Chandler Connection Redesign
Sammy Alshawabkeh, Alex Bender, Kevin Carr, Alex Trzaskowski
Charles Street South is the southern extension of Boston’s historic Charles Street, which once marked the coastline on the Charles River Estuary and is currently the main commercial street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood (Figure 1). The extension begins at Park Plaza, at the intersection with Boylston street just south of the Boston Common and Public Garden, and extends to meet Tremont Street just south of the Theater District near its pass over Interstate 90. The street, in its present form, was designed a few years prior to the Big Dig in order to streamline traffic between Cambridge, Beacon Hill, the other downtown neighborhoods, and the Interstate Highway interchange. It was created by widening and joining the existing Carver Street and Broadway Streets in the Theater District, before giving the street its current name. At present, Charles Street South faces some of the most prominent venues in the Theater District, a few hotels, some mixed use space, and apartment complexes.
Figure 1 — In this old map of Boston above, Charles Street South doesn’t yet exist. It was created in recent decades to be a secondary carrier of through traffic, but no longer needs to serve this function in light of the Big Dig highway expansions.
Because Charles street was designed to be a one-way urban throughway, it was designed with car traffic in mind. Moving north from Tremont, which carries one lane of traffic in each direction, Charles Street South carries three lanes of northbound traffic for its entire length. At the street’s northern extent, there is a wide intersection where one lane of traffic carries a right turn lane onto Boylston Street, and two lanes carry through traffic onto Charles Street, which currently widens into a four-lane one-way road between the Common and the Public Garden(Figure 2).
Figure 2— Charles Street South, just south of the Boston Common, carries significant northbound through traffic by virtue of its design, and needlessly so.
Because of where it is in the city, Charles Street does not need three lanes of motor traffic to function effectively. When it was redesigned with through traffic in mind, it was likely that the street was intended to carry excess traffic from Interstate 90 going north into Beacon Hill and Cambridge; because this need has been fulfilled by the Interstate 93 tunnel which would take drivers past North Station and in the vicinity of Charles Circle and the Longfellow Bridge, Charles Street South does not need to function as a through road for cars.
While the road network in Boston in recent decades has become more streamlined and well connected, arguably, its bicycle network is still lacking, and Charles Street makes this evident. Despite the road’s width and the fact that it runs near the two most famous parks in the city, it includes no facilities for bicyclists. Boylston Street, Stuart Street, and Tremont Street, which are also main roads in the neighborhood, also fail to provide for cyclists. Because of this, a cyclist moving through Boston’s Theater District is completely disconnected from bicycle facilities such as on Commonwealth Avenue, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the Southwest Corridor, which are in turn disconnected from one another (Figure 3 and 4). Cyclists are forced to ride on dangerously wide roads where passing is possible. In some cases, a cyclist may be forced to ride contraflow in these massive one-way roads. Overall, Boston’s Theater District, and particularly where it meets the South End near Interstate 90, is filled with streets which are designed to carry more traffic than necessary, is generally unaccommodating to bicyclists, and does not meaningfully connect the major parks which beautify surrounding neighborhoods.
Figure 3— Rose Kennedy Greenway, Downtown Boston
Figure 4— Boston Common, Downtown Boston
II. Reason for Action
The Southwest Corridor is effective at carrying bike traffic between Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, South End, and Back Bay, but when a cyclist arrives at Back Bay station, there are no bike facilities which can carry them through the downtown neighborhoods. The streets beyond this point are largely unattractive for cyclists and pedestrians and this is mostly due to an inefficient use of space based on car traffic. Space that could be used for beautifying the road is instead wasted on unnecessary travel lanes and more pavement. These wide lanes enable drivers to drive faster, which presents cyclists and pedestrians with more dangerous situations. Double parking along the curb is very common in this area of the South End, proving that these roads have excess capacity. Because drivers are able to double park, space is blocked for cyclists and other drivers.
The streets and even pedestrian sidewalk look unattractive along much of this stretch, due to a obscene amount of pavement in comparison to art and green space. The green spaces that are in these areas are poorly utilized, yet there is a lot of potential to improve and beautify the surrounding area off the street.
The lack of bike facilities in the Southwest Corridor is very frightening and dangerous. There is no designated space provided for cyclists to travel safely on many streets, which reflects on the poor existing conditions. For cars and bikes to safely be in mixed traffic, the speed of cars must be below 25 miles per hour, which is the default speed limit of Boston streets. However, in most cases, the multiple lanes of traffic allow drivers to pass and to speed, so the speed limit is not self-enforcing. This is a huge motivation for a redesign; cyclists should be separated from fast moving traffic where necessary. This safety precaution does not currently exist on this stretch, which supports the urgent need for a redesign of road function, speed control for cars, and bicycle facilities.
In current conditions, it is common for cyclists and pedestrians to have to cross multiple lanes of fast moving traffic at many of the interchanges along this route. This causes for complex problem solving to be able to slow yourself, as a vulnerable road user, between streams of bidirectional pedestrians, bicycles, and cars. The proposed design ensures safe crossings for vulnerable road users at nearly any point of this stretch.
