We’re happy to see City Councillors Kendra Lara and Ricardo Arroyo, along with the Boston Transportation Department and neighborhood resident Nathan Eckstrom, are leading a safety walk on January 28th at 1pm, focusing on road safety issues along Hyde Park Avenue. The walk will meet at Forest Hills Station (Upper Level). Advance registration is recommended. More details here:
The second half of December was unquestionably consequential for the center of Roslindale as a motor vehicle operator drove into the street level of the building at the corner of Belgrade and Corinth (mostly known these days as The Square Root Building) on the morning of December 18, taking out a support column and parts of 2 store fronts, resulting in structural damage and temporary evacuation of the entire building. We posted about this when it happened and encouraged folks to contribute to the community-based fund that was just then forming to support the businesses that we knew would be forced to leave the building for at least some period of time – potentially months in some cases. We’re happy to circle back now with the news that many of the businesses that had been forced out, including especially The Square Root, are now open again and the remainder have found temporary homes elsewhere in the square. This past Saturday morning found plenty of patronage inside the cafe itself, and, we suspect (based on the photo below), music rehearsal activity upstairs. It’s really good to see activity going on there again, though a discussion about how to make all of the streets in the square safer for everyone outside of motor vehicles is something we think must be on the agenda going forward.
Saturday also saw the official opening of the new brick-and-mortar location at 739 South Street (across from Wallpaper City) for Rozzie Bound Books, which has been the neighborhood’s community-owned virtual bookstore for the last few years. They’ve taken a small, but cozy space on the street level and are selling books and offering order/pickup as well. This promising development represents the presence of a permanent new book-selling location in the square for the first time in more than a decade, since the 2011 demise of Village Books, which had been located in part of the space where 753 South now operates. We hope to see Rozzie Bound thrive and grow in the years ahead!
So, 2022 definitely had its share of ups and downs, but in taking stock on the eve of 2023, three posts stand out as particularly worth looking back on and noting (in roughly reverse chronological order):
- Taking first place, after a long, COVID-impacted process, the Lower South Street Neighborhood Slow Streets project obtained its final municipal approval and heads to installation this spring. The comments from Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge at the conclusion of the hearing were especially encouraging. This post also features a major advancement for us that started in the fall of this year – we have started to translate our posts into Spanish.
- In second place, we gave significant attention and sought to provide assistance to Roslindale residents in navigating the Orange Line shutdown from late August to late September in two posts that included links to official guidance as well as our own review of available substitute services, especially Needham Line and other commuter rail trains that made additional stops at Forest Hills and Ruggles during that month-long period.
- In a 3-way tie for 3rd place, we had Mayor Wu’s inaugural group bike ride into downtown Boston from Roslindale (not officially a WalkUP Roslindale event, but many of us were very involved), plus our support for the successful permitting effort around the redevelopment of the funeral home site at 59-63 Belgrade Avenue, and our Poplar Street Walk Audit report (all from August, though the walk audit itself occurred in May).
For those who may not have heard yet, a driver crashed their car into the building at the corner of Belgrade Avenue and Corinth Street in Roslindale Square this morning sometime around 8:30-8:45 am. Thankfully, no one inside the building was injured (The Square Root was open, but miraculously missed, and the Sebastian’s space and the adjacent Threading for Beauty business – where the driver actually struck the building – were not open at the time). Per Universal Hub, the driver was taken to the hospital by EMS and the building sustained extensive damage. For now, as UHub reports, the building has been completely evacuated and is off-limits until its overall structural integrity can be confirmed. Whatever happens from here, it seems there will be at least some period where the businesses on both the ground and upper floor will be unable to open and operate. Accordingly, given how respected and appreciated all of the businesses in the building are – especially neighborhood treasure The Square Root – the neighborhood is already coming together and a gofundme to assist all of the building’s businesses in the rebuilding effort has already been created. Just go HERE and give what you can. We’ll circle back as we learn more.
El 17 de noviembre, el plan de Calles Lentas de South Street Baja y el Vecindario Cercano fue aprobado por la Comisión de Mejoramiento Publico, Public Improvement Commission (PIC). Este logro fue la culminación de años de abogacía por parte de residentes y el trabajo del equipo de Calles Lentas de Boston, Boston Slow Streets team. Estos avances serán construidos en 2023. Vea las especificaciones:
Después del voto, el Jefe de Calles, Jascha Franklin-Hodge tomó un momento para decir unas palabras sobre el compromiso por parte de la administración para reconstruir las calles de Boston incluyendo este extracto:
“Debemos hacer más, debemos hacerlo más rápido – para reconstruir nuestras calles con el fin de que sean seguras y cómodas para todos. Y debemos ver y cambiar las políticas y los procesos que muchas veces resultan en un proceso prolongado y tardanzas excesivas al hacer este tipo de trabajo crítico. Así que solo quisiera decirles a los miembros del público aquí que yo al igual que la administración estamos comprometidos a hacer estos cambios.”
