Looking back at 2016 – Pausing to take stock at WalkUP Roslindale

We saw our share of highs and lows this year in advocating for the cause of a more walkable (as well as bikeable and transit-accessible) Roslindale. Here are my own personal five most important things that happened and as with last year, I would ask that any differences of opinion or emphasis be raised in the comments or in a follow up blog post:

  1. Arboretum Gateway Path Visioning and Initial Feasibility Analysis – Picking up a worthwhile idea that others in our neighborhood had already championed, we held a visioning session at the RCC in late March on the Arboretum Gateway Path. Turn out was high and enthusiastic and included the extremely able support of the students from Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy program, who released their community vision report in May. We then partnered with LivableStreets Alliance on hiring Horsley Witten as the selected consultant to further the effort by doing an initial feasibility analysis, undertook a ride-walk of the proposed route in June and, in early December, we hosted a more focused potential route walk with LSA, HW, and the Arboretum. Surveying work on the portion of the proposed path within the MBTA property adjacent to the Needham Line was completed in late December. We hope to have the feasibility study available to share with our neighbors, the Arboretum, and city and state officials, in spring with a follow up meeting at the RCC.
  2. Responses to Pedestrian Fatalities – Our city witnessed a spate of pedestrian fatalities early in 2016, and Roslindale was not spared. Silvia Acosta was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver at Washington and Blue Ledge in January and then Johnette Sims was struck and killed by a drunk/hit-and-run driver at Canterbury and Morton in September. Although it was slow in coming and the topic of much frustration, the tragedy at Washington and Blue Ledge did finally result in improvements to that intersection several months after a site visit by Boston Vision Zero Task Force members. Not so with the fatality at Canterbury and Morton. Because Morton is a state highway at that location, there has, to my knowledge, been no site visit or any attempted response of any kind to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists at that location. The city has no jurisdiction there and the state agency that does have jurisdiction, MassDOT, has not taken any action.
  3. Ulrich Bike Corral – After what seemed like an interminable delay, the Ulrich Bike Corral was finally installed at Corinth and Cohasset in early June. Many WUR folks played a role in working with RVMS to bring the corral to fruition, especially including Sarah Kurpiel Lee, who was instrumental in the final push with city staff and elected officials. Special thanks are also due to the owners of Fornax – Chris and Kim Fallon – for taking on maintenance and care of the corral along with the parklet. We are hoping to be able to install some improved directional and identification signs for the corral this spring.
  4. Roslindale Village Walkable Film Series – With a huge lift from Kevin Tobin, son of Greg, we hosted a rotating film series in and around the village that focused on urban and social issues, including battling disinvestment in the Dudley Triangle, struggling against the 1970s arson wave in the Fenway, and issues concerning gun control in our country. We are hoping to have another set of dates and films of more general interest this year as well.
  5. Vision Zero Rally for Safer Streets – There is no question that the city, despite adopting Vision Zero in early 2015 and producing what seemed like an achievable action plan in December of 2015, moved far more slowly than had been expected in making real progress on improving the safety of our streets for all users – especially people on foot and on bicycles. The major advocacy groups involved in Vision Zero — WalkBoston, LSA, Boston Cyclists Union, and MassBike — felt compelled by the lack of access to hold a rally on City Hall Plaza in late September. I was happy to attend as WUR’s representative (we also signed on as co-sponsors) and focused on implementing Rapid Response and the Neighborhood Slow Streets components of the Action Plan. My comments especially urged that NSS be implemented city-wide in 3 years — currently policy calls for 2 areas per year and given the size of the areas, likely several decades to complete. Despite immense popularity among local residents in the proposed areas, NSS remains a dead letter. Plans that were supposed finalized in the late fall with a first phase done before year-end have come to exactly nothing on the ground. We will need to push, and push hard, for the city to move more quickly and do the right thing faster. Perhaps the imminent reset of the city’s default speed limit from 25 mph to 30 mph will help break the logjam.

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