Comment letter on proposed Massachusetts legislation for automatic traffic enforcement

Back in October, we submitted a comment letter supporting legislation that has been proposed up on Beacon Hill to allow for automated enforcement of bus lanes and speeding. The relevant bills are S1545, H2426, and H2494. We generally support these efforts and hope our state legislators will move forward with these and other measures to help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by dangerous driving behavior. If we get any updates on any of these bills, we will publicize them here.

Our full letter is reproduced below. Please contact your own legislators and ask them to lend support as well!

To:

Joint Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security on Traffic Safety
Massachusetts State Legislature
24 Beacon St,
Boston, MA, 02133
Monday, October 11, 2021

Dear Chairman González, Chairman Timilty, and members of the committee

We write to you today as residents and business owners in Roslindale to express our support for three bills which will make our roads safer and prevent dangerous driving related deaths:

An Act relative to automated enforcement S1545, Brownsberger, William N. (SEN)
An Act relative to automated enforcement H2426, Ciccolo, Michelle L. (HOU)
An Act establishing automated bus lane enforcement H2494, Madaro, Adrian C. (HOU)

These acts would allow municipalities to install automated cameras which would issue tickets for violations for speeding, failure to stop at red lights, failure to stop at school bus stop arms, blocking the box, and parking or driving in dedicated bus lanes. This legislation is important to manage dangerous speeding and other anti-social behaviors, while minimizing direct police interaction and traffic stops for these offenses.

Dedicated Bus Lane Enforcement Cameras

In 2018, our neighborhood of Roslindale was chosen as the first Priority Bus Lane Pilot within the City of Boston. The Bus & Bicycle-only Priority Lanes focussed on the inbound and outbound lanes on Washington Street, which runs from the center of Roslindale to the Forest Hills MBTA station – a 1.2 mile corridor which at last count carried around 19,000 bus riders a day and is likely to carry even more as people return from COVID-related remote working and the new bus lanes expedite the trip.

Data analysis from the in-bound pilot (implemented pre-COVID) showed that travel time for buses was reduced by 25%, or 26 hours of passenger time per day. On the basis of these data and an increase in bicyclist safety, the priority lanes were made permanent in 2019.

However, even now in the third year of the Priority Lanes, this critical improvement  is blocked virtually every day by stationary vehicles, or by vehicles using the lanes as a shortcut, which interferes with the rapid travel of buses and threatens the safety of bicyclists. Furthermore, along Washington Street’s Priority Bus Lane, there are three proposed condominium building projects, and one proposed marijuana dispensary location. Fulfilling and maintaining the integrity of the Priority Bus Lanes is therefore critical to their continued performance and safety.

The Boston Transportation and Police Departments have only limited resources that can be spared to solve these issues, therefore the Priority Bus Lane abuse will only worsen, and the value of the Priority Bus Lanes will diminish over time.

Automated Bus Lane Cameras would quickly free up these departments’ resources and through automated enforcement provide an instant deterrent to these continuing behaviors.

Automated Bus Lane Cameras should be installed on every MBTA and Regional Transit Authority operated buses and, like school buses, installations would not be limited by a city or town’s population.

We would also like to note that many dedicated bus lanes also explicitly permit bicycles, the definition of “Bus Lane” should be changed to include dedicated bus/bike lanes.

Automated Speeding Cameras

Like many neighborhoods of Boston, Roslindale contains multiple streets which would benefit from dedicated speeding cameras – as is evidenced from the City of Boston’s crash data. This very part of Washington Street is one of them: only one stop light exists between Forest Hills and Roslindale Square. This short 1.2 mile stretch had at least 9 reported motor vehicle crashes in the first 6 months of 2021 (data from Boston Vision Zero).

The American Legion Corridor of Roslindale is especially afflicted by frequent dangerous driving: in 2020, there were at least 82 reported crashes involving motor vehicles (including 4 pedestrian impacts and 1 bicycle impact; data from Boston Vision Zero). In 2021, the City of Boston reduced vehicle travel lanes in order to control speed: in the first 6 months of 2021 there were still at least 37 reported motor vehicle incidents on American Legion Highway, suggesting the reduction compared to 2020 was modest, and that implementation of Automated Speeding Cameras may be required in combination with restricting travel lanes.

Ultimately, we hope that the use of Automated Speeding Cameras is only a stopgap measure. Safe streets would control speeding and dangerous driving habits through smart street design without the need for automated enforcement. We prefer preventive measures over those which are punitive, but full re-design of our streets is unfortunately many years away, and in the meantime, automated enforcement will save lives and prevent serious injuries.

Thank you for your time and your careful consideration of our neighborhood’s experiences and recommendations in these matters,

Yours,

Adam Shutes
Resident @ 318 Metropolitan Avenue, Roslindale, on behalf of the WalkUP Roslindale Board of Directors

Ricardo Austrich, Resident @ 843 South Street, Roslindale
Ben Bruno, Resident @ 27 Colgate Road #2, Roslindale
Devin Cole, Resident @ 169 Orange Street, Roslindale
Steve Gag, Resident @ 631 South Street, Roslindale
Liz Graham-Meredith, Resident @ 6 Crandall Street, Roslindale
Sarah Kurpiel Lee, Resident @ 65 Cornell Street, Roslindale
Matthew Lawlor, Resident @ 15 Basto Terrace, Roslindale
Margaux Leonard, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Mandana Moshtaghi, Resident @ 12 Arborough Road, Roslindale
Robert Orthman, Resident @ 31 Mendelssohn Street #2, Roslindale
Kathryn Ostrofsky, Resident @ 74 Birch Street #2, Roslindale
Rebecca Phillips, Resident @ 10 Tappan Street, Roslindale
Courtney Pong, Business Owner, 5 Basile Street, Roslindale
Adam Rogoff, Resident @ 28 Ashfield Street, Roslindale
Adam Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Rachele Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Laura Smeaton, Resident @ 61 Cornell Street, Roslindale
Mark Tedrow, Resident @ 21 Conway Street, Roslindale
Marc Theiss, Resident @55 Prospect Avenue, Roslindale
Greg Tobin, Resident @ 1 Sheldon Street, Roslindale
Nick Ward, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Alan Wright, Resident @ 98 Birch Street, Roslindale

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.