FAQ: Binney/Galileo/Broadway Streetscape Redesign

Q: What are 25% design drawings?

A: Click here and go to  "II. Preliminary Design Plans" on page 7

Q: Will the median be removed?

A: The design team is considering alternatives with and without the median. However, in order to achieve the objectives of the redesign to build a raised cycle track, keep the existing granite curb line in place, and not disturb the tree roots of the larger healthier curb-side trees (London Planetrees) it is likely that the additional space necessary may be found in removing the median and moving the vehicular traffic lanes toward the middle with a double yellow line. Additionally, the Fire Department also requires a minimum pavement width on roads with medians so that fire trucks can go around disabled vehicles. Roadways without medians are subject to more flexible design parameters by the Fire Department. 

Q: The trees in the median and on the curb edge are beautiful, will they be preserved?

A: The larger and healthier London Planetrees along the outside curb edges throughout the Binney/Galileo corridor remain a top priority to preserve and protect. As the Crabapple trees in the median of the roadway have died over the years, DPW has elected not to replace them due to the harsh living conditions they face in the narrow median and the practical difficulty of median tree maintenance. An objective of this redesign project includes landscaping designs that are both sustainable and aesthetically compelling. Flowering trees such as Crabapple and other varieties will be considered, as it is anticipated that some design alternatives could have enough space for the opportunity to install more trees that exist in the median today. Locations and details of plantings will be determined later in the design process, after a layout for the roadway, bike infrastructure, sidewalks and bus stops is finalized.

Q: I am concerned about cut-through traffic during rush hour entering my neighborhood streets, will that be considered?

A: It is one of the objectives of this redesign project to continue to prohibit left turns into certain neighborhood streets even if some of the median does go away. This may be achieved by keeping key portions of the median (aka "islands"), by utilizing flex-posts, signage restrictions or other concepts to be developed by the design team during the course of the project.

Q: Will the possibility of a re-introduction of the old 5th Street in the Volpe site be considered as part of this design?

A:Yes, the re-introduction of the old 5th Street in the Volpe site has been explored for several years in many public forums regarding future potential plans for the Volpe site. The design team will work to ensure that any designs do not prohibit the future re-introduction of this street, but at the same time restrict through-traffic from going north and south into and out of the East Cambridge residential neighborhood with the use of a raised island.

Q: What is the difference between the Grand Junction Bike Path and these proposed cycle tracks along Galileo, isn't that redundant?

A: For more information about the City's and CRA's efforts on planning and building the Grand Junction Path, please click here. The CRA built the first small section of the future Grand Junction Path in 2016, for more information about that section please click here. The Grand Junction Path is a planned multi-use path or greenway that will extend from the BU bridge across the Charles River north to the Somerville City Line and connect there to the planned Community Path Extension that is part of the MBTA's Green Line Extension project. This is planned to be a completely off-road north-south bicycle and pedestrian connection from Boston through Cambridge to Somerville and beyond. Because the goal of the Grand Junction Path is to create a completely off-road path and the origins and destinations of people on the Grand Junction Path are anticipated to be different than those biking on the local street network (Binney and Galileo), it makes sense to maintain both a 14' wide bi-directional multi-use path adjacent to one-way cycle tracks in the street right-of-way because the two pieces of infrastructure are serving different users with different desire lines, speeds, and levels of experience. 

Q: When will the design be implemented and who will construct it?

A: The streetscape design developed in this project will be constructed in phases over the next 5-10 years by multiple different responsible parties. Most phases will be directly associated with specific development projects anticipated, being planned, or already permitted. For example, in the Special Permit approved by the Planning Board for MIT's NOMA/SOMA development, MIT is required to re-build the Main/Vassar/Galileo intersection and approaches. In Boston Properties' Special Permit for new commercial and residential development on the north side of Broadway at 145 Broadway and 250 Binney Street, they are required to re-build Galileo and Binney from and including the Broadway/Galileo intersection to the 6th Street/Binney intersection. At the end of this redesign project, a phasing plan with known responsible parties and estimated timeframes will be created. Some sections of the redesign may be without a responsible party until planned development projects are permitted, or a phase is adopted as part of DPW's 5 year street construction plan.

Q: What is a protected intersection?

A: Click here to find out.

Q: Will on-street parking be added in this corridor?

A: The design team is considering how to best balance the goals of the project with accommodating the curb side use needs of a growing Kendall Square, such as transit stops and drop-off/pick-up zones. On-street parking is one of those curb-side uses being considered in some areas of the corridor to support the new Binney Street Park and certain retail. Check the website under Project Documents above for more detail on the alternatives being considered by the design team in Spring 2017.

Q: What is the best way to handle the conflict between raised cycle tracks and bus stops?

A: Please click here to go to the NACTO Transit Street Design Guide chapter on Stop Configurations. The design team is considering how to integrate the "Side Boarding Island Stop" design into all transit stops in the scope of the project, and if space is constrained the "Shared Cycle Track Stop" concept could also be used.

Q:Isn't this corridor the designated truck route and hazardous materials route?

A:Yes, Binney/Galileo is the designated truck route and Hazardous Materials Route through Kendall Square. More information can be found on the TP&T website and on this map. Due to the corridor's designation as a truck route, the design parameters for the project must allow for the movement and turning of trucks through this corridor. The design team will seek to achieve this without taking away from maximum pedestrian and cyclist comfort and safety.

Q: Will the HAWK signal at the crosswalk at the intersection of 6th Street and Binney stay?

