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447Grounding McGrath Study - Public Comments on Final Report

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  • Bruce Kulik
    Jan 7, 2014
    • 0 Attachment
      The project to remove the McCarthy viaduct and to change the McGrath
      Highway into a boulevard will be a great improvement for the Union
      Square area. However, the current plans showing three lanes of travel
      in each direction,and bicycle accommodation via side paths need serious
      reconsideration. With the completion of the Central Artery Project, the
      need for McGrath to be a freeway-like thoroughfare is greatly
      diminished. The area would be better served with a configuration of two
      lanes in each direction with turning lanes as appropriate.

      Currently McGrath Highway is classified as "Other Freeway", yet it is a
      major bicycle connection route from Cambridge to the northern suburbs.

      Alternatives to the east involve using the Gilmore Bridge or Washington
      Street Bridge to Charlestown and Sullivan Square to Mystic Avenue, Route
      28, and Route 99. Recent development though Assembly Square provide a
      more comfortable route to Route 28 for those cyclists who do not want to
      operate on the busier adjacent roadways.

      To the west, Medford Street and Somerville Avenue can be used to access
      much of Somerville and Cambridge. However, if one is traveling to
      Highland Avenue, Medford Street, or points further north along McGrath
      Highway, it is not possible to avoid the access roads on either side of
      the elevated portion through the Union Square area and across Washington
      Street. Additionally, the left turn onto Highland Avenue is currently
      difficult for bicycle operation.

      Therefore, it is imperative that any solution which accommodates bicycle
      traffic must take into account this through bicycle traffic by competent
      cyclists accustomed to operation on the roadways at maximum utility.

      The current proposals do not do this, but cater to a minority subset of
      bicycle operators who prefer compromised utility and sidewalk operation.
      If these side paths are provided, the adjacent roadways must accommodate
      cyclists to the maximum extent possible. Additionally, side path
      operation in the winter is generally not possible due to inadequate snow
      removal or other obstruction. Even if the overall width of the design is
      not reduced to two lanes in each direction, there should be adequate
      room for a 5' wide bike lane outside the door zone in each direction.

      Here are my detailed comments regarding the various recommended plans:

      1) In all cases, bicycle accommodation should align with general
      vehicular flow so as not to create conflicts that are not already
      present. For example, bicycle operators should not be directed to paths
      or lanes which require them to switch to the opposite side of the roadway.

      2) Bicycle accommodations should not direct bicyclists into conflicts
      with pedestrians, such as is shown where the proposed side path joins
      the crosswalk across Poplar Street and Washington Street.

      3) Bicycle accommodations should recognize that cyclists will be
      arriving from many different points, including Highland Avenue/Medford
      Street and McGrath Highway from the north, Somerville Avenue and
      Washington Street from the west, Washington Street from the east, and
      McGrath Highway across the Squire Bridge, from the south.

      4) Bicyclists are not looking for "places to ride their bikes", but are
      looking to use each of the major corridors for transportation needs.
      Bicycle operation is more like motor vehicle operation than it is like
      pedestrian operation, and should not be treated the same as pedestrian

      5) In many cases, the proposed bicycle side-path requires cyclists to
      dismount and cross streets with pedestrian phases, rather than directing
      them to cross with the general traffic phase, or providing a totally
      separate phase.

      6) If bicycle lanes are not provided, it should be clear that bicycle
      operation in the street is permitted and encouraged through the use of
      Bicycle May Use Full Lane signs.

      7) Some have suggested that a bicycle track should be installed along
      the length of the corridor. While I do not generally support bicycle
      tracks due to safety and utility concerns. If they are provided, they
      should be phase separated to prevent turning conflicts where right turns
      are permitted.


      Rather than providing a segregated facility for cyclists along the
      eastern edge of the project area, the plan should accommodate cyclists
      by providing a wide curb lane or delimited right hand side bicycle lane
      through the area from Squires Bridge to the intersection with Highland
      Avenue/Medford Street, and corresponding facilities in the reverse

      Additionally, an additional bicycle lane should be provided to the right
      of the rightmost left turn lane to accommodate bicyclists turning left
      from McGrath Highway onto Highland Avenue.

      The proposed side path should be an adjunct facility, and not the
      primary facility for the area.

      Bruce Kulik
      168 Grove Street
      Medford, MA