Interesting Take on 5 Best Practice Tips for Vision Zero from Suburban Maryland

Aaron Short of StreetsblogUSA came out earlier this week with an excellent piece on 5 best practice tips for Vision Zero as it is being implemented in Montgomery County, Maryland – the massive suburban county to DC’s north and northwest. It’s worth a read and some consideration below.

By way of brief background, Vision Zero, which originated in Sweden in the 1990s, is a comprehensive street and road safety regime that typically targets a future date by which policy, budget, and street and road design, construction, and management will result in zero deaths or serious injuries from traffic on all modes (personal vehicle, transit, walking, cycling, and other modes of travel). The City of Boston adopted Vision Zero in 2014 and set the year 2030 as the target date by which we will reach zero deaths or serious injuries. As we continue to work on the policy here in the city and in Roslindale, it is worth continuing to consider all aspects of Vision Zero and how other jurisdictions are going about implementing it, which brings us back to the article.

The article is framed as an interview with David Anspacher, the Transportation Supervisor within the county’s Planning Department. In the interview, Anspacher highlights 5 best practice tips that we might use as a mental scorecard for what we’ve been doing in Boston:

  1. Speed and Street/Road Design – The county started with lowering the speed limit, as almost the first action, and then has proceeded, as a general policy, with making street and road design changes – narrowing lanes, installing medians and bollards, expanding shoulders and walking/cycling facilities.
  2. Bicycle and Pedestrian Features – The county has just come out with a county-wide master bicycle facilities plan and is soon to come out with a master pedestrian facilities plan. Of interest in Montgomery County’s approach is that they see these augmented network plans as key pieces of making the county’s transit facilities more accessible.
  3. Land Use and Density – Changes in the built environment take time to occur, but moving more homes, shops, and jobs closer to each other and to transit contributes over the long run to a safer travel network of roads and streets as more folks are able to walk, bike, take transit, or use other modes for more trips.
  4. Change the Culture – This tip has to do with decades of transportation engineering practices that have favored driving alone over all other modes and the need to work with existing staff within a transportation agency to accept the new approach to street and road safety.
  5. Collaborative Partnerships – To paraphrase and give this tip a bit of a gloss. Street and road safety advocates aren’t special interest folks who just need to be placated and then put on the sideline. They should be viewed as long-term partners, especially around education and outreach for developing and implementing the policy. We even get some recognition for this as it’s been practiced here in Roslindale on the northbound Washington Street bus lane!

UPDATE: WalkUP Roslindale Snow Clearance Collaborative 3.0 – 2019-2020 – WE’RE A GO FOR WRSCC 3.1 – 3/4 DECEMBER 2019

SEE UPDATES BELOW REGARDING LOCATIONS/DATES/TIMES

With the first flakes now falling, we here at WalkUP Roslindale are standing ready to launch the WalkUP Roslindale Snow Clearance Collaborative 3.0 once again for the upcoming winter of 2019-2020. By way of reminder, the WRSCC focuses on clearing snow and ice from bus stops on key routes in and around Roslindale. This year, we will once again look to clear bus stops in key locations and incentivize participation by partnering with our very own Roslindale Village Main Street (using funds provided last year by District 5 City Councilor Tim McCarthy and the Roslindale Business Group) as follows:

  • Anytime there’s a snow event greater than 4” (just over 10 cm), we will pick a suitable morning or evening time as soon as possible after the snow stops flying to meet up at the locations identified below and then descend on and shovel out the identified stops.
  • The incentive we’re offering will once again be $10 Rozzie Bucks coupons for everyone who shows up and lends a hand.
  • BTW, Rozzie Bucks are a great deal — good at many stores and restos in the square and the farmers market to boot!

Scheduled locations/captains are as follows:

  • Washington/Cummins – Steve Gag and Greg Tobin [DONE ALREADY]
  • Washington/Archdale – Ben Bruno [DONE ALREADY]
  • Washington/Cornell – Sarah Kurpiel Lee – Tuesday, December 3, at 4:45 pm
  • South/Walter – Matt Lawlor –  Wednesday, December 4, at 7:00 am
  • Corinth/Cohasset – Alan Wright – Tuesday, December 3, at 3:00 pm (look for Alan anywhere on Corinth from Washington to Belgrade)
  • Washington/Brahms-Blue Ledge – Rob Orthman – Tuesday, December 3, at 8:00 pm

We will firm up these locations, captains, and timing as we see just how much snow we get. Thanks all!

Please sign up on our snow clearance page at http://walkuproslindale.org/snow if you’re interested in helping, and spread the word!

REMINDER: Cummins Highway Walk Audit – 7 December 2019 @ 9 am

On this group walk, we will cover the section of Cummins from Washington Street to Rowe Street, starting at 9:00 am at the RVMS office (4236 Washington Street). It should take us about 90 minutes to discuss the process (with a “Ped 101” slide presentation similar to the one we saw from our friends at WalkBoston in Decemeber 2015 for the Roslindale Square Walk Audit inside what is now the Distraction Brewing space, as pictured above) and then get out there identifying street safety issues and possible solutions that we can carry forward to our elected and appointed officials. RSVP and spread the word via our Facebook event page.

