WalkUP Comment Letter on Washington Street Bus Lane

We recently sent an official comment letter to Boston’s Chief of Streets Chris Osgood, expressing our strong gratitude and support for the city’s implementation of a morning inbound bus lane on Washington Street between Roslindale Village and Forest Hills. This improvement has greatly improved the commuter experience for transit-riders and cyclists alike, at extremely low cost. We’d like to see much more of this in and around the City of Boston!

We also took this opportunity to raise a couple of concerns: first, compliance with the morning bus lane has been inconsistent, and a few parked cars blocking buses and bikes ruins the experience for everyone. We need to see better enforcement to insure the lane doesn’t become a half-solution at best. We also want to get the ball rolling on an afternoon/outbound dedicated bus lane, as studies show that the evening outbound rush hour commute encounters more traffic and is slower for bus riders than the morning route was before the bus lane.

Our full letter reproduced below; you can also download a PDF version.

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Blue Bikes Finally Comes to Roslindale

Our long wait for the arrival of the Blue Bikes (f/k/a Hubway) Bike Sharing system in Roslindale is finally over. The city recently announced the imminent installation of 19 new stations, including five in Roslindale. (We understand a total of 60 new stations will be added throughout the city over the entire year of 2018, and another 30 next spring.) The new Roslindale locations are shown on the map below, including two right in the main street area, one near Archdale, one near Centre and Weld, and one at Belgrade at Walworth.

This is a good start and we expect these bikes will be much-used, especially once a Forest Hills station goes in (delayed, likely subject to construction completion), making for better access to the Orange Line and the Southwest Corridor.

While we applaud the City and Blue Bikes for extending the network further out into neighborhoods like Roslindale, we’re a bit disappointed and surprised to see no station planned at the Commuter Rail which is would be a very logical inter-modal destination. While the other village stations are not far from the Commuter Rail, we suspect that bikeshare right at the station would encourage more people to avoid driving to the T. Another gap in the system is any stations in Eastern Roslindale — down Cummins Highway, Metropolitan Avenue, and Hyde Park Avenue/American Legion Highway. Bike share in this areas could enable many people who are currently poorly served by transit to reach the Orange Line, Commuter Rail, and major bus stops without driving.

Our hope is that the new stations get so much use right off the bat that the City will add these other locations in 2019. If you haven’t joined Blue Bikes yet, now is the time! Note that many employers sponsor a Blue Bikes membership, and income-eligible folks can get a significantly discounted membership.

Recap of Roslindale Gateway Path – 25% Meeting on MBTA Portion

We had great turnout and lots of enthusiasm at a community meeting held last week to present the preliminary 25% design of the first portion of the planned Roslindale Gateway Path. The Gateway Path is WalkUP’s signature initiative, supported by a broad coalition of like-minded organizations including Rozzie Bikes and the Livable Streets Alliance. Ultimately, the path will create a new entrance to the Arboretum closer to Roslindale Village (right from the MBTA Commuter Rail station), allow entry to the park from Roslindale without having to surmount a big hill, provide improved access to the park along its route, and connect all the way up to the Forest Hills orange line station and Southwest Corridor Path.

For this meeting, we were focused only on the first portion which will cross over MBTA land. Since this portion requires negotiating land rights (the Arboretum, the City, and the MBTA will be all be involved), we thought it important to complete the process of gathering community feedback on that section first so those negotiations can move forward. Hence, this meeting, which was attended by as many as 50 residents, business owners, city employees, and representatives of our elected officials. Notably represented at the meeting were District City Councilors Tim McCarthy and Matt O’Malley, State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, and State Sen. Michael Rush. City-Councilor-at-Large Michelle Wu has also been very supportive of the project.

The presentation was lead by Jen Relstab of the Horsley Witten Group, our design consultant from the start of this effort. Be sure to check out the complete presentation. Following the slideshow, we received ample constructive feedback and questions from the group, ranging from questions about snow and ice; maintenance; policing; wildlife; storm water; trash; and ideas about various surfaces that might be used in different parts of the path. We’re incorporating this feedback and ideas into our next steps, and look forward to returning to the community as the project moves forward. If you have comments in the meantime, feel free to send them to path@nullwalkuproslindale.org.

Some tweets and photos from the event below.

 

 

Community Meeting on July 25, 2018 at Roslindale Community Center for Gateway Path 25% Design of MBTA Section

Please join us on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 6pm at the Roslindale Community Center (6 Cummins Highway) to learn about the 25% design study for the Roslindale Gateway Path and provide feedback. This meeting will focus just on the MBTA portion of the design — the section connecting the Roslindale Square Commuter Rail Station into the Arboretum. RSVP appreciated. You can also join the event and invite others from the Facebook event page.

MBTA Portion of Gateway Path

MBTA Portion of Gateway Path

Major Step Forward for the Gateway Path – Possible Funding from the Commonwealth

The Roslindale Gateway Path — the linchpin of a multiuse off-road trail to connect Roslindale Square with Forest Hills — took a significant step forward earlier this month when our Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, ensured that complete funding for the path was included in the House’s Environmental Bond Bill. You can find the authorization — for $3 million — right there on line 378, page 19 of the bill! Based on our preliminary estimates including the 10% design study, we believe this state funding coupled with city support and cooperation from the MBTA will be sufficient to design and build the entire path, including the Blackwell Path Extension on the Forest Hills/Jamaica Plain side, as well as the Gateway Path starting at the Roslindale MBTA Commuter Rail Station and extending into the Arboretum.

While the bill still needs to get through the Senate and be signed by the Governor, we are delighted by Rep. Sánchez’s leadership on this important sustainability issue. We expect Senator Michael Rush, who represents much of Roslindale in the Senate and serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, will also go to bat to help see this through.

