Centre Street Design Project

At a public meeting on June 20, 2019, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) presented a conceptual plan to discuss improvement on Centre Street, between St Theresa Avenue and West Roxbury Parkway intended to calm traffic and make it safer for people to walk, ride a bike, and drive. Centre Street, from Spring Street to West Roxbury Parkway, is in the heart of the West Roxbury Main Streets district. But, it can be challenging to cross the street or ride a bike to access schools, the library, and local businesses.

Having walk- and bike-friendly Main Streets districts was the top-voted project in Go Boston 2030. To that end, BTD is creating a plan to calm traffic on Centre Street. In addition to planned and underway crosswalk and signaling improvements, the plan proposals a 4 to 3 lane road diet and the addition of protected bike lanes.

Over the summer, BTD will meet with smaller group and stakeholder meetings to gather input and feedback. This Fall, the City will host another community meeting to summarize feedback and present an updated design.

You can view BTD’s presentation from June 20th and learn more about the plan by visiting https://www.boston.gov/transportation/centrestreet.

Community Engagement

June 20th, 2019 - Public Meeting (BTD’s initial proposal of the Centre Street Design Project)

August 9th, 2019 - Public Meeting - Ethos is partnering with the Age Strong Commission and BTD to host a public meeting for seniors concerning possible changes on Centre Street in West Roxbury. 10am-11:30am at District E-5 Police Station Community Room.

August 15th, 2019 - WRMS is partnering with BTD to host a Drop-In Session for community members to learn more about the proposed project and provide input. 8am-11am at Local 338 Bagels.

August 21st, 2019 - WRMS is partnering with BTD to host a Drop-In Session for community members to learn more about the proposed project and provide input. 4pm-8pm at BCYF Roche Community Center.

September 11th, 2019 - West Roxbury Business and Professionals Association to host BTD as a guest presenter at the monthly WRBPA meeting. 7:45am-10am at Corrib Pub.

September 12th, 2019 - BTD to host a Drop-In Session for community members to learn more about the proposed project and provide input. 8am-11am at Local 338 Bagels.

September 17th, 2019 - BTD to host a Drop-In Session for community members to learn more about the proposed project and provide input. 4pm-7pm at BPD District E-5 in the Community Room.

September 23rd, 2019 - A senior planner from BTD will be discussing the new proposal for Centre St at the West Roxbury Neighborhood Council Meeting. 7:30pm at the District E-5 Police Station at the Holy Name Rotary.

November (TBD) - BTD will host a public meeting regarding updates and next steps related to the Centre Street Design Project.

Please check back for additional updates and opportunities to engage with BTD on the Centre Street Design Project.


What is a Road Diet?

Watch this five minute video to learn about the history and context of using road diets to calm traffic and make streets safer.

Resources Related to Boston and West Roxbury

Northeastern University Feasibility of a Lane Reduction “Road Diet” on Centre Street, West Roxbury

Huijie (Daisy) Gao. Advisor: Peter G Furth Department: Civil and Environment Engineering. (May 2017)

A Masters Report from Northeastern University that first demonstrated the feasibility of a lane reduction on Centre Street in West Roxbury. “With only one lane per direction, speeding will be controlled - drivers will no longer see a wide, open road, and it takes only a single prudent driver to force all the cars following to go at a safe speed. The medians make crossings safe — one lane at a time, no double threat. Pedestrians no longer need traffic signals to cross the street, and so several signals can be removed, leaving in their place safe crossings with pedestrian islands where pedestrians have priority to cross with almost no delay. In the proposed design, only 3 traffic signals remain — at Belgrade, Corey, and Lagrange.”

The policies and transportation goals that the City of Boston has set out to achieve by 2030.

See Page 144: “Walking- and bicycling-friendly Main Streets districts would focus on street and sidewalk investments that incentivize walking and biking to and through every local business district in the city. Signalized crossings would prioritize walking with responsive push-buttons or automatic pedestrian cycles, longer walk times that start before turning cars, and shorter crossing distances. Additions such as lighting, benches, and trees would also support people who chose to travel on foot, and all improvements would be made accessible to anyone of any physical ability. Bike-friendly features would include priority for better bike corridors as well as additional bike parking, bikeshare stations, and safer intersection designs. Way-finding signage, parklets, and simplified processes for closing streets to traffic on a temporary basis would also support people choosing to walk, bike, and take transit to our Main Streets.”

Comments on West Roxbury Pedestrian Crashes

Walk Boston (February 2019)

Walk Boston letter to Councilor O’Malley, urging “the City to take steps now to slow traffic on Washington and Centre Street, and put these arterials on road diets.”

