Important West Roxbury Public Meeting – Centre Street Safety – Thursday, June 20 6:30pm at Holy Name Parish School

We’ve been eagerly following the progress of our friends at West Rox Walks in their efforts to make West Roxbury a safer, more walkable neighborhood, with a focus on Centre Street. There is a critical public meeting this Thursday night (6/20) on a proposed Centre Street re-design. We urge all WalkUP supporters who live, shop, work, or visit West Roxbury to turn out and make their voices heard. We are urging BTD to implement a “road diet” and protected bike lanes — this will result in a safer West Roxbury for all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. Without a robust turnout at this community meeting, there is no guarantee that BTD’s plans will include either design element.

Centre St (West Roxbury) Redesign Public Meeting #2
Thursday, June 20, 2019
6:30 — 9.00 p.m.
Holy Name Parish School
535 West Roxbury Parkway, West Roxbury, MA 02132

For those interested in joining the West Roxbury Bicycle Committee in attending the meeting, meet at 6pm at the corner of Hastings St and Centre St to walk with Matt Wentworth to the meeting.

By way of background, at a packed meeting about this project in February, Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley said he would work tirelessly until Centre St. is safe for everyone, and Matt Wentworth spoke passionately about the dire need for a road diet and traffic calming after a crash killed his mother, Marilyn, as she crossed the street. Since then, the West Roxbury Bicycle Committee and West Rox Walks built considerable grassroots support for protected bike lanes and a road diet; 45 businesses along Centre St. signed on in support of both design elements; and many residents contacted elected officials and City staff to express their support.

With the City set to finally present its plans on Thursday, you can help ensure protected bike lanes and a road diet are part of the solution to this dangerous street. We’ve heard that if there is enough consensus at this first design meeting, the BTD can possibly fast-track this project to implement changes on the ground this summer/fall. Please make sure to bring your friends, neighbors and family so we can all have a comfortable, enjoyable and safe biking and walking experience on Centre St. in 2019!

West Rox Walks Letter to BTD re Centre and Spring Streets

Our friends and fellow travelers at West Rox Walks recently completed a Walk Audit documenting pedestrian safety concerns in the neighborhood, particularly along the Centre Street Corridor. To further their efforts to make West Roxbury a more walkable neighborhood, they recently sent a letter to Chris Osgood, the Chief of the Streets, Transportation, and Sanitation for the City of Boston, seeking a major street redesign that would consider safety for all street users. WalkUP Roslindale proudly joined this letter, as did many other Boston-area organizations that promote walkability as well as pedestrian and bicycle safety. The full letter is reproduced below.


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June 7, 2019

By Electronic Mail Only (chris.osgood@nullboston.gov)
Boston Transportation Department
1 City Hall Square, Room 721
Boston, MA 02201-2043

Attention: Chris Osgood, Chief of the Streets, Transportation, and Sanitation

Dear Mr. Osgood:

In 2018, the United States saw the largest number of pedestrians killed (6,227) in motor vehicle crashes in nearly 30 years. West Roxbury residents have experienced this trend firsthand with, in aggregate, one car crash every six weeks involving a person walking or riding a bicycle on Centre and Spring Streets over the past four years. Notably, these incidents include two serious crashes involving pedestrians walking across Centre Street at the intersection with Hastings Street. The crashes resulted in one severe traumatic brain injury in November 2015 and one fatality inFebruary 2019. Additionally, there have been 11 car crashes with cyclists.

These safety concerns were also reported by West Roxbury Main Streets in their 2016 Imagine West Roxbury Report. A survey of 702 residents found that nearly 3 in 4 respondents identified the street design as a major barrier to walkability and access to local businesses, and nearly 200 residents requested improvements to cyclist and pedestrian safety, traffic calming, and better parking. We are writing to request your support for the Go Boston 2030 top priority project to create walk- and bike-friendly main streets via the following changes to Centre and Spring Streets in West Roxbury: 1) traffic lane reduction, 2) improved crosswalks, and 3) addition of protected bicycle lanes.

A “road diet” on Centre and Spring Streets would help decrease motor vehicle travel speeds to posted speed limits, which significantly reduces the risk of severe injury to pedestrians struck by vehicles and would likely decrease crosswalk fatalities. Crosswalk improvements recommended include: high-visibility crosswalk markings, parking restrictions on crosswalk approach, adequate nighttime lighting, advance yield here to and stop signs, curb extensions, and pedestrian hybrid beacons. Finally, Better Bike Lanes would increase access to the Main Streets district, improve safety for all, and are widely supported by over 80% of local businesses.

We eagerly await the proposal of a major street redesign, which includes safety for all street users, at the upcoming meeting on June 20, 2019.

