On the twin concepts of making connections and finding like-minded people

One of the more enjoyable aspects of being a part of WalkUP Roslindale has been in making connections to people who live and work in our neighborhood who are amazingly talented and incredibly generous. This has also been rewardingly true across this great city of ours. Case in point: This morning, I had the good fortune to have a little time to spend downtown at the temporary installation of an expanded sidewalk/pedestrian area on Franklin Street near Arch Street that will reportedly become permanent in the very near future. This will be a great improvement and provide a ready and (most importantly) local example for taking key locations of shockingly excess pavement and repurposing them for the enhanced street life that is begging only for a little encouragement to grow and blossom. (My loyal RTUF followers (all 3 of them!) will recall that I blogged over there about this very topic and location in early 2014.) The event also allowed me to connect with Erica Mattison, Dorchester resident and bike/walk advocate of the first order, and the Globe’s Dante Ramos. Dante’s piece is spot-on as usual: Pop-up plaza is a harbinger of streets to come (I hope).

And he even took the picture that Erica posted to her twitter account (your correspondent if on the far right of the photo). And, finally, my own photo taken near the start of the 3-hour installation period:

Resized

I would love suggestions in the comments on places in our own neighborhood where we think the city could productively repurpose excess pavement to better uses. Thanks!

Roslindale’s Visiting Uhü

UHU Coming SoonWhat does your mind conjure when you hear the phrase “tiny house” or “micro-apartment”? As housing prices continue to climb in major cities, Boston has not been spared. Trying to achieve balance between creating enough housing while ensuring affordability is a difficult task, and one that no city has solved perfectly quite yet.

Here in Boston, the Mayor’s Housing Innovation Lab is seeking answers to those questions with their newly built Urban Housing Unit, or uhü (pronounced “yoo-hoo”) for short. The uhü is a 385 square foot prefab that is fully furnished. It will travel to neighborhoods throughout Boston for the remainder of this year to spark conversation amongst residents about the palatability of smaller space living.

The uhü just arrived in Roslindale at the upper lot of the MBTA commuter rail station on Conway St and installation will be complete tomorrow, August 16th.

WalkUP Roslindale supports creative solutions to our housing crisis, and believes smartly-designed increased density is an important ingredient to a vital, walkable neighborhood. We are happy to see the city start to think “outside the box” on ways to advance housing (or perhaps “inside the box” is more appropriate in this particular case), but we also believe that land use innovation must be linked with transportation innovation and investment lest efforts to build a sustainable, livable city fail or, worse, backfire. If we are going to accommodate micro-apartments like the uhü, it must be in parallel with a strong push for safer walking and biking infrastructure, as well as better transit options in Roslindale and throughout Boston. At this point, Boston’s modest experiments in the transportation realm lag progress in housing, and we’d like to see them catch up. A final critical element to smaller private spaces is richer, vibrant common spaces–including both open space/play space and a variety of walkable commercial/retail amenities.

This is a great opportunity to discuss what implications units like the uhü could have on our city. We encourage Roslindale residents to stop by and chat with team members from the Mayor’s Housing Innovation Lab to share thoughts.

Events will be held at the uhü on:

  • Thurs, August 18th, 2016 from 5:00pm-8:00p for Family Night
  • Saturday, August 20th, 2016 from 9:00aa-1:00pm during the Roslindale Farmers Market
  • Thurs, August 25th, 2016 from 5:00pm-8:00pm for a community celebration

Spread the word!

UHU Flyer (PDF)

UHU Facebook Page

3 observations about where we stand at Washington@Blue Ledge

  1. The "Double Threat"

    The So-Called “Double Threat”
    (image courtesy Federal Highway Administration)

    Not Random. The reconfiguration at Washington & Blue Ledge is part of the City of Boston’s ongoing effort to implement the Vision Zero Policy adopted about 18 months ago. Under this policy, which several cities have adopted around the US, our city has set a goal of reaching zero deaths among all users of our streets – drivers and passengers in motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others in alternative forms of wheeled/motorized transportation – by the year 2030. A major focus of the policy’s implementation is to respond to each crash involving serious injury or death by examining their location and making changes to improve safety. Washington@Blue Ledge is where Roslindale resident Silvia Acosta was killed by a speeding hit-and-run driver while in a crosswalk in mid-January of this year. The reconfiguration that is now under way seeks to reduce motor vehicle speeds and the so-called “double-threat” in the part of the crosswalk that crosses the northbound direction of Washington Street. Reducing vehicle speeds has a huge impact on whether pedestrians survive a motor vehicle crash — your chances of dying increase from

    under 10% at 20 mph, to over 50% at 30 mph, to over 80% at 40 mph. The double-threat is something I’m sure we’ve all experienced, where a crosswalk crosses two lanes in the same direction, the car in one lane stops, while the car in the second lane can’t see the pedestrian for whom the stop is being made, posits that they are stopping for no reason, and goes around them, hitting the pedestrian in the process. This is a big step forward for this intersection.

  2. Not Done. The reconfiguration at this location is not yet done. Boston PWD’s contractor should soon be installing (a) flex posts and bollards to delineate both the painted bump out on the southbound side and the pedestrian median, and (b) a push-button activated flashing beacon signal for the new crosswalk. Those of us who are focused on improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety in our neighborhood are intensely interested in this intersection and will be watching closely in the next few days to make sure these final actions are taken as soon as possible.
  3. Not Adjusted to Overnight. Observations have been made that the new configuration has not yet taken hold and some drivers are still using the new bike lane as if it remains a motor vehicle lane. While unfortunate, this is not surprising. The installation isn’t done yet, and the experience around town is that getting drivers to comply with new roadway configurations takes time and patience. If vehicle speeds are slowing as drivers adjust, see point 1, above. The intent is that the new configuration will reduce vehicle speeds permanently by narrowing the travel lanes and improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Day 205 @ Washington-Blue Ledge: Just about fully installed!

Vision Zero BostonNo pictures yet, but I went by early this morning and the full reconfiguration/restriping of the intersection at Washington and Blue Ledge is now done. I believe the remaining items to be installed at this point are median strip signs indicating the new crosswalk and the flashing pedestrian sign. Many thanks to BTD/PWD, our municipal elected officials (especially District 5 City Councilor Tim McCarthy, City Council President Michelle Wu, and City Councilor Sal LaMattina, who chairs the Committee on Parks, Recreation, and Transportation that held a hearing on the Vision Zero program in May), and Mayor Walsh for getting this done. We should also recognize the advocacy around Vision Zero Boston generally from WalkBoston, Livable Streets, Boston Cyclists Union, and MassBike, among others. Lots, lots more to do to improve everyone’s safety on our streets all around this great city.