III. Vision & Design Objectives
The proposed design set out to address all problems in the Chandler connection in a thoughtful way. Residents, city officials, cyclists, and motorists will all benefit from this design. The key objective is to establish strong bicycle network connectivity. This stretch from the Southwest corridor to the Boston common is an important link needed to connect many of the Southern neighborhoods of Boston to downtown. Cyclists will be able to access Cambridge via the Longfellow bridge from Forest Hills, the beginning of the Southwest corridor. This entire stretch in our design will consist of stress free cycling, which will increase bicycle use because if you build safe infrastructure, the cyclists will come. The biggest deterrent to cycling is traffic stress, and the proposed design intends to mitigate that concern for this important bidirectional connection. The design will be paramount in making a comprehensive Spoke – hub model bicycle network in Boston, and will be complimented perfectly by the Emerald Network of safe greenway paths(Figure 5 & 6).
Figure 5—Existing greenway cycle paths
Figure 6— Proposed Emerald Network, with Chandler Connection drawn in
Every stretch of the Chandler connection redesign will put a large emphasis on beautification through vibrant art and thriving green spaces. Every neighborhood and stretch we touch will be left off better than it was in regards of livability, sustainability, beauty, to name a few. On Yarmouth St. we envision a beautiful road with art lining the street as well as a speed hump that doubles as an inspiring piece of art. Chandler street will leverage a sidewalk extension to harbor more greenery, making this stretch of the connection a straight bike ride or walk through a lush, fresh area. The interchange from Herald street to Charles street on Tremont is currently a huge mess of pavement. With art that compliments the remainder of the route, the design will establish continuity of beauty in a not so fertile area. Finally, we envision a lush linear park on Charles streets which will dump riders out near the Boston Common and Public Garden. From the Southwest corridor to the Common/Public Garden, riders and walkers will be experience a continuous stream of art and flora.
The design does not set out to hamper car or bus traffic, but rather make a more efficient use of space. The design will promote mobility in balance—a smart balance between sustainable transportation modes. For this reason, the design proposes a road diet on Charles street, which we believe will reallocate space to bikes and pedestrians that was previously under utilized. Our lane reduction will still be able to carry all of the traffic that is currently carried by Charles street. The bus route that currently runs south bound on Tremont will be maintained in order to benefit public transport as well.
Speed control on local streets and at conflict points is an integral part of our design. Where a local streets meets a larger street, there will be raised crossings and pavement treatment changes to ensure cars slow their approach. The whole purpose of the design is to make the roads safer and more peaceful for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.
Another large objective is to shift the modal split in the Boston area. We want to encourage and promote bike travel by making roads cycle friendly. By establishing such a strong, beautiful connection from the SW corridor to downtown Boston, this design will act as an impetus for more greenway and other peaceful connections to be made. With support from working professionals, residents, city officials, we can begin to turn the tide toward more sustainable modes of transportation; we can influence car possession and car use.
The design intends to create a continuous, seamless connection. Through continuity of surroundings, pavement treatment, and signage, cyclists will see this route as a useful connection and not a confusing, annoying one.
We don’t want to take anything away from anyone without giving something back that is just as beneficial. Anywhere we take away parking, we will add assurance for slower car traffic through local streets and a more beautiful road. Anytime we may increase transit, even cycle transit, through a certain stretch, such as Chandler street, we will give back to the residents by making a wider sidewalk that is even more gorgeous than it currently is. We will set out to make this design as beneficial and supported to and by as many people as possible.
As much as possible, our design intends to emulate Dutch principles that work so well. In similar stretches to ones we have observed in the Netherlands we will draw on the ingenuity expressed here to guide us in the direction of a robust design in Boston.
Overall, by beginning to turn the tide toward prioritizing more logical and sustainable modes of transport, such as bike, we can be well on our way to making Boston a more healthy, sustainable city as a whole.
- Simple, predictable Connectivity of all Boston neighborhoods
- Slow through-traffic for safer pedestrian & cycle crossing
- Encourage & promote bike travel by making roads cycle friendly
- Dutch inspirations
- A more healthy, sustainable city
- Design for function
IV. Fitting the Pieces Together
The various segments of our network are designed to complement and feed off one another from the aspects of connectivity and beautification. Yarmouth Street will be converted to a low speed mixed-use road, where cars and cyclists share the road. Cyclists will turn at a raised crossing onto a short segment of Columbus Ave with a two-way cycle track, to accommodate bicycle contraflow and avoid crossing Columbus at the signalized intersection at Dartmouth St farther along. Cyclists will then make the simple right turn onto Chandler St and enjoy a peaceful, beautiful, low-stress route through a quiet residential neighborhood, with traffic calming measures and a separated cycle track through a linear park. At the major intersection onto Tremont St, cyclists will be protected by a signalized crossing and transition seamlessly through a dedicated archway over the Mass Pike, further adding to the peacefulness, serenity, and beauty of this stretch. The separation will create a feeling of comfort and control for cyclists at this notoriously wide, busy intersection. A wide linear park through Charles St. with a separated cycle track completes the route, ultimately linking up with the cycle tracks continuing past Boylston St. adjacent to the Boston Common and Public Garden.
Traffic flow on the redesigned street segments will not be negatively affected. Tremont St. will maintain its two-way traffic, with a center mountable median providing enough space for large trucks and the 43 bus. Charles St., previously unnecessarily wide, will undergo a road diet to remove one-two lane(s) of travel, but widen at major intersections to accommodate the same traffic capacity. Yarmouth St does not carry a high volume of traffic currently, and thus will not be affected. Lastly, Chandler St. will be redesigned to strongly discourage through-traffic and cut-through commuters. Designated as a local, bike-friendly street, non-residents’ vehicles will seek alternative routes to access Columbus Ave, Tremont St, or other main roads.
