A multi-year collaborative process between Boston’s residents, pedestrian groups, the Boston University community, bicycle advocates, and others with an interest in Commonwealth Avenue informed the final design.
The MBTA Green Line stops will be consolidated from four to two. Today's Babcock Street and Pleasant Street stations will be combined, as will the St Paul Street and BU West stations. We anticipate this consolidation to help improve travel times for riders. The new platforms will be wider and fully-accessible, creating a more comfortable and welcoming place for people to wait for the Green Line.
The traffic signals will give preferential treatment to both the Green Line trolley and to the 57 bus, helping them move through intersections and on to their next stop. All bus stops will be located on the far side of intersections so that bus riders won't be waiting through a red light just to alight, or be frustrated waiting to board. All bus stops will be fully accessible and feature "boarding islands" where passengers can comfortably wait, board, and alight while bike riders continue on their separate path. Bicyclists must yield to people crossing between the boarding island and the sidewalk.
People walking along the corridor will encounter generous sidewalks with new street lighting, landscaping, and street furniture. All intersections will be fully accessible with ramps, tactile bumps, and audible pedestrian signals. Many intersections will feature a raised crosswalk, which brings the crosswalk to the height of the sidewalk. Drivers will need to take slower turns as a result, improving the safety of people crossing. Puddling, which can happen after a rain storm or when snow melts, will no longer be a concern at these locations. Crossing Commonwealth Ave will be easier, with shorter crossing distances at many intersections.
People bicycling on these blocks of Commonwealth Avenue will enjoy bike lanes that are physically separated from adjacent travel lanes, bus stops, parking spots, and the sidewalk. This placement reduces the risk of crashes due to opened car doors, means people on bikes don’t need to swerve into the travel lane to avoid cars parked in the bike lane, and helps to make bicyclists more visible to turning vehicles at intersections. People should not walk or stand in these bike lanes, but can cross them to access bus stops or parked cars, or to cross the street. Bike riders must yield to pedestrians crossing the bike lane.
The Commonwealth Avenue redesign incorporates “protected intersections” — a first on Boston’s streets. A built island creates a sizeable separation between bike and car travel at intersections, improving the visibility of bicyclists to turning motorists and maximizing safety. Protected intersections will help to reduce “right hooks,” where drivers turning right crash with cyclists continuing straight. The deflection islands provide better visibility of pedestrians as well. Bike-only signals will help direct cyclists to cross intersections at the safest time.
Protected bike lanes have shown benefits in many U.S. and international cities, improving not just the safety for bicyclists but also allowing for a more comfortable ride. Some studies have correlated positive economic impacts for surrounding businesses when protected bike lanes have been installed.
The new design will have two lanes of travel in each direction, with turning lanes at many intersections. Curb-side parking will be on both sides of the streets for much of the corridor and will include several ADA-compliant parking spots. Drivers will be encouraged to travel at safer speeds through "self-enforcing" design, including things like narrower travel lanes, deflection islands, and raised crosswalks. New pavement will make the ride smoother, too.