Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Discussion Continues on Davis Square Upgrades

The ideas that have come out of recent community discussions over how to improve Davis Square cover a lot of ground from traffic and safety to visual appeal.

Removal of the "slip lane" that allows a left-turn in front of Mike's Restaurant to create a larger plaza and make pedestrian crossing safer is just one of the proposals (see the photo rendering above for what this could look like). Another idea included a clearly marked bike-walking route through the square. Yet another is to replace the brick sidewalks (which are prone to heaving) with wheelchair-friendly pavers or paving. Most important to note though, is that every suggestion is still up for discussion. If you want to be part of the debate, you can attend the fifth public meeting on Monday, Sept. 24th, 6 p.m., at the Tufts Administration Building, 167 Holland St. Please note: This meeting was formerly scheduled for Sept. 11, but has been moved to Monday, Sept. 24th.

See Current Proposals and Ideas
To get a sense of suggestions that have already been made, click through the slide presentation from the fourth meeting HERE. Just be sure to remember that these are still just ideas. Your input can help shape the final outcome.

See the Survey Results
The results of the project survey are also informative. The first section of the slide presentation details how the more than 500 respondents get to the square, what they go there for, and what they would like improved. Full survey results are HEREOne interesting tidbit: most respondents walk to the square and most visitors come by way of the Community Path.

Next Steps
Please join us for the fifth community meeting (details below) and tell your friends and neighbors. Planners from the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development will continue to work with consultants to incorporate public input into possible plans for the square to get a better idea of what the scope and schedule of the future project might be. For more information, contact OSPCD at

Community Meeting #5: 
Davis Square Streetscape Planning
Monday Sept. 24, 6 p.m.
Tufts Administration Building
167 Holland St.


  1. I think it's a little bit misleading to say that "most visitors come by way of the Community Path". While the numbers say 67% of people walk (cool!), it looks like about 30% say they come by the Community Path. That's the largest single source, but isn't really significantly higher than Holland or Highland, and isn't really much higher than Elm or College either.

  2. As a cyclist I can tell you I would never take the route for cyclists drawn on that map. It's ridiculous. It would be comical if cyclist safety weren't such a serious issue.

    For one thing, it's slow, cumbersome, and adds the extra safety risk of taking multiple, unnecessary turns. Every time a cyclist has to make a turn it's another chance for auto-drivers to not see us merging into traffic. If we're going straight, along with traffic, it's safer for us because we're more visible. This proposed route introduces 4 excellent places in each direction to be killed in a broadsided accident while making a left-turn. It's unsafe and I would never ride it.

    The stop-start-stop-start-stop-start nature of this path looks like it might have be created with a very casual, occasional recreational rider in mind. But a cyclist commuter or a person who rides as basic transportation no more wants to be set on a turn-filled, wild-goose chance than anyone else trying to get to and from work.

    The casual rider, of course, is less likely to have the cycling experience to handle all those turns safely and will likely be taken away from the proposed left-turns onto College Ave (one in each direction!) on a stretcher.

    At very least making Park/Winslow two-way for cyclists, with a bike lane on either side the road, could eliminate this one dangerous component of this plan.

    Additionally, it's worth noting that there are over 100 bicycles parked at the Davis Square T every day, and scores more throughout the square. By making the bike path wander hither and yonder to avoid the square, the rider heading to the T just has to get off the path sooner. Talking about encouraging riders to avoid the middle of the square ignores the fact that we may be riding into the square in order to be in the middle of the square. Either for the T, for ice-cream, coffee, to meet others, etc. Trying to make cyclists avoid the square doesn't make business or user sense.

    If a bicycle commuter is heading from Willow toward Alewife, they have many possible routes already. I take the community path when I'm heading from willow to Arlington, but first I have to stop at my bank in the square, for instance. Or I'm on my way home from work and want to pick up a falafel, then ride home. So I'm going to be on my bike in the middle of the square anyway.

    Overall I have to say I just don't understand how this proposed route serves cyclists at all. I don't see cyclists using it, and I don't understand who it would benefit to sign post this route that no one will use.

  3. Rachel,

    While they're at it, why don't they make all one-way street two-way to suit your needs? For heaven's sake, bike riders are not the only folks who have to use roundabout ways of getting through certain neighborhoods. I say that as a person who commutes with a bike, pedestrian, and occasional driver.

    You should get off your bike and walk it if you're in the middle of the square, about to pick up that falafel. Problem solved.

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  5. I agree with you. Thank you for sharing the update. It is interesting to have it discussed widely so that we can gain more objective opinions.

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