At this point, we have no immediate action item for path supporters (other than to thank our elected officials when you get a chance!), but we will be keeping a close eye on the bill as it moves through the Senate. We expect the authorization will come up in the Senate some time before the end of July.

WalkUP Roslindale Support Letter for FY2019 Transportation Department Budget – Hearing Tonight

Earlier this spring, the Walsh Administration announced next year’s transportation budget, which included a substantial increase for Vision Zero and walkability. We sent a letter at the time in support of the budget. Tonight (Tuesday, May 22) the City Council holds a hearing on the budget. We encourage everyone to speak up for safe streets and better transit at the hearing:

Boston Transportation Department Budget Hearing
Tuesday, May 22, 5 pm – 7 pm
@ Boston City Hall, 5th Floor, Iannella Chamber
1 City Hall Square, Boston

Last year, hundreds showed up at the BTD Budget Hearing, and it had a direct impact on securing more funding for the Neighborhood Slow Streets program. It’s critical to keep the momentum going in 2018, so please show up and support the proposal!

WalkUP also submitted an additional support letter today in anticipation of the hearing, which we will deliver in person tonight. The full text of the letter is included below.
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Give Washington Street Bus Lane Feedback

Washington Street Bus Lane

Washington Street Bus Lane (Image Courtesy Universal Hub)

We’re now a couple weeks into the Washington Street Dedicated Bus Lane pilot run and all reports are that it is going swimmingly for bus riders, bicyclists, and car drivers alike. The bus commute time from Rozzie Square to Forest Hills has been shortened for many from as long as half an hour or more to just a few minutes, making the bus a much more practical alternative to the commuter rail (which is infrequent and too expensive for many) or individual driving (we’ve already heard several anecdotes about people who have switched to save time and avoid traffic angst).

It’s now time to make sure the City hears feedback from the community about the pilot–if we don’t speak up, there is no guarantee that they will be able to justify continued investment in the resources necessary to keep the morning rush hour bus lane in place permanently, and ultimately to expand to an evening rush hour bus lane as well (when peak outbound traffic is even worse than in the morning).

So please drop a note right now to the Boston Transportation Department at BTD@nullboston.gov with your thoughts about the bus lane. It need not be lengthy–a sentence or two will do–but just let them know what you think. Lots of people are watching and this could be the start of big pro-walking/bike/transit changes in Roslindale and around the City of Boston, and it’s critical we seize the momentum.

Some press coverage below:

American Legion Parkway Bike Tour – Sunday, May 20, 2018 8am-10:30am

Join us in two weeks, Sunday, May 20, 2018 for an easy bicycle tour of the American Legion Parkway green areas. The tour will run from 8am-10:30am and start at the Walgreen’s end of the Stop-n-Shop Plaza on American Legion Highway, near Hyde Park Ave. RSVP to Laura Smeaton (shoplaura@nullmac.com) or Lisa Beatman (lisabeatman@nullyahoo.com, 617-306-1283). More details below or download the PDF flyer.

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Vision Zero Steps Up in Roslindale

Vision Zero BostonAs part of the Mayor’s Vision Zero Boston initiative, Boston Public Works will make some significant pedestrian infrastructure improvements in the village this coming week, beginning Tuesday, April 24. We are extremely excited to be officially entering “Phase I” of this process, and appreciate the City’s efforts in engaging with WalkUP and the community at large to help advance our vision of making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. The safety upgrades we will see this week were set in motion, at least in part, by our neighborhood Walk Audit back in 2015.

In particular, much of the Square will be re-paved and re-painted this week. If all goes according to plan, we will see two new crosswalks corresponding to some well-tread desire lines — one at the bottom of the steps coming down from the commuter rail station, crossing Belgrade Ave, thus creating a straight shot pedestrian route from the T to the soon-to-open (can’t wait!) Distraction Brewing Company at the corner of Belgrade and Birch (previously Emac and Bolio’s as well as the Select Café space). Another new crosswalk should appear connecting the Taft Hill municipal lot to the Village Market area, crossing South Street mid-block between Taft Hill and Belgrade. Indeed, this archival photo (perhaps from the mid-1980’s, showing then-City Councilor Thomas Menino across from now-753 South Street) shows that we once had a crosswalk here, so it’s great to get it back!

Tom Menino in Roslindale With Crosswalk

Tom Menino in Roslindale With Crosswalk

Particularly exciting is that we will also be getting our first raised crosswalk in the village, at the corner of Belgrade and Birch Street.

Two additional notes:

  • We expect most of this work to happen late and overnight. While this may be a short-term noise hardship for those living nearby, it means the work will be done much faster — with cooperative weather and no unpleasant surprises, hopefully in less than a week. We support the City’s decision to get this work done quickly, which will allow us to enjoy the benefits quite soon and also minimize daytime impact on village businesses. Earplugs can be purchased at Sullivan’s Pharmacy for pennies a pair!
  • Part of this “Phase I” effort also involves improving the locations of the village bus stops and installing flexposts to better protect “daylighted” areas. For various logistical reasons, these steps will roll out as “Phase I(b)” — not this coming week, but (we hope) in the very near future. Stay tuned for more info on this front.

WalkUP Official Letter of Support for Mayor’s FY2019 Transportation Department Budget

Yesterday, we sent an official letter to Mayor Walsh in strong support of his proposed Fiscal Year 2019 transportation budget, specifically in view of several major steps forward on our most important goal for Roslindale and the City of Boston: walkability! The full text of our letter is below; we encourage everyone to drop a quick note to the Mayor and their elected representatives on the City Council to insure the active and mass transportation aspects of the budget are enacted. Once implemented, we expect residents and business owners will immediately appreciate major returns on these investments in walking, bicycle, and bus infrastructure, which will then lay the groundwork for even bigger progress in the future.

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