Test at Brooks Avenue, adjoining streets 

UPDATED, May 28: With warmer weather approaching, are you eager to get outdoors but concerned about crowds because of the need to social-distance due to Covid-19?

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

You’re in luck: Starting Wednesday, May 20, Arlington is implementing a one-week “shared-streets” pilot test program, unanimously approved at the Select Board meeting two days earlier.

In East Arlington, Brooks Avenue between Lake Street and Varnum Street, along with Chandler Street, Egerton Road, Melrose Street and Milton Street are closed to through traffic, “so people can walk and bike in the middle of these quiet residential streets,” says Daniel Amstutz, senior transportation planner, for the town Department of Planning & Community Development.

Following the pilot, the town seeks public feedback >>

This area, adjacent to the Hardy School with a high density of children, aims to take pressure off the often-crowded Minuteman Bikeway, parks, trails and sidewalks. It also enables the town to prioritize safety by encouraging people to drive slowly on the designated “shared streets,” Amstutz said.

'Find safe ways'

“With the town’s slow reopening, we need to find safe ways for people to get outdoors,” adds Amstutz.

So far, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with just three residents expressing mere concern, says Board Chair Diane Mahon.

After the one-week test period, town staff and Neighborways Design, a firm that helped produce this program, will observe and evaluate its effectiveness and potential for future Arlington neighborhoods.

Board members expressed similar enthusiasm.

“It’s a creative way to design a safe environment. People can walk in the middle of a street relatively safely instead of crowding on the sidewalks,” Joe Curro Jr. said.

John Hurd concurred: “There’s definitely a need for this. With warmer weather, families are out more and can now safely walk and cycle with their kids.”

“It’s a fantastic idea, and exactly what we need to keep people safe while allowing changes in pedestrian and bicycle traffic,” said Mahon.

 Read related agenda documents >> 

Town news release

The following is from a May 19 town news release:

The pilot will enable the use of street space, usually dedicated to vehicles, for walking and active travel. Vehicles will be allowed, but drivers will need to follow signs urging them to go slowly along streets. Along with signs, temporary traffic-calming elements will be tested during the pilot.

Globe, May 19, 2020: Somerville restricting access to cars on some streets to create network for pedestrians, cyclists

People walking and biking should cover their faces with a mask and maintain social distancing. Congregating and crowding on the shared streets is prohibited. The street may be used as an alternate path for Minuteman Bikeway users between Lake Street and Varnum Street but is otherwise not a destination for residents who live outside the neighborhood.

Local traffic, as well as emergency and delivery vehicles, will continue to be allowed to use the streets. Gateway treatments at Brooks Avenue and Lake Street, and Hebert Road at Egerton Road, Milton Street and Varnum Street will have signs indicating the street is shared and the entrances will be narrowed. On-street parking will be maintained.

The town is using a quick-build model for this pilot allowing for flexibility, the ability to adapt or reverse the pilot if needed and to easily remove pilot materials. During the weeklong pilot, town staff and Neighborways Design will collect data and observations about the use of the street to evaluate its effectiveness and potential for future expansion throughout the town.

If the project proves successful, the town will consider implementing it in other neighborhoods. What streets should we consider? Nominate your street here >>

Neighborways Design assisted with developing and implementing the shared-streets pilot. Funding the project is the Lawrence and Lillian Solomon Foundation.   

For more information, contact Amstutz at 781-316-3093 or damstutz at town.arlington.ma.us.

May 5, 2020: Mailing for cards so you can receive absentee ballots delayed a bit

This news announcement by Joan Roman was published Wednesday, May 20, 2020. It was expanded that day to a summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert. It was updated May 28, to add a feedback link.