Final Poplar Street Walk Audit Report

We’re pleased to be able to share the final version of the Poplar Street Walk Audit report with everyone. No comments were received since we posted the draft on the 3rd of August, so the final is the same as the draft with just some dressing up (logos and footers added). A pdf of the report can be found here: FINAL Roslindale – Poplar Street Walk Audit – 15 August 2022, and we’ve also posted the report below. We look forward to working with the city on planning and implementing street safety improvements in this critical corridor in our neighborhood.

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Please help support housing at 59-63 Belgrade Avenue

Please contact the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) and your elected officials to show your SUPPORT for badly-needed new housing at 59-63 Belgrade Avenue.

This proposal will replace the Folsom Funeral Home, which is closing, and will provide:

  • 31 new apartments, a mix of one and two-bedroom units
  • 6 income-restricted apartments
  • Ample on-site bicycle storage
  • New transit-oriented housing directly next to the commuter rail and Roslindale Square

Please send a polite, brief support email in your own words to the following individuals with the subject line: “Please Support 59-63 Belgrade Avenue”

This is an important infill proposal that will provide needed new transit-oriented housing, displace no one from the site, and enhance the entrance to Roslindale Square on Belgrade Ave. WalkUP Roslindale previously submitted a comment letter in support of the project to the BPDA.

Please submit your support emails before Friday, August 19th! The ZBA hearing will be held virtually on Tuesday, August 23rd.

Thank you!

Not an official WalkUP Roslindale Event, but very good to see this starting: Group bike ride into City Hall from Roslindale Square with Mayor Wu – 8 am this Thursday, 11 August 2022

Michelle takes a selfie with members of the mayor’s BPD detail team

[Photo credit @wutrain.]

For the first of what we hope will be many community group bike rides with Mayor Wu to come, Adams Park in Roslindale Square will be the starting point on this coming Thursday morning, 11 August 2022, at 8 am. This ride is open to everyone, all ages and types of riders of bicycles. Other key details:

  1. There will be no set agenda; just a bike ride with the mayor to get from Roslindale into downtown.
  2. There’s a sign up sheet available here, so we can gauge numbers and plan accordingly.
  3. In words, the route will run from Adams Park (Cummins/Washington side) in Roslindale Square up Washington Street to Forest Hills, then take the Southwest Corridor Bike Path to Ruggles, then Columbus Avenue, left on Dartmouth Street, right on Boylston Street, and finally a left back onto Washington Street and into the southern end of City Hall Plaza.
  4. A link to a graphical depiction of the route can be found here.
  5. We expect numbers sufficient enough to need ride marshals to keep us all together safely, so keep an eye out, and try to arrive by 7:45 am if possible to help the organizers get organized.
  6. Follow this twitter thread for more updates as they become available.

Thanks and hope to see you there!

RED ALERT: It’s now official – MBTA to close down Orange Line for 30 day “accelerated” repair effort on tracks and signals

UPDATE: 15 August 2022 – NEW MBTA FLYERS NOW AVAILABLE:

Orange Line Shutdown – ENGLISH

Orange Line Shutdown – SPANISH

Orange Line Shutdown – HAITIAN CREOLE

 

 

NOTE: For travel between Roslindale and Downtown, the best bet is almost certainly going to be the Commuter Rail from either Roslindale Village, Forest Hills, or Bellevue. Without coming completely out and saying it, the T is essentially going to allow for free boarding of the system based on flashing a Charlie Card or Charlie Ticket. They are now clear that they won’t be checking the value on these passes, so basically anything will work here.

PRIOR POST FOLLOWS

Among the many issues unfortunately plaguing our region’s transit system, the state of the Orange Line’s tracks and signals has been an ongoing concern for several years as slow zones have multiplied all along the line, increasing travel times significantly and contributing to the sense of an agency on a downward trajectory at exactly the wrong time. We simply can’t afford a transit system that doesn’t work.

Today, the MBTA admitted reality, made it official, and announced a 30-day shutdown of the entire Orange Line, from Forest Hills to Oak Grove, starting at 9 pm on Friday, 19 August 2022, and ending on Monday, 19 September 2022. The MBTA’s announcement can be found here. We’ve pulled the whole thing into this post to highlight key items in planning for Roslindale residents during this period and we encourage everyone to sign up for “Orange Line Transformation Updates” with the button in the post from the T:

  • Commuter Rail Access/Fair Fares: Service is being added on other lines so that they will stop more frequently at both Forest Hills and Ruggles, but beyond that, the T providing that riders can also take the Commuter Rail from Roslindale Village or Bellevue for the same price as riding the subway/bus. Just show your Charlie Card or Charlie Ticket when boarding.
  • Substitute Bus Service: There will be free substitute bus service in 2 parts – Forest Hills to Back Bay and North Station to Oak Grove. How well the City of Boston and the T coordinate bus transit priority for these shuttles will be a key part of what happens here and how much pain riders have to endure. We will watch closely for announcements here.
  • Other Travel Alternatives: We’re also keenly interested in how well the T coordinates increasing service on key regular bus routes that could provide replacement service, such as the 39 from Forest Hills, and what the City does on bulking up Blue Bikes and safe cycling generally along the Southwest Corridor and on Washington Street from the square to Forest Hills.