Important Upcoming Events

WalkUP Roslindale would like to call everyone’s attention to 3 important upcoming events:

World Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Traffic Violence – 17 November 2019 – 2:30 pm at the Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA – Hosted by LivableStreets Alliance, WalkBoston, Boston Cyclists Union, Safe Roads Alliance, MassBike, and Transportation4Massachsetts, this is always an incredibly moving event as the victims of traffic violence, whether in a vehicle, walking, cycling, or otherwise traveling on our streets and roads, are read aloud and remembered.

Boston City Council Hearing on Vision Zero – 18 November 2019 – 1:00 pm in the Iannella Council Chamber, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA – The hearing order refers specifically to “pedestrian crossing signals, traffic calming, and vision zero.” WalkUP Roslindale will have a representative on hand to testify, but a strong turnout here will be important to send a message that programs like Neighborhood Slow Streets, which appears to be in an unannounced pause, are desperately needed right now, citywide.

WallkUP Roslindale Cummins Highway Walk Audit – 7 December 2019 – We will cover the section of Cummins from Washington Street to Rowe Street, starting at 9:00 am at the RVMS office (4236 Washington Street). It should take us about 90 minutes to discuss the process and then get out there identifying problems and possible solutions. RSVP and spread the word via our Facebook event page.

WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 780 American Legion / Home for Little Wanderers Project

Today, we sent a comment letter to the BPDA to comment on a proposed project at 780 American Legion Highway (a road that we hope someday will be renamed to and remade as American Legion Greenway). This is the current site of the Home for Little Wanderers, a nonprofit that provides services to at-risk children and young adults. The proposal would be a major development, including 22 units of youth housing as well as 93 units of market rate and workforce rental units and owner-occupied town house condominium units, and new offices for the Home.

We are generally supportive of the project but note it is critical for the City to work with the MBTA to improve transit options in this currently under-served area. Just this week, the Mayor called for a 50% reduction of car use by 2030; higher density projects like this can help achieve that goal as long as they are accompanied by a substantial investment in improved pedestrian, bicycle, and transit options.

Our full letter is reproduced below. (PDF version available here.)

Read full letter

Are we ready to think differently about the Roslindale Municipal Lot?

MEETING DATE/TIME/PLACE: Thursday, September 26, 2019, 6:30 pm @ Roslindale Community Center, 6 Cummins Highway, Roslindale (accessible by foot, bike, MBTA Needham Line, several bus routes, Bluebikes, and by car).

As part of the city’s Housing with Public Assets initiative, our city’s Housing Innovation Lab, along with the Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Department of Neighborhood Development, are hosting the initial public meeting on the potential redevelopment of the municipal lot behind the row of stores on South Street between Taft Hill Terrace and the Needham Line tracks. The Housing with Public Assets initiative began in 2018 with an open request for information on how the city could improve its core assets citywide quickly and efficiently. This included an inventory of libraries, fire stations, community centers, and vehicle storage lots such as the Roslindale Municipal Lot. At the same time, the city also indicated that it specifically cared about housing at these locations, meaning that they were about “integrating deeply and moderately affordable units with market-rate units.” To be candid, we think this idea has legs here in Roslindale, even to the point where we submitted a comment letter about this very location as part of the process back in April 2018. We now look forward eagerly to learning more about how the city is thinking about moving forward with generating new housing opportunities by leveraging a significant, underutilized public asset in the heart of our neighborhood, and how community input can help steer their efforts.

It’s our understanding that the project seeks to preserve much if not all of the existing public parking. In anticipation of discussions about the parking impact of this development, WalkUP Roslindale volunteers recently collected snapshots of data on several different times and days. The data show the following:

  • There are 84 general spaces, four handicap spaces and two ZipCar spaces.
  • At every visit there were always general spaces available for more cars to park.
  • On average over 28 spaces were available; the fewest number of spaces ever available for general parking was three (twice), the maximum during weekday business hours was 64 (once).
  • Only six times (~ 7%) were there fewer than 10 general spaces available.
  • Not infrequently (23 out of 83 times, or ~28%) all handicapped spaces were filled, suggesting that the lot would benefit from more spaces being reserved for handicap plates.
  • We did not yet measure turn-over of the spaces, but anecdotally we frequently observed some spaces filled all or most of the day by the same vehicles. We are certain that if the two-hour parking limit was actively enforced and if parking was metered (so that it was accurately not priced as a free resource), the number of available spaces for patrons of local businesses would increase.

While of course our study is not fully comprehensive, we think it’s a good start to have some data as we go into this process.

Where does District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley stand on safe and equitable travel on our city’s streets?

Councilor O’Malley is running unopposed, but he did take the time to fill out the questionnaire, as linked below. As for the first question, about how Matt gets around to/from/within his district, he had the following to say:

“I travel throughout my district and the city through a variety of
modes of transportation. Typically, I commute to work to City Hall
and throughout the district via my electric car. Other days, I hold
office hours with constituents on MBTA trains, buses, and/or
commuter rail. I also enjoy using BlueBikes and walking
throughout my community. One of the many benefits of living and
working in the country’s third most walkable city is having
numerous options beyond just a private vehicle, which allows me
to be more connected to my community while reducing my carbon footprint.”

The Councilor’s full responses can be found here.

Where do the District 4 City Council Candidates stand on safe and equitable travel on our streets?

The next installment in our series leading up to the September 24th Preliminary Election here in Boston has arrived. Accordingly, herewith the responses to the Vision Zero Coalition Questionnaire from the District 4 candidates, starting with the full answer to the question “How do you move around your community and get to where you need to go?” and then providing a link to their responses to the full questionnaire:

District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell

“Councilor Campbell tends to drive to and from work. She and her
family like to go on walks in their neighborhood in Mattapan, and
also take the Red Line and Mattapan Trolley which serve their
neighborhood.”

Full questionnaire responses here.

Candidate Jeff Durham

Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Where do the District 5 City Council Candidates stand on safe and equitable travel on our streets?

With the preliminary election for the Boston City Council now just two weeks away — on Tuesday, September 24 — we here at WalkUP Roslindale thought it might be helpful to do what we could to more broadly circulate the responses of the various candidates to the Vision Zero Coalition’s Candidate Questionnaire, which provides the best available yardstick for figuring out how closely the candidates come to supporting safe and equitable travel on our streets. We’re starting today with the District 5 candidates and intend to move on to the At-Large candidates and then the candidates for districts 4 and 6 as well.

And so, we’re off – there are a total of eight candidates running for the District 5 City Council seat. In alphabetical order, they are Ricardo Arroyo, Maria Esdale Farrell, Cecily Graham, Justin Murad, Alkia Powell, Jean-Claude Sanon, Mimi Turchinetz, and Yves Mary Jean. Of these eight, the four candidates in italics submitted responses to the questionnaire. Below we provide their full answers, without modification, to the top-line question of “How do you move around your community and get where you need to go?” along with links to pdfs with responses to all of the questions:

Ricardo Arroyo

“Previously I owned a hybrid, now I do not have a car and rely on
the MBTA and ride sharing.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

Cecily Graham

“In order to move around my community, I use a variety of transit
modes. I am a driver, therefore this is my main mode of
transportation to get to the market and laundromat. I also bike
within a 2 mile radius for short trips, in addition to walking and the
use of public transportation when visiting neighboring towns. Last
but not least, I will utilize ride-share services if I have to be
somewhere in a timely matter, especially if parking is not readily
available at my destination. All of these modes are important
because it is hard to depend on one to get around efficiently.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

Justin Murad

“MBTA bus and Orange Line mostly.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

Mimi Turchinetz

“I take the 32 Bus and the Orange Line when ever possible, I also
have a car.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

CONCLUDING NOTE: WalkUP Roslindale has a policy of not specifically supporting or opposing any candidate for elected office. In the interest of full disclosure, please note that the author of this post, Matt Lawlor, personally supports candidate Arroyo.

UPDATE: BTD Transit Team and Open Meeting of WalkUP Roslindale – @ 6:00 pm (Open Meeting)/6:30 pm (BTD Transit Team), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 @ The Square Root

We’re pleased to announce that our friends from the Boston Transportation Department’s new Transit Team, led by their director, Matt Moran, will be on hand this coming Wednesday evening, August 14, 2019, following an open meeting of WalkUP Roslindale to be held at The Square Root in Roslindale Square (6:00 pm for open meeting/6:30 pm for BTD Transit Team). The BTD Transit Team is charged with maintaining and expanding high quality transit on our streets (e.g., Washington Street bus/bike lane) and will provide an overview of their current projects and what they see coming up next.

You’re also welcome to RSVP on our Facebook event page and spread the word by inviting others.

OPEN MEETING AGENDA: 6:00 to 6:05 pm – Welcome & brief introduction to WalkUP Roslindale; 6:05 to 6:10 pm – Roslindale Gateway Path Update; 6:10 to 6:15 pm – American Legion Area Slow Streets/Side Streets report; 6:15 to 6:20 pm – Brainstorming for 2019 Walk Audit location; 6:20 to 6:25 pm – New Business; 6:25 to 6:30 pm – Welcome and introduction of BTD Transit Team; 6:30 to 7:25 pm – BTD Transit Presentation and Q&A.

NOTE: We will strictly adhere to the foregoing agenda since Square Root’s comedy night will need to start set up at 7:30 pm sharp.