Recap of Roslindale Gateway Path – 25% Meeting on MBTA Portion

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 path@nullwalkuproslindale.org.

Some tweets and photos from the event below.

 

 

Recap on District City Councilor January 2018 Forum

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

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.
  • The councilors recognized the need for a big redesign and modernization of Roslindale Square. A recent posting in the Keep Roslindale Quirky Facebook group pointed out that this 1984 photo of then-city-councilor Tom Menino shows the sidewalks and street essentially the same as they are today, with no improvements. We’re long overdue for a comprehensive look at how people live and get around in Roslindale today.
  • 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.
  • Finally, the councilors were all receptive to more feedback and ideas from the community. Councilor Campbell in particular encouraged community members to bring new and creative ideas to the council — “concrete things that we could be thinking about actually doing do address the issues.”

Both the Roslindale Transcript and the Bulletin had detailed coverage of the evening–check out these articles for the full de-brief:

Finally, thanks to Steven Morris Photography for sending us these photographs from the event. Enjoy!

Reminder – District City Councilor Forum This Wednesday 1/24/18 6:30pm at RCC – Bring your ideas!

The three district city councilors who represent parts of Roslindale have all committed to participate in our WalkUP forum discussion this Wednesday, 1/24/18 at 6:30pm at the Roslindale Community Center at 6 Cummins HighwayAndrea Campbell (District 4), Tim McCarthy (District 5), and Matt O’Malley (District 6). We hope everyone interested in a more walkable Roslindale will attend and join the discussion.

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:

Please RSVP on our Facebook Event page and invite your friends and neighbors!

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!

UPDATE – TIME + LOCATION NOW CONFIRMED: Roslindale District Councilor Forum set for January 24, 2018

City CouncilCity CouncilCity Council

UPDATE: We have a time and location for the Roslindale District Councilor Forum – we will convene for a conversation with our councilors – Councilors Campbell (soon to be Council President), McCarthy, and O’Malley – at 6:30 pm on January 24, 2018, at the Roslindale Community Center, 6 Cummins Highway (corner of Washington and Cummins in Roslindale Square). We encourage attendees to walk, bike, or take the T to the meeting at parking is limited.

Day 205 @ Washington-Blue Ledge: Just about fully installed!

Vision Zero BostonNo pictures yet, but I went by early this morning and the full reconfiguration/restriping of the intersection at Washington and Blue Ledge is now done. I believe the remaining items to be installed at this point are median strip signs indicating the new crosswalk and the flashing pedestrian sign. Many thanks to BTD/PWD, our municipal elected officials (especially District 5 City Councilor Tim McCarthy, City Council President Michelle Wu, and City Councilor Sal LaMattina, who chairs the Committee on Parks, Recreation, and Transportation that held a hearing on the Vision Zero program in May), and Mayor Walsh for getting this done. We should also recognize the advocacy around Vision Zero Boston generally from WalkBoston, Livable Streets, Boston Cyclists Union, and MassBike, among others. Lots, lots more to do to improve everyone’s safety on our streets all around this great city.

Celebrating new bicycle infrastructure in Roslindale!

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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.

WalkUP Testimony at City Vision Zero Hearing

The Boston City Council held a hearing today on Vision Zero and traffic calming in the city. WalkUP Roslindale attended and submitted testimony, reproduced below and available as an official PDF. The preliminary take-home is it’s going to take a lot of work and pushing our officials zealously to really turn the ship in the right direction.

Update 1: Video of the hearing now available.
Update 2: Check out this comment letter from our friends at the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association.
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Roslindale Bulletin on 20 MPH City Speed Limit

City Speed Limit could Fall to 20mph

Roslindale Bulletin: City Speed Limit could Fall to 20mph

We appreciate how well the Roslindale Bulletin continues to cover WalkUP Roslindale’s core issues. Earlier this month, Christopher Roberson wrote this piece about the Boston City Council’s move to set the default Boston speed limit to 20 mph. This will save lives, as the survivability of a pedestrian-automobile crash is mainly a function of speed: 90% of
pedestrians hit by cars die when struck at 40 mph compared to 5% at 20 mph
.

Our own District 5 City Councilor Tim McCarthy had some nice quotes in the piece:

District 5 Councillor Timothy McCarthy said the last speed limit change was implemented by a transportation commissioner who was from Ludlow, where higher speed limits are more common.

“If you go 20 mph in Ludlow, you probably wouldn’t get out of Ludlow for a few days,” said McCarthy. “But in our area, 20 mph is plenty.”

He said that West Roxbury Police Sgt. Michael O’Hara has done demonstrations in the past to show the actual speed of a vehicle traveling 30 mph relative to a pedestrian. He said O’Hara would ask residents to stand on the side of the road while a he drove by at exactly 30 mph.

“If you’re standing on the edge of the road and a Crown Vic goes by at 30 mph, you might as well be at NASCAR, you’re not getting out of the way,” said McCarthy.

Kudos to Councilor McCarthy for helping push this walkability initiative.

See also this video of the City Council’s Government Operations committee hearing on the initiative from last week.

We should remember that setting a safer speed limit is only a starting point. Most drivers will follow road design more than posted limits, so the ultimate solution must involve safer road design including narrower car lanes and other traffic calming measures (all key aspects of Vision Zero). A recent letter to the editor in the Boston Globe makes this same point. But we need not let these broader infrastructure challenges get in the way of a common-sense first step.

Breaking news (4/27/16 afternoon): From City Councillor Michelle Wu‘s summary of today’s city council meeting:

Speed Limits: We voted unanimously to pass Councilor Baker’s home rule petition to lower the default unposted speed limit from 30mph to 20mph in thickly settled areas and business districts and from 20mph to 15mph in school zones, as well as giving the City the authority to post speed limits without state approval and the requirement for a traffic study. Councilors Baker and Flaherty noted that speeding is one of the top issues councilors hear from residents. The matter now goes to the Mayor for his signature and then the state legislature for approval.

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!