Nosotros aplaudimos esta declaración y hemos incluido una transcripción completa con sus palabras abajo. Mientras el programa de Calles Lentas en Vecindarios, Neighborhood Slow Streets, a sido un programa exitoso, este solo no puede solucionar el peligro a nivel general que viven las personas vulnerables en vecindarios alrededor de la ciudad. Nosotros alentamos a la ciudad que cumplan con su compromiso de acelerar el paso de cambio, y esperamos trabajar en conjunto para brindar calles seguras a Roslindale.
“Antes de que sigamos quisiera quitarme el puesto de presidencia de PIC y usar esta oportunidad para decir algunas cosas de parte de la administración de la Alcaldesa Wu en mi capacidad como su Jefe de Calles y Comisario de Public Works. En primer lugar, quisiera decir gracias a ti Stephanie ([Seskin (Directora de Transportación Activa del Departamento de Transportación de Boston)] y su equipo por todos sus esfuerzos trabajando en este proyecto y durante los últimos años – yo se que estos esfuerzos han involucrado (como hemos escuchado) extensa divulgación pública, juntas públicas, oportunidades para dar comentarios, y múltiples rondas de revisión de diseño. Y llegar hasta este punto ha requerido bastante inversión de tiempo y energía por parte del equipo de la ciudad así que estoy muy agradecido por eso.
En segundo lugar, quisiera decir gracias a los miembros de la comunidad quienes han luchado por este proyecto, y quienes han impulsado a la ciudad a crear calles más seguras en los vecindarios por años y por décadas en algunos casos. Pedimos mucho de ustedes, incluyendo venir a esta junta en el medio del día en un Jueves, y eso es solo para obtener algo tan fundamental como una calle donde se sientan seguros.
La tercera cosa que quisiera decir es que la ciudad necesita mejorar. No debería tomar esfuerzos extraordinarios para obtener una básica infraestructura segura en nuestras calles. No deberíamos pedirles que alegen con nosotros por su seguridad o la de sus hijos y vecinos. Casi todos los días escucho de personas en vecindarios de cada parte de Boston sobre el miedo que sienten en nuestras calles – y si, esos sentimientos si importan. Y yo veo las estadísticas – todavía tenemos miles de personas cada año que son lesionadas en nuestras calles y casi todos los años más de una docena de personas mueren en esas mismas calles. Yo se que podemos y debemos hacer más para producir mejor infraestructura que sea más segura en la ciudad de Boston.
Y quisiera decir que lo que acabamos de aprobar, lo que repasamos hoy representa mejores prácticas establecidas para las calles de vecindario. Estas se reflejan en la guía de la ciudad de calles completas: en la guia de calles urbanas de NACTO, en publicaciones de MassDOT, en publicaciones de la Administración Federal de Carreteras, Federal Highway Administration. Estos cambios no son novedosos, no son excepcionales o experimentales, y su eficacia no está en cuestión. Lo que aprobamos hoy son un set de cambios que acercaran a estas calles más cerca hacia lo que décadas de investigación y experiencia han mostrado que resultan en calles más seguras para todos los usuarios. Y entonces, la ciudad siempre aceptara y tomará en cuenta los consejos del público en cualquier proyecto que hagamos, pero la seguridad no debe de estar a debate y no debería de ser tan difícil o tomar tanto tiempo como lo toma ahora para obtener que estos tipos de cambios de seguridad sean implementados en la ciudad de Boston. Así que digo esto para reconocer que nosotros como líderes de la ciudad tenemos trabajo que hacer.
Debemos hacer más, debemos hacerlo más rápido – para reconstruir nuestras calles con el fin de que sean seguras y cómodas para todos. Y debemos ver y cambiar las políticas y los procesos que muchas veces resultan en un proceso prolongado y tardanzas excesivas al hacer este tipo de trabajo crítico. Así que solo quisiera decirles a los miembros del público aquí que yo al igual que la administración estamos comprometidos a hacer estos cambios. Estoy muy emocionado de ver estos mejoramientos ser implementados en Roslindale el próximo año, y eso pasará mientras trabajamos para acelerar el paso de cambio – cambios como estos en vecindarios a través de Boston. Así que gracias, y solo quería tomar un momento para expresar mi posición sobre esto.”
On 11/17/22, the Lower South Street and Vicinity Neighborhood Slow Streets plan was approved by the Boston Public Improvement Commission (PIC). This successful outcome was the culmination of years of advocacy by residents and work by the Boston Slow Streets team. These improvements will be built in 2023. View the specifics:
After the vote, Boston’s Chief of Streets, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, took a moment to make a statement about the administration’s commitment to rebuilding Boston’s streets including this excerpt:
“We must do more, we must do it faster – to rebuild our streets so that they are safe and comfortable for everyone. And we must look at and change the policies and the processes that often result in protracted process and excessive delay in doing this kind of critical work. So I just want to say to the members of the public here, you have my commitment and the administration’s commitment to make these changes.”