 

FULL MBTA ANNOUNCEMENT:

 

As part of the Orange Line Transformation Program, we’re accelerating important reliability upgrades during a 30-day shutdown of the entire line starting at 9 PM on August 19. Regular Orange Line service will resume on Monday, September 19.

During this acceleration, crews will complete multiple projects more than five years faster than originally planned.

Why We’re Doing This Work

Upgrades to Orange Line tracks and signals will improve safety, increase reliability, and provide smoother trips for riders.

During this 30-day shutdown, a number of service alternatives will be available.

Crews will begin work at 9 PM on Friday, August 19. Regular service will resume on Monday, September 19.

Commuter Rail

The Commuter Rail may be the best option for many Orange Line riders. During this shutdown, riders can simply show their CharlieCard or CharlieTicket to conductors to ride the Commuter Rail in Zones 1A, 1 and 2. All Commuter Rail stops along the Orange Line are accessible.

Providence Line trains will make additional stops at Forest Hills:

  • On weekdays, 24 Providence Line trains will stop at Forest Hills
  • On weekends, 10 Providence Line trains will stop at Forest Hills

Haverhill Line trains will make additional stops at Oak Grove. Check back here for more information about this schedule coming soon.

For service on the south side of the Orange Line and to Downtown, riders can take the Needham Line, which stops at:

For service on the north side of the Orange Line, riders can take the Haverhill Line, which stops at:

 Shuttle Buses

Orange Line train service will be replaced with free, accessible shuttle buses:

Check back here for additional shuttle bus service information.

 Green Line

Riders are encouraged to use Green Line service in the downtown Boston area at Government CenterPark StreetBoylstonArlington, and Copley stations.

Neighborhood Impacts

The loudest work will occur when crews cut rails with a saw and tamp the track to the proper elevation.

Contact Us

For questions or comments related to this project, please email the Orange Line Transformation team at OLT@nullmbta.com.

To report construction issues or noise complaints, please call the OLT project hotline at 617-222-3393.

Sign Up for Orange Line Transformation Updates

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Poplar Street Walk Audit – Draft report now available for general feedback

Following up on our early May Walk Audit on Poplar Street, conducted with our friends at WalkBoston, we are now able to share the draft report to solicit further feedback on how we might slow motor vehicle speeds and improve the safety of vulnerable street users, especially those on foot.

Please send any comments to <info@nullwalkuproslindale.org> by Monday, 15 August 2022. Many thanks!

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Mt. Hope Canterbury Neighborhood Association Comments on FY2023 Boston Transportation Budget

The City of Boston is finalizing the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which begins on July 1, 2022. We intend to submit comments soon (ideas welcome!) but in the meantime we wanted to share this letter sent by Rick Yoder and WalkUP Board Member Lisa Beatman on behalf of the Mt. Hope Canterbury Neighborhood Association and the American Legion Corridor Coalition.

Read More

UPDATE: NEW LOCATION: Join Mayor Wu at her Neighborhood Coffee Hour for Roslindale – 9:30 am, 9 June 2022 at UPSTAIRS AT THE SUBSTATION

LOCATION CHANGED TO UPSTAIRS AT THE SUBSTATION – WASHINGTON & CUMMINS.

We encourage everyone to attend this coffee hour, meet the mayor and her staff, put names to faces, and let them know about your priorities and concerns. We hope to see YOU there. LINK TO: Mayor’s 2022 Coffee Hour in Roslindale.

Poplar Street Walk Audit – 7 May 2022 – 9 am – BE THERE!!!

 

For our first walk audit in a bit more than a year, we’ll team up with WalkBoston to take stock of existing conditions and think about street safety improvements on Poplar Street, all the way from Roslindale Square to the intersection with Hautevale Street. Everyone is welcome to come, learn about street safety, and help us think about ways to make our neighborhood a safer, more welcoming place for everyone who wants to use this critical neighborhood street.

Here’s the route we’re planning on auditing:

The walk will start with an intro presentation at WorkHub at the Substation (corner of Cummins & Washington) at 9 am. Please check out and sign up at our facebook event page so we can try to do at least a little of numbers planning. More to come soon. Thanks!

The time has come: Let’s fix the parking in Roslindale Square!

The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) conducted a long overdue parking study in Roslindale Square in October of last year, and earlier this month released a 22-page report with detailed findings. There’s a good deal to sort through here, but we hope this report will serve as a launching point for constructive community dialog around hot-button parking issues. We intend to play an active role in advocating for solutions that advance our goal of making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in the City of Boston.

