things all the way back 20 years ago when you moved here (I’m kneeling in reverence as I type). I’ve only been here ten and walking around without dodging across a freeway is important to me.
Do you walk around? Do you think the speed and blowing by people in crosswalks is acceptable? How would narrowing this stretch if Centre Street harm you? Same number of lanes, same number of parking spaces. Just using the space better.

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I'm all for improving roads for walking and cycling. But I'm not convinced that putting bike lanes on the other side of parking is a good idea.

I don't like Cambridge's lanes, because they set up right-hook, left-cross, and motorist pullout conflicts by obscuring visibility and preventing cyclists from merging left before intersections.

Black ice has also been a major problem in winter, long after the general lanes are clear and dry.

People think this type of lane is safer. But the underlying studies are usually one of:
1) the Vancouver one, which confused protected lanes with side paths on a bridge
2) Lusk's Montreal study, which has many many major errors -- mixing in paths through parks, comparing a major busy street with no bike lanes with a quiet street with bike lanes, etc.

Detailed criticism is here:
http://john-s-allen.com/blog/?p=6240

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Re: “last bad accident 20 years ago at Weld”, a pedestrian was killed more recently at Guernsey. Close calls happen constantly, which is why many people stopped walking all together. That means they get in cars and clog the roads and the parking spaces when they’d rather be on foot.
Even most experienced cyclists don’t bother with Centre Street. More cars.
Car / car accidents happen all the time. Maybe you don’t consider that bad.

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I've lived in the area my whole life and this is exactly what is needed. Not everyone drives and the world (your car) isn't king. There are already enough studies done stating protected bike lanes, slowing traffic down and reducing the size of the roads saves lives. Centre street could be SO much better as a walking destination.

I regularly experience people not stopping for me in the crosswalks - it's like playing chicken and yes, even down by Weld and Centre. And with the new apartment building(s) it is only going to be more congested.

Just because "you have lived there for decades" doesn't mean that things shouldn't change and move forward for the betterment of society as a whole...not just for car drivers.

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Provide data points says the person relying on the fact that "I've lived here forevah!"

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The walk audit contains a map with literal data points marking each traffic incident involving a pedestrian in the last 20 years. Spoiler: there is more than one.

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There have been documented problems with Centre Street between the rotary and LaGrange Street, so they surveyed an area without documented problems.

Good job, gang.

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Where they explained they didn't walk that part because it's been well studied and they're awaiting specific proposals from the city.

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The walk audit contains a map of crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist on the stretch between the rotary and weld. Some of them resulted in injuries and one resulted in a death.

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Almost as many crashes in a stretch of over a mile to the east than in a quarter mile (the only part visible) to the west of the rotary. Also, less than one crash every 2 years. Indeed, an epidemic.

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It’s not a competition between streets. The push for this section doesn’t negate the work being done elsewhere on Centre. Both areas have problems, both areas can be fixed. It’s about making streets safer.

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There is a major problem in the business district of West Roxbury with the traffic, which has many affects including a spate of crashes involving pedestrians. The response of this group is to highlight an area with less problems that would in fact be more difficult to fix.

At the end of the day, is the goal to fix real problems or to scare people? Say that there is a problem from the rotary to Weld, even though the data the group presents does not really bear itself out, is an attempt to scare people.

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This group (I am a neighbor) wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supports the soon to be proposed changes to the business district. We are actively working to grow support, make that effort louder and louder, and see it come to fruition.
That business district study / upcoming proposal ends at the rotary, as you know. Those of us that live and walk between the rotary and Weld are making an accompanying push to make that stretch of road safer as well.
You’re welcome to your opinion that the Weld to Holy Name stretch should not be made safer. Many of us that use it firmly believe it needs improvement too.
We also believe major improvements can be done simply. Simply marking the two lanes an appropriate width, painting existing bike lanes and bus stops, and improving crosswalks would make a huge difference slowing traffic.

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People rationally fear crossing that street to the point they don’t walk to parks, schools, and businesses otherwise easily walkable. Perhaps if they didn’t have survival instincts there would have been a few more deaths to point out.

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Add trees and a sidewalk through the middle of the street creating a pedestrian mall similar to Comm. Ave. in the Back Bay. As others have said, narrower travel lanes slow traffic speeds and car and truck drivers will be forced to learn how ro share the road with cyclists.

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Centre St isn't any better by the Arboretum, as evidenced by how many cars go flying off the road there

It's not West Roxbury anymore of course, but that stretch is even more of a thunderdome.

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And the bike lane there is only a bike lane if no one who is visiting the Arboretum feels like parking in it.

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Aren't the consistently double parked cars on that stretch enough of a speed deterrent?

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I'm all in favor of safety measures along that stretch, especially some enforcement for red lights, but I think the biggest issue is traffic volume, especially during rush hours.

Until we get the commuters out of their cars and onto public transportation, (and, yes, onto their bikes, but I think most of this traffic is made up of long-commute people) I think the volume will continue to increase. West Roxbury and Roslindale are now big "cut through" areas for commuters avoiding parts of overcrowded local highways.

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I’m looking forward to seeing the traffic volume numbers in the BTD’s overall Centre St traffic study. It’s the first full study of the road since the early 2000’s and I anticipate volume has increased quite a bit since then. Just look at the build up in Longwood and Fenway in the last 15 years. Our neighborhood has become the highway to that area for people south of the city. Better public transit to that area would be huge for us.

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West Roxbury resident here. One of the new ones people seem to be complaining about. First of all, the speed limit is not clearly marked on Centre Street, I believe fixing this would help. Totally agree that the cross walks are unsafe. My suggestion would be to replace those stupid green/yellow signs in the middle of the street with actual cross walk lights that change to red when a pedestrian needs to cross. Otherwise BPD will have to begin actually enforcing the crosswalk laws, which we all know won't happen. Anything that encourages more bikes on a busy street like Centre is, in my opinion, and my opinion only, asking for more accidents. Bikers simply do not follow the rules of the road - regularly run lights, enter onto the sidewalk when convenient for them, do not stop for pedestrians, etc. I would like to see laws enforced for bikers before dedicating lanes to them - and yes, this would also mean cracking down on double parkers and folks who don't signal when turning/changing lanes. I don't think narrowing the lanes would make much of a difference, but I am all for anything that makes it safer to walk there. Serious question, are we not at a point where we can engineer something better than a rotary? They're totally unsafe for pedestrians and not much better for cars. The rotary at the intersection of the VFW and W Roxbury Parkway has a couple sets of lights that at the very least make it easier for pedestrians to cross. Despite being two heavily trafficked roads I have never run into serious traffic there. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

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There are already bike lanes almost the entire stretch of Centre Street in question.

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Anything that encourages more bikes cars on a busy street like Centre is, in my opinion, and my opinion only, asking for more accidents. Bikers Drivers simply do not follow the rules of the road - regularly run lights, enter onto the sidewalk when convenient for them, do not stop for pedestrians, etc. I would like to see laws enforced for bikers drivers before dedicating lanes to them

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Sometimes I ride my bike on the sidewalk b/c it's too dangerous on the street, even in the marked bike lanes. Moving the cars over and putting the bike lanes on the inside would stop me from riding on sidewalks. If riding on sidewalk means not getting hit by a car I am going to do it.

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