Neighborhood Slow Streets Program

City of Boston

A city program designed to reduce the number and severity of crashes on residential streets. The intention is to lessen impacts of through traffic, and add to the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Each year, neighborhood associations, community groups, faith-based institutions, or other organized groups of neighbors will be able to apply for traffic calming in a specific neighborhood. Selected neighborhoods will work with the Transportation Department and Public Works. BTD reviews the area, identifies opportunities, and puts in place changes to slow traffic speeds and improve safety.

West Rox Walks Joint Letter Re Centre Street Redesign

West Rox Walks (June 2019)

Joint letter in support of lane reduction, improved crosswalks, and protected bike lanes. Cosigned by West Rox Walks, West Roxbury Main Streets, West Roxbury Bicycle Chapter, WalkBoston, WalkUP Roslindale, Boston Cyclists Union, Progressive WRox/Roz, LivableStreets Alliance, and RozzieBikes

West Rox Walks created a map of bicycle and pedestrian crashes from the Boston Transportation Department Vision Zero crash database. From 2/15 to 2/19, there have been at least 35 crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists along Centre/Spring St in West Roxbury. In aggregate, that was one car crash every six weeks involving a person walking or riding a bicycle on Centre and Spring Streets over the past four years.

Imagine West Roxbury

West Roxbury Main Streets & MAPC (2016)

A survey of 702 residents found that nearly 3 in 4 respondents identified the street design as a major barrier to walkability and access to local businesses, and nearly 200 residents requested improvements to cyclist and pedestrian safety, traffic calming, and better parking.

ULI Boston Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Study on Centre Street in West Roxbury

Urban Land Institute Boston/New England (June 2019)

Study conducted by a panel of cross-sector panelists from ULI Boston’s TAP program. The study found that Centre Street's primary challenges are the street design does not serve pedestrians, cyclists, or retail shoppers. The panel outlined several recommendations for the district to consider, including a parking study and management plan.

Survey of Business Support on Centre Street for Protected Bike Lanes

West Roxbury Bicycle Committee (May 2019)

The West Roxbury Bicycle Committee surveyed businesses on Centre Street and found 83% support for protected bike lanes. The committee’s letter to Boston Transportation Department is linked below (uploaded to WRMS.org domain with permission).

Mayor Walsh Announces Future Focused Transportation Improvements For Pedestrians, Cyclists and Drivers

City of Boston (March 2015)

This press release from the City of Boston references the positive economic impacts of protected bike lanes have on businesses.  One of the several studies mentioned is San Francisco’s Valencia Street.

Additional Resources: National Research, Guidelines, Articles, and Publications

Road Diet’s Economic Impacts

US Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration

A closer look: What changes for the local businesses? Road Diets have serviced many communities nationwide and research shows they can positively impact business sales and property values. For local businesses, a Road Diet can improve economic vitality by changing the corridor from a place that people “drive-through” to one that they “drive-to.”

"The before and after study of a Road Diet implementation in Charlotte, NC, indicated a $43 million increase in the non-residential tax value of properties fronting the East Boulevard Road Diet."

Urban Street Design Guide

National Association of City Transportation Officials

This Guide provides city engineers, planners, and designers with a modern blueprint for how cities can make complete streets that are safer, enjoyable, and economically vibrant.

Safety effects of marked versus unmarked crosswalks at uncontrolled locations

US Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration

This study showed that high volume roads have higher rates of pedestrian crashes at marked locations than unmarked locations. Crashes in marked crosswalks at roads with 3 or more lanes have an 11-fold higher risk of pedestrian crashes than roads with 1-2 lanes.

Road Diet Informational Guide

US Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration

Road Diets - A Livability Fact Sheet


This fact sheet developed by the AARP, addresses many of the myths about road diets, including the myth that “Road diets increase congestion.”

“On roads used by fewer than 20,000 vehicles per day, road diets have a minimal or positive impact on vehicle capacity. Left-turning vehicles, delivery trucks, police enforcement and stranded vehicles can move into a center lane or bike lane, which eliminates double-parking and reduces crash risks.”

How to Kill a Bike Lane

City Lab (May 2018)

An article highlighting that the fundamental questions for L.A. are the ones one that many cities are grappling with: Are city streets for the residents who live in the immediate neighborhood, or the commuters who use them to get somewhere else? And which users should get priority—the ones behind a steering wheel, or a handlebar? “Is it acceptable... for the commuters who “use the streets to cut through to endure some additional delay [if that returns] safety, livability, economic, and public health benefits to the neighborhood?”

