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 email@example.com.
@jeffrey_sanchez Looking forward to state funding for this important path to help ppl get out of CO2 producing cars and use active transportation means to get where they r going. https://t.co/eACfTBLWDC
About 40 Roslindale residents and business-owners braved the chilly Wednesday evening weather in late January to attend our forum discussion with the three district city councilors whose districts include various parts of the neighborhood: Andrea Campbell (District 4), Tim McCarthy (District 5), and Matt O’Malley (District 6). The discussion was ably facilitated by our own Sarah Kurpiel Lee and lasted about an hour. The councilors had other community events later in the evening–otherwise, it was clear there were enough questions and community interest to continue for at least another hour! In view of the high level of interest, we hope to make these discussions with our elected officials a regular event.
In preparation for the discussion, we prepared a map to show the relationship between the city council districts and the (approximate) neighborhood boundaries, reproduced below:
Roslindale City Council Districts
We livestreamed the whole event on Facebook, and now you can watch the whole thing below:
Some quick highlights from the event:
There is widespread community concern about pedestrian safety and infrastructure around the entire Roslindale neighborhood. All three city councilors were receptive to these concerns and are willing to use their offices to make improvements happen. There was a particular focus on improving speed enforcement–notwithstanding the new 25 mph citywide speed limit (which we endorse enthusiastically), many drivers still speed through our neighborhood streets at much higher velocities.
Councilor O’Malley proposed the idea of a vacancy tax — a creative idea we think is well worth investigating. The idea would be to give some extra incentive for commercial property landlords to find a tenant rather than sit on empty storefronts waiting for a high-rent tenant, while taking a tax deduction that can offset income on other properties. These vacancies negatively impact the community, especially when there are several in the same business district. Some of that cost to the neighborhood should be pushed back onto the property owner.
We plan for this event to be more open and participatory than the “at large” candidate forum we held before the election. We want to hear what ideas our representatives have for improving the neighborhood and how we can help make them happen; but this should also be an opportunity for our elected representatives to hear our ideas and for a constructive dialogue between us all. So come with your questions and ideas!
We intend to organize the discussion around the following topics. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments to this post:
We were thrilled to see the City of Boston and MBTA test out a trial run of a dedicated bus lane on Washington Street inbound this morning. WalkUP has strongly advocated for the City to implement this bus lane concept along the very congested Roslindale Village-to-Forest Hills corridor. Reports were universally positive — to get some flavor of the community reaction, check out our Twitter feed for dozens of retweets of reactions and photos. We’ve also include a gallery of photos below.
Members of the WalkUP Steering Committee were out and about along the route to inform riders of this lane and explain the process behind it. The City plans to test this dedicated lane again next Tuesday, December 19, during the morning commute. Dedicated bus lanes are proven methods for significantly improving bus commute times and encouraging more people to take public transportation. During the morning and evening rush hour, almost 60% of all travelers on Washington St are riding a bus –these riders need a faster way to reach their destinations and go to-and-from the main subway line at Forest Hills. And if the bus lane operates as successfully as it appeared to do, many more are likely to switch to the bus to save time, thus even further increasing the percentage of travelers on mass transit.
We should note that we are also very pleased to hear from cyclists who used this dedicated lane today of the ease of their commute and lack of any bus-bike conflict. There was some concern going into the test about this issue, but at least today’s data points suggest the cycling experience will be much improved rather than diminished. We will continue to monitor the cyclist experience in this dedicated lane and believe it can be a boon for bike riders in addition to bus riders.
WalkUP will continue its strong advocacy to the City of Boston to implement a full multi-week pilot of this dedicated bus lane in 2018 to fully gauge its effectiveness and effects. The full pilot should consist of a dedicated lane inbound to Forest Hills in the morning and a dedicated lane outbound to Roslindale Village in the evening. We’d really like to make this happen as soon as possible–tomorrow is not too soon!
It took longer than it should have given the level of community support, but many community partners, starting with RVMS but including Street Ops, the offices of councilors McCarthy and Wu, Boston Transportation Department, the BSA Foundation, RozzieBikes, and your own WalkUP Rozzie, have finally succeeded in placing a bike corral next to the parklet at Fornax. The ribbon-cutting was yesterday and we had an excellent turnout. RVMS Executive Director Christina DiLisio made the point that several thousand dollars have been raised and is now available for more bike infrastructure in the square generally, so hopefully this is just a sign of much more to come.