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Based on a wealth of data, the Arlington Select Board has unanimously approved installing bike lanes and removing on-street parking on Medford Street -- from Warren Street to Mystic Valley Parkway -- by some time in autumn.

“We look to have this work done by the fall,” Town Senior Transportation Planner John Alessi said at the Aug. 14 meeting. “Parking use is low, so this is a good opportunity to improve the safety for hundreds of bikers daily.”

In a memo to Town Manager Jim Feeney, Alessi earlier had written, “Installing bicycle lanes on both sides of Medford Street will improve bicycle safety, create better transportation options, slow down vehicles on Medford Street and link to the nearly complete Chestnut Street Safety Project and the future Mystic Valley Parkway connection to the Minuteman Bikeway. It will also meet the goals of the Connect Arlington Plan to create more low-stress bicycle facilities throughout the town.”

At the meeting, Alessi said that the bike lanes will provide increased mobility for Arlington residents, enabling bicyclists of all ages and abilities to more easily move around, thus providing improved safety for motorists and bicyclists.

November 2022 study cited

The town’s Department of Planning and Community Development study in November 2022 concluded that parking use along Medford Street is low and specifically that the number of parking spaces occupied on average never exceeds more than 10 percent of the 77 identified spaces. The study’s survey responses also showed that a majority in town seem to support for bike lanes -- both general Arlington residents and project and neighborhood abutters.

Data collected by an outside contractor -- Precision Data Industries.of Hudson -- in May 2022 showed an average of 200 bikes per day. 

“This is a lot of bikes without bike lanes,” said Alessi, adding that this indicates a demand for bike lanes, to encourage safety and further use.

 To see all the supporting documentation, click here>>

Board members weigh in

“As a cyclist, I appreciate this addition to our cycling infrastructure,” said board Chair Eric Helmuth. “Narrowing that roadway can benefit the safety for everyone, including pedestrians. It’s a win all around.”

Board member John Hurd said, “I’m more sensitive to parking in business districts. There are places where on-street parking doesn’t seem appropriate, such as Medford Street. The parking study shows little use of the parking spots; it’s a residential neighborhood and all the houses have off-street parking. These bike lanes move us toward more safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.”

“We’d be negligent if we didn’t approve this,” said board member Diane Mahon.

Len Diggins called it an “excellent presentation -- perhaps we can do more as we move forward.”

Residents support bike lanes

During the meeting’s Open Forum session, several residents also expressed support for the concept.

“Hardly anybody parks on Medford Street; it’s mostly trucks and postal and delivery vehicles,” said Christa Kelleher. “A growing number of parents bike with young children and [take them] to school on Medford Street, and we need to be careful in promoting bike safety for everyone.”

Catherine Farrell said, “I’m on Medford Street about eight times a week. The cars go very quickly, and bike lanes will include safety for bicycles. The longest I’ve seen a car parked there was three hours, so I don’t think [implementing] bike lanes will cause an impediment for drivers, and [it] will greatly improve Arlington.”

David Watson, who said that he is on Medford Street almost daily—walking, driving and/or biking—also supported adding bike lanes. “The road is wide enough for bike lanes, and all residences along that stretch of road have driveways. There are numerous experiences of cars driving too fast -- and too close to the bicyclists. I would like to see bike safety improve by adding bike lanes.”

Joe Barr said, “Bikes lanes are extremely valuable from a safety perspective. I fear being rear-ended by cars and trucks, and [so I] encourage the Select Board to move forward with this proposal.”


Watch the Aug. 14 meeting on ACMi:

June 8, 2023: Safety redesign OK'd for Lafayette/Boulevard; bus lane rejected

  This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Friday, Aug. 18, 2023.


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