The City of Boston recently completed a pilot program on Cambridge Street designed to afford better access to curbside commercial loading zones in an effort to reduce the incidence of double parking by commercial vehicles, improve safety for people riding bicycles and provide a smoother flow of traffic. During the trial period, the hours of operation at all commercial loading zones on this active stretch of roadway were standardized from 7 AM to 7 PM. As a result of the success of this collaborative effort of the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) this change will be permanent, effective immediately.
“This is a perfect example of agencies combining resources to target and resolve problems that impact so many people,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “A variety of businesses located on Cambridge Street serve Boston residents from Beacon Hill, the West End and other Downtown neighborhoods, as well as commuters working at MGH, in Government Center and in nearby offices. The action being taken provides a safe and functional environment for local businesses to accept deliveries and welcome their customers, and for bicyclists and other area commuters to get to their destinations even during the busiest hours of the day.”
Prior to the start of the pilot program in early August, commercial vehicles regularly double parked on Cambridge Street, between Somerset and Grove Streets, blocking both bicycle and motor vehicle traffic on this active stretch of roadway. The practice limited portions of Cambridge Street to one lane of moving traffic in a direction heading toward Government Center during the morning rush hour, causing dangerous conditions, particularly for bicyclists forced to merge quickly and unexpectedly into moving vehicular traffic.
“Previously, the commercial loading zones along this stretch of roadway were in operation at a variety of times throughout the day,” said Kris Carter, Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. “The pilot program brought uniformity to the commercial loading process and decreased illegal parking by eliminating any confusion related to when the curbspace was reserved exclusively for commercial loading purposes.”
Baseline research was conducted by a MONUM summer fellow from Boston University for two weeks prior to the change in rules. Evaluation was based on the number of double parked vehicles, the number of automatic and user-generated jams and complaints captured by the WAZE traffic app, and input from Cambridge Street business representatives regarding their delivery schedules.
At the conclusion of the pilot period, WAZE jam notifications had decreased and a marked decline was indicated in both commercial and non-commercial vehicle double parking.