Vision Zero Coalition Letter to Mayor Walsh

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

Letter from the Coalition to Mayor Walsh

May 17, 2017

Mayor Martin Walsh
City Hall
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.

Thank You,

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
Press
Public

A helpful graphic in thinking about which modes of mobility do vs. should get attention

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.

Haley School – Safe Routes to School Walk

WUR/American Legion Corridor stalwarts Lisa Beatman and Rick Yoder were joined by your correspondent and Steve Gag (in the photo, far left) in participating in the Haley School’s 4th walk this morning to raise awareness about safe routes to school for students to walk and the present lack of those routes for the Haley. You will note that BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang, whom we understand is now a Roslindale resident, is pictured in the first row, blue polo shirt. It was great to see him, City Councilor Andrea Campbell (I think she might have taken this picture), and everyone else who both organized and participated from BPS and the school (both students, staff, and parents). Those with more information on this (looking at you, Lisa and Rick), please let us know more in the comments and tell us how we can be more supportive of this effort!

 

A brief recap of the abutters’ meeting on 874-878 South Street (South/Walter)

We brought everyone’s attention to this meeting about a week ago and gave our thoughts about ways the revised 9-unit, 18-space proposal could be improved, based largely on the reaction from the group at the LANA meeting earlier in the month. Seems like the development team was listening.

And now to our report, very briefly: This was, all in all, a downright cordial meeting, well run by Dan Murphy from the Mayor’s ONS. I would say that the overall sense in the room was:

  • that 9 residential units was more or less going to work for this location,
  • that at 13 the number of parking spaces seemed tight to some and more than ample to others (your correspondent felt it was more than necessary, didn’t take full advantage of the location’s close proximity to the Commuter Rail/Roslindale Square/Washington Street Bus Corridor, and would both drive up the cost of the units and encourage more vehicular traffic), and
  • that the reduction in vehicle spaces was allowing for bicycle parking for 13 bicycles and some buffering green space between the surface parking and the property to the rear.

Certainly some attention still needs to be paid to the overall design, which feels too by-the-book (and from not that great a book), and the vehicular access could use some thinking about how to better manage the exiting and entering of vehicles. The discussion at the end focused on further process – it sounds like the developer will file revised plans with ISD soon and start the Board of Appeal’s zoning relief process, which will likely take on the order of 3 to 6 months to get through, to be followed by BPDA Design Review. WalkUP Roslindale will look to submit a comment letter in connection with the Board of Appeal hearing. We will share it when we have it ready. In the meantime, thoughts are more than welcome in the comments.

NSS – A pretty popular idea, it turns out…

…there were 47 applications for 2 to 3 selected winners. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s about the same ratio as the Hunger Games or the acceptance rate for getting into Stanford. The city’s announcement indicates that they will be announcing their decisions in May. We understand that all 4 of the Roslindale applications we were tracking were submitted. We’ll update as we have more information. Well done, neighbors!!!

It’s a wrap – 4th and final standout is in the books! Thanks all!!!

A cloudy but not too cold day. We had six stalwarts (see photo below, one of our number had to leave a couple minutes earlier) and note that the Dynamic Duo of Guptill and Tedrow kept their perfect record intact. Being out at this location, which was the subject of a Vision Zero Rapid Response installation after Silvia Acosta’s death last year, reminded us that we need to follow up, repair the broken/missing flexposts, and move toward making the installation permanent. And so on we go!

874-878 South Street Installment 2 – Finally back with revised proposal for public consideration – 6:30 pm, 28 March 2017, at the RCC

874 South Street Meeting Flyer

874 South Street Meeting Flyer

It’s been almost 2 years, but the 874-878 South Street proposal that was the subject of a WUR long-form blog post in July 2015 is finally returning with a revised proposal.

The meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 pm at the Roslindale Community Center. Flyer for meeting here.

Based on what was said by the property owner and his attorney at the LANA meeting a week or so ago, it sounds like the proposal will be for 9 residential units with 18 off-street parking spaces. For those keeping score at home, that’s a reduction from the original proposal of 6 residential units and an increase of 3 off-street parking spaces. Revised plans were not available at the LANA meeting, though they will reportedly be available this coming Tuesday.

For the record, I continue to live 2 blocks from this location. From my own perspective and given this location within walking distance of the commuter rail station and Roslindale Square, the revised unit count is lower than it should be and the number of off-street parking spaces is at least 4 spaces too many. I would really prefer a 1-to-1 space to unit ratio at this location. While I recognize some neighbors see this issue differently, on-street parking issues at this location and along the stretch of South Street and the intersecting streets toward the commuter rail are relatively minimal, except on Sunday mornings. Increasing the parking space count here may prevent there ever being an issue from this development related to on-street parking, but it will tend to increase vehicle traffic by encouraging car ownership by development residents and, to the extent automatically included with each unit, will increase the cost of each unit in the development. Accordingly, in addition to wanting to see the revised design, I will be interested in a discussion of the parking space count, how the revised plans locate those spaces on the site, what kind of space is left over, and how much consideration is or isn’t being given to bicycle parking and encouraging bicycling and walking as well as zipcar and transit use.

25 mph Speed Limit Standout #4 – Washington @ Blue Ledge — 11 am on 25 March 2017

No peppy name this time. This will be the fourth and final installment of our standout series. The location this time is at the main southern entrance to our neighborhood and the place where our neighbor, Silvia Acosta, was killed by a hit and run driver while crossing Washington Street in a crosswalk. It would be great to top last week’s 14 participants, so feel free to bring a sign along with yourself and your great attitude. Thanks in advance!!!