Like pretty much everyone these days, WalkUP Roslindale has been preoccupied over the last couple of weeks with responding to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic sweeping our city, commonwealth, and country. As we pull together and do what must be done to protect our families, friends, and neighbors, we have effectively put our ongoing advocacy initiatives on hold. For now, this is as it should be. As we continue to move forward, a couple of items to consider:
City of Boston Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information Summary: Some of us joined a 1000-volunteer city-wide information flyer drop to every household in the neighborhood. Joe Coppinger at the Mayor’s Office posted on twitter about the effort. The flyer was in several common-in-Boston languages in addition to English. Here’s an image of the English-language version:
Roslindale Cares: We have also tried to be on the lookout for organized assistance efforts that we and our fellow Rozzidents with the availability and willingness can join. We’re happy to see that Roslindale Cares – our neighobrhood’s mutual aid network – has launched. Go to the website, check them out, and see what works for you to help out our neighbors.
We urge everyone who is able to make it to attend tomorrow night’s city-sponsored open house to learn more and share ideas about both transportation and housing issues in our neighborhood. Here’s the listing from the Department of Neighborhood Development’s webpage:
Join the City of Boston (Department of Neighborhood Development, Boston Transportation Department, Boston Planning & Development Agency and Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services) at an Open House community meeting for a conversation about how housing and transportation can work together in Roslindale. This open house will explore the questions, concerns and ideas raised during a September 2019 community meeting regarding Housing with Public Assets at the Roslindale Municipal Parking Lot.
This open house will provide an opportunity to have smaller group discussions with residents, business owners and representatives from city departments responsible for housing production, transportation and neighborhood planning.
Date: Thursday, January 30, 2020
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Location: Roslindale Substation
Address: 4228 Washington Street, Roslindale, MA 02131
WalkUP Roslindale Snow Clearance Collaborative 3.3 enthusiasts and devotees are still welcome and encouraged to help out their neighbors and please post any pictures of cleared areas to our facebook account or tweet them out and tag @walkuprozzie when you do, but we won’t have an official effort this time around. When you’re done shoveling, we encourage you to enjoy some French Toast or other hearty breakfast of your choice. It sure is pretty out there!
Boston Yeti says it’s possible we’re going to get a sufficient amount of snow to call out our WURSCC forces to clear accessible corner ramps and bus stops here in our own little slice of heaven and thereby serve our neighbors and earn some Rozzie Bucks. STAY TUNED!
If you’re following along at home, that’s a city with almost 100,000 more residents than Boston that had a year in which the only fatality on its streets and roads was from a single-car crash in which the driver piloted his car into a fence. And how did they get there? Here are your money grafs:
Oslo’s status as a pedestrian and cycling safe have[n] didn’t occur overnight. The road to Vision Zero was paved with a mix of regulations that lowered speed, barring cars from certain areas, expanding its bike network, and added traffic calming measures around schools.
The most significant move Oslo officials made was devising a plan in 2015 to restrict cars from its square-mile city center and hike fees for entering and parking around the city’s core. Tolls rose in 2017 as the city removed 700 parking spaces and replaced them with 37 miles of bike lanes and pocket parks. The city center ban went into effect in early 2019 despite misgivings, but it was regarded as a model for other metropolises six months later. Cities around the U.S. have been slow to follow up on such success, though New York and San Francisco recently added a car-free thoroughfare to its transit mix.
To review, that was (i) reduce automobile speeds; (ii) restrict private cars from the city center and increase the fees for entering and parking around the city’s core; (iii) remove parking spaces; (iv) install pocket parks and bike lanes; and (v) focus traffic calming measures around schools, particularly with so-called “heart zones” that prohibit motor vehicle pick up and drop off of schoolchildren immediately near schools.
The chart showing Oslo’s progress from 41 traffic deaths in 1975 to just 1 in 2019 can be seen here:
And where are we in Boston in reaching our 2030 Vision Zero goals? Stuck at 10 traffic deaths in both 2019 and 2018, with the same distribution of 7 pedestrian fatalities and 3 motorist fatalities. One death is too many, but the continued elevated pedestrian death toll from traffic violence on our streets is especially troubling in the place that considers itself “America’s Walking City.” The precise mix of continued changes we need here may differ from Oslo’s, but it is worth noting that their approach is heavy on reducing vehicle speeds through design, especially reducing the amount of the city’s streets given over to motor vehicle travel lanes. We clearly have more hard work ahead in the next decade if we’re going to reach our own target of zero deaths by 2030.
UPDATE/LOCATION CHANGE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN MOVED FROM THE SQUARE ROOT TO THE ROZZIE SQUARE THEATRE – 5 BASILE STREET, ROSLINDALE. THANKS!
We’re pleased to announce that our friends from the Boston Transportation Department’s Transit Team, led by their director, Matt Moran, will be coming back on Tuesday evening, 14 January 2020, to talk more about their ongoing research and thinking about ways to improve bus service on Washington Street southbound between Forest Hills and the Square as well as their thoughts about the 32 bus on Hyde Park Avenue (and they may or may not hold forth in the magic bus). We’ll have them start us off, and then continue with an open meeting as WalkUP Roslindale starts a new year and a new decade of advocacy around our core issues of walkability, cyclability, transit access, and housing.
6:00 to 6:45 pm – BTD Transit Presentation and Q&A.
6:50 pm – Welcome & brief introduction to WalkUP Roslindale.
6:55 pm – Update regarding Cummins Highway Walk Audit.
7:05 pm – WalkUP Roslindale Goal-setting for 2020.
Vancouver-based planner Brent Toderian is one of the more thoughtful folks working on urban issues globally. Herewith a link to an article he just posted on Fast Company with 25 suggestions for things we can do to make our little corner of the world a better place in 2020: “25 simple resolutions you can make to improve your city.” The whole article is worth a read, but 3 of the 25 suggestions stand out – numbers 2 and 3 are things that we here at WalkUP Roslindale do pretty regularly and number 21 is, well, literally everyone involved in WalkUP Roslindale, so way to go team:
“2. Speak at City Hall in support of something good for your community and city, rather than just going to oppose things. And before you oppose something (such as well-designed density, new housing choices, or affordable housing), think carefully about who it’s meant to help, and put yourself in their place.”
“3. Choose different ways to get around your city. Walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, take public transit, as many times a week as you can. Focus especially on those short trips–for example, buy a shopping trolley and walk to the grocery store if possible. Lobby your leaders for improvements to support more choices, like better infrastructure and slower speed limits.”
“21. Get involved with (or create) community and advocacy organizations, especially ones that are for things, not just against things.”
Happy 2020 everyone! Enjoy tonight, but get ready, because we have a ferociously consequential decade ahead and a lot of work to do if we’re going to make our city and our planet safer, healthier, and more able to sustain us over the long haul.
The snow/freezing rainfall totals did not hit our minimum – 4″ or 10 cm – so we will not be calling out our forces. That said, everyone should still do their part and help their neighbors to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, crosswalk ramps, and bus stops. Thanks!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.