Washington Street is arguably the single most critical–and failing–piece of transportation infrastructure in our neighborhood. As restaurants, retail, and housing around Forest Hills explodes (e.g.), and Roslindale Square itself becomes more populated as well as an increasingly popular destination to visit, it will become ever more urgent to make this one-mile connection sustainable. This includes improving the streetscape, sidewalks, and crosswalks for pedestrians; the road for cyclists; offering a more reasonably priced commuter-rail connection; and radically improving bus service. Our Roslindale Gateway Path initiative is another important solution to this puzzle. There is no reason it should take more than ten minutes for anyone to get from the end of the Orange Line to Roslindale Village at any time of day, including time spent waiting for a bus.
If our leaders don’t take real steps soon, we will see gridlock for more and more hours of the day, and extending further and further back toward Roslindale and then on to Dedham. There is simply no space to put more cars in this dense area, whether they are in motion or parked. We need creative solutions, and we need them quickly.
One high ROI proposal we’d like to see implemented immediately is bus rapid transit (“BRT”) improvements along the Washington Street corridor. To that end, back in May, we submitted a letter to support a Boston Transportation Department grant proposal to the charitable nonprofit Barr Foundation. Details below, or in this PDF copy of our letter. We expect to hear from the foundation in the next several weeks about funding. Fingers crossed!
Rendering of Expected Roslindale Target Store
Target is replacing Staples at 4165 Washington Street soon. They are holding a community meeting tonight, Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 7pm at the Roslindale Community Center, 6 Cummins Highway.
While the new lease may be a done deal, there is still an opportunity to use this changeover to urge badly-needed walkability improvements in this part of the neighborhood. One likely concern of residents will be increased traffic on an already congested block; the best way to mitigate this impact is to make it easier for people who prefer to walk or bike to Target to do so.
We at WalkUP Roslindale brainstormed a quick list of ideas that Target should implement to make the new store a net positive for the neighborhood. These initial thoughts are below, but please add other ideas in the comments or show up tonight and speak up for walkability!
- Sponsor Roslindale Village’s Hubway
- Provide a bike corral or rack, sufficient for both Target employees and customers
- Rearrange parking area exit and entrance to be safer for pedestrians on Washington Street
- Provide an outdoor sitting area, more than a bench or two–a well designed area
- Add crosswalk from Target to other side of Washington Street
- Improve sidewalk area with more attractive streetlights, greenery and trees
- Help repave badly-damaged Washington Street from Firth Road up to the square (see our earlier post on this topic)
- Restripe bicycle lanes for same stretch as lines have nearly disappeared
- Better crosswalk markings – including bollards to prevent people from parking in the cross walk
- Removal of “Bike Lane Ends” sign in front of business
- “Don’t block the box” square for entrance to Bexley Road so southbound traffic can turn and not back up
WalkUP Roslindale is always on the lookout for opportunities to join forces with our friends at Rozzie Bikes and Roslindale Village Main Street to improve the walkability, vitality, and livability of our neighborhood. This week, we put together a letter to the Public Works Commission to raise the urgent need to improve paving conditions on Washington Street in Roslindale. The full letter appears below, and is also available in PDF form. Let’s hope we see improvements in this critical and highly-trafficked corridor this year. Demand more! Continue reading
Firth and Washington Street
We were yet again saddened to hear of another car hitting a pedestrian in Roslindale; this is the third such incident in about two weeks (Blue Ledge Drive / Hyde Park Ave). The latest occurred at the intersection of Firth Road and Washington Street. Thus far the only reporting we’ve found was this brief description on Twitter:
pedestrian hit by a car in intersection of Firth & Washington in Roslindale- she was on the ground but alert- tons of traffic.
While the City has a formal action response plan for any pedestrian incident involving a fatality, non-fatal incidents don’t necessarily result in anything more than a statistic. Yet these non-fatal incidents are often equally indicative of poor road design creating dangerous conditions.
The important thing to remember is most of these incidents are preventable and not merely the result of poor judgment by a driver (or pedestrian). Cities that take Vision Zero seriously have seen dramatic results–in Sweden, pedestrian fatalities have dropped 50% in the past five years; we’ve also seen a 43% reduction in traffic fatalities in Minnesota, a 48% reduction in Utah, and a 40% decrease in Washington State (source: Vision Zero: Learning from Sweden’s Successes). Thus far, the City of Boston’s Vision Zero aspirational plan hits all the right notes, but we’ve yet to see real changes “on the ground.” These recent incidents in Roslindale are powerful reminders that immediate action is urgently needed.
We wish the victim of the latest incident a quick recovery. If anyone has more details, please leave them in the comments here.
Family photograph of Silvia Acosta (with Mayor Marty Walsh)
Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of Silvia Acosta, a 78 year-old resident of our neighborhood who was tragically struck and killed by a motor vehicle on Washington Street on Tuesday afternoon. Universal Hub has the most complete coverage so far of the crash, which occurred in the section of Washington Street between Walworth and the West Roxbury Parkway. The Herald also has a report.
What’s being reported so far is that the crash happened in the late afternoon (shortly after dark) and that Ms. Acosta was in a crosswalk when she was struck. It is noteworthy that the Suffolk DA’s office is charging the driver, who reportedly left the scene even though she later admitted she knew she had struck someone, with vehicular homicide by reckless operation as well. While it is important that individual drivers be held accountable for their actions, it is usually the case that larger design, infrastructure, and policy decisions play a significant role in these sorts of tragedies, demonstrating (unfortunately) how badly needed a vigorous VisionZero policy and set of actions in our city really are. We’ll follow this story as it unfolds further to see what exactly happened, what lessons can be learned, and what steps can and should be taken going forward to prevent pedestrian deaths around the location of the crash and throughout our neighborhood. And then we’ll do what we can to make sure those steps are taken. Stay tuned.
Washington Street and Blue Ledge Drive, Approximate Location of Impact
We envision a sea change for pedestrian safety in and around Roslindale: traffic calming, narrower automobile travel lanes, woonerfs, pedestrianized-street parties, reliable enforcement of speed limits, curb extensions, chokers, road diets, pedestrian zones, chicanes–they should all be in the mix and implemented where appropriate. We should be leading, not trailing, in rolling out these best practices, because we are ideally situated to be the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. We share the dream of Vision Zero and need to hold the City’s feet to the fire to make it real.
None of these changes are likely to come quickly, though. In our neighborhood, the streets surrounding Adams Park are especially bad but also have fantastic potential. While we’re putting in the long-term work to achieve Vision Zero, we should, in the meantime, at least get some crosswalks that are not an embarrassment to the community. Check out these two recent photos from the already problematically-wide intersection at Poplar, Washington, and Corinth. Roslindale deserves better.
Poplar Crosswalk at Washington Street
Washington Street Crosswalk to Public Library
Universal Hub reports on a potentially deadly hit-and-run against a pedestrian on Washington Street not far from Rozzie Square late Thursday night. While it’s important that BPD bring the perpetrator to justice, we should also take this opportunity to fix the pedestrian environment. Washington Street brings a large volume of pass-through traffic through the village, and features large stretches of road without crosswalks; crosswalks with poor visibility; gridlocked traffic at busy times; and dangerously high-speed traffic (including drag racing) at others. There’s a lot more to say on this topic, but for now let’s just start a conversation about a new vision for the area stretching from Turtle Pond all the way up to the Forest Hills, while we also hope the victim makes a full recovery.
(Update 6/9/15: the driver has since been identified based on a tip and summonsed for arraignment, specifically Eddie Cartagena, 25, of Boston.)