Major Taylor Boulevard: A Wasted Opportunity

These days, we practically live at the orthodontist's office on MLK Boulevard or at least that's what it seems to me.  There are broken brackets to be fixed, sanitizing mouthwashes to be picked up, frequent adjustments to be made.  Consequently, I'm driving my teenager there fairly often and have had a chance to experience personally the street changes on Major Taylor Boulevard in the past couple of months.  When the pavement was stripped of its top, we had the bone chilling, bumpy rides on the way to and from home.  Sometime in August though, the road sported its new asphalt.  If I really, really wanted to and if no one were looking and if the road as it sometimes is, were free of other moving vehicles, I could now gun my Toyota RAV4 SUV up to 50 miles per hour as only a cool suburban mama can do!  Shh... Don't tell anyone.  That road is so smooth and just so enticing that I yearn to put the pedal to the metal.

I waited to see where the painted lane lines would go.  Guess what?  The lines were still in the very same place they were before the road was re-done!  It still remains a six lane "freeway" right in the downtown -- so wide that it remains difficult to cross on foot and unsafe to traverse on a bicycle.   Some questions:  DPW, where is the community input on how the road was re-designed?  Where is the imagination of what this road could have become and how it could have been re-designed to work for everyone - car drivers, walkers, bus riders, bicyclists? Also, check out the median strip made completely of desolate-looking concrete.  Wouldn't walkers be more enticed if we added grass or plantings here?  If we want to have more pedestrian activity, we need to create a more aesthetically appealing experience for people who prefer to walk. 

I waited to see where the painted lane lines would go.  Guess what?  The lines were still in the very same place they were before the road was re-done!  It still remains a six lane "freeway" right in the downtown -- so wide that it remains difficult to cross on foot and unsafe to traverse on a bicycle.   Some questions:  DPW, where is the community input on how the road was re-designed?  Where is the imagination of what this road could have become and how it could have been re-designed to work for everyone - car drivers, walkers, bus riders, bicyclists?

Also, check out the median strip made completely of desolate-looking concrete.  Wouldn't walkers be more enticed if we added grass or plantings here?  If we want to have more pedestrian activity, we need to create a more aesthetically appealing experience for people who prefer to walk. 

Worcester, it's just time that we adopted a Complete Streets Policy!  IT'S TIME!  West Boylston, Fitchburg, Ashland, Framingham, Lynn, Natick, Norwell,, Weymouth, even Leominster, Clinton and Spencer have all adopted Complete Streets policies.  What about us?  In his WooVoice interview, Jerry Powers described Complete Streets a couple of months ago.  Complete Streets make streets that are accessible and usable for everyone - cars, walkers, bicyclists, etc. when we are constructing new roads and redesigning old roads.  If we want to encourage walkers downtown, we need to rethink this re-creation of automobile-centric freeways through our central core.  

This is Vassar Street in Cambridge that we featured in this blog in July.  We could have turned Major Taylor Boulevard into something awesome like this where cars, walkers and bicyclists have safe access to moving down the street.  Guests to our city have advised us to put some of our major arterials on "road diets."  We missed our opportunity now on Major Taylor Boulevard. 

This is Vassar Street in Cambridge that we featured in this blog in July.  We could have turned Major Taylor Boulevard into something awesome like this where cars, walkers and bicyclists have safe access to moving down the street.  Guests to our city have advised us to put some of our major arterials on "road diets."  We missed our opportunity now on Major Taylor Boulevard.