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Boston to keep several street changes originally made for the Orange Line shutdown

Huntington Avenue between Brigham Circle and Gainsborough Street and Boylston Street in Copley Square will keep their dedicated bus lanes, city officials announced today.

They're among the permanent changes announced today by Mayor Wu, who says their use during the Orange Line shutdown showed they could help permanently with traffic flow and access to public transit.

The complete list:

  • Chinatown MBTA SL4 bus stop: This newly added bus stop creates a vital link for Chinatown residents to the SL4.
  • Copley Square area bus lanes: These bus lanes include Boylston Street (Ring Road to Clarendon Street); Clarendon Street (Boylston Street to Columbus Ave.); St. James Street (west of Berkeley Street to Dartmouth Street). These bus lanes support the 39, 9, and 10 bus routes, which together serve more than 10,000 riders per weekday.
  • South End loading zones and drop-off zones: Changes to parking restrictions in this area will remain in place for improved curbside management and reduced double parking in the unprotected bike lane.
  • Jamaica Plain pavement marking and signage: This includes traffic safety elements such as “Don’t Block the Box” and parking restrictions at corners to improve visibility. These changes have shown to improve traffic safety and management.
  • Boylston Street one-way for vehicles: Closing part of Boylston Street (between Amory & Lamartine) to traffic throughout the shutdown has improved safety (collisions and near-misses) along the Southwest Corridor. Reopening this stretch as a one-way street from Amory to Lamartine for vehicles will support long-term bike connectivity plans, improve safety for all modes, and reduce conflict at the high crash intersection of Boylston and Lamartine Streets.
  • Huntington Avenue bus & bike priority lane: The priority bus and bike lane that was added to Huntington Avenue from Brigham Circle to Gainsborough Street has improved speed for the Route 39 bus. As a permanent lane, it will continue to support the thousands of people who ride the Route 39 bus and will improve safety for those on bikes.
  • Columbus Avenue pop-up bike lane: This will remain until early December and then be removed for the season. BTD Active Transportation will continue to monitor and move barrels daily to enable street sweeping. Long-term planning is underway for a potential permanent facility. This is one of the busiest corridors for biking. Improving conditions, even on just a few blocks, can make the overall trip safer and more enjoyable.
  • Bluebikes parking: The City will retain Bluebikes docks added during the shutdown, with minor modifications as needed, to keep up with record-breaking ridership numbers. The City is also exploring options to provide free or low-cost bike share service.
  • The Boylston Street pop-up bike lane will be removed as the City works to design the recently announced permanent facility. Boylston Street is an important link in the bike network, and improved infrastructure here will make a safer ride for people biking from Brookline, Mission Hill, the LMA, and Back Bay to Downtown. The pop-up Boylston Street bike lane will be in place through September 26. The permanent Boylston Street bike lane will be prioritized for installation in the spring.
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Comments

The added Chinatown bus stop is on the SL4, not the SL5. It’s on the Surface Artery near the Chinatown gate, and only the outbound SL4 goes that way.

The fact that the city got this wrong in their press release says something about something.

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21

City Hall sent out a correction this afternoon and I, who also missed it, fixed it in the original post.

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It took them one week to think of and implement these changes in response to the OL closure. If all it takes to improve traffic safety and management is some paint and week of brainstorming, can't we do more of it?

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62

My impression is that a big difference here is that the usual carbrain anti-bike anti-pedestrian NIMBY types weren't given a chance to slog down this process. As a YIMBY maximalist I think we have too much local input on these sorts of things in forums where participation doesn't represent the community at large.

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73

The city should make changes without hearings. Then have hearings 6-9 months later so people can comment if the changes are an improvement, need adjustments, or should be reverted entirely.

The current hearing system is just speculation from all sides.

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61

So you would prefer the Government make all the decisions for us with no public input?

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They didn't say no public input.

A lot of these changes will be gone in a year, though it might be a part of longer term permanent changes.

Quick pop up changes, though well intentioned, often don't last. I was pondering this while driving down (after running up) Cummins Highway in Mattapan last week.

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They took them out as prelude to rebuilding the whole street. Permanent lanes are part of that rebuild.

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Excellent. We have more and more evidence that bus and bike lanes are effective in reducing commute times and saving lives. A few car drivers from the suburbs should not be prioritized over thousands of bus riders and cyclists.

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Could you present said evidence?

Let's start with Huntington Ave. How many people were served by the right lane before it became a bus lane, when it became a bus lane during the E branch closure with boosted bus service, and now that it's a bus lane with transit service is back to normal?

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https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/six-months-later-revisiting-roxbury...

In that survey conducted with the City of Boston, 74% of riders said they had a faster trip since the lanes were installed. The most popular features, according to the MBTA, are the electronic boards at the bus stops.

Oh and also

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In the city’s survey, cars and trucks were spotted driving and parking in bus lanes. Neighbor Maria Depeiza said it’s taken some getting used to.

https://www.wbur.org/news/2019/06/24/bus-lanes-faster-boston-commutes

According to BostonBRT, commutes in Arlington shrank by up to 10 minutes because of the dedicated bus lane on Mass. Ave., while riders along the Cambridge-Watertown bus lane on Mt. Auburn Street saved about five minutes on average. BostonBRT also found that the length of bus rides was more consistent each day.

These results are similar to the impact of bus lanes in Boston and Everett, which also reduced travel times and have since become permanent. Arlington also decided to make its bus lane permanent this spring.

