I (John Allen) attended the Waltham Transportation Update in the evening of Tuesday, May 17.

The Transportation Update was in three parts. The first was an “open house” with 18 large plan drawings taped up on the walls of the auditorium at Government Center (119 School Street). These drawings illustrated the city’s consultant’s plans for changes at numerous locations in Waltham. These drawings should be posted soon on the Web page of the Traffic Engineering Department, but were not yet posted as I write this on May 18. Proposed changes are extensive and will take years to complete.

The presentation was by representatives of the consulting firm. Highlights included:

  • Suggestions for managing parking in downtown Waltham;
  • Numerous intersection improvements with updated traffic signals, curb ramps and curb extensions;
  • Sidewalk improvements and construction of some new sidewalks;
  • Reconfiguration of the residential section of Lexington Street as three lanes with a center turn lane and bike lanes;
  • Reconfiguration of the Winter Street oval as a single roadway;
  • Reconfiguration of Carter Street (past the downtown Commuter Rail station) to favor bus and taxi access.

There was much more, which will be viewable when the plans are posted.

I regard the consultant’s work as much weaker as it relates to bicycling. There were several proposals for bike lanes (notably on Lexington Street), but:

  • No mention at all of the Rail Trail, which will be a major transportation artery for bicyclists, or for that matter of paths along the Charles Rvier, or any others;
  • A really bad proposal for a two-way shared-use path alongside hilly Bear Hill Road. This would have 30 mile per hour downhill bicycle traffic crossing driveways and mixing with pedestrians and uphill bicyclists.
  • No mention of making traffic signal actuators work for bicycles except to put one in a bike lane at Vernon Street and South Street.

Following the consultant’s presentation, there was a question and answer period. I was first with comments:

  • I commended the consultant’s work on intersections.
  • I indicated that the Rail Trail needed to be integrated into the planning.
  • Appropriate treatment for Bear Hill Road would be a bike lane in the uphill direction and shared-lane markings in the downhill direction.
  • There are several “missing link” connections which can be made at low cost, for example, one which is currently in informal use between Bishop’s Forest and the neighborhood off Forest Street; and another improving the dirt path which is the unimproved section of Old County Road, connecting with the office park on Winter Street above the Cambridge Reservoir.
  • All traffic-signal actuators should sense bicycles.

There were other commenters — specifics included making a connection between the 1265 Main Street development and the office park north of it, off Totten Pond Road. However, I had to leave early and did not hear all of the comments.

But you can get to hear them all, and maybe some of the the small group sessions which followed. The meeting was recorded in video. and was shown today, May 18, at 2:13 PM on the Municipal Access Channel. It will be shown again at noon on Sunday, May 22, but it is also available on demand over the Internet, in high definition yet! Go to one of the air times on the MAC Channel schedule page, find the meeting and click on “Watch Now.”

Update, June 3 2016: To view the video of the May 19 Transportation Master Plan meeting, just click here.

There is a 30-day period for written comments.

This year again, NEMBA is hosting a friendly mountain bike ride that is taking place in Waltham and Belmont on Monday evenings throughout the spring and summer. NEMBA is the New England Mountain Bike Association and they will be holding this ride on Monday evenings at 6:00 pm sharp, arrive 10-15 minutes early. The ride leaves from the Lone Tree Hill parking lot off Mill St. in Belmont. Here is a link for more info.

Catherine Cagle of the Waltham Planning Department will give the third annual Waltham Bicycling Update at 6 PM on Wednesday, May 18 at the Arthur J. Clark Government Center building, 119 School Street in Waltham.

We’ll have a classroom session and an outdoor session of the League of American Bicyclists TS101 course, taught by League-certified instructors.

The classroom session covers basic bicycle fit, adjustment and on-road repairs, bicycle handling skills (shifting gears, using the brakes etc.) and how to be safe and confident on the path and the street. This session will be offered twice (take one or the other), 7-10 PM on Monday, May 16 and Friday, May 20, at the Arthur J. Clark Government Center building, 119 School Street in Waltham. You need not bring your bicycle, but if you do and arrive early, starting 6 PM, we can offer you individual help with bicycle adjustments.

The classroom sessions will be followed up by an outdoor riding session, bicycle and helmet required, 9 AM-4 PM on Saturday, May 21 at Hobbs Brook Office Park (Wyman and Lincoln Streets in Waltham. You may attend only the classroom session if you wish, but we encourage you also to attend the outdoor session, as it is where you get real practice. The classroom session is free; there’s as $25 charge for the outdoor session, to cover expenses. You must be at least 16 years of age to attend the riding session, and if under 18, a parent or guardian must also participate in the class.

Please sign up on our Meetup page.