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