The city of Boston has a history of creating large arterial streets to carry heavy thru-traffic. Unfortunately, this has the consequence of separating neighborhoods from one another and interrupting the connectivity of bicycle networks. Charles Street, for instance, blocks off Bay Village from the Theatre District, while both neighborhoods are separated from the South End by the I-90 highway. While many local streets in Downtown Boston are relatively bike friendly (by U.S. standards), connectivity to other areas of the city is very poor. Major arterials such as Charles St. and Boylston St., both with limited bicycle facilities, cut through downtown and inhibit bicycle travel between neighborhoods.
The city has a vision, called the Emerald Network, of having 200 miles of greenways connecting virtually every region of the city, with 100 miles already existing, and 100 miles either in-progress or proposed (Figure 5 & 6). Our proposed bicycle connection and greenway between Boston Common and the Southwest Corridor fits in with the Emerald Network vision by providing a virtually uninterrupted loop of green parkland between Downtown Boston and Jamaica Plain. This will integrate and connect outer neighborhoods (such as Jamaica Plain and the South End) to downtown, while connecting downtown neighborhoods (such as Bay Village and the Theatre District) with each other.
With the presumed circumferential cycle track wrapping around the Public Garden along Boylston St, Beacon St, Arlington St, and Charles St (Figure 7), our network will connect this lovely route with other parts of Downtown Boston. Instead of biking through the Commons solely for leisure and enjoyment, cyclists may enjoy this peaceful and beautiful area as part of their daily commute, integrated into a larger route through downtown. On the northern side, the circumferential route and two-way cycle tracks leading up Charles St through the Commons would lead to the Longfellow Bridge, offering connectivity to Cambridge. Alternatively, cyclists could turn onto Storrow Drive, leading to the Harvard Bridge and offering another connection across the Charles River into Cambridge. Cyclists would also have easy access to Back Bay, turning onto Commonwealth Ave off Arlington St, leading to Kenmore Square, Boston University, and other points of interest.
Figure 7—Existing and proposed bicycle facilities
The proposed network offers connectivity to other parts of Boston as well. For instance, the presumed cycle track on Herald St. next to the Mass Pike would serve as a key bike connection at the major intersection of Arlington St, Tremont St, Herald St, and Chandler St (Figure 8). Instead of continuing up to the Common or down to the Southwest Corridor, cyclists would have the option of traveling this short stretch of Herald St to connect with Washington St (with existing bike facilities), leading through the South End all the way to Roxbury. Also, the increased connectivity will enable cyclists to be able to travel to South Boston and the Convention Center near D street.
Figure 8—Existing and proposed bicycle facilities
Overall, our bicycle boulevard through the heart of the Hub will compliment proposed greenways as well as on street bicycle facilities very well.
Key Design Details
See Appendix A for a table summarizing design details
Yarmouth Street currently is a one-way street with a 33 foot cross-section containing parking on both sides and a travel zone in between (Figure 9). This space could easily be converted into a street that can provide bicycles to travel safely with vehicles, as well as beautify the area. We will convert Yarmouth Street from a one-way street into a 30 km/h zone style street, one that shares space between vehicles and bicycles by providing self-enforcing speed control measures for local traffic. How can we achieve this? One important measure is to change the surface of the street from asphalt to red brick pavement. The new surface will not completely affect the speeds of cyclists; however, cars will slow down on this surface as it is not comfortable to drive fast on brick pavement. Aesthetically, brick pavement is more pleasing to look at than the current and run-down asphalt in place. We propose adding art within the raised intersection with Yarmouth place on this street. The intersection onto Yarmouth Place will be raised to provide another self-enforcing speed measure, as cars do not want to damage their vehicles going at higher speeds on raised intersections. This will put slow point for cars approximately 250 feet apart from one another. This woonerf/30 km/h zone style means that the road will be shared between vehicles and bicycles, and Yarmouth Street can provide this because there is not a high traffic count on the street to provide necessary separation between the two modes. Converting Yarmouth Street into a woonerf style can provide a bike friendly and connectible facility to the rest of the Southwest Corridor. The final proposed cross-section consists of 7 feet for parking, a 19 foot mixed use lane, then another 7 feet for parking (Figure 10).
Figure 9—Existing Yarmouth cross-section
Figure 10—Proposed Yarmouth cross-section
Sketch A—Showing the interchange between the SW Corridor & Yarmouth and the painted raised intersection
The interchange from the Southwest Corridor to the beginning of the Chandler connection bicycle boulevard, Yarmouth St, will be seamless and safe. In the design, we drew on Dutch inspiration from Rijswijk’s Louis Bouwmeesterstraat (Figure 11). Here, there is a raised crossing at the intersection of a local road and a stand alone cycle path. This occurs at a turn in the stretch, similar to the SW corridor and Yarmouth. This way, the raised intersection in addition to the turn will cause cars to be going very slow at this possible conflict point. Our design will incorporate similar features. Lastly, a standalone cycle path feeds right into a local road, a concept that has been proven to work and will be a part of the Yarmouth design.