Sincerely,

William Vincent, West Rox Walks
Jacob Robinson, West Roxbury Main Streets
Ben Wetherill, West Roxbury Bicycle Chapter
Brendan Kearney, WalkBoston
Matthew Lawlor, WalkUP Roslindale
Becca Wolfson, Boston Cyclists Union
Rachel Poliner, Progressive WRox/Roz
Ambar Johnson, Liveable Streets
Alan Wright, RozzieBikes

Copy to:

Gregory Rooney, Commissioner, Property Management
Jack Duggan, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services
Matt O’Malley, District 6 City Councilor
Michelle Wu, At-Large City Councilor
Althea Garrison, At-Large City Councilor
Michael F. Flaherty, At-Large City Councilor
Annissa Essaibi-George, At-Large City Councilor

Comment letter on 43 Lochdale Road

43 Lochdale Road Design

Last week, we sent an official comment letter to the Boston Planning & Development Agency, concerning a proposed 36-unit housing development at 43 Lochdale Road, just a few blocks from the Forest Hills MBTA station. We support this much-needed addition to our housing supply but raise serious concerns about the missed opportunity to advance the highly complementary goals of more affordable housing and less auto-centric development. Our specific concerns are proposed solutions are outlined below.


June 3, 2019

BY ELECTRONIC MAIL ONLY (aisling.kerr@nullboston.gov)
Boston Planning & Development Agency
One City Hall Square, 9th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02201

Attention: Aisling Kerr, Project Manager

RE:         43 LOCHDALE ROAD, ROSLINDALE – SMALL PROJECT REVIEW

Dear Ms. Kerr:

Please accept the following comments on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale with respect to the proposed rental residential development at 43 Lochdale Road in Roslindale (the “Proposed Project”). As set forth in the Small Project Review application, this will be a consequential development project, located under half a mile from the end of the Orange Line at Forest Hills, and containing, as proposed, 36 housing units and 46 off-street parking spaces in a four-story building with a mix of 1, 2 and 2+ bedroom units and providing 5 affordable units under the BPDA’s Inclusionary Development Policy (“IDP”).

Although we generally support the Proposed Project, being in favor of production of new housing in our neighborhood, city, and region as an integral part of the required response to our surging population and housing affordability crisis resulting from decades of underbuilding and inequitable patterns of development and housing availability, we have the following concerns, which our members also voiced in person at the community meeting this past Tuesday, May 28. Our comments intend to emphasize the importance of addressing both the future of transportation and the need for more affordable housing in every development project that our city considers.

1.             Excessive Off-Street Parking

Put simply, at 46 spaces, the Proposed Project is egregiously overparked. As a start, the parking ratio should be reduced from 1:1.28 to 1:1 (or lower). Zero off-street parking projects have recently been allowed in Roslindale Square (most recently, the Wallpaper City project at the corner of Poplar and South), and, as noted above, this location is under a half mile (<10 minute walk) from Forest Hills Station (where both the Orange Line and commuter rail have stops) and steps from bus stops serviced by a dozen bus routes. The Proposed Project is likewise minutes away from the start of the Southwest Corridor Bicycle Path, which is a major thoroughfare for cycling commuters.1 All of these sustainable transportation options are complemented by several nearby ZipCar locations and easy access to rideshare services.

In light of these ample amenities, excessive parking will undeniably waste resources and induce car ownership and car use, moving our neighborhood and our city away from the mode shift and greenhouse gas and other air pollution reduction goals to which we have committed in GoBoston 2030 and Climate Ready Boston. By devoting more real estate to parking, we practically guarantee more cars in the neighborhood.  By contrast, reducing off-street parking will have direct positive implications on affordability, which is the next issue that we raised at the community meeting.

2.            Housing Affordability

As a rough cut, assuming a standard parking space takes up about 162 square feet (9’ x 18’), a reduction of even just ten (10) spaces would allow for an additional 1620 square feet of living area. We would expect that area to be split into 2 additional units, which we would recommend be added to the affordable unit count. We also note that community members from the Housing Justice task force of Roslindale is for Everyone (“RISE”) spoke at the community meeting and were particularly focused on increasing both the percentage of affordable units in the Proposed Project and the level of affordability offered beyond what the IDP would otherwise require (13% of total units and 70% of area median income). We support RISE Housing Justice on both of these requests. The Proposed Project is located in a part of our neighborhood where household incomes are lower than average and competition for scarce and increasingly expensive housing (there has been almost no new housing constructed in this area for the last several decades) is displacing our most vulnerable neighbors. We can and should do more as a city to make sure that everyone who wants to make their home here is able to do so.

