A year after getting its first sharrows, those on-street symbols indicating that cyclists and drivers need to share the road, Wellesley now has an actual marked bike lane on Washington Street on the street across from Hunnewell Field.
While we’ve had no luck getting an update from Wellesley’s Engineering Department on the latest disappearance of brick crosswalks on the town’s main thoroughfare (i.e., Rte. 16), the appearance of fresh sharrows and a dedicated bike lane are plain to see. The bike lane is on the westbound side of 16, and the sharrows are on the eastbound side, encouraging cyclists to share the road with drivers and perhaps getting themselves out of harm’s way where people parking for ballgames and such along the Hunnewell Field stretch aren’t always careful about swinging open their car doors.
Wellesley has been attempting to make the town more bike friendly in recent years, even forming a Bicycle Safety Committee in the wake of a local cyclist’s death on a Wellesley road in 2012.
Cycle Day at Wellesley Farmers’ Market
Speaking of cycling, the Wellesley Farmers’ Market is having its official Cycle Day on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9am-1pm at 300 Washington St.
Fuel up on free coffee, grab a tote bag to transport anything you buy and meet Steve the Bike Guy, who will be offering quick tune-ups and consultations.
According to one witness of this accident at a Wellesley gas station on Rte 16 Friday, it appeared the car tried to get around the 18 wheeler, not quite appreciating the rig’s turning radius. The car was removed and the truck was able to drive away.
Starting Aug. 1, commuters who aspire to park in one of the 474 spaces located in the three commuter lots in town — Wellesley Square Tailby lot (224 spaces) , the Wellesley Hills lot (51 spaces), and the Wellesley Farms lot (199 spaces) — will see a change in rates. If you’re a Wellesley resident, you’re going to like what you see. If you’re not, you will likely grumble something along the lines of “them that has, gets,” but keep your relationship with the Wellesley parking lots going because, let’s face it, Wellesley resident or not, a person has gotta get to work. And it’s not cheap to do so, especially when the cruel laws of supply and demand start enforcing themselves.
Here’s the thing: According to Terry Connolly, Deputy Director of the Board of Selectmen, the commuter rail lots are currently operating over capacity, and the lack of parking has caused some spillover into neighboring residential streets. “The lots have been oversubscribed for over a year, necessitating the price increase,” Connolly said. “This is not a money grab, it’s an opportunity grab. We need the space.”
And when the Town determines that space is needed in the lots serving MBTA commuters, it doesn’t have to wait around for MBTA approval to take a stab at enacting such a change. That’s because Wellesley, unlike most of the towns up and down the commuter rail, owns and operates the lots here in town, and therefore determines the parking rates and rules. (Rates in other towns are generally $4/day, with no discounts for residents or employees of that town.)
As of today, these are the rates for the Wellesley commuter rail lots:
*Cash (Coin) $4.50/day for residents and non-residents
*Credit card $4.50/day for residents and non-residents
*Resident/local business stored value card $3.00/day
*Non-resident stored value card $4.50/day
Stored value cards are sold and can be replenished at the Treasurer’s Office at Town Hall. The maximum amount that can be added to the card is $150, and payment is by cash or check only. There is no cost to the customer for a stored value card. These rates have been in place since 2007-2008, when the current parking machines were purchased.
That’s right now. But the future is coming, and it starts Aug. 1, at which time the daily rates will change, as approved by the Board of Selectmen at a public hearing that took place on Monday, June 27.
As of Aug. 1, these are the rates for the Wellesley commuter rail lots:
*$3/day for residents and local employees with the use of the stored value card remains unchanged.
*$6/day for coin, credit card, and non-resident stored value card (currently the daily rate is $4.50/day for all those payment types).
These are the long-term rates for the Wellesley commuter rail lots:
In 2016, a yearly pass, which is based on the calendar year (January – December) costs $480/year for residents or the employee of a local business and $960/year for non-residents. Passes can be purchased anytime at a pro-rated rate and may be returned for a refund for the remaining months. In consideration of the non-residents who use the lots, the Selectmen agreed to consider the cost of the 2017 Yearly Parking passes for non-residents. It’s currently $960/year, and staff will propose any recommended rate change in Fall 2016.
Basically the Town maintains that it is trying to provide parking for customers, commuters, and local merchant employees. Wellesley residents are a portion of all those groups, and the overriding goal is to provide needed parking for Wellesley residents and employees of Wellesley businesses. The towns says that increased revenue is not what it’s after. “We need to balance the needs for all, and it’s a tough balancing act,” Connolly said.
With only about one thousand spaces total in town for shoppers, commuters, and employees, anyone who has searched the commuter lots for all-day parking or cruised the strip that is Washington St. for shorter-term parking needs is familiar with the challenges. If you’ve lived in town for a while, you know some parking secrets, but don’t worry, I’m not going to blab them here.
