Are we ready to think differently about the Roslindale Municipal Lot?

MEETING DATE/TIME/PLACE: Thursday, September 26, 2019, 6:30 pm @ Roslindale Community Center, 6 Cummins Highway, Roslindale (accessible by foot, bike, MBTA Needham Line, several bus routes, Bluebikes, and by car).

As part of the city’s Housing with Public Assets initiative, our city’s Housing Innovation Lab, along with the Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Department of Neighborhood Development, are hosting the initial public meeting on the potential redevelopment of the municipal lot behind the row of stores on South Street between Taft Hill Terrace and the Needham Line tracks. The Housing with Public Assets initiative began in 2018 with an open request for information on how the city could improve its core assets citywide quickly and efficiently. This included an inventory of libraries, fire stations, community centers, and vehicle storage lots such as the Roslindale Municipal Lot. At the same time, the city also indicated that it specifically cared about housing at these locations, meaning that they were about “integrating deeply and moderately affordable units with market-rate units.” To be candid, we think this idea has legs here in Roslindale, even to the point where we submitted a comment letter about this very location as part of the process back in April 2018. We now look forward eagerly to learning more about how the city is thinking about moving forward with generating new housing opportunities by leveraging a significant, underutilized public asset in the heart of our neighborhood, and how community input can help steer their efforts.

It’s our understanding that the project seeks to preserve much if not all of the existing public parking. In anticipation of discussions about the parking impact of this development, WalkUP Roslindale volunteers recently collected snapshots of data on several different times and days. The data show the following:

  • There are 84 general spaces, four handicap spaces and two ZipCar spaces.
  • At every visit there were always general spaces available for more cars to park.
  • On average over 28 spaces were available; the fewest number of spaces ever available for general parking was three (twice), the maximum during weekday business hours was 64 (once).
  • Only six times (~ 7%) were there fewer than 10 general spaces available.
  • Not infrequently (23 out of 83 times, or ~28%) all handicapped spaces were filled, suggesting that the lot would benefit from more spaces being reserved for handicap plates.
  • We did not yet measure turn-over of the spaces, but anecdotally we frequently observed some spaces filled all or most of the day by the same vehicles. We are certain that if the two-hour parking limit was actively enforced and if parking was metered (so that it was accurately not priced as a free resource), the number of available spaces for patrons of local businesses would increase.

While of course our study is not fully comprehensive, we think it’s a good start to have some data as we go into this process.

Where does District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley stand on safe and equitable travel on our city’s streets?

Councilor O’Malley is running unopposed, but he did take the time to fill out the questionnaire, as linked below. As for the first question, about how Matt gets around to/from/within his district, he had the following to say:

“I travel throughout my district and the city through a variety of
modes of transportation. Typically, I commute to work to City Hall
and throughout the district via my electric car. Other days, I hold
office hours with constituents on MBTA trains, buses, and/or
commuter rail. I also enjoy using BlueBikes and walking
throughout my community. One of the many benefits of living and
working in the country’s third most walkable city is having
numerous options beyond just a private vehicle, which allows me
to be more connected to my community while reducing my carbon footprint.”

The Councilor’s full responses can be found here.

Where do the District 4 City Council Candidates stand on safe and equitable travel on our streets?

The next installment in our series leading up to the September 24th Preliminary Election here in Boston has arrived. Accordingly, herewith the responses to the Vision Zero Coalition Questionnaire from the District 4 candidates, starting with the full answer to the question “How do you move around your community and get to where you need to go?” and then providing a link to their responses to the full questionnaire:

District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell

“Councilor Campbell tends to drive to and from work. She and her
family like to go on walks in their neighborhood in Mattapan, and
also take the Red Line and Mattapan Trolley which serve their
neighborhood.”

Full questionnaire responses here.

Candidate Jeff Durham

Did not respond to the questionnaire.

Where do the District 5 City Council Candidates stand on safe and equitable travel on our streets?

With the preliminary election for the Boston City Council now just two weeks away — on Tuesday, September 24 — we here at WalkUP Roslindale thought it might be helpful to do what we could to more broadly circulate the responses of the various candidates to the Vision Zero Coalition’s Candidate Questionnaire, which provides the best available yardstick for figuring out how closely the candidates come to supporting safe and equitable travel on our streets. We’re starting today with the District 5 candidates and intend to move on to the At-Large candidates and then the candidates for districts 4 and 6 as well.

