Everyone concerned about traffic violence in Boston, which touches every part of our city, every day, day-in, and day-out, felt incredible sadness at the tragedy late last month in South Boston in which a crash on L Street between reckless drivers resulted in one of them driving onto the curb and killing a 3 year-old boy and injuring his sister. There have been similar tragedies around the city over the years, taking both the young (such as the 5-month old girl killed on Humboldt Street in Roxbury a couple of years ago) and the elderly (such as one of our own neighbors here in Roslindale in 2016) and everyone in between. For whatever reason, perhaps because with Vision Zero as the city’s adopted policy for the last several years, we all have a better collective vocabulary and understanding that these crashes constitute a form of traffic violence that degrades our public spaces and puts us all under threat every time we venture out onto our streets, this tragedy seemed to hit a particularly raw nerve.
And such is that nerve that first-term District 2 City Councilor Ed Flynn has quickly stepped up his game on safe streets to a level that I think every City Councilor will have to match if they aren’t already. Go read “Flynn Recommends 12 Point Safe Streets Plan” over at Caught in Southie and then consider whether the 12 point safe streets plan he is pushing for in that neighborhood deserves to be rolled out, as quickly as humanly possible, to every street in every neighborhood of this city. Below, I have converted the 12 points he raised to a generic list that could be applied anywhere:
- A complete traffic study of ________________ and all high traffic roads. [NOTE: This works only if it’s done in the background while proven traffic calming measures are advanced right away, and isn’t ultimately used as a way to force more vehicular traffic through the neighborhoods at higher speeds.]
- Reducing the speed limit to 20 MPH throughout all of ____________. [NOTE: Exactly. The recent shift to 25 mph was a compromise. We really should be at 20 mph.]
- Speed humps (permanent or temporary to move for plows) and raised crosswalks along _________ and other high traffic roads, near parks and recreation centers where children and seniors gather. [NOTE: Speed humps should be permanent wherever they go. I continue not to see why plowing in Boston is different than the many other snow belt places in North America and really anywhere else that already have speed humps and raised crosswalks.]
- 4-way stop signs along _________ and relevant locations throughout ________.
- Additional posting of Speed Board Signs on high traffic roads throughout _________ for feedback to reduce speeds.
- Blinking Pedestrian Crossing signs at high traffic areas like we have on _____________.
- Bumping out our sidewalks at crosswalks on ___________, school zones and elsewhere to shorten crosswalks, make stop signs more visible & narrow our streets to encourage slower speeds.
- Road Diets on ___________, one lane from ____________, and speed humps in appropriate locations.
- Increased police patrols in order to reduce speed. Increased fines for driving the wrong way on a one-way street and trucks on ____________. [NOTE: It would be good to have more enforcement, but this fight is ultimately about rectifying decades of bad, unsafe street design. Relying on enforcement also raises concerns about profiling of both people of color and immigrants.]
- More delineators in high traffic areas reminding drivers to stop for pedestrians; paint in the roads advising drivers to slow, yield and stop.
- A Study to determine if _______________ would become safer if they became one-way streets. [NOTE: I would not support this in my own neighborhood. Narrow two-way streets, also called “Yield Streets,” are perhaps the most effective method of low-tech traffic calming we have.]
- Designated time and space for delivery trucks on ________________ to eliminate double parking. [NOTE: Better curb space management needs to be implemented on essentially every street in our city, but especially on major commercial streets.]