Economic Effects of Traffic Calming on Urban Small Businesses

Emily Drennen Department of Public Administration San Francisco State University (December 2003)

“This study investigates how changes to the streets and sidewalks in urban areas to make them safer, more attractive, and more livable (“traffic calming”) affect retailers in highly urbanized areas. For this study, twenty-seven merchants located in the Mission District of San Francisco were interviewed about what impact the Valencia Street bicycle lanes have had on their businesses. Four and a half years after the bike lanes were built, the vast majority of the interviewees expressed support for the bike lanes. Sixty-six percent of the merchants believe that the bike lanes have had a generally positive impact on their business and/or sales, and the same percentage would support more traffic calming on Valencia Street.”

Economic Benefits of Complete Streets

Smart Growth America

This overview from Smart Growth America describes the multiple ways that complete streets stimulate the local economy. “The investment that communities make in implementing Complete Streets policies can stimulate far greater private investment, especially in retail districts and downtowns where pedestrians and cyclists feel unwelcome. In Washington, D.C., design improvements along a three-quarter mile

corridor in Barracks Row, including new patterned sidewalks and traffic signals, helped attract 40 new businesses and nearly 200 new jobs, along with increases in sales and foot traffic.”

The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets

New York City Department of Transportation (2014)

Better streets provide benefits to businesses in all types of neighborhoods, from the central business district to modest retail strips in residential areas. This insight can help policymakers and designers integrate the measures described in this report into the toolbox for local economic development, capturing more spending in neighborhoods, and growing jobs.

How Bike Lanes Benefit Businesses

Strong Towns (June 2018)

An article referencing street redesign in Akron, Ohio, advocating that the increases in bike access and walk-friendliness bring new customers to the area. The article references examples in other cities around the country, where business owners have chosen to offer small discounts or incentives for people who bike to their shop, which capitalizes on the change in street design to invite new customers to patronize a store. Other business owners may choose to install a bike rack outside to further encourage people to stop and stay a while.

A Summary of Experiences with 3-Lane Roadway Conversions

Hennepin County, Minnesota

A Summary of Experiences with 3-Lane Roadway Conversion. The presentation deck highlights the History of 3-Lane Roads, Examples of 3-Lane conversions, Before / After Findings, Bike Lanes versus Shoulders, and more.

Telegraph Avenue Progress Report

Oakland Transportation Department (January 2017)

Report developed by Oakland’s Transportation Department showing the statistical links between Building great streets, Economic value, and neighborhood vitality. Page 4 has interesting metrics on foot traffic, bike traffic, people trips, businesses and retail sales since the project was installed.

Preparing Main Street for the So-Called ‘Retail Apocalypse’

Next City (March 2019)

This article discusses the importance of safe crossings in business districts among other important topics related to complete streets. This article identifies how Main Streets are needing to change. Addresses pedestrian and biking needs, & how Cambridge recently wrestled with all this. It also discusses changing consumer preferences.

Healthy Places: how designing for health & wellbeing Supports Community Prosperity

National Main Streets Center - State of Main 2016

Research and case study showing that signs of a successful place is the presence of people: people strolling, visiting, playing, biking, eating or just hanging out. Designing places where people can be active and connect with others is not only good for people—it’s good for business.

An article describing the challenges of multiple threat (e.g. four lane) crosswalk intersections for both cars and drivers.

How Did the Pedestrian Cross the Road? At a multiple-threat crossing, with great difficulty. How to avoid getting killed (or killing anyone)

Slate (July 2016)

Despite the controversy, Silver Lake’s ‘road diet’ worked

LA Times (September 2016)

Article highlighting a study in Silver Lake, California that found success of a road diet in traffic calming, safety, and no effect on overall traffic volume.

Ways to Get Involved

WRMS Design Committee

The WRMS Design Committee performs a key role in shaping the physical image and character of the district as a destination that is attractive to the community, business owners, and visitors. The committee is dedicated to district's development and future growth, by encouraging quality improvements to private properties and public spaces with a common theme of safe mobility, beautification, unification and activation of the streetscape.To learn more about the design committee and meeting schedule, visit wrms.org/design-committee.

West Rox Walks

“West Rox Walks, is newly formed group of West Roxbury residents who believe we can make an impact on improving pedestrian safety, and promote a better quality of life for the West Roxbury community with the help of our elected officials and city departments. West Rox Walks believes we can have safer streets for everyone by improving crosswalk safety, slowing the speed of traffic, and adding protected bike lanes.”

Landing page to sign up for emails: https://bit.ly/2WCf645

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westroxwalks/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/westwalksbury

West Roxbury Bicycle Committee

The West Roxbury Bicycle Committee is a neighborhood bicycle advocacy committee that will work on questions of bicycle infrastructure and safety in West Roxbury. This committee is a sub-committee of the Boston Cyclists Union.  All bicycle advocates are welcome. Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/westroxbikecommittee/
Sign up for their mailing list here.