How Can We Make the Jamaicaway and Arborway Safer?

arborway crash

Sunday’s double fatality —- in which two women died in a head-on collision —- is sparking talk of how the Jamaicaway and Arborway can be made less deadly.

The Jamaicaway and Arborway are well-known to residents as dangerous roads. Originally laid out as winding parkways, they today handle heavy inter-city traffic.

The week before last a car flipped over on the Arborway. Despite the severity of that wreck, no one was hospitalized.

Some ideas I’ve heard and read for making the road safer:

  • Widen it (Which would mean losing the iconic trees that line the road)
  • Narrow it (A “road diet” has had success on some roads)
  • Add centerline markers (Such as has been done on Route 6 on the Cape, says Jamaica Plain News reader Audrey White.)

Universal Hub, as usual, has a lively debate over these methods. It’s worth checking out.

  • Clay Harper

    In my view, the State must take responsibility for making the Emerald
    Necklace Parkways – the Arborway, the Jamaicaway, the Riverway, the Fenway – as safe
    as possible and as rational as possible. They should do this without removing trees prematurely or widening these roads purely for the convenience of motor vehicles. Additional signage and
    improved lighting would be a good start, and strict enforcement of the existing
    speed limits is essential. But additional safety measures need to be
    taken so that safety on this regional road is not so dependent on local
    knowledge and fate.

    Reflecting raised lane markers – down the center,
    between lanes and along the curbs – could go a long way towards
    enhancing nighttime visibility and providing an audible cue at all hours
    when vehicles drift out of their lanes. Flashing radar “Your Speed”
    indicator signs could certainly help too.

    I have seen no
    indication in the reports of which direction each vehicle in this fatal
    accident was traveling, but the Bynner intersection is dangerous by
    design (or lack thereof) at all hours of the day: the inbound and
    outbound lights are out of sequence, with no indication to left-turning
    Inbound drivers that Outbound drivers have a delayed green at Bynner.
    Inbound vehicles hoping to turn left often find themselves in the middle
    of the intersection when their light turns yellow then red. If they
    mistakenly assume oncoming outbound traffic will be slowing and then
    proceed to turn left, they’re pulling into oncoming traffic.

    Brookline Ave and Longwood Ave have similar design flaws with poorly
    marked turn-only lanes and poorly timed traffic light issues as well as lanes
    that do not align from one side of an intersection to the next.

    And then there is the bureaucratic quandary: these are DCR parkways, supposedly enforced by the State Police… One or both of them needs to step up.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Thanks, Clay. You’ve clearly thought carefully about these issues. I appreciate you sharing your ideas.

      • Clay Harper

        You’re welcome. Sadly, it may take a tragedy like this – or last year’s horrible head-on on the Arborway – to encourage the State to take responsible action.

  • Charlie

    I agree with the road diet concept. The current roadway layouts on Jamaicaway and Arborway encourage speeding and passing when it is not safe because of the multiple lanes in each direction. They also create dangerous weaving conditions when drivers are turning left because there aren’t always left turn only lanes (or protected left turn signals). Restriping the roads as one lane each direction with left turn pockets would encourage people to drive at more rational speeds and would also create room for on-road bicycle facilities such as bike lanes. This would give bicyclists a safer route, especially at night when the isolated pathways nearby are dark and dangerous. Having bicyclists on the roadway would also encourage drivers to pay more attention and driver at a safer sped, like they have to do on other city streets.