Figure 11—Dutch inspiration showing raised pavement at intersection with stand alone cycle track
Tubasingel in the Muziekbuurt neighborhood of Rijswijk provided inspiration for the typical cross section of Yarmouth. As you can see in Figure 12, there is parking lining the streets as well as brick pavement and speed control to slow down cars. The context of this street (slow, residential) is perfectly analogous to that of Yarmouth.
Figure 12—Dutch inspiration showing quiet, residential street
A major objective of the overall design is to make this connection beautiful and something to be proud of. Every road will be left off better than before. To achieve this on Yarmouth, we drew on inspiration for Portland, Oregon to make our raised intersection with Yarmouth Place a beautiful piece of art similar to that seen in Figure 13.
Figure 13—Artwork inspiration
Intersections can sometimes propose a barrier to connectivity. A properly designed intersection can provide safety to cyclists, pedestrians and drivers from potential accidents. The intersection of Yarmouth Street into Columbus Avenue does not currently provide a sense of safety for any mode of travel. Currently, the intersection is an unsignalized one that happens to allow drivers on Columbus Avenue to drive at faster speeds than necessary, and not pay attention to drivers/cyclists/pedestrians coming from Yarmouth Street. Turning right onto Columbus Avenue is much easier than turning left, as the driver is not crossing any lanes of travel. To turn left, the driver/cyclist must judge when to cross the lane to reach the median, and then judge again when to turn onto the lane. For pedestrians, it is just as bad because they have no safe mode of crossing the street without any speed control slowing vehicles down and unmountable crossing island to make their crossing less complex. There is also an extremely small yield to pedestrians sign in the middle of the median that drivers cannot see and will not cause a slow down for pedestrians.
The redesign of the intersection proposes that it will be raised in all directions. Raising the intersection will force drivers to slow down as they are approaching and be more aware, making it easier to judge when to cross. Cyclists can cross over the one-way cycle track and find refuge before crossing the first lane of traffic. Then, cyclists will be able to cross one lane before reaching a safe crossing island and then eventually crossing the second travel lane to enter the two-way cycle track on the other side.
Sketch B—Showing the interchange between Yarmouth and Columbus
At Yarmouth and Columbus, a local road feeds into a larger access road, Columbus Ave. Our design for this interchange was inspired by the Dutch design on Terracottastraat in Rijswijk (Figure 14). At the “T” junction, there is a raised crossing to slow down cars and the cars and bikes exiting the local road must focus on one possible conflict at a time. First, the cycle track is passed, and then the car travel lanes can be crossed. This design reduces complexity at intersection and mitigates road user mistakes by being forgiving and not letting people enter a complex intersection that they have to time their entry perfectly.
Figure 14—Dutch inspiration showing segregating conflict points
We also drew on the example of Schoemakerstraat in Delft (Figure 15). This street provides cyclists with a crossing island when crossing 2 directions of car traffic. Also, similar to the Yarmouth-Columbus interchange, a local road with mixed traffic feeds into a 2 way cycle track on the other side of the road.
Figure 15—Crossing island for cyclists
Columbus Avenue currently utilizes nearly a 60 foot cross-section with a 1+1 travel lane, with bike lanes and parking on both sides, as well as a 10 foot cobblestone median (Figure 16). The bike lanes are in between the parking and travel lanes with no buffer to protect cyclists from parked vehicles and for vehicles to enter the bike lane for passing. The cobblestone median does not protect pedestrians when they cross the street. The median is low enough that cars can easily travel on it and pose as a huge threat to the safety of pedestrians crossing. The proposed redesign of Columbus Avenue will provide separated cycle tracks on both sides of the road, while still providing parking on both sides, as well as a 10 foot raised crossing island that harbors pedestrians and cyclists. The cycle track on the South side will be a 10 foot two-way path from Yarmouth to Chandler, otherwise the cycle tracks will be 6 feet one-way on either side (Figure 17). The two-way cycle track will accommodate contraflow for cyclists at this important section of our proposed connection because we anticipate that many cyclists would ride this direction anyway.
Figure 16—Existing Columbus cross-section
Figure 17—Proposed Columbus cross-section
Sketch C—Showing the stretch of Columbus
At the intersection of Columbus Ave and Dartmouth St, the cycle track will be deflected, giving a refuge area for crossing cyclists. Since this intersection is signalized, cyclists may cross with the protection of a signal, at the same time Columbus crosses. Delay for cyclists will be minimal.
The intersection of Columbus and Dartmouth is a very typical signalized intersection. The stop line for cyclists is ahead of that of cars, and the cycle track right of way tends to be set back into the cross streets to mitigate conflict from right turning cars (Figure 18). This design enables cyclists to easily access any of the directions available at the intersection.
Figure 18—Signalized intersection for cyclists 
At Columbus and Chandler St, a simple raised crossing will slow cars turning off the main road, protecting cyclists and communicating a transition onto a low-speed local street. The transition for cyclist off of Columbus and onto Chandler will be a seamless bend in the two way cycle-track, effectively feeding cyclists into the linear park along Chandler.
Sketch D—Showing the Columbus-Chandler intersection
Chandler Street is a one-way westbound street in South End running from Columbus Avenue to Tremont Street near the Interstate 90 corridor. Its northeastern edge, at the intersection with Tremont Street and Herald Street, has been converted to a corner park, and the street terminates vehicular traffic in a cul-de-sac fashion past Berkeley Street. Curb to curb, the street is currently forty feet wide, which easily allows for parking on both sides of the street. The sidewalks on the street are an average width (between five and eight feet wide) and trees are planted every twenty feet or so along each side of the sidewalk (Figure 19). The street is designed in a manner which is typical for local South End streets: Architecturally, it is dominated by three- and four-story red brick townhouse, with some warehousing buildings and the Chandler Inn east of Berkeley Street, and the line of trees on both sides of the street provides a canopy effect which makes the street pleasant to walk or drive on.