We applaud this statement and have included a transcription of his full remarks below. While Boston’s Neighborhood Slow Streets has been a successful program, it does not by itself sufficiently address the widespread danger posed to vulnerable street users in neighborhoods across the city. We encourage the administration to follow through on this commitment to accelerate the pace of change, and look forward to being a partner in bringing safer streets to Roslindale.
“Before we move on I would like to take off my hat as PIC chair and use this as an opportunity to say a few things on behalf of Mayor Wu’s administration in my capacity as her Chief of Streets and Public Works Commissioner. First off, I want to say thank you Stefanie [Seskin (Active Transportation Director in the Boston Transportation Department)] and her team for all the hard work on this project over the past few years – I know that this effort has involved (as we’ve heard) extensive resident outreach, public meetings, feedback opportunities, and multiple rounds of design revisions. And getting to this point has required substantial investment of time and energy by the city team so I’m very grateful for that.
Second, I want to say thank you to the community members who have advocated for this project, and who have been pushing the city to create safer neighborhood streets for years, in some cases decades. We ask a lot of you, including showing up for a hearing in the middle of the day on a Thursday, and that’s just to get something as fundamental as a street where you feel safe.
The third thing I want to say is that the city needs to do better. It should not take extraordinary advocacy to get basic safety infrastructure on our streets. We should not ask you to plead with us for your safety or that of your kids or that of your neighbors. Almost every single day I hear from people in neighborhoods in every part of Boston about the fear they feel on our streets – and yes, those feelings do matter. And I see statistics – we still have thousands of people every year who are injured on our streets. and most years more than a dozen people are killed on those same streets. I know that we can and we must do more to produce better and safer infrastructure in the city of Boston.
And I want to say that what we just approved, what we reviewed today represents well-established best practices for neighborhood streets. These are reflected in the city’s complete streets guidelines: in NACTO’S urban street design guide, in publications from MassDOT, in publications from the Federal Highway Administration. These changes are not novel, they’re not exceptional or experimental, and their efficacy is not in question. What we approved today is a set of changes that bring these streets closer to what decades of research and experience has shown us results in safer streets for all road users. And so, the city will always accept and consider public input on any project that we do, but safety should not be up for debate and it should not be as hard as it is or take as long as it does for us to get these kinds of safety changes implemented in the city of Boston. So I say this to acknowledge that we as city leadership have work to do.
We must do more, we must do it faster – to rebuild our streets so that they are safe and comfortable for everyone. And we must look at and change the policies and the processes that often result in protracted process and excessive delay in doing this kind of critical work. So I just want to say to the members of the public here, you have my commitment and the administrations’ commitment to make these changes. I’m really excited to see these improvements get implemented in Roslindale next year, and that’s going to happen as we work to accelerate the pace of change – changes like these in neighborhoods across Boston. So thank you, I just wanted to take a moment to express our position on this.”
– Jascha Franklin-Hodge (Boston Chief of Streets)
Remarks made at 11/17 Public Improvement Commission meeting
With apologies for the late amplification here: Today is a particular day to remember all of those who have died or been seriously injured on streets and roads all across the world, including here in Massachusetts. The MA Vision Zero Coalition has a webpage up about events here in Boston and elsewhere around the commonwealth. Whatever we’re actually able to do today to help remember, let’s make sure we stay committed to doing everything we can to make our streets and roads safer and more welcoming for everyone who uses them.
As long-time WalkUP followers know, the Roslindale Gateway Path is a proposed ADA-accessible shared-use pedestrian and cycling path through the Arnold Arboretum. This project aims to extend the Southwest Corridor path system from Forest Hills bus, subway, and Commuter Rail terminus to Roslindale Village Commuter Rail Station, providing carbon-free commuting options and connecting Boston residents with the natural environment close to where they live. On November 3, 2022 from 6:30-8:00pm, the Arboretum will host a project update meeting open to members of the public (via Zoom). Register in advance for this meeting here.
Today, we sent a comment letter to BTD expressing our support for a modest extension of the Washington Street dedicated bus/bicycle lane from Albano to Poplar Street. Our full letter is below, also available in PDF form. If you’d like to support the bus lane extension as well, please drop in on BTD’s coffee hours at the Square Root Café next week.
We are happy to report that BTD is looking to extend the existing inbound Washington Street Bus/Bike Lane in Roslindale from Albano Street to Poplar Street. This bus lane would help address severe congestion on Washington Street on the approach to Poplar Street. A few details provided by BTD:
- The bus lane would be in effect from 5 AM to 10 AM and would affect parking only during those times.
- The bus lane would support MBTA bus routes 34, 34E, 40, and 50. This would improve the commute time for over 1,700 riders who use this stretch of road in the morning commute hours.
- Boston Public School Buses and emergency vehicles could also use the bus lane.
BTD is hosting two coffee hours next week at the Square Root Café. We encourage folks to drop by to support this well-needed extension!
- Wednesday, October 26 from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM
- Thursday, October 27th from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM
See also this BTD flyer for these events in English, Spanish, and Creole.