Dedicated Bus Lane Test Run Stunningly Successful

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!

Please contact Mayor Walsh, City Councilor Tim McCarthy, and our At-Large City Councilors (Annissa Essaibi-George, Michael Flaherty, Ayanna Pressley, Michelle Wu) to express your support for this dedicated bus lane and request a full multi-week pilot as soon as possible in 2018. You can also respond to this tweet from BTD or email them at btd@nullboston.gov. It is very important that our city officials hear from us on this. We appreciate their willingness to test this out and want them to know many Roslindale residents support this concept!

We look forward to seeing this dedicated bus lane in action again next Tuesday!

WalkUP-sponsored city councilor forum a success

WalkUP was thrilled to host an engaging forum on Tuesday night with the incumbent councilors and candidates for Boston City Council At-Large. All eight candidates were in attendance: Councilors Annissa Essaibi-George, Michael Flaherty, Ayanna Pressley, and Michelle Wu, and challengers Domingos DaRosa, Althea Garrison, William King, and Pat Payaso. We appreciate their unanimous participation as well as the packed room and viewers on our Facebook livestream! It’s clear our neighborhood is very engaged in local politics and passionate about the issues discussed.

The forum focused on transportation and housing issues pertinent to Roslindale. One consensus point was the need for a robust and safer bike system in Roslindale and Boston. Candidates expressed particular support for the Arboretum Gateway Path and planned expansion of Hubway bike sharing to Roslindale. No candidate, however, explicitly said he or she would support the removal of parking spots to create such protected bike lanes where necessary. Another consensus point was the need to significantly improve the American Legion corridor pedestrian and bike experience. Several candidates gave credit to the community advocates along American Legion for their work and recent Slow Street neighborhood designation.

Although all eight candidates agreed on the urgency of our ongoing housing crisis, they disagreed on how to treat parking at new developments. Several candidates expressed a view that more parking is needed at each new development. They also want each individual parking spot ‘bundled’ with a corresponding housing unit, which significantly raises the overall cost of the unit–a decent ballpark estimate is about $50,000 in development costs for each additional space. WalkUP is of the belief, based on data and experience, that a better strategy is to price parking separately so that only unit owners who need a space are required to purchase one. This helps keep the overall cost of the units down for those who do not need a vehicle and reduce the overall number of cars at a site. To the concern that individuals will just park on nearby public ways, some candidates want the city put a price on its resident parking permits. Currently, the city provides as many resident parking stickers as a resident wants for no charge. Councilor Wu, for example, wants the city to charge for the permits and cap the amount of permits per resident to better manage these public parking resources.

We also learned some interesting tidbits about the councilors and candidates. Councilor Pressley does not own a car and that informs her view of the need for better public transit across the city as a social equity issue. Candidate King lives on American Legion Highway and sees firsthand the need to improve it. Councilor Essaibi-George owns a small business in Dorchester which informs her concern for the negative effects an Amazon headquarters could have in Boston. In fact, all the candidates interestingly expressed reservations about efforts to attract Amazon to the city.

Our neighbor Adam Gaffin attended the forum and provides his review on Universal Hub. We appreciate his attendance and that of other media members! Stay tuned for a forum later this month with the district councilors who represent Roslindale.

City Council Candidates Forum October 14, 2015 at Roslindale Community Center

Boston City Council Candidates Forum Poster

Boston City Council Candidates Forum Poster

Election day is November 3, 2015. There are only a few contested races this time around; five candidates for the four “at-large” city council positions, as well as two candidates running for for District 5, which covers much of Roslindale, and District 4, which touches on a corner of the neighborhood. Even though there is no high visibility office up for grabs (e.g. Mayor, Governor, President), it’s absolutely crucial that we all get out and vote — elected people pay close attention to which areas vote in the highest numbers, so just getting to the polls at all helps our neighborhood get the attention it needs from the city. Moreover, election season is the perfect time to bring top priority concerns to candidate’s attention–such as our goal to make Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston.

Against that background, Progressive WRox/Roz is hosting a city council election forum next Wednesday, October 14, 6:45pm, at the Roslindale Community Center. Voters can meet and hear from the five candidates running for City Council At-Large (Annissa Essaibi George, Michael Flaherty, Stephen Murphy, Ayanna Pressley, and Michelle Wu), the contenders for District 4 (Andrea Campbell and Charles Yancey, TBD), and the candidates for District 5 (Tim McCarthy and Jean-Claude Sanon). District 6 Councilor Matt O’Malley will also participate, although he is running unopposed. The evening will include mingling with candidates at the start and end, statements from the candidates, and Q&A. The evnet is co-sponsored by a number of Roslindale and West Roxbury neighborhood organizations and local media.

Please show up to this forum and make sure these candidates know that walkability is a top concern in our neighborhood!