Even though this street technically only has one lane, the sheer width of that lane (over twenty feet wide) makes that very unclear, and provides unnecessary width for cars. It is this excess width which can be used for other purposes, to beautify the street further and make it a more appealing bicycle route.
The proposed design for Chandler street establishes a linear park running all the way from Columbus Ave to Herald street. This will be achieved by bumping out the sidewalk to a width of 18 feet. This sidewalk will harbor dedicated pedestrian space, 2 way cycle track (10 feet wide), and additional greenery and art. The street design will account for two 7 foot parking lanes on either side of a 14 foot travel lane (Figure 20). Because this is a highly residential area with limited other nearby parking areas, our design will keep parking intact, only moving it further from the houses to account for the linear park. The street will be repaved to have brick pavement and speed control devices such as speed humps and raised intersections. The slow moving destination traffic, beautiful architecture, and gorgeous greenway will make this stretch of Chandler street an incredibly peaceful, beautiful place.
This design has all of the necessary pieces to make residents, motorists, cyclists, business owners, and pedestrians happy.
Figure 19—Existing Chandler cross-section
Figure 20—Proposed Chandler cross-section
Sketch E—Showing the stretch of Chandler
Our Chandler cycle track design will be a hybrid of multiple sources of Dutch inspiration. First, Rembrandtkade in Rijswijk (Figure 21) lays the groundwork for a cycle track/sidewalk combination butting up directly next to entrances to homes. Similar conditions exist on Chandler street. To be consistent with the objective of establishing a continuous, greenway quiet way for the majority of this stretch, our design sprouted from a similar concept as used on Lange Kleiweg in Rijswijk, as well (Figure 22). Here, cyclists have their own green, tree-lined refuge. This ensures a peaceful, fresh ride. These two inspirations in tandem has enabled us to propose a design that is the best of both worlds.
Figure 21—Dutch inspiration, cycle track adjacent to homes
Figure 22—Cycle track along road sheltered by tree-cover
Our proposed Chandler Street design draws on inspiration from Monseigneur Bekkerslaan in Rijswijk (Figure 23). This long straight stretch has brick pavement treatment as well as speed control devices (speed humps, raised intersections) planted in series. This enables this local road with parking on both sides to remain calm and quiet, which is a similar objective to the Chandler street redesign.
Figure 23—Long stretch of quiet, residential road
At the intersection of Chandler St with Clarendon St, another 4 way raised intersection will be implemented for the purpose of slowing cars and grabbing their attention. Cyclists will have priority through this minor intersection, maximizing continuity of the cycle route. The design of the cycle track at crossings, such as the one at Clarendon, draws heavily on wisdom from the CROW bicycle manual (Figure 24) .
Figure 24—Standards for pavement markings on bi-directional cycle track crossings
Sketch F—Showing the intersection of Chandler and Clarendon
Chandler Street currently terminates slightly before it would intersect with Tremont Street, as its last 200 feet are allocated to a park and playground. Currently, the sidewalk extrapolates the path of the truncated street and ends at the intersection with Tremont Street, and bollards block the path of cars who might attempt to access Chandler Street by driving through the brick-paved plaza.
The cycle track and greenway which lies on the southern side of Chandler Street will lead up to what is currently the blocked sidewalk inside the pocket park. It is proposed that the cycle track continues parallel to this walkway, but instead of terminating just south of the crosswalk across Tremont Street, it makes a slight turn to the north and terminates at the crosswalk across Herald Street. Here, the existing crosswalk will be widened from its current width of about 12 feet to a width of 22 feet, and a stoplight will be installed for cyclists. Pedestrians will be able to crossover the cycle track near the park at the end of Chandler, about 50 feet before the crosswalk at the street intersection. It is preferred that this crossover takes place at this location in order to make sure that pedestrians do not have to navigate this conflict while they cross the street, where other conflicts exist. This is also a preferable location for this crossing because pedestrians have ample space to wait on either side of the cycle track (which is currently a spacious brick plaza) if there are several cyclists moving down the track, giving them a safe place to stand.
Arlington Street currently carries four lanes of southbound traffic, so it is recommended that a pedestrian safety island be installed in the center of this intersection on the Arlington side which is five feet wide. Because the number of lanes on Arlington Street will not be altered by this designed, it is recommended that that width be taken from the lanes themselves, as the Arlington Street right-of-way is currently 48 feet wide, and cars do not need 12 feet of width per lane at an intersection. While this only slightly decreases the total width of motor vehicle traffic that pedestrians must cross, it breaks it up into two more manageable parts, ensuring that pedestrians will never have to cross more than two lanes of traffic at a time, all of which will be protected.
As previously mentioned, there will be no change in the traffic flow of the streets at this interchange, so this design will only affect it by adding a signal for bikes at the cyclist’s’ eye level, which is in sync with the signal for cars driving down Tremont Street. Ideally, this light will turn green when pedestrians have a green, and will turn red when the through traffic down Tremont Street has a red. This setup will ensure no adverse affect to the traffic through this intersection, and will effectively separate pedestrians and bicyclists from cars, while giving them attractive space to use.
