Blanchard Road, which lies on the border of the city of Cambridge and the town of Belmont, is located just west of Fresh Pond and crosses Concord Avenue. Recently Blanchard Road was redesigned to slow down traffic and accommodate bicycles, while still allowing for MBTA buses and a large volume of traffic to use the road.
Blanchard Road was originally intended to be a local road but it has become a popular shortcut route between Belmont and Watertown, and is now more of a collector. Speeds on Blanchard Road were sometimes higher than is suitable for the densely populated residential area that is present on the road. In addition this area has become an increasingly popular place for recreation, especially for bicyclists, with many nearby paths. Local residents also use bicycles to commute to the Alewife MBTA station, which is less than a mile away from Blanchard Road. Additionally, the road is along the route of the 78 and 74 buses from Harvard station. The combination of high speeds and volumes in a residential area and heavy bicycle traffic meant that Blanchard Road was in need of a redesign. There was a need to slow down traffic, while also providing a facility where vehicles would be more mindful of bicyclists and buses could still be accommodated. Within the last year Blanchard Road was revamped with bike lanes or sharrows as well as many traffic calming devices to try and address these needs.
Blanchard Street to the North side of Concord Avenue contains two new major features: a chicane and sharrows along the edge of the road.
Blanchard Street in this area is too narrow for dedicated bike lanes, so sharrows were utilized. The sharrows provide experienced bicyclists with recognition but they are not a great option for inexperienced riders, especially with the chicane. However, there is not much room for any other option and sharrows are better than not acknowledging bicycles. Since the northern part of Blanchard Road was completed before the Southern section, the one improvement that is needed is a repainting of the sharrow symbols in the lanes to make them less faded.
To the South side of Concord Ave, Blanchard Street incorporates many new features: small chicanes, a raised intersection/ crosswalk, in-street reflectors, a modern day roundabout, and dedicated bike lanes.
First, just south of Concord Ave there is a small chicane created by shifting the sidewalk widths on both sides of the road. This chicane does not have a huge effect on speed but coupled with the other traffic calming devices, it helps to lower the travel speeds overall.
Also starting just south of the intersection of Blanchard Road and Concord Ave are two one-way bike lanes on the outside of the travel lanes. These bike lanes are a much safer alternative to sharrows and they provide access to Concord Ave, where additional bicycle facilities are present.
Along the length of the southern portion of Blanchard Road there are in-street reflectors. These reflectors are located along the centerline and between the vehicular lanes and bike lanes. They enhance the visual separation between bicycles and cars as well as opposing lanes. The reflectors also allow the separation to be more visible at night.