On the subject of increasing safety (not Boston but whatever)
https://www.pasadenacsc.org/blog/protected-bike-lanes-increase-traffic-s...

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A 'few'... sure

Nothing like exclusionary policies, to keep people out of 'your' neighborhood/part of the city.

Let the hypocrisy proceed.

The stanchions are literally in the driving lane vs right on the bike lane markers...

Traffic is already being impacted and wtf happens in a snow storm? Is Michelle going to shovel the bike lane by hand?

Not very nice but everyone could have predicted this backdoor process to further your agenda.

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Yeah, Wu's dastardly agenda to make commuting easier for the maximum number of people possible. So shady.

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make lemonade. Good on her for finding another way to turn this into a big win for the city and its residents.

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She's spent literally her entire life working to build up the maintenance backlog on the Orange Line just to achieve this goal.

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you mean the agenda she campaigned on and was elected overwhelmingly with? yea, a real
shame she’s implementing her campaign promises to make Boston a better city for bike and transit users

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That would be the nefarious agenda of saving driver and pedestrian lives and reducing traffic jams.

If you think the changes are a bad idea, there's nothing stopping you from asking the city government to reverse them You'll probably need a better argument than objecting that the changes were tried out for 30 days, instead of the decision being made after months or years of hearings.

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You're kidding right? Do explain how taking a lane from a main road for bikes reduces traffic jams? Just the opposite isn't it?

While you're at it help me understand how bottlenecking vehicles that once moved through those street but will now sit and idle for another hour while watching a bike lane that has few users per hour will lower pollution? Oh let me guess, you don't want any vehicles on the city roads right?

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When you create infrastructure that makes biking or taking the bus a safe and viable option for commuting, some people will choose that over driving. Therefore, there will be fewer cars on the road to get stuck in traffic. There have been endless studies showing that more car lanes actually lead to more traffic instead of alleviating traffic. Google "induced demand."

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Those cars are gonna be sitting in traffic regardless because well, they are traffic.

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You can construct whatever argument you'd like based on logic and reasoning, but in this case we actually have empirical data which shows pretty clearly that the changes they're making permanent have not caused the problems you're afraid of. Neither you nor I may understand why your fears have not been realized, but the fact remains: they haven't been, and that's pretty much that. Reality is reality.

Conspiracy theorists gonna theorize! How dare she?!?

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There is nothing here, such as traffic enforcement, that prevents opposing agendas.

You can still straddle or block individual lanes, or angle your vehicle while stopped to make an adjacent lane impassable. You can still pull forward to block crosswalks and intersections to impede others who have right of way at intersections.

If you and others want to worsen traffic, you can continue to do so easily.

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Hope so...her agenda is why she pummeled her opponents. It's called changing. Boston is a joke in so many ways compared to other livable cities. Yes, born and bred, etc,etc.

There are areas of SF, NY and other cities that made changes during Covid & aren't going back. Know what - the people that live in those areas love the changes.

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Who are they fooling? Improve traffic by increasing the amount of traffic? Neither buses or bikers are ever stopped for reckless driving, running red lights, not stopping for pedestrians and other dangerous behavior. The buses and bike lanes are causing most of the traffic problems. Bus drivers are all over the place, and bike riders seem to throw all common sense to the wind while riding through densely populated areas. Its one thing to make the dedicated spaces but you have to do something to make them use it.

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I drove down the street once during the first week of the shutdown. Didn't see any bus lanes.

Given that the right hand lane is basically takeout parking, I don't see this actually being a thing.

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Huntington begins. I have driven inbound to Ruggles St. and there are no bus lanes.

As far as I know it is only the #39 bus that is on that stretch and they run now only about every 15 minutes, if then. The #66 leaves Huntington at Brigham Circle.

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That sounds like a Boston bus lane: no markings, and one bus every 15 minutes.

If nobody knows it's a bus lane, and buses are rare, what purpose does it serve? Mostly just for politicians to announce how much they're doing for transit.

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I believe they added a week or two into the shutdown, that’s why you didn’t see it the first week.

Maybe it’s time to close the red line for a month? :)

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If the commuter rail is free from zone 2, I am for it.

close it for 6 months and make it not a piece of shit.

when the red line is working well, it is the best line.

but when it breaks down, dear god is it miserable.

additionally, fix alewife so it doesn't take over an hour to get out of the parking lot 2x a month.

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Just like all the bars and restaurants who “lost” money during the pandemic continue to do business on public property.

Boylston Street one-way for vehicles: Closing part of Boylston Street (between Amory & Lamartine) to traffic throughout the shutdown has improved safety (collisions and near-misses) along the Southwest Corridor. Reopening this stretch as a one-way street from Amory to Lamartine for vehicles will support long-term bike connectivity plans, improve safety for all modes, and reduce conflict at the high crash intersection of Boylston and Lamartine Streets.

This intersection is along my daily commute and prior to this change I’d see near misses on a nearly daily basis between cars, cars and pedestrians, and cars and cyclists. I’ve stopped twice to be a witness for accidents since 2019.

They need to deal with New Minton St (the next cross street), which is too often used as a shortcut by speeding drivers and which has a total blind spot for cars, pedestrians, and cyclists courtesy of some MBTA duct work. The best solution is to make it one way in the opposite direction removing the blind spot and dividing the traffic between the two cross streets.

I agree, but the blind spot is from Amtrak fencing.