Readers Say

‘Fix the actual roads’: These are the street changes readers want to see

Boston.com readers want upgrades to the streets, but they don't agree with Mayor Wu on what that means.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu implemented a number of changes to Boston that were first implemented in response to the Orange Line shutdown will stay in place. The city says the changes were such a success that they should continue to “enhance public space and improve mobility,” but Boston.com readers aren’t happy about it. 

Some of the changes include new bus and bike lanes in highly trafficked areas like Copley Square, Columbus Avenue, and Huntington Avenue between Brigham Circle and Gainsborough Street. The city will also keep the new Bluebikes stations and some parking restrictions in place.

Advertisement:

“We’re keeping in place some of the changes that have helped with traffic flow and transit access so that commuters will see lasting benefits above ground even as the subway comes back online,” Wu said.

In a recent survey, most of our readers said they didn’t agree with the mayor’s plan to keep these temporary changes in place. Adam from Boston said parts of Wu’s plan makes sense for the city, but like many other readers, he took issue with the addition of bus lanes. 

“More bike lanes and protective barriers? Yes. But more [bus lanes]? Hardly. I’d need to be convinced with data that this enhances safety or traffic flow because, otherwise, I view this as a mistake,” he told Boston.com. “My experience is that dedicated bus lanes cause congestion and uncertain driving, and are seldom used by buses (that don’t even operate all day).”

Do you agree with the permanent street changes announced by Mayor Michelle Wu?
Yes
21%
54
No
75%
191
Other
4%
9

Boston drivers dealt with gridlocked roads for much of the extended closure, and some worry that changes will only make the issue worse for drivers. Several of the 251 people who responded to the survey pointed out that the new bus and bike lanes could make traffic even more congested come winter when there are fewer cyclists on the roads. 

Advertisement:

“The bike lane experiment, while solid in theory, is a failure in practice. The lack of reliable and safe public transportation makes the alternative to driving even less feasible. Making driving miserable will simply not force people from out of town to ride the MBTA,” said Jeffrey G. from Boston. “The current administration remains unfortunately tone deaf. Perhaps the empty bike lanes and traffic chaos during our first snowstorm will change their tune.”

Rather than prioritizing bus and bike lanes, many readers said the city’s effort and money would be better spent on improving the physical condition of streets and finding new ways to manage traffic. Andrew from Wakefield had a long list of recommendations for city officials. 

“Fix the actual roads themselves, including but not limited to, the potholes and plowed-out asphalt. Fix the street lighting as well as traffic lighting. Have engineers in the city actually put a traffic light pattern in place that reflects high volume traffic volume/flow times and lower volume/flow times. Fix the nightmare traffic at the rotary on Columbia Road. Add general parking to the city so [fewer] vehicles are searching for spots,” he said. “Stop using emergencies to say something is temporary then lie and make it permanent without any input, in an open forum or open meeting capacity, from residents. ”

Advertisement:

Below you’ll find a sampling of suggestions from readers on where and how they think Boston roads could use improvement.

Some entries may be edited for length and clarity.

What, if any, upgrades to Boston streets should the city prioritize?

“Speed limits! Cars tend to fly down any open space. Lots of accidents. Bring Boylston Street lanes back for all traffic. It has been nothing but gridlock. Pedestrian walk signals.” — Janice S., Back Bay

“Stop catering to a minuscule minority of bikers who only ride a quarter of the year to the extreme detriment of commuters who use the roads every day year-round. Your time/effort and our money would be much better spent on an improved underground subway and fixing our crumbling bridges!” — Eric

“Just general road repair to begin. Potholes are a hazard to all commuters, regardless of the mode of transport. Protected bike lanes are worthwhile as well. And cracking down on double parking on major roadways, especially during rush hours. The obvious stuff.” — Adam, Boston

“Washington Street at Adams Park in Roslindale should be two-way to improve traffic flow and alleviate congestion in the square. Right now many people coming up from Forest Hills and down from Cummings Highway that want to continue southwest on Washington Street, are forced off Washington Street for less than 1/4 mile. They have to go around Adams Park and either down Poplar Street or continue on South Street and cut through the Village Market parking lot. The wrong way.” — John M., Roslindale

Advertisement:

“Stop making so many bike lanes in areas where no one rides a bike. Taking away parking in the downtown area for bikes is insane. Just like everyone doesn’t own a car, everyone doesn’t own a bike or have to travel too far of a distance to be riding a bike. The city is already congested. When the winter hits and there’s no one riding bikes, what’s going to happen to these bike lanes?” — Anonymous, South End

“For starters, how about fixing the potholes on Blue Hill Avenue, making American Legion Highway safer, and reducing traffic at the rotary at Arborway and Centre Street in Jamaica Plain? What are the measures used to determine that the selected temporary changes introduced for the Orange Line were ‘successful’? Maintenance, using data to improve the traffic flow of cars. As much as it would be great if everyone rode a bike or the bus, that’s not the reality.” — A, Boston

“Get rid of the bike lanes. Make Boylston Streets two-ways between Tremont and Charles Streets. Make New Sudbury Street one way again. This is madness!” — Francis D., Dorchester

‘More biking and walking infrastructure

“Bus lanes, bike lanes, loading zones, and accessible parking for people with disabilities. There are too many lanes for cars in that photo. It is unnecessary for most private vehicles to drive through Copley.” — Julia, Somerville

“Adding more biking and walking infrastructure. Parking is a nightmare, why drive?” — Alonso, South End

Advertisement:

“A feasible way to bike into downtown from East Boston would be very useful. Right now it is not possible to even carry bikes on either the T or the Silver Line. More bike lanes, in general, would also make sense especially considering the high student population in the city.” — Sunayan A., East Boston

“Boston should prioritize livability upgrades to its road infrastructure, including protected bike lanes, pedestrian zones, and a bus network that doesn’t get stuck in the same traffic as private vehicles. We should get away from the dated, costly, and dangerous mentality that builds infrastructure to transport cars (usually people from the suburbs who then complain about traffic) and instead focus on infrastructure that moves people, provides for safe and efficient living spaces, and creates a sense of place for residents and visitors.” — Zach O., Salem

​​Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinions.