Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition Candidate Survey Results Published

Vision Zero BostonWalkUP Roslindale is an enthusiastic member of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition. The Coalition is largely comprised of tax-exempt non-profit organizations or informal associations like WalkUP Roslindale, and does not endorse candidates. We do, however, want to find out where candidates stand on key walking, biking, and transit issues, and to that end distributed a survey to all official candidates in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Springfield, and Lynn to give them a chance to weigh in. The results were made public today.

Rozzie residents should be particularly interested to see the survey results for the Boston Mayoral Candidates, the City Council At Large Candidates, as well as for District 4District 5, and District 6, all of which at least touch on our neighborhood. If you like your candidates’ responses, let them know–and if they didn’t respond, or you see room for improvement, let them know that as well. With elections coming up soon on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, it’s time to start paying attention!

Stonybrook Neighborhood Slow Streets – Pre-Construction Open House – August 25 – 6 to 8 pm @ Curtis Hall (20 South St., JP)

It’s been a long time that this particular set of changes has been in the works. But it sounds like Stonybrook’s Neighborhood Slow Streets improvements will go in next month. Pre-construction meeting to be hosted by BTD/PWD scheduled for Friday, August 25 at 6-8 pm at Curtis Hall in JP (20 South Street).

It will be really good to have slow street improvements actually put on the ground in this city so we can all go see what they’re like and share with our neighbors.

Vision Zero Coalition Letter to Mayor Walsh

On May 16th, 2017, City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was interviewed on WGBH radio. In the wake of the recent fatal hit-and-run crash that killed Rick Archer on Comm Ave and an uptick in pedestrian fatalities in Boston and nationwide, Mayor Walsh urged people who walk and bike in the city to take more personal responsibility. Mayor Walsh said that residents were placing too much blame on his administration to solve the problem.

The following is the Vision Zero Coalition’s letter to the Mayor in response to his comments. WalkUP Roslindale is a Coalition member.

If you would like to respond personally to the Mayor, please contact the Mayor’s office. Vision Zero is about designing streets that can account for human error, not blaming the most vulnerable road users. #VisionZero #StreetsAreForPeople #WeAllWalk

Letter from the Coalition to Mayor Walsh

May 17, 2017

Mayor Martin Walsh
City Hall
Boston, MA 02201

Re: Vision Zero

Dear Mayor Walsh:

When you announced the Vision Zero Action Plan in December 2015, we were proud to be your constituents. You demonstrated leadership when you stated:

“We know how to build safer streets. We know how to protect our most vulnerable road users, who are suffering disproportionately because of speeding traffic and distracted drivers. With this Action Plan, I am saying it’s time to act. It’s time to commit to eliminating fatal and serious traffic crashes from our daily experience.”

Which is why we were dismayed by your comments Wednesday afternoon on WGBH Radio.

On behalf of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition we invite you to work with us to fully fund and implement Vision Zero in Boston. We ask that you join us on Friday morning at 8 AM for a moment of silence for victims of traffic violence on City Hall Plaza. On behalf of those victims, we also ask that you apologize for the comments you made on the air.

Our streets are in crisis.

In 2016, fifteen people died while walking on Boston’s streets; a record-breaking high for pedestrian fatalities. We are on track to see even higher numbers in 2017. Crashes overall are up. On average, at least two to three people walking are hit in a crash that results in an EMT call every day.

We need action from you and your administration, not victim-blaming. When you said on the air, “Pedestrians need to put their head up when they’re walking down the street, take your headphones off … you’ve got to understand, cars are going to hit you,” you were reiterating a narrative that doesn’t stand up to the crash data your administration collects.

Most of the people killed while walking were children or older adults. In 2016, of the 10 pedestrian victims whose ages we know, four were older than 60 and two were younger than 3 years old.

This Coalition and your constituents look to you for action.

A week ago, hundreds of people attended the City Council’s FY18 budget hearing for the Boston Transportation Department to call for increased resources to make streets safer for everyone. After the hours of questions from the council and public testimony, it’s clear from all sides – Boston is falling behind.

In your interview with WGBH, you said that the city is doing “everything we can,” but we know Boston is being eclipsed by peer cities in both resources and implementation. The City of New York spends about $20 per person on Vision Zero annually, and San Francisco spends $75 per person annually. Both cities have seen declines in overall traffic fatalities despite a troubling rise in fatal crashes nationwide. Boston is spending less than $5 per person, this is not enough.

Forty-seven neighborhood groups applied for Neighborhood Slow Streets, a signature program of Boston’s Vision Zero initiative. Your FY18 budget recommendation only provides resources to implement two to three in the coming year.

At the current rate of implementation it will take more than 20 years to respond to just the first round of applications. Safety should not be a privilege afforded to only some Boston neighborhoods.

We recognize that there are many competing budget priorities and that rapid change on our streets will cost money. This year we suggest drawing on the parking meter fund. In the long term, we are here to work with you to diversify and increase the revenue streams available for transportation, for example through increased parking revenues.

Simply put, the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, and the thousands of people we represent, feel strongly that the 2018 transportation budget as currently proposed is insufficient to reduce the number of fatalities and serious crashes on our streets.

We hope you will take this opportunity to recommit to leading Boston as a Vision Zero city.

Thank You,

Vision Zero Coalition
Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition members

CC: Boston City Council
Chief of Streets Chris Osgood
Transportation Commissioner Gina Fiandaca
Chief of Staff Dan Koh
Press
Public

Slow Streets Community Meeting Successful

Neighborhood Slow Streets Application PacketDespite inclement weather, we had a good turnout for Monday night’s Slow Streets info session. For anyone who was unable to make it, please check out the slides from the presentation.. Let’s put Rozzie on the map as the next neighborhood to take this important step toward Vision Zero!

Neighborhood Slow Streets — They’re coming, so learn about how to participate!

2/13/17 storm update: note changed location to 20 Belgrade Avenue!

On Monday, February 13, 2017, at 6:30 pm at 20 Belgrade Avenue, Unit 7 (2nd Floor) the Roslindale Community Center (Washington St & Cummins Hwy), WalkUP Roslindale will host a community organizing and informational workshop on the Boston Transportation Department’s new program on Neighborhood Slow Streets and how our neighbors throughout Roslindale can come together and go about preparing for and applying to become part of the program.

Learn more about the program here: https://www.boston.gov/transporta…/neighborhood-slow-streets

Here are the stakes for the FY2018 Boston Vision Zero Budget

Take 5 minutes to:

  1. Read this article in the Herald: Battle for safer streets: Nine pedestrians hit in Boston in 1 day.
  2. View this local TV news piece from WCVB: Steps being taken in Boston to curb pedestrian crashes.

Here’s the upshot: Policy and aspirations in this city around walking and cycling and safer streets for all are not being met with resources. When the Herald takes note and publishes a front page article on the 9 pedestrian crashes that occurred on a single day last week and then local tv devotes as much time as they just have to the same issue, it begins to feel like the time may finally have come to really do what needs to be done to make our streets safer and better for all users. The municipal fiscal year starts every July 1. The FY2018 budget will be developed and approved in the next handful of months. The Vision Zero line item in the current FY2017 budget is $3.1 Million for a city of about 670,000 people. As the TV piece indicates, that’s woefully inadequate. On a per capita basis, it’s on the order of a third of NYC’s vision zero budget and 1/25th of San Francisco’s. Let that sink in. More to come on this.

Child hit by car on Metropolitan Avenue in Roslindale

On this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (according to the World Health Organization, 1.2 million people killed every year by traffic violence and 50 million injured), we are dismayed to report another serious pedestrian crash in our neighborhood. On Friday, a nine-year old boy was hit by a car shortly after stepping off his school bus at the intersection of Metropolitan Ave and Kittredge Street. The most informative media report comes from WCVB: Boy recovering after being hit by car in Roslindale. We extend our sympathy to the boy and his family, and wish him the speediest possible recovery.

