Third Pedestrian Incident in Rozzie in Two Weeks

Firth and Washington Street

Firth and Washington Street

We were yet again saddened to hear of another car hitting a pedestrian in Roslindale; this is the third such incident in about two weeks (Blue Ledge Drive / Hyde Park Ave). The latest occurred at the intersection of Firth Road and Washington Street. Thus far the only reporting we’ve found was this brief description on Twitter:

pedestrian hit by a car in intersection of Firth & Washington in Roslindale- she was on the ground but alert- tons of traffic.

While the City has a formal action response plan for any pedestrian incident involving a fatality, non-fatal incidents don’t necessarily result in anything more than a statistic. Yet these non-fatal incidents are often equally indicative of poor road design creating dangerous conditions.

The important thing to remember is most of these incidents are preventable and not merely the result of poor judgment by a driver (or pedestrian). Cities that take Vision Zero seriously have seen dramatic results–in Sweden, pedestrian fatalities have dropped 50% in the past five years; we’ve also seen a 43% reduction in traffic fatalities in Minnesota, a 48% reduction in Utah, and a 40% decrease in Washington State (source: Vision Zero: Learning from Sweden’s Successes). Thus far, the City of Boston’s Vision Zero aspirational plan hits all the right notes, but we’ve yet to see real changes “on the ground.” These recent incidents in Roslindale are powerful reminders that immediate action is urgently needed.

We wish the victim of the latest incident a quick recovery. If anyone has more details, please leave them in the comments here.

Pedestrian Hit by Car at Hyde Park Ave

Site of the Crash at Hyde Park Ave and Arlington Street

Site of the Crash at Hyde Park Ave and Arlington Street (image courtesy Google Maps)

We learned with dismay of another recent serious pedestrian incident in our neighborhood, this one at the intersection of Hyde Park Ave and Arlington Street. As is frequently the case, it appears that poor street design was a contributing (perhaps primary) factor, and excessive speed resulted in more serious injuries. If the city gets serious about Vision Zero, we should see fewer and fewer of these tragedies.

Full text of the article from the Roslindale Bulletin below; props to the Bulletin for now posting the entire weekly paper online:

Pedestrian injured crossing Hyde Park Ave.

A pedestrian was hit by a car on Saturday, Jan. 19, at approximately 5:45 p.m.

Neighbors said when it happened they heard a smash and a scream. They said the ambulance and police showed up to the scene, as well as, the Boston Fire Department.

But such an accident is something that neighbors would say is not surprising, considering how fast the cars tend to speed through that intersection.

Nijha Middleton, who has been living on that intersection of Hyde Park Avenue and Arlington Street for three years, was home during the time of the accident that night.

When she looked out the window, she said she saw a woman lying in the middle of the street, and the girl who witnessed it screamed and called 911 standing on the sidewalk. Then she said she saw police and ambulances attend and family members running to the stricken woman.

“It looked really bad,” she said, explaining that the it took the EMTs awhile to put the victim in the ambulance.

According to the police report, the pedestrian has no lifethreatening injuries and the investigation is still ongoing.

Middleton said that such accidents is likely to happen at that intersection because of the speeding cars, lack of speed limit signs and lights, and having no crossing guard.

“People are such in a rush, they never really want to stop, so it makes it difficult to cross the street,” she said. She often walks on that intersection herself and said that almost every other morning she’s scared to cross the street.

“Maybe there needs to be a point that they have to put a stopping light, so everyone can stop rushing,” she said.