A: An upgrade of the 6th Street Walkway (between Broadway and Binney) to include the addition of a separate two-way bike path while keeping the existing walkway is in the planning stages now and is anticipated to be constructed between 2018-2019. The design team is exploring various ideas for how the existing walkway and future bike path would intersect with Binney Street and accommodate the large volumes of pedestrian flows at that intersection at peak hours. Check the website under Project Documents above for more detail on the alternatives being considered by the design team in Spring 2017.

Q: Are you considering reducing the number of travel lanes?

A:The CRA widened Binney and Galileo in the 1980s when the primary street design goal was to move the largest amount of cars at the fastest speeds, with little regard for other modes of transportation and the creation of a walkable urban street experience. The City and region's transportation and sustainability goals have evolved significantly since then, and the urban planning profession has more research than ever about the key ingredients that make a successful dynamic streetscape which support the type of development, retail, and transit experience that Cambridge values. A reduction in travel lanes also reduces the crossing distance at many crosswalks across the corridor, thereby supporting the City's commitment to Vision Zero. Part of creating a safe and active urban street experience will include the design team considering reducing the number of travel lanes if the traffic engineering analysis shows that it is possible to do so with minimal impacts to current and future traffic operations. An early current conditions analysis shows the corridor with excessive capacity during much of any given 24-hour period, with a clear peak hour in the morning and peak hour in the afternoon only on work days. Preliminary analysis shows that if through-lanes were reduced to one in each direction along the corridor, it is likely that both left and right dedicated turning lanes would be needed at the major intersections on most approaches, but that traffic impacts would be minimal especially outside of the two peak hours that occur each work day. The design team will assess the impact of any decision on the speed of buses through the corridor. It is the intention of this project to at minimum maintain bus speeds or at best increase them throughout the corridor. Check the website under Project Documents above for more detail on the alternatives being considered by the design team in Spring 2017.

Q: Will all of the EZ Ride and MBTA bus stops be kept?

A: Yes, all of the EZ Ride and MBTA bus stops will stay, with at least one stop being considered for a move around the corner (around 150 feet away) to accommodate potential faster bus routing and more space for a Side Boarding Island Stop. All bus stops are being considered for upgrades as described in the question above regarding the potential for cycle track / bus stop conflict.

Q: Will pick-up and drop-off areas be provided near the busiest residential and commercial building entrances?

A: Pick-up and drop off capacity associated with new development is something TPT is analyzes whenever new development is proposed. In the case of Boston Properties' proposed development north of Broadway (145 Broadway and 250 Binney), all of the pick-up and drop-off capacity is assumed to be within the two service drives which run north-south through the property. The need for new or additional pick-up and drop-off capacity may be explored by the design team in ongoing discussions with TPT and property owners throughout the corridor.

Q: Why are we building so many elevated cycle tracks for bicyclists in Cambridge and Kendall Square?

A: The City of Cambridge has long been championing effective multi-modal infrastructure that gives the public a clear option between walking, biking, public transit and driving all as legitimate and safe modes of transportation. The Urban Planning profession has done a significant amount of research on how to influence mode shift in high density mixed use districts such as Kendall Square (i.e. influencing people to shift from a single-occupancy vehicle to riding a bike to commute for example). In order for Kendall Square to continue growing as the state's premier Innovation District, and a key driver of the Massachusetts and New England economy, a greater percentage of commuters and residents in Kendall Square will need to bike, walk, or take public transit. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) also established a state-wide mode shift goal in 2012. "MassDOT has established a visionary statewide mode shift goal of tripling the share of travel in Massachusetts by bicycling, transit and walking."

When discussing cycling as transportation (not recreation) we can split the general population into four categories: Strong and Fearless, Enthused and Confident, Interested but Concerned, and No Way No How. You can see the break out of those four typologies among the general population in the graph below. The reason the typologies are critical to bike infrastructure design is because different types of bike infrastructure will influence whether a given typology gets out of their car and begins to use cycling as a form of daily transportation. The Strong and Fearless are undeterred by roadway conditions. The Enthused and Confident appreciate bicycle lanes, cycle tracks, and bicycle boulevards, but are also comfortable sharing the roadway with automotive traffic if necessary, they are predictably more attracted to riding in places with better bicycle infrastructure. The Interested but Concerned typology which is the largest group are curious about bicycling, liked it when they were kids, but are afraid of sharing the roadway, they rarely ride bicycles – these people would ride if they were fully separated and if cars were slower and less frequent. The No Way No How population has no interest for various reasons, including physical disabilities. The key to influencing mode shift - from cars to bikes, or even from public transit and walking to bikes - is creating the type of fully separated, extremely safe, highly designed bike infrastructure necessary to influence the largest group - Interested but Concerned - to ride their bikes as a form of transportation not just recreation. Painted bike lanes and painted shared lane arrows are simply not enough to influence this population, but raised or separated cycle tracks and protected intersections are. A good anecdotal way of assessing the success of attracting that group we call Interested but Concerned is whether or not you see families with children riding on it.

This is a reasonably accurate system of categorizing types of potential cyclists as a proportion of the total population: enjoy the full-write up, updated in 2009 from the Urban Planners in Portland, OR who invented the four bicyclist typologies.

This is a reasonably accurate system of categorizing types of potential cyclists as a proportion of the total population: enjoy the full-write up, updated in 2009 from the Urban Planners in Portland, OR who invented the four bicyclist typologies.