Although it looks like the child will recover, we must remember it is predictable and indeed certain that crashes like this will happen again and again until and unless we do more than pay lip service to Vision Zero Boston. A quick look at the intersection, which is in the middle of a slope just past a peak limiting line-of-sight visibility, reveals a stark absence of critical infrastructure to protect people on foot: no crosswalk, no traffic calming, no curb bump-outs, not even a stop sign on the main street in a densely settled area with chronic speeding problems. There are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of intersections like this in Roslindale alone, and the fact that people keep getting hit and occasionally killed by cars in them is a reminder that these incidents are crashes, not accidents.

Intersection of Metropolitan Ave and Kittredge Street

Intersection of Metropolitan Ave and Kittredge Street

It’s time to demand more. We can’t just wait for someone to be seriously or fatally injured on a one-off basis to take a look at specific street crossings, and then spend a year patching up that one spot. Sign the Vision Zero Petition, speak to your neighbors, and tell your elected leaders and appointed bureaucrats at every possible opportunity that it’s time to proactively address road safety across the entire city. There are plenty of successful examples to follow, but at the rate we’re going now it will be a century or more before we realize the core Vision Zero principle: No loss of life is acceptable.

Rally for Safer Streets – City Hall Plaza – September 29, 2016 6pm-7pm

Rally for Safer StreetsWalkUP Roslindale is joining with all of its allies in the Vision Zero Coalition to encourage everyone to turn out for a major Rally for Safer Streets. We will gather at City Hall Plaza on September 29, 2016, from 6pm-7pm to demand meaningful steps toward the Vision Zero goal of truly safe streets. Recent crashes and fatalities in Roslindale illustrate that progress has been much too slow and it’s time to turbocharge the movement. Facebook RSVP here, more details below. Spread the word!
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3 observations about where we stand at Washington@Blue Ledge

  1. The "Double Threat"

    The So-Called “Double Threat”
    (image courtesy Federal Highway Administration)

    Not Random. The reconfiguration at Washington & Blue Ledge is part of the City of Boston’s ongoing effort to implement the Vision Zero Policy adopted about 18 months ago. Under this policy, which several cities have adopted around the US, our city has set a goal of reaching zero deaths among all users of our streets – drivers and passengers in motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others in alternative forms of wheeled/motorized transportation – by the year 2030. A major focus of the policy’s implementation is to respond to each crash involving serious injury or death by examining their location and making changes to improve safety. Washington@Blue Ledge is where Roslindale resident Silvia Acosta was killed by a speeding hit-and-run driver while in a crosswalk in mid-January of this year. The reconfiguration that is now under way seeks to reduce motor vehicle speeds and the so-called “double-threat” in the part of the crosswalk that crosses the northbound direction of Washington Street. Reducing vehicle speeds has a huge impact on whether pedestrians survive a motor vehicle crash — your chances of dying increase from

    under 10% at 20 mph, to over 50% at 30 mph, to over 80% at 40 mph. The double-threat is something I’m sure we’ve all experienced, where a crosswalk crosses two lanes in the same direction, the car in one lane stops, while the car in the second lane can’t see the pedestrian for whom the stop is being made, posits that they are stopping for no reason, and goes around them, hitting the pedestrian in the process. This is a big step forward for this intersection.

  2. Not Done. The reconfiguration at this location is not yet done. Boston PWD’s contractor should soon be installing (a) flex posts and bollards to delineate both the painted bump out on the southbound side and the pedestrian median, and (b) a push-button activated flashing beacon signal for the new crosswalk. Those of us who are focused on improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety in our neighborhood are intensely interested in this intersection and will be watching closely in the next few days to make sure these final actions are taken as soon as possible.
  3. Not Adjusted to Overnight. Observations have been made that the new configuration has not yet taken hold and some drivers are still using the new bike lane as if it remains a motor vehicle lane. While unfortunate, this is not surprising. The installation isn’t done yet, and the experience around town is that getting drivers to comply with new roadway configurations takes time and patience. If vehicle speeds are slowing as drivers adjust, see point 1, above. The intent is that the new configuration will reduce vehicle speeds permanently by narrowing the travel lanes and improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

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.