JPNC Public Service Committee Discusses Bike Lane Proposal; Bus Route 39

The Public Service Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council met virtually on Sept. 6, where it discussed the city’s new bike lane announcement as well as the proposed MBTA bus network changes.

Bike Lanes

On Tuesday, Mayor Michelle Wu and city officials announced their plan to add 9.4 miles of protected bike lanes to more than 12 streets by the end of next year.

In Jamaica Plain, the streets that will receive these lanes include Boylston Street, Green Street, Eliot Street, McBride Street, Seaverns Avenue, and South Huntington Avenue.

Stephanie Seskin of the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) attended the Public Service Committee meeting to discuss the plan further.

She said that these lanes are “in addition” to other projects going on in the neighborhood, including the Egleston Square project. There is “no definite way” that the city will go about these bike lanes, but the city is also embarking on a planning process to determine where further need is.

“Specifically, within JP, we’re looking at adding separated bike lanes,” Seskin said, that would separate cyclists from sidewalks, parking spaces, and the driving lane. She said contraflow lanes are also being examined to help connect the Southwest Corridor with the business district, and connecting the Pond to the rest of the neighborhood as well.

She said that Boylston St. is a “great connector to and from the Southwest Corridor,” and would “lead directly to separated bike lanes on South Huntington Ave.”

She also talked about Green Street and Seaverns Avenue, saying that they could “both be contraflow bike lanes for two-way biking,” but the city hopes to “work together with residents” to come to the best solution.

MBTA Bus Network

Some discussion of the MBTA’s proposed Bus Network Redesign, specifically as it relates to the Route 39 bus, has been had within the JP community, and this committee also took some time to discuss it.

The MBTA has proposed that the existing Route 39, which travels from Forest Hills to Back Bay station, will be changed to “Route T39” and keep the same route from Forest Hills to Brigham Circle, but then “extends from Brigham Circle to Central Sq. Cambridge, Union Sq. Somerville, and Porter; does not serve Brigham Circle-Copley but retains accessible transfer location to Green Line E at Brigham Circle; replaces parts of 47, 87, and 91,” according to the MBTA website.

Committee Chair Michael Reiskind talked a bit about the community process behind these proposed bus changes, saying that they had “some Zoom meetings” and “a little open house with some boards at Forest Hills.” He said that these meetings all happened in the summer, and that “I don’t think a process for such an important thing to be held in the summer is an extensive community process. To me, that’s not extensive. We have to start asking questions.”

Some people were concerned with the need to transfer to the E Line at Brigham Circle in order to continue service to Copley.

Committee member Robin Cheung said that the E Line is often “packed with students,” and sometimes even runs express without making all stops. She said she is “curious about how much research they did regarding the ridership on there.”

Reiskind agreed that it is a “heavily used line,” and said that it “used to be the busiest Green Line until they cut it off at Heath St.”

The group will continue to discuss this matter.

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