Letter of Support for Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Calming Improvements in Roslindale Square

We recently sent an official comment letter to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, expressing our strong support for recent pedestrian safety and traffic calming improvements around Roslindale Square. These improvements represent an important step forward in realizing our vision of a truly walkable neighborhood where everyone who prefers to get around without a car can do so easily, and those who need to drive share the space fairly and safely with everyone else. Much remains to be done. Toward that end, below we express our support for the changes made so far, and offer ideas for next steps.

Our full letter reproduced below; you can also download a PDF version of the letter plus the attached parking count exhibit.

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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.

LANA Hosting South & Walter Streets Visioning Session on April 7, 2016 7pm-9pm 1300 Centre Street

South and Walter Streets Visioning Session Flyer

South and Walter Streets Visioning Session Flyer

WalkUP Roslindale ally Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association is hosting a visioning session regarding the South and Walter Street Corridor on Thursday, April 7, 2016 from 7pm-9pm at the Weld Hill Research Building, 1300 Centre Street. South and Walter Streets connect Centre Street near Bellevue, West Roxbury at one end back to Centre Street adjacent the Arboretum and Faulkner Hospital at the other end, cutting through one of a densely populated, mostly residential, area of our neighborhood. These streets were historically designed (or more likely re-designed in the car era) to move cars quickly with little concern for pedestrian safety, walkability, and quality of life. There have been some small recent improvements but much remains to be done to reclaim this important corridor. Please show up and share your views!

Traffic Calming on American Legion Highway in the News

2016-02-24 Roslindale Bulletin Neighbors say comments needed to calm trafficKudos to the Mount Hope Mount Canterbury Neighborhood Association, Rick Yoder, Lisa Beatman, and the Roslindale Bulletin (especially Jeff Sullivan) for keeping the need for traffic calming in Eastern Roslindale, particularly along American Legion Highway, on the front burner. Check out the latest piece in the Bulletin, emphasizing the neighborhood group’s efforts to catalog pedestrian-safety issues and get “on the map” for Vision Zero.

East Roslindale Traffic Calming in the News

American Legion Highway / Cummins Highway Intersection

American Legion Highway / Cummins Highway Intersection (Image Courtesy Google Maps)

Our friends at the Roslindale Bulletin have done an excellent job of keeping the spotlight on WalkUP initiatives in East Roslindale. The New Year’s eve edition of the paper included an article on ideas for traffic calming on American Legion Highway Greenway, one of the streets in our neighborhood that most warrants a comprehensive redesign for safety and walkability. The article features statements from WalkUP Roslindale members Rick Yoder and Lisa Beatman, and is reproduced below (PDF version also available):

MHMC discussing traffic calming strategies for American Legion Hwy.
Jeff Sullivan, Staff Reporter

The Mount Hope/Mount Canterbury Neighborhood Association (MHMC) announced recently that State Rep. Russel Holmes has submitted legislation to change the American Legion Highway back to a parkway designation, a designation MHMC members have been looking to get for a while.

Neighborhood residents have been working over the past few years to get American Legion back to a parkway status, as that designation offers more protections for the greenery and landscape around the area, which residents say they want to keep because of its pastoral nature.

“I mean, it’s a highway now, but the speed limit is 35 (miles per hour),” said MHMC member Lisa Beatman. “That’s not a highway speed.”

Beatman and MHMC member Rick Yoder said they are now currently looking at ways to calm the traffic in the neighborhood of American Legion with funds they hope to secure through the Parkway designation, as well as by lobbying city officials.

Beatmen and Yoder said the American Legion Parkway has come under neglect over the years as it is on the outskirts of several different neighborhoods, including Mattapan, Hyde Park and Roslindale. One of the improvements they say they want to implement at some point would be on the Five Way, the intersection of American Legion and Cummins Highway.

Beatman said the group has done a walk audit of the area, and found that many residents use the Five Way in many different ways.

“It shows people that it’s not just for cars,” she said. “Just imagine the Five Way, which is all cement right now, with raised crosswalks, very visible curb extensions on each corner so that a pedestrian only has to walk 11 feet.”

Many MHMC residents expressed they felt it was dangerous to cross the Five Way as a pedestrian because, without extensions to the curb making the turns more of a right angle, many vehicles fly thorugh at high speeds.

“We want curb extensions so that vehicles would have to maneuver a little first, not just go shooting through it,” Beatman said.

Beatman and Yoder said a raised crosswalk and curb extensions would work very well for the Five Way, and also looked at other areas of the neighborhood to implement these improvements to keep traffic on American Legion and off of the surrounding neighborhoods, as right now they say people speed through all the time to avoid the traffic. The MHMC discussed raised crosswalks, speed humps (elongated speed bumps), and better signage throughout the neighborhood.

“The city is allocating millions of dollars on this for other neighborhoods right now, so if we don’t get on this, it’s gone,” she said.