In light of this and other recent incidents in the neighborhood, WalkUP Roslindale member Alan Wright sent the following letter to the editor, which may appear in an upcoming edition of the paper. Thanks to Alan for highlighting the underlying factors and mentioning WalkUP’s efforts to push for change:

Dear Editor,

Thank you for reporting on the injury of a pedestrian who was crossing Hyde Park Avenue.  This is the 3rd such incident in the past two weeks with two pedestrians killed when struck by dangerous drivers – one in Roslindale and another in Dorchester.  It is important to note that these were not accidents, as was reported, for the pedestrians were not accidentally in the cross walks, but crashes in which drivers drove their vehicles recklessly. While the City of Boston has begun an important effort to improve pedestrian safety with the Vision Zero project much work needs to be done.  In Roslindale an effort is underway by the citizen group WalkUP Rozzie to get the City to make changes now.  For too long our streets have been designed for the benefit of motorists.  Simple changes such as speed humps and sidewalk extensions can slow traffic and provide more protection to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Alan Wright

WalkBoston offering Ped 101 Advocacy Training – Multiple Dates/Times in Jan-Feb-Mar – FREE

Here’s WalkBoston’s brief announcement at the EventBrite page:

In 2016, WalkBoston is rolling out free, beginner advocacy trainings called “Ped 101” – and we’d love you to come! Our office is located at 45 School Street, Boston, MA 02108 in Old City Hall. Sessions are small group conversation over lunch or drinks and are hosted in our conference room – so please make sure to sign up in advance!

This session is helpful if you’re interested in learning about: 

  • walkability, urbanism & the associated lingo (what’s a “tight turning radius”?),
  • making neighborhoods safer for people walking & running, and
  • how you can advocate for change in your own community.
  • SIGN UP BY GOING: HERE.

About Tuesday’s Pedestrian Death on Washington Street at Blue Ledge Drive

Silvia Acosta

Family photograph of Silvia Acosta (with Mayor Marty Walsh)

Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of Silvia Acosta, a 78 year-old resident of our neighborhood who was tragically struck and killed by a motor vehicle on Washington Street on Tuesday afternoon. Universal Hub has the most complete coverage so far of the crash, which occurred in the section of Washington Street between Walworth and the West Roxbury Parkway. The Herald also has a report.

What’s being reported so far is that the crash happened in the late afternoon (shortly after dark) and that Ms. Acosta was in a crosswalk when she was struck. It is noteworthy that the Suffolk DA’s office is charging the driver, who reportedly left the scene even though she later admitted she knew she had struck someone, with vehicular homicide by reckless operation as well. While it is important that individual drivers be held accountable for their actions, it is usually the case that larger design, infrastructure, and policy decisions play a significant role in these sorts of tragedies, demonstrating (unfortunately) how badly needed a vigorous VisionZero policy and set of actions in our city really are. We’ll follow this story as it unfolds further to see what exactly happened, what lessons can be learned, and what steps can and should be taken going forward to prevent pedestrian deaths around the location of the crash and throughout our neighborhood. And then we’ll do what we can to make sure those steps are taken. Stay tuned.

Washington Street and Blue Ledge Drive, Approximate Location of Impact

Washington Street and Blue Ledge Drive, Approximate Location of Impact

East Roslindale Traffic Calming in the News

American Legion Highway / Cummins Highway Intersection

American Legion Highway / Cummins Highway Intersection (Image Courtesy Google Maps)

Our friends at the Roslindale Bulletin have done an excellent job of keeping the spotlight on WalkUP initiatives in East Roslindale. The New Year’s eve edition of the paper included an article on ideas for traffic calming on American Legion Highway Greenway, one of the streets in our neighborhood that most warrants a comprehensive redesign for safety and walkability. The article features statements from WalkUP Roslindale members Rick Yoder and Lisa Beatman, and is reproduced below (PDF version also available):

MHMC discussing traffic calming strategies for American Legion Hwy.
Jeff Sullivan, Staff Reporter

The Mount Hope/Mount Canterbury Neighborhood Association (MHMC) announced recently that State Rep. Russel Holmes has submitted legislation to change the American Legion Highway back to a parkway designation, a designation MHMC members have been looking to get for a while.

Neighborhood residents have been working over the past few years to get American Legion back to a parkway status, as that designation offers more protections for the greenery and landscape around the area, which residents say they want to keep because of its pastoral nature.

“I mean, it’s a highway now, but the speed limit is 35 (miles per hour),” said MHMC member Lisa Beatman. “That’s not a highway speed.”

Beatman and MHMC member Rick Yoder said they are now currently looking at ways to calm the traffic in the neighborhood of American Legion with funds they hope to secure through the Parkway designation, as well as by lobbying city officials.

