The new dedicated bus and bike lane is now fully installed on Broadway, and planners said the initial feedback has been good, while Chelsea Police continue to patrol the district and push the learning curve for drivers.
The new traffic pattern has squeezed down the driving lanes, ended persistent double parking, and brought an entirely new look to the downtown business district.
“We have started operations on the bus and bike lane two weeks ago now,” said City Planner Alex Train. “We have most everything done on the project except for some typeface in the lane that needs to be finished in the next few days. We’ve put in new curbing, the red/white pavement markings, sign installations, and other improvements. There’s definitely going to be a period of learning for folks, or they will seek alternate routes to avoid Broadway. When we look at when Everett put in their lane and other cities too, there was a period of two to four weeks that driver behavior had to change and enforcement had to happen.”
Train said Chief Brian Kyes and the Chelsea Police have been doing a great job getting the bus/bike lane off the ground.
Kyes said they have been spending about 12 hours a day, seven days a week, on Broadway over the last two weeks to enforce the rules on the new bus/bike lane. He said the new lane will only be as good as the enforcement to teach people to use Broadway differently than in the past.
“The Police Department is trying to change driver behavior in and around the downtown and to help people get used to staying in one land,” he said. “Broadway has never really been marked and the one land is very wide. That lent itself to problems. Now there is a much narrower lane and that lends itself to a more expedient flow of traffic.”
One key that Kyes said they are looking to really get known is there will be no more double parking on the bus/bike lane. That has been a problem for years, and Kyes said he will be glad to get rid of that habit.
“We have to eliminate the double parking, which to me has been a significant problem for years and years,” he said. “Residents and stakeholders have been great. It will take some time to adjust, but we’ll bring it out.”
The Chief said he has been a strong proponent of a different configuration of Broadway for a long time. He supported two-way Broadway a few years ago, and while that didn’t survive public discourse, he feels this is another good option to organize Broadway better.
As part of the new bus/bike lane downtown, Train said Northeastern University will be studying the air quality on the lane. They have already gathered readings for some time before the lane began operations. Now, they will continue to do so after operations have been in place for a while.
Funding for the bus/bike lane project came from the MBTA and the MassDOT Shared Spaces grant program.