We last updated folks on the progress of the Roslindale Gateway Path when we, along with our partners LivableStreets Alliance, the Arnold Arboretum, and Roslindale Village Main Street, released the conceptual design study back in April of this year. Since then, we have discussed more seamlessly weaving together and unifying the RGP with the Blackwell Path Extension that the Arboretum Park Conservancy has been promoting on roughly the same timeframe. Those discussions resulted in a joint meeting with city officials in June 2017 to put the combined project squarely on their radar and just a few days ago the decision by the Solomon Foundation to provide $29,000 in funding to advance the combined project to 25% design. The Arnold Arboretum will be facilitating this work with Solomon and the design consultants at Horsley Witten Group and we look forward to releasing and publicly discussing this design when it is released later this year. So, special thanks to Solomon and the Arboretum for keeping the momentum up on this effort!
It’s been a long time that this particular set of changes has been in the works. But it sounds like Stonybrook’s Neighborhood Slow Streets improvements will go in next month. Pre-construction meeting to be hosted by BTD/PWD scheduled for Friday, August 25 at 6-8 pm at Curtis Hall in JP (20 South Street).
It will be really good to have slow street improvements actually put on the ground in this city so we can all go see what they’re like and share with our neighbors.
Great news–the Hubway citywide bike-sharing program is considering expanding to Roslindale! See the full schedule and how BTD will be rolling this out. A community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 20, 2017, at 6 PM at the Boston Center for Youth and Families Menino Center, at 125 Brookway Road (just off Washington Street near the South Street intersection).
Bring your ideas about where Hubway should be located in our neighborhood come next spring.
Last week, we sent a letter to the Boston Board of Appeal in support of a proposed expansion of a self-service storage facility at 44 Lochdale Road (just off Washington Street near Forest Hills). The full letter is reproduced below. Although we typically focus on housing and retail that will improve street-level vitality and walkability, off-site storage also has its place in vibrant urban neighborhoods, particularly as density increases and some folks chose to live in smaller units and thus need some overflow space. We also see the proposal as a substantial improvement over current conditions; for these reasons, we sent the letter below.
Having received our letter and encountering no opposition (at least at the hearing), the Board of Appeal approved the requested zoning variations on July 25, 2017.
- Boston Planning & Development Agency Project Page for 44 Lochdale Road
- WalkUp Roslindale Support Letter for 44 Lochdale Road (PDF)
We last discussed the NSS program under Vision Zero back at the end of March, when 47 applications, 4 of them from our beloved patch of soil, were submitted. At that time, we thought only 2 areas in the city would be selected. In the interim, the city found additional money for 3 more areas, so yesterday…drum roll…BTD announced 5 selected areas, one of which is the Mount Hope/Canterbury area in the eastern section of Roslindale. Congratulations to the champions of that effort, including WalkUP Roslindale’s own Lisa Beatman and Rick Yoder! You can find the city’s official announcement here, and a Boston Globe article from today here. We are excited by this opportunity to improve street safety and slow traffic in our neighborhood and look forward to working with Lisa, Rick, their neighbors in MH/C, and BTD staff to get this done as soon as humanly possible.
As we have said many times at this blog and elsewhere, everyone in this city deserves to live on a safe street. Everyone on every street in every neighborhood.
We know WalkUP Roslindale’s walk audit in December 2015 wasn’t the first time members of our neighborhood identified the crosswalk at the intersection of Washington and Basile streets as being in need of safety improvements. Indeed, we recognized at at the time that we were joining a long line of activists who had already called for changes at this important crossing at the northern entrance to Roslindale Square that is the main access point from the west for students going to and from the Sumner School. It was accordingly great to see city contractors out at this intersection in the last few weeks and days reinforcing the recently signed no-parking/standing areas adjacent to the crosswalk, installing curb-ramps, fixing the flashing yellow light, and installing the pedestrian crossing bollard and flexposts in almost all the required areas (the area right on the southbound side is, we believe, awaiting the completion of utility work before flexposts will go in).
We all recognize that there is more work to be done throughout the square and the entire neighborhood to improve walking and cycling and overall safety for all users of our streets. But we will pause for this moment to thank everyone who had a hand this, starting with walkBoston, who took us through the walk audit, and including the Mayor’s Office for Neighborhood Services, Councilors McCarthy and Wu, the Boston Transportation and Public Works Departments, and Roslindale Village Main Street.
Washington Street is arguably the single most critical–and failing–piece of transportation infrastructure in our neighborhood. As restaurants, retail, and housing around Forest Hills explodes (e.g.), and Roslindale Square itself becomes more populated as well as an increasingly popular destination to visit, it will become ever more urgent to make this one-mile connection sustainable. This includes improving the streetscape, sidewalks, and crosswalks for pedestrians; the road for cyclists; offering a more reasonably priced commuter-rail connection; and radically improving bus service. Our Roslindale Gateway Path initiative is another important solution to this puzzle. There is no reason it should take more than ten minutes for anyone to get from the end of the Orange Line to Roslindale Village at any time of day, including time spent waiting for a bus.