Beatmen and Yoder said the American Legion Parkway has come under neglect over the years as it is on the outskirts of several different neighborhoods, including Mattapan, Hyde Park and Roslindale. One of the improvements they say they want to implement at some point would be on the Five Way, the intersection of American Legion and Cummins Highway.

Beatman said the group has done a walk audit of the area, and found that many residents use the Five Way in many different ways.

“It shows people that it’s not just for cars,” she said. “Just imagine the Five Way, which is all cement right now, with raised crosswalks, very visible curb extensions on each corner so that a pedestrian only has to walk 11 feet.”

Many MHMC residents expressed they felt it was dangerous to cross the Five Way as a pedestrian because, without extensions to the curb making the turns more of a right angle, many vehicles fly thorugh at high speeds.

“We want curb extensions so that vehicles would have to maneuver a little first, not just go shooting through it,” Beatman said.

Beatman and Yoder said a raised crosswalk and curb extensions would work very well for the Five Way, and also looked at other areas of the neighborhood to implement these improvements to keep traffic on American Legion and off of the surrounding neighborhoods, as right now they say people speed through all the time to avoid the traffic. The MHMC discussed raised crosswalks, speed humps (elongated speed bumps), and better signage throughout the neighborhood.

“The city is allocating millions of dollars on this for other neighborhoods right now, so if we don’t get on this, it’s gone,” she said.

Late-addition to the Roundup List: Arboretum Gateway Path

Rozzie Gateway Path Entrance (image courtesy Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc.)

Rozzie Gateway Path Entrance (image courtesy Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc.)

I have fielded more than one note that I left the Arboretum Gateway Path off the top-of-mind list for WUR’s 2015 roundup. This is an accurate critique and so: mea culpa. The AGP was a major initiative in 2015 and, I strongly suspect, will be a major initiative this year and going forward until it’s done. In brief: We love this idea of a new Arboretum gateway and path at the Roslindale commuter rail station that would provide an alternate ped/bike path to the South/Archdale bridge area, where it would link to an extension of the existing Blackwell/Bussey Brook path (and on to Forest Hills and the Southwest Corridor path) and allow for a new, more welcoming entrance to the Arboretum at Archdale as well. We are furthermore delighted at the receptive potential partners we’ve found in our own City and State government, the Arnold Arboretum, the Arboretum Park Conservancy, RVMS, Livable Streets, and our friends at Tufts University’s environmental program who are currently conducting an initial feasibility analysis for the path. It’s also been a great way to connect early with our friends at Rozzie Bikes.

So — as we head into 2016, expect the Arboretum Gateway Path to be something we continue to talk about and organize around, a lot.

Welcome to Parkside on Adams

ros2.jpgWe were happy to learn today that Parkside on Adams is finally open with tenants moving in, and welcome these new Roslindalians with open arms.

This development brings badly needed rental housing, including some affordable units, to the central business direct. While we dream of improved walkability everywhere in the neighborhood, from East Roslindale to Metropolitan Hill to the Longfellow Area and beyond, the area adjacent Adams Park and the core business area is particularly critical for increased density, walkability, and hence vitality.

One notable bit from yesterday’s news story: “Parking is an extra $125 a month.” This may be the first instance of “unbundled” parking in a new Roslindale development and we hope to see more: if developers provide “free” parking as an amenity with residential units, (1) those units will necessarily be less affordable; and (2) purchasers or renters will be motivated and incentivized to own a car (and thus use it) since they’ve already effectively paid for it. By allowing parking to be purchased/rented separately (and by the month), this development gives new residents the option to do what makes most sense for them. Rather than pay $125/month for parking, the new resident can put the same money toward transit: $75/month for an MBTA LinkPass[1] , with $50 left over for Uber, Lyft, and/or bicycle maintenance, not to mention the substantially greater monthly savings in insurance, excise tax, gas, maintenance, etc.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Along these lines, we’d love to see the Commuter Rail pass from Roslindale closer in price to the LinkPass, to further encourage a more pedestrian-oriented and less car-centric neighborhood.