Commonwealth Avenue Carriage Lane
Everyone would probably agree that if Newton can lay claim to a gem of a roadway, it’s Commonwealth Avenue. It is bordered by beautiful houses, parks, and City Hall, and it is part of the annual route of many walk-a-thons and, of course, the Boston Marathon. The central strip of grass, shrubs, and trees is inviting to joggers, and since the roadway re-design about a decade ago, the carriageway has become a destination for walkers, parents with baby carriages, and bikers of all ages and skill levels.
A number of tragic accidents in recent years, though, has made it clear that the carriageway is not perfect. Though walking, jogging, and biking in both directions has become a tradition, the street is marked as one-way, and there are no signs or markings to indicate this common practice. Many streets crossing the carriageway have no stop signs or signals. The carriageway stops abruptly at some street crossings, and linking paths often force bicyclists to enter traffic.
This could all be changing soon, however, as a proposal has been brought before city council to legalize two-way travel on the carriageway. The proposed changes are inexpensive, and have been amply tested in many cities in Europe and the U.S. and shown to increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety. With a minimum of effort and expense, we could help Commonwealth Avenue achieve in safety what it already achieves in aesthetics.
In 2012, local citizens Jane and Phil Hanser also set out to document many of the safety problems of the Carriage Lane and propose solutions of their own. Read more on their blog.