Proposal envisions path to making Newton safe for cyclists
Newton’s Bicycle Network Plan suggests key routes for changes over five years
Calling for a minimum of 30 miles of new bike lanes and related infrastructure over the next five years, Newton’s newly released Bicycle Network Plan identifies important routes and ways they can be made more amenable to cyclists.
The public is invited to comment on the plan during a meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. in Newton City Hall’s War Memorial Auditorium.
“We do need to set priorities and we do need to start seeing some paint on the road,” said Lois Levin, bicycle coordinator for the city, who worked on the plan. “The concept is to develop a network, and we have a lot of tools in our toolbox that we will present.”
Although the plan identifies critical roadways and also discusses several ways to accommodate alternatives for accommodating bicyclists, it does not determine which roads would see the changes or when.
Levin said advocates are trying to remain flexible, and hope to win more than what’s called for in the report, which is adding 6 miles of “safe bicycling infrastructure” every year for the next five years.
Among the routes highlighted for changes are:
— Commonwealth Avenue, where bike lanes are recommended along the outside of the traffic lanes on the main roadway “for higher speed cyclists,” as well as a “two-way multiuse boulevard along the existing carriage lane” for cyclists who want to ride a little slower and pedestrians.
— The Upper Falls Greenway, which is an abandoned rail line owned by the state but eligible for conversion to a multiuse path via lease agreement with the city.
— Washington Street, between Newton Corner and West Newton, which is a candidate for a “road diet” and intersection upgrade, according to the plan.
A “road diet” is one of several ways outlined in the plan to make more room for bicyclists. Where there are more travel lanes than needed based on traffic volumes, the plan says, it could be safer for motorists and bicyclists alike to reduce the number of car lanes.
Ultimately, the plan calls for making Newton more bike-friendly as a way to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and improve safety for everyone.
“The goal is to create a complete bicycling network that will link all villages, transportation modes, schools, public buildings, and business districts,” according to the report.
In addition to more road room for bicyclists, the plan also calls for requiring public education for young people about bicycling safety; increasing the number of public bike racks and other storage facilities; and considering the safety of everyone when decisions are made on traffic signals and speed limits.