New Murray Circle, Arborway Lane Markings Spark Anger, Delight

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At evening rush hour on Monday, the cars inching into JP's busiest rotary moved slower than a woman pushing a stroller along the sidewalk. Bikes, however, zoomed through via a new bike lane.

 

Murray Circle, the rotary that links Centre Street and the Arborway, received new lane markings this week. The changes have sparked both anger and delight.

A spokesperson for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which is responsible for the Arborway, said the agency is monitoring the situation.

"DCR has received reports of the new pavement markings causing slowed traffic flow through Murray Circle," Olivia Dorrance wrote in an email to Jamaica Plain News. "While this is expected when traffic flow adjustments are made and drivers familiarize, DCR engineering staff continue to observe rush hour traffic and seek solutions when available."

A missing bike link in the Necklace

Local bicyclists appear to be chuffed.

Peter Cheung, a cycling advocate who started the Ghost Bikes program and is a board member of the Boston Cyclists Union, told Jamaica Plain News via Twitter chat that he's happy.

"The Arborway is the only broken bicycle connection on the Emerald Necklace," he said. "The protected bicycle lanes are there for equity and safety for everyone age 8 to 80. All car traffic is caused by other cars and NOT bicycle lanes. 90% of all cars I see on the road are single occupancy vehicles and one car takes up the space of six bicycles."

The new track is a buffered bike lane. That's a lane for bikes marked off to create more space between cars and bikes. The city has several different forms of bike lanes, some offering more separation than others.

The new pattern got a hearty thumb's up from resident Mark Metcoff, who talked to Jamaica Plain News as he walked dogs Indigo and Lilly around the rotary. He and Emily Doucette said they use Murray Circle both by car and on foot.

"Selfishly, it's better for us," Metcoff said, noting that they live near the rotary.

Frustrations vented on the pavement and online

Steven Saranga, posting in the Jamaica Plain Facebook group (a membership-only group if you're clicking through) asked, "Did anyone who actually uses this rotary have anything to do with designing the lane markers? I think not! They’ve only swapped a train wreck for a dumpster fire." Jamaica Plain News received Saranga's permission to use his comment.

Some drivers appeared to be having trouble with the rotary. During Monday's evening rush hour, car horns blared regularly. A Hyundai with Texas plates managed to get perpendicular across the new lane markings as it tried to reach the inner lane coming from Centre Street.

Drivers bunch together at Murray Circle on Monday, May 17, 2021. Note the Hyundai that is perpendicular to the new lane markings. (Visible license plates have been blurred.)

Drivers bunch together at Murray Circle on Monday, May 17, 2021. Note the Hyundai that is perpendicular to the new lane markings. (Visible license plates have been blurred.)

A helmetless bicyclist made his way from the outbound Arborway, pausing in the crosswalk to weave his way back around the rotary and toward Forest Hills.

Rush hour at Murray Circle on Monday, May 17, 2021.

Rush hour at Murray Circle on Monday, May 17, 2021.

More changes to traffic patterns both at Murray Circle and elsewhere are on the way. DCR pitched three proposals in November 2020 for the Arborway, Murray Circle and Kelley Circle. One of the proposals includes removing the rotaries altogether.

Dorrance said pavement markings were completed on Tuesday.

"The pavement markings were installed this month with a goal of formalizing traffic movement within the circle, which was previously unmarked," she said, "and to install bicycle accommodations, improve Arboretum parking safety, and funnel vehicle traffic to the middle section of the Arborway and away from the carriage roads."

Meanwhile, Cheung is smiling.

"When I ride, I’m happy and greet/interact with my neighbors/other path users," he said. "When I drive, I see stressed drivers and lots of road rage. Who has it better?"

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