In 2020, Charlie Proctor and his partner, Alison, were riding home on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington when a left-turning driver struck Charlie, ending his life. Since this tragic crash, MassBike has worked closely with the Proctor family to establish the Charlie Proctor Memorial fund and advocate for safety improvements along this corridor.
In 2021, Arlington’s select board took up the matter: a new bicycle lane to be considered, that would come with the expense of a parking loss. Without a parking study to support the removal, the project was implemented with bicycle lanes that retained parking spaces. The restriping improved safety, but more needed to be done.
Overhead view of painted bike lanes that were installed along the corridor
Arlington recently hired Stantec to develop a reconstruction concept for the Mass/Appleton corridor. After gathering community input, Stantec developed a new plan that includes sidewalk-level bicycle lanes, narrower travel lanes, and new traffic signals. The plan will also preserve the most important parking, and make the corridor into a downtown-like environment to help businesses. Importantly, these infrastructure changes will improve safety for all users and help prevent future fatal crashes.
In September 2023, Arlington’s Selectboard took up this proposal again. MassBike reached out to town residents to ask them to share their support for the project. While the project removed even more parking than the 2021 proposal did, with the support of a parking study, Selectwoman Diane Mahon joined Selectman Eric Helmuth and Selectman Len Diggins in approving the Mass Ave Appleton Safety and Accessibility project. Selectman John Hurd — who will be up for reelection in April of 2024 —was the sole vote against this project.
With this approval, Arlington will seek grant funding to build this project, with a goal to commence construction in the spring of 2025. This project involved multiple years of intense advocacy and certainly was a challenge to get approved. While there are still some ts to cross and is to dot, two years from now, Arlington will have sidewalk-level bicycle lanes and traffic signals on a key section of Massachusetts Avenue.
MassBike hopes that these types of protected infrastructure projects that improve safety for all road users will soon come to other corridors in Arlington and across the Commonwealth. We will continue to track this project through its completion and advocate for utilizing infrastructure improvements to create safer roadways across Massachusetts.