It’s no secret that parking has been poorly managed for decades across the city and in our neighborhood, often leading to rancorous conflicts over spaces and, even more unfortunately, opposition to desperately-needed new housing based on fears that such actions will exacerbate parking problems. We are optimistic that, with this study as the backdrop, we’ve reached the cusp of a new era where parking policy can be informed by best management practices and a vision that recognizes the major changes in mobility coming around the corner and the need to balance the needs of all users of our roads and sidewalks.

First, the most important fact this report establishes is that Roslindale Square has enough parking, but there has been a failure to manage it. In particular, the report notes in its conclusions on page 21:

With on-street parking available within the overall study area during most times; with most parking demand concentrated around the ‘commercial core’ and Washington Street commercial corridor; and with an abundance of available off-street parking during most times – the solution is to better manage the parking resources that exist so they serve the needs of residents, businesses, and visitors.

In particular, the report notes that “most off-street parking lots had an abundance of unused parking.” A count on a Farmers Market Saturday found:

  • 20 unused spaces in the Taft Hill Municipal Parking Lot
  • 123 unused spaces in the MBTA Commuter Lots
  • 119 unused spaces in privately-owned lots

A count on a Wednesday similarly found:

  • 7 unused spaces in the Taft Hill Municipal Parking Lot
  • 107 unused spaces in the MBTA Commuter Lots
  • 106 unused spaces in privately-owned lots

This reinforces a view that we’ve been advocating for many years now. Dedicating more space to parking than we currently have won’t meaningfully help the issues but will insure increased traffic congestion and pollution, not only from vehicle emissions but also from the creation of additional impervious surfaces, even putting aside the cost of building and maintaining more parking. Managing what we already have, by contrast, will foster conditions where people who need to drive will be able to find parking easily, while avoiding inducing demand for more driving. What form that parking space management should take is something we’d like to see discussed with some urgency and then implemented as soon as BTD can make it happen.

Second, although many recent proposals for new housing in Roslindale near transit hubs have been shot down by a minority of members of the Zoning Board of Appeal on the basis of allegedly insufficient off-street parking, the report provides no basis to conclude that new nearby housing meaningfully impacts parking issues in the central business district. Indeed, the addition of nearby residential development should be a complete red herring as a parking issue: having more folks living within walking distance of the square will help the existing businesses and generate demand for businesses to open in the now-vacant storefronts. In and within walking distance of the square is the ideal place in the neighborhood to develop residences with no or comparatively few off-street parking spaces. It is also worth reiterating here our preference for using space and resources to build places for people, not motor vehicles. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council estimated in 2019 that each new structured parking space in our region costs $23,500 to build and each new surface parking space costs $6,000 (figures that must now be significantly higher due to inflation). Making new development provide parking on site both drives up the cost of each unit and takes space that could otherwise be used for more units.

As we find a path forward, we also want to keep an eye on other takeaways from the report:

  • Better parking management will also improve vehicular traffic, since a substantial number of cars circle the square looking for parking. Parking spaces should be managed so there is generally a minimum availability of open spaces, thus avoiding endless circling as well as idling/double-parking and blocking of crosswalks. We would be a good candidate for dynamic pricing and smart meters so that space availability can be tuned more precisely.
  • Prime storefront spaces should be metered to increase turnover. We could also use some very short term spaces to make it easy to run into a store like Sullivan’s Pharmacy or Solera Wine to grab an item and go.
  • We should also consider enabling the option of paying for longer stays in the Taft Hill Municipal Lot. For example, for some spaces, parking could be free for an hour, but paid at a reasonable rate for longer stays. The newly-installed rapid electric chargers in the lot already allow the user to pay for more time than is necessary for a charge.
  • It makes no sense for so many MBTA lot spaces to go empty and also for there to be no free or discounted after-hours parking in those lots. There is substantial demand for restaurant parking in the evenings and essentially zero demand for commuter rail user parking at that time. This should be an easy fix and could also be matched with implementing parking sharing of both lots during the daytime as well.
  • Business owners should encourage and incentivize employee commuting by means other than driving (for example, we’re encouraged here by the decreased car use shown by a recent pilot program for providing subsidized BueBike memberships and T passes to employees in Main Street districts), and for those who do need to drive, encourage them to park a short distance away rather than occupy prime spaces. Store owners and employees taking up spaces in front of their own businesses makes it more difficult for potential customers to park. Formally opening up the MBTA lots to non-commuters as well as allowing a paid option for longer stays in the Municipal Lot could fix this problem entirely.
  • Finally, the square has had nagging vacancy problems for many years. Fixing the vacancy issue is a real problem that could be solved (1) with better parking management as outlined above and (2) with a long-term vacancy tax to incentivize commercial landlords to find tenants rather than passively leverage their empty properties as a tax break.

For those interested in digging deeper into the relationship between parking policy and walkability, we must recommend the canonical book The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup (the first chapter of which is available free online), as well as Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step a Time (free summary here), by our nearby neighbor Jeff Speck.