Cummins/Canterbury/HP Av Walk Audit Now Virtual & Rescheduled – 14-21 December 2020

Finally following up on our rescheduled walk audit for the triangle bounded by Cummins Highway, Canterbury Street, and Hyde Park Avenue – with special focus on the so-called “missing middle” on Cummins between Canterbury/American Legion and Rowe Street – WalkUP Roslindale is proud to announce that we will be holding this walk audit virtually over the week starting on Monday, December 14th at 7 pm with a “Pedestrian 101” presentation over zoom, followed by individual, self-guided walk audits and reporting of observations/recommendations during the following 7 days, and then a regroup to discuss results over zoom on Monday, December 21st, also at 7 pm.

Please contact Matt Lawlor at mlawlor@nullrc.com if you’re interested in participating so that we can provide you with a link to the initial zoom meeting. We would thrilled to welcome anyone of any age who has an interest in making this part of our neighborhood safer for everyone using its streets. We are also proud to be partnering with Roslindale Village Main Street to offer $10 Rozzie Buck coupons for participation in each of the 3 phases of the audit.

Special thanks to WalkBoston for lending us their platform and expertise on conducting virtual walk audits.

WalkUP Roslindale/West Rox Walks Comments to DCR on Centre Street/Walter Street Intersection

WalkUP Roslindale teamed up with West Rox Walks to offer comments on proposed safety improvements for the Centre Street/Walter Street intersection near the Arnold Arboretum and Sophia Snow Place. This is consistently the most dangerous stretch of road in our neighborhoods and is currently an unpleasant and risky experience for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. As this road is maintained by the Commonwealth, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (“DCR”) is handling the redesign and taking comments. In its most recent presentation, DCR offered three alternatives for the intersection. Only one of those options (“Alternative 1”) is acceptable in our view; and that design could still benefit from several modifications as detailed below. The deadline for comments is today (Thursday 3/5/20), so if you’d like to add your voice, please submit a brief note on the DCR comment website.

Full letter below. (PDF version also available). You can also check out DCR’s February 13, 2020 PowerPoint presentation about these various options.

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Spring 2020 Gateway Path Update – New 25% Conceptual Plan, Demolition Started at Bussey Brook Meadow

The Roslindale Gateway Path remains one of WalkUP Roslindale’s signature initiatives and a top priority. As we approach the five year mark since its conception (along with WalkUP itself), we’re starting to see concrete progress. Please excuse the pun.

Notably, we recently received a revised 25% conceptual plan for the path from our partner consultant, Horsley Witten Group. As you will see below, the path course has been modestly revised, and more details about eventual construction filled in. Click on the image to see an (extremely) high-resolution detailed version.

Updated 25% Design Plan for Roslindale Gateway PathMeanwhile, demolition work on the new Bussey Brook Meadow entrance to the path–at the end of Arboretum Road off of Washington Street–recently started:

Demolition of Bussey Brook Meadow Entrance to Arboretum

We are looking ahead to break ground for this segment of the path sometime this summer. The other major update is that design work is moving forward on the grand boardwalk connecting the Peters Hill segment of the path – this segment will connect the intersection of Bussey and South Street to the Bussey Brook Meadow. Renderings of this section are expected in June 2020. Blow-up of this section below, with the new, improved Arboretum Road entrance on the bottom right:Boardwalk Section of Bussey Brook Path

City-sponsored Open House on Roslindale Transportation and Housing – TOMORROW – 30 January 2020 – 6 to 8 pm – Roslindale Substation

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:

Latest Update

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

It CAN be done – Oslo, Norway (pop. approx. 673,000) reaches Vision Zero for pedestrians and cyclists in 2019

The whole article – Vision Zero! Norwegian Capital Completely Quashes Road Deaths – which comes from our friends at StreetsblogUSA is worth reading;

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:

Traffic Fatalities – Oslo, Norway – 1975-2019 (Credits: StreetsblogUSA; Aftenposten, Oslo, Norway).

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.

Some very solid suggestions from one of the leading urbanists up north

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.

REMINDER: Cummins Highway Walk Audit – 7 December 2019 @ 9 am

On this group walk, we will cover the section of Cummins from Washington Street to Rowe Street, starting at 9:00 am at the RVMS office (4236 Washington Street). It should take us about 90 minutes to discuss the process (with a “Ped 101” slide presentation similar to the one we saw from our friends at WalkBoston in Decemeber 2015 for the Roslindale Square Walk Audit inside what is now the Distraction Brewing space, as pictured above) and then get out there identifying street safety issues and possible solutions that we can carry forward to our elected and appointed officials. RSVP and spread the word via our Facebook event page.

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.

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.