And so, we’re off – there are a total of eight candidates running for the District 5 City Council seat. In alphabetical order, they are Ricardo Arroyo, Maria Esdale Farrell, Cecily Graham, Justin Murad, Alkia Powell, Jean-Claude Sanon, Mimi Turchinetz, and Yves Mary Jean. Of these eight, the four candidates in italics submitted responses to the questionnaire. Below we provide their full answers, without modification, to the top-line question of “How do you move around your community and get where you need to go?” along with links to pdfs with responses to all of the questions:

Ricardo Arroyo

“Previously I owned a hybrid, now I do not have a car and rely on
the MBTA and ride sharing.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

Cecily Graham

“In order to move around my community, I use a variety of transit
modes. I am a driver, therefore this is my main mode of
transportation to get to the market and laundromat. I also bike
within a 2 mile radius for short trips, in addition to walking and the
use of public transportation when visiting neighboring towns. Last
but not least, I will utilize ride-share services if I have to be
somewhere in a timely matter, especially if parking is not readily
available at my destination. All of these modes are important
because it is hard to depend on one to get around efficiently.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

Justin Murad

“MBTA bus and Orange Line mostly.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

Mimi Turchinetz

“I take the 32 Bus and the Orange Line when ever possible, I also
have a car.”

Full Questionnaire Responses

CONCLUDING NOTE: WalkUP Roslindale has a policy of not specifically supporting or opposing any candidate for elected office. In the interest of full disclosure, please note that the author of this post, Matt Lawlor, personally supports candidate Arroyo.

UPDATE: BTD Transit Team and Open Meeting of WalkUP Roslindale – @ 6:00 pm (Open Meeting)/6:30 pm (BTD Transit Team), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 @ The Square Root

We’re pleased to announce that our friends from the Boston Transportation Department’s new Transit Team, led by their director, Matt Moran, will be on hand this coming Wednesday evening, August 14, 2019, following an open meeting of WalkUP Roslindale to be held at The Square Root in Roslindale Square (6:00 pm for open meeting/6:30 pm for BTD Transit Team). The BTD Transit Team is charged with maintaining and expanding high quality transit on our streets (e.g., Washington Street bus/bike lane) and will provide an overview of their current projects and what they see coming up next.

You’re also welcome to RSVP on our Facebook event page and spread the word by inviting others.

OPEN MEETING AGENDA: 6:00 to 6:05 pm – Welcome & brief introduction to WalkUP Roslindale; 6:05 to 6:10 pm – Roslindale Gateway Path Update; 6:10 to 6:15 pm – American Legion Area Slow Streets/Side Streets report; 6:15 to 6:20 pm – Brainstorming for 2019 Walk Audit location; 6:20 to 6:25 pm – New Business; 6:25 to 6:30 pm – Welcome and introduction of BTD Transit Team; 6:30 to 7:25 pm – BTD Transit Presentation and Q&A.

NOTE: We will strictly adhere to the foregoing agenda since Square Root’s comedy night will need to start set up at 7:30 pm sharp.

NOTICE & SAVE THE DATE: WalkUP Roslindale Open Steering Group Meeting with Special Guests: BTD Transit Team – August 14, 2019 @ 6 pm @ The Square Root

We here are WalkUP Roslindale are proud to announce an open steering group meeting to be held on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, at 6:00 pm at The Square Root, 2 Corinth Street, at which we will be delighted to host Matt Moran and the BTD Transit Team as our special guests. An official agenda will be posted here in advance of the meeting, but we wanted to get this out to folks now. We anticipate about 30 minutes of WUR Steering Group business, 30 minutes of BTD Transit Team, and then 30 minutes of open discussion and Q&A before we break at 7:30 pm to allow The Square Root to set up for their comedy night starting at 8:00 pm. Stay tuned for more details!

11 Taft Hill Terrace – Public Meeting on Proposed Redevelopment – 6 pm on Wednesday, 24 July 2019, Roslindale Community Center

Everyone interested in supporting the desperate need for more housing to support our city’s growing population while doing so in a way that reduces the demand for driving and provides for more affordable homeownership opportunities is encouraged to attend tomorrow evening’s meeting on the redevelopment proposal for 16 condominium units and 14 off-street vehicle storage spaces at 11 Taft Hill Terrace. WalkUP Roslindale members will be on hand to learn more about the proposal, provide feedback, and ultimately formulate our response. We hope to see you there!