Sketch G—Showing the Chandler-Herald-Tremont intersection
The proposed design, past Chandler Street, continues down Tremont Street until its intersection with Charles Street. The intersection of Chandler Street and Tremont begins just before the street passes over Interstate 90 and the MBTA rail right-of-way. Passing over the bridge, Tremont Street is about 62 feet wide curb to curb, with about 4 feet of sidewalk on each side of the street, and carries one lane of traffic in each direction (Figure 25). These lanes of traffic are each about 31 feet wide, probably because they are fed by Tremont Street’s two lanes and serve as multiple lanes during moments of high traffic. However, there is no reason for this to be the case, as a median effectively narrows the street at its intersection with Charles Street to the point where each direction of traffic is only wide enough to support one car. Additionally, northbound traffic does not substantially divert in two directions before this point, making a second lane of traffic useless.
The excessive width of Tremont Street on the bridge over the Interstate Highway corridor provides an excellent opportunity to continue the quietway from its intersection with Chandler Street. It is proposed that the street retain its 1+1 designation, but that the travel lanes over this bridge be reduced in width to 11 feet on either side of a 6 foot mountable median (Figure 26). This median, which can be designed with a granite curb perimeter and either a brick or cobblestone interior, will allow for wide vehicles, including the MBTA 43 buses which run along this corridor, to utilize additional lane width, but will still prevent motor vehicles from passing or speeding. It would also provide a safe pedestrian refuge for someone crossing midblock, which is unlikely at this location but still possible.
The bi-directional cycle track and recreation corridor which ran down Chandler Street will continue on the west side of Tremont Street. The track will be ten feet wide at this location, and will be separated from the adjacent ten foot wide sidewalk by lighting fixtures. On the opposite side of the street, the sidewalk will be twenty feet wide. Because the “greenway” cannot be continued over a bridge due to infertility, other attempts should be made to beautify the pedestrian and bicycle space. This could take the form of an art installation, which could be a more traditional mural along the bridge wall and railing, or a encapsulating stocking/archway installation. In whichever form it takes, the continuity of an attractive corridor will be important to its success and utilization.
As Tremont Street continues north of the bridge, it narrows slightly, becoming 52 feet wide between curbs (Figure 27). Here, the cross section will only slightly change: The travel lanes will retain their width, but the median will be removed for about a block to provide space for on-street parking on the west side of the street (Figure 28). At this location, it was decided to remove parking where it is not heavily utilized (near the mixed-use apartment complex, on the street’s east side) but retain it where it is heavily used, to maximize the utility of the street’s right of way and to satisfy the needs of the neighborhood’s residents. The sidewalks will be six feet wide on both sides, and the cycle track greenway will continue on the street’s west side, between the sidewalk and parking. It will retain its ten foot width.
Figure 25—Existing Tremont cross-section
Figure 26—Proposed Tremont cross-section
Figure 27—Existing Tremont cross-section 2
Figure 28—Proposed Tremont cross-section 2
Sketch H—Showing stretch of Tremont St.
The cycle track over the A4 freeway alongside Lange Kleiweg is given its own right of way and is vertically separated from motor vehicle traffic. This concept helped inspire our design for the stretch alongside Tremont street over the Mass Pike (Figure 29).
Figure 29—Cycle track with own right of way over bridge
To ensure all stretches of this connection are left off better and more beautiful than they started, we sought artistic inspiration from The Hague as well as Boston. The beautiful stocking around the Beatrixkwartier stop on The Hague’s tram line and the archway in the Christopher Columbus park in Boston give people inside a feeling of security, peace, and safety (Figure 30). This concept helped inspire our artistic design of the stretch over the Mass Pike, which is currently very ugly mess of pavement.
Figure 30—Inspiration for art enclosure
Charles from Tremont to Stuart
The stretch of Charles St from Tremont St to Stuart St has a 50-foot cross section on average curb to curb, which we will convert to a wide 32-foot linear park (with a sidewalk, trees, and 10-foot two-way cycle track), a single 11-foot travel lane, and a 7-foot parking lane(Figure 31). For this section of Charles St, a single lane is justified to carry the traffic capacity, since it is only fed by a fraction of Tremont St. The linear parkway makes this stretch beautiful and peaceful for everyone including cyclists. Two-sided street parking is unnecessary, since there are few entrances to residences or buildings along this stretch on the west side.
Figure 31—Proposed Charles cross-section
Sketch I—Showing the stretch of Charles from Tremont to Stuart
The stretch after the Mass Pike bridge all the way to the Boston Common drew inspiration from multiple sources. The cycle tracks near streets that are tree-lined and separated from motor traffic gave us justification for our vision. Being under the cover of trees in these places in The Hague and Houten gives cyclists a feeling of serenity, safety, comfort and awe. With inspiration came the design for the linear park stretching to Boylston street (Figure 32 & 33).
Figure 32—Linear parks along roads
Figure 33—Sheltered cycle tracks through linear parks
Up to this intersection, Charles Street has been redesigned to carry one lane of northbound traffic, but the approach to Stuart Street is where this design will change to accommodate the increasing traffic demand as one drives north through the Theater District. Stuart Street, alongside Charles Street, was redesigned in the last few decades to carry heavier traffic through the neighborhood, which makes this one of the most car dominated intersections of the project corridor.
