Several Hundred Riders Try Out New Bike Share Program in Watertown

Since the new bike share program came to town, sevearl hundred local cyclists have taken a ride on the bright green bikes. During the 13 days since the launch of the Lime Bike program, 1,374 rides have been made by 825 riders in Watertown, according to Transportation Planner Laura Wiener. The average trip is not long: less than a mile (.8 miles), and lasts 19 minutes. Lime Bikes operate a bit differently from the BlueBikes (formerly Hubway) in Boston, where riders pick up and leave bikes in docking stations. Lime Bike riders use the company’s smartphone app, which allows riders to locate a bicycle, unlock it and go for a ride.

OP-ED: State Sen. Brownsberger Pushing to Make Roads Safer for Bicyclists

(The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger (D – Belmont) who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston)
When I cycled across the country in 2011, I saw a lot of roadkill. I was constantly aware that all it would take was one mistake by me or by one of those caffeinated guys in big rigs and I’d look about the same. On the open road, I developed a profound gratitude towards the tens of thousands of drivers who did not hit me. The Senate just approved a safety package that would require a clearance of at least three feet for vehicles passing vulnerable road users like highway workers, cyclists and pedestrians.  It would add an additional foot of required clearance for each ten miles per hour of speed.

OP-ED: Mass. Senate Passes Act to Reduce Pedestrian/Bicycle Fatalities

State Sen. Will Brownsberger released the following piece on legislation, of which he was the lead sponsor, to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety:

The Massachusetts State Senate voted Thursday, July 28, 2018 to pass legislation that aims to create safer streets for all road users. Developed in collaboration with a coalition of bicycle, pedestrian and transportation advocates, S.2570, An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, includes several measures to improve road safety, lessen the severity of crashes, and standardize the collection and analysis of crash data. The bill classifies several groups, including pedestrians, utility workers, first responders and cyclists, as “vulnerable road users,” and requires motor vehicles to apply a “safe passing distance” of at least three feet when traveling 30 miles per hour or less with an additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour over 30 miles per hour. Current law only requires motor vehicle operators to pass at “a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.” The bill would further require a vehicle that is overtaking a vulnerable road user to use all or part of the adjacent lane, crossing the center line if necessary, when it cannot pass at a safe distance in the same lane and only when it is safe to do so. “We need to keep working year after year to achieve a future in which traffic fatalities get as close as possible to zero,” said Senator William N. Brownsberger (D-Belmont), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

Changes Coming to Charles River Road, Including New Crosswalks, Re-striping of Road

A representative from the Department of Conservation and Recreation visited Charles River Road last week to speak with neighbors about how to make the newly repaved roadway safer, including adding more crosswalks. The tour was organized by State Sen. Will Brownsberger and State Rep. Jonathan Hecht. The goal of the re-striping is to increase the connections to between the neighborhood, the Charles River, the Riverside Park, as well as slowing traffic, said Jeffrey Parenti, Deputy Chief Engineer of the DCR’s Division of Planning and Engineering. After the new striping, there will be some changes to Charles River Road. The roadway will remain one lane in each direction for motor vehicles, and there will bebike lanes in each direction.

Look for the Green Bikes — Lime Bike Share Company Comes to Watertown

A fleet of 200 bright green bicycles arrives in Watertown on Friday. These bicycles are part of the town’s first bikeshare program, run by Lime. Unlike the bikeshares in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, Lime operates a dockless bike program. “Lime is thrilled to bring our dock-free smart bikes to Arlington and Watertown. Many of the communities north of Boston have now added our affordable, green transportation option for everyone to enjoy,” said Scott Mullen, Lime Director of Expansion, New England.

Mt. Auburn St. Plans Approved by Council Subcommittee, Now on to Full Council

Wednesday evening, the Council’s Public Works subcommittee recommended that the Town Council approve the plan for Mt. Auburn Street that would reduce the number of travel lanes in most sections and add buffered bike lanes along many stretches. 

The plan has been much discussed over the past several years, after the Town Council voted in 2013 to have the Department of Public Works and the town’s traffic engineering consultant, WorldTech Engineering, come up with plan for a “road diet” for the major artery between Watertown Square and the Cambridge line. The project is a Complete Streets project, which means it is designed for all modes of transportation: motor vehicle, bicycles, pedestrians and public transportation. If the Town can get TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) funding, the entire $14 million budget will be covered entirely by the state, said Bill Mertz, vice president of WorldTech. The plan would reduce the number of motor vehicle travel lanes from two lanes each way to one each way along most of the length of Mt.

Watertown Shuttle Will Have to Wait Until More Businesses, Apartment Complexes Sign On

Those hoping to ride a shuttle down Pleasant Street to Watertown Square, or anywhere else in town, will have to wait. 

The proposed shuttle would be largely funded by private businesses and residential developments, with the Town also contributing. The Council’s Economic Development and Planning subcommittee heard from Transportation Planner Laura Wiener Tuesday night, who said that not enough organizations have committed to funding a shuttle to launch a viable pilot program. The current plan is to run a shuttle along Pleasant Street, Wiener said, because the street does not really have any public transportation. The estimated cost for running a shuttle for a year is $150,000, Wiener said. The Watertown Transportation Management Association (TMA) has committed $25,000, and the Town has volunteered in-kind donations of a vehicle and fuel equivalent to about $50,000.

MBTA Starting Better Bus Project to Improve Existing Bus Network

The MBTA announced the launch of the Better Bus Project, a program focused on making improvements to the existing bus network through operational changes, targeted capital investments, and stakeholder partnerships. Throughout 2018 and 2019, the Better Bus team will identify improvements in bus service that would have a positive impact on nearly 450,000 people in 50 communities who rely on MBTA bus service every weekday. In early 2017, the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board adopted a set of standards and goals for bus-service delivery. The MBTA collected riders’ comments and feedback for over two years, which were integrated into the policy. With the policy in place, the Better Bus Project is focused on closing the gap between current service delivery and the adopted policy standards.