If our leaders don’t take real steps soon, we will see gridlock for more and more hours of the day, and extending further and further back toward Roslindale and then on to Dedham. There is simply no space to put more cars in this dense area, whether they are in motion or parked. We need creative solutions, and we need them quickly.
One high ROI proposal we’d like to see implemented immediately is bus rapid transit (“BRT”) improvements along the Washington Street corridor. To that end, back in May, we submitted a letter to support a Boston Transportation Department grant proposal to the charitable nonprofit Barr Foundation. Details below, or in this PDF copy of our letter. We expect to hear from the foundation in the next several weeks about funding. Fingers crossed!
On May 16th, 2017, City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was interviewed on WGBH radio. In the wake of the recent fatal hit-and-run crash that killed Rick Archer on Comm Ave and an uptick in pedestrian fatalities in Boston and nationwide, Mayor Walsh urged people who walk and bike in the city to take more personal responsibility. Mayor Walsh said that residents were placing too much blame on his administration to solve the problem.
The following is the Vision Zero Coalition’s letter to the Mayor in response to his comments. WalkUP Roslindale is a Coalition member.
If you would like to respond personally to the Mayor, please contact the Mayor’s office. Vision Zero is about designing streets that can account for human error, not blaming the most vulnerable road users. #VisionZero #StreetsAreForPeople #WeAllWalk
May 17, 2017
Mayor Martin Walsh
Boston, MA 02201
Re: Vision Zero
Dear Mayor Walsh:
When you announced the Vision Zero Action Plan in December 2015, we were proud to be your constituents. You demonstrated leadership when you stated:
“We know how to build safer streets. We know how to protect our most vulnerable road users, who are suffering disproportionately because of speeding traffic and distracted drivers. With this Action Plan, I am saying it’s time to act. It’s time to commit to eliminating fatal and serious traffic crashes from our daily experience.”
Which is why we were dismayed by your comments Wednesday afternoon on WGBH Radio.
On behalf of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition we invite you to work with us to fully fund and implement Vision Zero in Boston. We ask that you join us on Friday morning at 8 AM for a moment of silence for victims of traffic violence on City Hall Plaza. On behalf of those victims, we also ask that you apologize for the comments you made on the air.
Our streets are in crisis.
In 2016, fifteen people died while walking on Boston’s streets; a record-breaking high for pedestrian fatalities. We are on track to see even higher numbers in 2017. Crashes overall are up. On average, at least two to three people walking are hit in a crash that results in an EMT call every day.
We need action from you and your administration, not victim-blaming. When you said on the air, “Pedestrians need to put their head up when they’re walking down the street, take your headphones off … you’ve got to understand, cars are going to hit you,” you were reiterating a narrative that doesn’t stand up to the crash data your administration collects.
Most of the people killed while walking were children or older adults. In 2016, of the 10 pedestrian victims whose ages we know, four were older than 60 and two were younger than 3 years old.
This Coalition and your constituents look to you for action.
A week ago, hundreds of people attended the City Council’s FY18 budget hearing for the Boston Transportation Department to call for increased resources to make streets safer for everyone. After the hours of questions from the council and public testimony, it’s clear from all sides – Boston is falling behind.
In your interview with WGBH, you said that the city is doing “everything we can,” but we know Boston is being eclipsed by peer cities in both resources and implementation. The City of New York spends about $20 per person on Vision Zero annually, and San Francisco spends $75 per person annually. Both cities have seen declines in overall traffic fatalities despite a troubling rise in fatal crashes nationwide. Boston is spending less than $5 per person, this is not enough.
Forty-seven neighborhood groups applied for Neighborhood Slow Streets, a signature program of Boston’s Vision Zero initiative. Your FY18 budget recommendation only provides resources to implement two to three in the coming year.
At the current rate of implementation it will take more than 20 years to respond to just the first round of applications. Safety should not be a privilege afforded to only some Boston neighborhoods.
We recognize that there are many competing budget priorities and that rapid change on our streets will cost money. This year we suggest drawing on the parking meter fund. In the long term, we are here to work with you to diversify and increase the revenue streams available for transportation, for example through increased parking revenues.
Simply put, the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, and the thousands of people we represent, feel strongly that the 2018 transportation budget as currently proposed is insufficient to reduce the number of fatalities and serious crashes on our streets.
We hope you will take this opportunity to recommit to leading Boston as a Vision Zero city.
Vision Zero Coalition
Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition members
CC: Boston City Council
Chief of Streets Chris Osgood
Transportation Commissioner Gina Fiandaca
Chief of Staff Dan Koh
Picked up this graphic at a Jeff Speck session at CNU25. Abundantly true of a city like Boston, where it makes no sense that our mayor still isn’t fully behind appropriate funding for active mobility and Vision Zero, or applying, right now, political will to breaking down the institutional barriers that are holding us back.