At this junction, Stuart Street currently carries three lanes of eastbound traffic, one of which becomes a dedicated left turn lane onto Charles Street. On the other side of the intersection, it becomes a two-way street and carries two lanes of traffic in each direction. Because Charles Street is where the one-way and the two-way meet, the two westbound lanes of Stuart must make a right turn onto Charles. In the center of Stuart, on either side of the intersection, there are pedestrian safety islands which adequately protect pedestrians from crossing too many lanes of traffic at once, but could be appreciably wider.
The major change in the right-of-way at this point will be the flaring of Charles street to accommodate a two through going travel lanes. The right lane will also accommodate right turning traffic. This is in accordance with the Dutch “skinny roads, wide nodes” principle to increase through put through intersections while keeping approach speeds safe. The width needed to construct these additional lanes will be taken from the one-sided parking lane, which will not be needed approaching the intersection. The greenway, which is the centerpiece of this design, will remain on the west side of the street, and pedestrians will be able to separate from bicyclists when they approach Stuart Street. There will be a signal for cyclists, preferably at eye level, which will give bicyclists a green light whenever cars going down Charles have a green (and because there is no left turn at this intersection, the green light for bicyclists can be maximized). The combined crosswalk and bicycle crossing will be at least 20 feet wide, and the greenway will expand to a width of 28 feet at the north side of this intersection. The existing pedestrian crossing island, which currently slightly interferes with the intended placement of the bike lane, will be reshaped to include curb on either side of the crosswalk and on the outer edge of the cycle track, giving pedestrians a wide safety area on which to stand.
Sketch J—Showing the Charles-Stuart intersection
Charles from Stuart to Park Plaza
From Stuart St to Park Plaza, Charles St will widen to include a 10-foot left turn lane(for the Park Plaza hotel), two 11-foot travel lanes (one way), and 7-foot parking. The linear park will reduced slightly to 28 ft, but the 10-foot cycle track will be uninterrupted. The left turn lane here maintains vehicle access to the Park Plaza Hotel parking lot, while the two thru-lanes support the heavier traffic capacity along this strtch. There is also heavy traffic turning left at Park Plaza, at which point the left turn lane for the hotel disappears and a dedicated left turn lane for Park Plaza appears, designated by “Elephant’s feet” pavement markings. The leftmost thru-lane will be required to make this left turn, but a raised crossing and deflected cycle track will communicate priority for cyclists and pedestrians, giving them safety and convenience.
Sketch K—Showing the stretch of Charles from Stuart to Park Plaza
Charles — Park Plaza Intersection
The intersection between Charles and Park Plaza is a key element to the overall design because it has the potential to be a high conflict spot for cars and cyclists. With heavy traffic, including large vehicles such as buses and trucks, turning left off of Charles and onto Park Plaza, our continuous two-cycle track must be designed to maximize safety of the vulnerable road users amidst occasional intersecting cars. A majority of cars turning North off of Stuart and onto Charles end up turning west at Park Plaza. To achieve this, in accordance with Dutch inspiration, we have set back the cycle track 10 feet from the Charles street asphalt. This gives drivers and cyclists more time to judge possible conflicts; it also provides more time and a better angle to increase visibility and enable road users to make eye contact. Because left turning cars must look for two way cycle traffic, this set back of the cycle track is a key design feature needed to increase safety. The drivers will have no problem spotting the southbound cycle traffic coming from Boylston, but the northbound could pose a problem. By setting back the cycle track through the intersection, we are enabling drivers to see the northbound cycle traffic at an optimal angle of 90 degrees. The design for bending the cycle track drew on advice from the CROW bicycle manual (Figure 34) .
Figure 34—Standards for Gentle Outward Bend of Cycle Track
Also, the intersection of Park Plaza and Charles will consist of a raised crossing 24 feet in length. The incline will be gradual yet significant enough for drivers to realize they are entering a cautious zone without a shadow of a doubt. The run of the incline will be 5 feet while the rise will be nearly 1 foot. Therefore, the table section at the top will be a flat 14 feet, with 10 of those feet being designated for the cycle track and the other 4 feet for pedestrians. This whole crossing table is long enough to not be a disturbance to long vehicles yet still be significant enough to cause drivers to slow their car and watch for vulnerable road users.
The combination of a set back cycle track and a long yet significant crossing table will maximize safety of cyclists through this popular left turning entry off of Charles street. This overall design enables the cycle track to maintain priority through this intersection, which is incredibly important to the strength of this connection as a whole.
The street design through this intersection, once the dedicated left turn lane to the Park Plaza hotel ends, will consist of a dedicated 10 foot left turn lane onto Park Plaza(marked by “Elephant’s feet” pavement markings), 1, 11 foot through going travel lane, and a 7 foot parking lane along the east side of Charles. This flare at this intersection will be critical in ensuring mitigation of back-ups due to heavy left-turning traffic.
Sketch L—Showing the Charles-Park Plaza intersection
Sir Winston Churchilllaan has left turning cars at an unsignalized intersection with Bertha von Suttnerstraat. This is similar to Charles street and Park plaza. TO ensure the safety of the two way cycle track at this junction, they set it back 10 feet from the street. This increases the visibility of left turning cars for 2 way cycle traffic, while enabling bicycle priority at this intersection. Also, there is a bump up to slow down turning cars even further and make sure they are cautious for cyclists and pedestrians (Figure 35).