A call to support the federal Complete Streets Bill sponsored by Sen. Markey

As Streetsblog NYC is reporting, our own Senator Ed Markey is co-sponsoring a bill at the federal level with Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) that would require at least 5% of all federal highway funds be devoted to complete streets projects nationwide. While many places are already using more than that level of their federal funding for projects that benefit all road users, not just drivers of motor vehicles, the need for shifting funding continues to be overwhelming, especially in light of the rapid increase in pedestrian fatalities on the nation’s streets and roads since 2009.

For those not already familiar with the concept of “complete streets,” here’s a handy definition and a bit of explanation from our friends at Smart Growth America:

Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.

Creating Complete Streets means transportation agencies must change their approach to community roads. By adopting a Complete Streets policy, communities direct their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. This means that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists—making your town a better place to live.

To this end, we here at WalkUP Roslindale call on our federal elected officials – Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) and Stephen Lynch (MA-8) – to co-sponsor the bill along with Senator Markey because our streets and roads can and must be made much safer for all users.

StreetsblogMASS officially launched today!

And so the growing movement for safer, cleaner, healthier, and more equitable transportation in our neighborhood, city, region, and commonwealth has a new media outlet that will highlight and stick with the stories and issues we care the most about. Mark this date – July 11, 2019 – as the formal start of something that we can all hope will make us better. Take it away, StreetsblogMASS Editor in Chief Christian MilNeil:

The Streetsblog movement has arrived in Massachusetts!

When Streetsblog launched in New York City in 2006, policymakers took it for granted that streets were primarily for motor vehicles: the city had no on-street protected bike lanes and over 300 New Yorkers were dying every year in traffic collisions.

Today, New York is ranked among the nation’s best cities for cycling. Cars and trucks are no longer allowed on Broadway through Times Square, there’s a network of protected bikeways that extends over 100 miles throughout the five boroughs, and the number of people killed by cars has hit its lowest point in a century.

The cities and towns of Massachusetts are ready for a similar transformation.

Massachusetts is already home to dozens of great organizations working on these issues, and there’s been impressive progress in the past decade. The state’s biggest city recently adopted the visionary Go Boston 2030 plan, which sets a target for cutting motor vehicle commutes in half, expanding the regional greenway network, and boosting transit service over the next decade.

And yet, for all the great ideas out there, our region’s leaders are falling short in actually implementing the policies and infrastructure we need. Crashes cause over 4,000 injuries a year in Boston alone, and that number has been increasing in spite of the city’s “Vision Zero” commitment.

There’s compelling evidence that the region’s failure to invest in its transit system and build safer streets is hurting the regional economy and making traffic worse.

StreetsblogMASS will be a place to amplify the efforts of seasoned advocates who have been working on these issues for years, but it will also be a place that invites more people into the safer streets movement and give them the knowledge they need to make a difference, whether they’re a new-to-town college student or a retiree who’s contemplating giving up their car. Safer streets matter to everyone – even motorists – and StreetsblogMASS will strive to be as inclusive as it is engaging.

As your editor, I’ve spent the past six years working as a data reporter for the Portland Press Herald in Maine; I’ve also moonlighted as a transportation and affordable housing advocate for more than a decade. I’m a strong believer in the power local journalism has in holding leaders accountable to the public interest, but I also find that traditional journalism often falls short in addressing the public’s interests in making our cities more equitable and fighting climate change.

Our streets are public spaces: they belong to all of us, not just the few who operate the most life-threatening and polluting vehicles. Making the Commonwealth’s streets safer is a necessary condition for New England to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and it’s also a way to make our cities healthier, safer, more affordable, and more egalitarian.

So – please subscribe to our email newsletterfollow us on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS feed, add us to your bookmarks, or lend us your financial support.

It’s time to build a safer, more connected, healthier Commonwealth – let’s get started.

Join WalkUP Roslindale at Undesign the Red line – Boston City Hall – 8:30 am on July 18, 2019

Undesign the Red line is a collaboration between designing the WE and Enterprise Community Partners that uses an exhaustively annotated and illustrated timeline to take attendees through several decades of housing segregation by race and class across the United States. July 18th will be the last day that the exhibit will be available for public view at Boston City Hall and WalkUP Roslindale wants to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity to learn much more about the origins, practice, and continued effects of redlining in our city. Details for the morning of Thursday, July 18, are as follows:

  • Meet in Adams Park at 7:15 am
  • Walk as a group to Forest Hills Station on the Orange Line
  • Board the Orange Line approx. 7:50 am
  • Arrive at Boston City Hall approx. 8:20 am
  • All interested attendees to meet at the Bill Russell statue on City Hall Plaza at 8:30 am
  • We will then view the exhibit inside City Hall. Plan for an hour to do so.
  • Thanks!