With available parking thus reduced to below a 1 to 1 ratio, the Proposed Project would also be an especially appropriate project on which to un-bundle the parking from the units, so that households that do not need off-street parking can avoid that cost instead of having it included in their unit regardless. By contrast, if the parking spaces remained bundled with the units, car-free families will be less likely to live in this development, since they would be paying a premium for an amenity they do not need.

3.            Green Building

Although the Proposed Project has dropped below the Large Project Review threshold and is technically required to meet only building code-based energy efficiency and green building requirements (albeit at the city’s “Stretch Code” level, which produces a 10% improvement over the otherwise applicable standards), we would request that the BPDA require the Proposed Project to exceed those standards and approach Net Zero/Zero Plus/LEED Gold-Platinum standards. If our city is truly serious about the climate crisis, all new buildings will need to be much more efficient in their use of energy. There is no more time to wait to start this effort on a citywide basis, and we would like to see this happen in this neighborhood now.

4.            Roslindale Gateway Path/Blackwell Path Extension at Arboretum Road

We understand and appreciate that the developer is being required to install a new crosswalk and curb extension at Washington Street and Lochdale Road. In much the same vein, the developer should also be required to assist financially with ongoing efforts around the Roslindale Gateway Path/Arboretum Road archway and entrance as this will be a significant amenity for residents of the development and the broader surrounding neighborhood. Funds are still being assembled for the first phase of the path’s extension, running from the current end of the Blackwell Path to Arboretum Road, and a significant contribution for this effort would be an excellent way for this Proposed Project to bring value and increased accessibility to its own backyard immediately.

In closing, we wish to reiterate our overall support for the Proposed Project, while especially emphasizing our call to reduce the off-street parking count and repurpose the space saved to increase the number and level of affordability for the affordable units. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Benjamin Bruno

Resident @ 27 Colgate Road, Roslindale, on behalf of the WalkUP Roslindale Steering Group
Ricardo Austrich, Resident @ 843 South Street, Roslindale
Lisa Beatman, Resident @ 180 Mount Hope Street, Roslindale
Rachel Blumberg, Resident @ 15 Newburg Street, Apt. 2, Roslindale
Lucy Bullock-Sieger, Resident @ 33 Brookdale Street, Roslindale
Steve Gag, Resident @ 631 South Street, Roslindale
Liz Graham-Meredith, Resident @ 6 Crandall Street, Roslindale
Matthew Lawlor, Resident @ 15 Basto Terrace, Roslindale
Margaux Leonard, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Mandana Moshtaghi, Resident @ 12 Arborough Road, Roslindale
Robert Orthman, Resident @ 31 Mendelssohn Street, #2, Roslindale
Rebecca Phillips, Resident @ 10 Tappan Street, Roslindale
Adam Rogoff, Resident @ 28 Ashfield Street, Roslindale
Adam Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Rachele Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Laura Smeaton, Resident @ 61 Cornell Street, Roslindale
Mark Tedrow, Resident @ 169 Sycamore Street, Apt. 1, Roslindale
Marc Theiss, Resident @ 55 Prospect Avenue, Roslindale
Greg Tobin, Resident @ 1 Sheldon Street, Roslindale
Nick Ward, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Alan Wright, Resident @ 98 Birch Street, Roslindale

About WalkUP Roslindale
WalkUP Roslindale, which takes its name from the international movement to foster “Walkable Urban Places,” is a collaborative group of residents dedicated to making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. We advocate for a dynamic, livable streetscape and we support positive changes to our public and private built environment that strengthen walkability and other forms of active mobility as means toward better personal and public health, safety, social capital, economic development, and environmental sustainability. We are led by a steering group of about thirty residents and have nearly 1,000 additional supporters. More information about WalkUP Roslindale and our initiatives can be found at www.walkuproslindale.org. We recognize that no single group of people can be said to speak for our entire neighborhood – instead, please take these comments as representing the collective support of our steering group members (indicated below) resulting from our mission and principles.

  1. A City of Boston survey counted an average of well over 2,000 cyclists per day on this path in 2017; the number has surely grown since then with the completion of the cycling improvements at Forest Hills as part of the Casey/Arborway project. See https://www.boston.gov/departments/boston-bikes/bike-data/2017-boston-bicycle-counts.

West Roxbury Walk Audit Complete

West Roxbury Walk Audit Route

Hot off the presses, our friends over at West Rox Walks just released the results of the first ever Walk Roxbury Walk Audit, highlighting aspects of Centre Street most in need of pedestrian safety improvements. We welcome our neighbors to the walkability club. Many who live in Roslindale work and shop and West Roxbury, and vice-versa, and thus we care deeply about improving walking conditions there. Be sure to follow West Rox Walks on Twitter and like them on Facebook.