Figure 35—Dutch inspiration for left turns off of main road over cycle track
Charles from Park Plaza to Boylston
Lastly, the stretch of Charles St from Park Plaza to Boylston St will mimic this design, but a 150 foot pocket right turn lane will replace a left turn lane to support traffic turning right on Boylston. This will enable a traffic cycle’s worth of cars to queue in this 150 foot lane (Figure 36). The parking that is currently on the West side of Charles near Boylston will be removed to make space for the continuous linear park as well as because all of the establishments nearby have dedicated parking facilities. This parking is not necessary here.
Figure 36—Proposed Charles cross-section 2
Sketch M—Showing the stretch of Charles from Park Plaza to Boylston
Currently at this intersection, cars turning right are often delayed by pedestrians crossing Boylston, causing backups on Charles street.
The proposed cross section of this intersection guarantees two through going travel lanes as well as a dedicated right turn lane. The travel lanes will be 11 feet in width and the right turn lane will be 10 feet. Permitted conflict at right turn lane gives better pedestrian safety, then having it be the free-for-all that it currently is. This design is in accordance with the Dutch “skinny roads, wide nodes” principle’ we set out to emulate the concepts of safe approach speeds but maximum throughput in an intersection. The right turn lane will hold 1 traffic cycle’s worth of cars, as previously mentioned. The remaining space of the Charles cross section will be dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians.
At this intersection, it is imperative for cyclists to be able to access all directions because this area is a hub for bicycle connectivity. Cyclists must be able to access the two way cycle tracks on either side of the Public Garden or Boston Common and vis versa. Thus, our design incorporates a protected intersections for cars and cyclists. Cyclists going to the east side of Charles street near the Boston Common will be able to make a two-stage crossing, otherwise cyclists are connected to the cycle track on the western side of Charles street, near the Public Garden. The design will be forgiving by establishing crossing islands as cyclists and pedestrians cross Boylston because we want to mitigate user error. In Boston, it is common for people to cross whenever they get the chance, so our crossing islands will help to make safe crossings no matter the circumstances.
Sketch N—Showing the Charles-Boylston intersection
The intersection of Generaal Spoorlaan and Prinses Beatrixlaan carries a lot of right turning and through going traffic, similar to that of Charles street and Boylston street. This intersection establishes strong connectivity for bicycles amidst a dense motor vehicle intersection. The cycle track design at the intersection enables cyclists to safely cross travel lanes and get going in any direction they wish. This concept was instrumental in our design of the Charles-Boylston intersection (Figure 37).
Figure 37—Dutch inspiration for large signalized intersection
The bicycle boulevard Abtswoudseweg provided inspiration for overall connectivity. This quietway strung together many different segments to establish a peaceful route of meaningful length for cyclists. It is a very cohesive and direct design for cyclists, inspiring this objective in our own bicycle boulevard design (Figure 38).
Figure 38—Pieces of a bicycle boulevard
Yet again, our design was a very collaborative effort. Everyone in the group had a voice and we relied on the different strengths of the group members to create a comprehensive design (including visuals), presentation, and report.
Dutch inspiration gave us the necessary insight to fit all of the different pieces together. By looking to examples in Dutch infrastructure that have a similar context to aspects of our design, we were able to make our design comprehensive and pragmatic. Overall, with thoughtful charettes and idea generation sessions (including turning to Dutch inspiration), we were able to piece together a meaningful design.
The aspect of our design that we would change if given the ability would be to reducing cyclists delay even more by creating bypasses at the current signalized intersections, possible grade separated ones. In our scope, we were unable to eliminate all cyclist delay. However, the delay is still very small, and this bicycle route is an incredibly beneficial, fast connection.
In accordance with everything we have learned in this course, we want our design to be an impetus to shifting the paradigm in America. We have the ability to become a leader in sustainable transportation, and by proposing thoughtful design such as this, we can start a chain reaction to de-throne the car in America as well as have influence on car use and possession.
JUNCTION DESIGN IN THE NETHERLANDS
Your Bibliography: ”Junction design in the Netherlands”, BICYCLE DUTCH, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/junction-design-in-the-netherlands/. [Accessed: 02- Aug- 2017].
CROW: THE NATIONAL KNOWLEDGE PLATFORM FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRAFFIC, AND TRANSPORT IN THE PUBLIC SPACE
Your Bibliography:  “Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic”, CROW, 2017. [Hard cover]. Netherlands, 2016: [Accessed: 02- Aug- 2017].
|Street Segment||Total Width*||Main Design Features||Justifications|
|Yarmouth St.||33 ft||
|Columbus Ave. (1+1 from Yarmouth to Dartmouth)||52 ft||
|Chandler St.||38 ft||
|Tremont St.||62 ft on bridge → 52 ft past bridge||
|Charles St. (Tremont → Stuart)||50 ft (avg.)||
|Charles St. (Stuart → Park Plaza)||67 ft (avg.)||
|Charles St. (Park Plaza → Boylston)||67 ft (avg.)||
|Main Intersections||Main Design Features||Justifications|
|Yarmouth – Columbus||
|Columbus – Dartmouth||
|Chandler – Clarendon||
|Chandler – Tremont – Herald||
|Charles – Stuart||
|Charles – Park Plaza||
|Charles – Boylston||