One thing isn’t changing — even with use of a stored value card or a yearly pass, parking spaces are not guaranteed and are available on a first come, first parked basis.
For more than you really want to know about parking in Wellesley, you can take a look at the Town of Wellesey Comprehensive plan update. Interesting stuff, but consider that this comment comes from the daughter of a former City of New Haven traffic engineer. Browsing through the comprehensive plan update was a little like reading a script of the dinner-time conversations of my childhood. Yep, I was in on all the cutting-edge conversations about curb cutting every intersection in New Haven to make crosswalks wheelchair accessible, as well as the trials and tribulations of changing two-way streets to one-way streets. At one time, I was even conversant about the pluses and minuses of revamping a city’s traffic signal system. All this memory lane stuff is almost enough to make me subscribe to the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) journal, just to see its familiar pages lying around the house.
At some point, Wellesley hopes to allow parkers a pay-by-phone option, but this won’t be a simple transition. This would require real-time lookup of license plate numbers by a parking attendant, among other things. So that’s a post for another day.
Scenes from Saturday’s Wellesley Wonderful Weekend activities. Thanks to roaming photographer Karen Griswold for sharing photos from the Art in the Park and World of Wheels events (we snapped a few shots at the Wellesley Police Department’s open house and grabbed lunch there).
Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the greatest TV show of all time, Batman starring Adam West, the annual Wheels of Wellesley event on May 21 will feature the Batmobile and Bat Girl Cycle, and perhaps a special appearance by Cat Woman. The free event takes place at Wellesley Community Center (219 Washington St.) and is part of Wellesley’s Wonderful Weekend of activities.
Wheels of Wellesley features dozens of antique and exotic vehicles, as well as a karate obstacle course and pinewood derby car track for kids, musical entertainment, a magic show and food/drinks.
The action starts at 10am, with music cranking up at 11am and magic indoors at 1pm. The free event ends at 2pm.
Wellesley Police are investigating how a driver crashed a car through a backyard fence and nearly into a home on Everett Street (which intersects with Linden Street) on Tuesday.
— Wellesley Police (@WellesleyPolice) May 10, 2016
Wellesley has built up quite a reputation for cars smashing into buildings, but this incident does not get added to that history.
The MBTA — its struggles and recent improvements, along with the general topic of government transparency in Massachusetts — will be the topic of this month’s Wellesley Rotary Club’s speaker at the Wellesley Community Center on Tuesday, May 3, 6:30 pm.
Speaker Mary Z. Connaughton is the Director of Government Transparency and the Director of Finance and Administration for the Pioneer Institute. The Pioneer Institute is a privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through data-driven public policy solutions based on the ideal of limited and accountable government.
The Rotary Club of Wellesley is one of Wellesley’s oldest community service groups and conducts local programs to benefit the Town of Wellesley. The public is always invited to any Rotary program. Please make a reservation on the club’s website or call 781-591-0759 to speak with a board member.
Also of interest:
It appears as though the MBTA and commuter rail operator Keolis took concerns of Wellesley train riders seriously in reformulating its schedule.
Swellesley reader RC called our attention to a public document from the T summing up the results of public comments on proposed schedule changes (25% of all comments on proposed schedule changes related to the Worcester Line that goes through Wellesley Square, Wellesley Hills and Wellesley Farms). The most interesting revelation is a mention under Key Concerns that “earlier trains in Wellesley Station Stops make school drop-offs difficult” and that among the proposed changes in response to such comments is that “Train 510 will make all stops in Wellesley at approx. 8:30 AM.”
MBTA comment summary document
Wellesley commuters reached out to us earlier this year to urge fellow train riders to fight schedule changes, which would have put the squeeze on parents trying to drop off school-age kids during a tight designated timeframe in the morning and still catch the train to work.
According to the MBTA document, May 23 looks to be the target cutover date for the new schedule.
Meanwhile, the T plans to go ahead with various bus and subway fare increases in July.
The Wellesley Transportation Department has sent out an informational letter that explains how to register public and in-town private school students for school bus service for the 2016 – 2017 school year. Here’s the deal: if you live two or more miles from the school and your public school child is in kindergarten – 6th grade, there is no fee by state law. If you still want bus service for your closer and older kids, it’s yours, for a price. Wellesley has set the fee next year at $521 per student, with a family cap of $1,142.
We fondly remember the kindergarten – 6th grade days when our kids qualified for no-fee transportation, and we’d wave them goodbye as they rolled away on the big yellow school bus. 7th grade came all too soon, and with it a polite request from the town for $1,000+ for both of them to continue to ride to and from school that old-fashioned way. We declined the offer, and the parent taxi service kicked in.
The registration and deposits are due April 8, 2015. You can find all the details here.