The report’s key recommendations are 1) decrease the speed of vehicular traffic, 2) improve crosswalk safety, 3) add protected bike lanes, and 4) conduct studies of the business section between Knoll and Weld Streets and of the rotary by Holy Name. Stay tuned for next steps!

Join us on Lilac Sunday 5/12 10am-3pm to learn about a new entrance to the Arboretum

A NEW ENTRANCE TO THE ARNOLD ARBORETUM IS COMING!

The City of Boston in partnership with the Arnold Arboretum, WalkUP Roslindale, and the Arboretum Park Conservancy are working to create a new entrance to the Arnold Arboretum at the end of Arboretum Road that will ultimately connect up with our planned Gateway Path.

Please stop by on LILAC SUNDAY (this coming Sunday, May 12) to learn about the project and enjoy some ice cream and music on your way to viewing the lilacs! The entrance is not yet paved, so please wear sturdy shoes or boots

Date and Time:    Sunday, May 12, 2019, 10 AM to 3 PM

Location:        End of Arboretum Road, Roslindale

Important Boston Transportation Department Budget Hearing This Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 10:30am

Boston City Council Transportation Budget Hearing
Boston City Council Transportation Budget Hearing

WalkUP Roslindale is a proud member of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition. The Coalition has been doing great work following the City budget process with respect to safe streets. We’ve reproduced below an announcement about an important transportation budget hearing this Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Please show up if you can!

RSVP and/or spread the word from this Facebook event page.

Funding is a critical component for building safer streets. Now is your chance to influence the Boston budget process!

Join us in calling for more support and faster implementation of projects this year, by:

1. Attending the Boston Transportation Department Budget Hearing and testifying.

Event Details:
Tuesday, May 7, 10:30 am – 1:00 pm
@ Boston City Hall, 5th Floor, Iannella Chamber 

2. Asking for support from your at-large and district city councilors for the following priorities:

  • Faster implementation and more focus on improving safety along arterial corridors, which are disproportionately dangerous for all modes. 
  • A permanent, full-time, Boston Police Department data analyst to clean up crash report data, investigate trends, and work closely with the Transportation Department, Boston EMS, and MassDOT to ensure Boston’s crash data is properly reported.
  • Clear organizational structures that will help establish how projects are managed and executed, and better integration of operations and policies between the Public Works and Transportation Departments.

In past years, hundreds of you have shown up for the Boston Transportation Department Budget Hearings, and it has had a direct impact on securing more funding benefiting Vision Zero. Can we count on you to keep the momentum going in 2019? Speak up to support safe streets!

For more details about the proposed Transportation Department budget and what we’re advocating for, read on below.

Thank you and we hope to see you on Tuesday! 

Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition
http://www.visionzerocoalition.org


Background

The Mayor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) includes a $4 million investment in Boston’s Walkable Streets and $2 million in bike infrastructure, which will be funded through strategic changes to the City’s current parking meter rates. Join us at Boston City Hall to comment in support of the City Council approving this budget proposal and to call for more support and faster action.

Within this budget, Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition members are working on several specific issues. For more information and talking points about the following aspects of the budget, see below:

Arboretum Road Street Mural – This Monday, May 6, Starting at 5pm

Please join us to create a street mural on Arboretum Road with Artists from the Mayor’s Mural Team!

Date: Monday, May 6, 2019
Time: 5pm to 8pm
Location: Arboretum Road near Washington Street, Roslindale

Please join artists from the City of Boston’s mural team and volunteers from WalkUp Roslindale, and the Arnold Arboretum as we paint a street mural on Arboretum Road! The mural will draw attention to the future entrance to the Arnold Arboretum at the end of the road. The lilacs in the street mural will help celebrate Lilac Sunday.

The road will be closed except for essential traffic while the mural is being painted.

If you have any questions please contact Charlotte Fleetwood at 617-635-2462
Or send an email to charlotte.fleetwood@nullboston.gov

Comment Letter on Roxbury Preparatory Charter School (361 Belgrade)

We sent a comment letter today to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) in support of the proposed move of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School to 361 Belgrade Avenue. We believe the proposed development is consistent with our core principles and primary goal of making a more walkable neighborhood. As discussed in more detail below, this development should be a catalyst for long overdue walkability and transit improvements to Belgrade Avenue, and we urge all the stakeholders to work together to make sure these happen. As a side note, we recognize there has been outspoken support for and opposition against this project from a variety of perspectives; as a community group focused on walkability, we take no position on education policy or various debates relating to charter schools generally or this school specifically. Our interest is in insuring that students, staff, and the community at large can enjoy safe and vibrant streets with easy and convenient access by sustainable modes of transportation.

The full text of our letter is reproduced below.

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