Washington Street Evening Bus Lane Public Meetings June 15 and 16, 2020

As long-time WalkUP followers know, we’re big supporters of bus lanes, and were delighted by the relatively quickly deployment and extraordinary success of a morning in-bound dedicated bus lane on Washington Street from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills. It’s been clear from day one, though, that an evening outbound lane is at least as necessary–if not more so–given the extreme congestion in that direction during normal times. We are happy to report that the City is now moving forward with (virtual) public meetings to discuss an outbound lane and receive community feedback. In advance of next week’s meetings, you can check out a BTD presentation to WalkUP from January which started to explore some of these ideas.

The following meetings are scheduled for next week; click on the links below for flyers with more details:

Please attend the meeting most appropriate for your interest and speak out in support of this excellent idea!

Public Meeting on Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild Improvements Tuesday, June 9 7pm-9pm

Back in May, we posted a survey on proposed improvements to the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild. The Parks Department is now hosting a public meeting (over Zoom) this coming Tuesday, June 9, from 7pm-9pm:

Join us at an online community engagement meeting for the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild. The focus of the capital project is wetland restoration, but will also include some entrance and trail improvements. We’d love for you to join us in our online presentation with a question and answer session afterward. Interpretation and translation services are available to you at no cost. If you are attending this event and need these services, please contact Laura Cawley at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at Laura.Cawley@nullboston.gov or 617-961-3013.

You can find the Zoom link for the event on the city event page.

Roslindale Silent Vigil for Black Lives – Tomorrow, 4 June 2020, @5:30 pm – Adams Park, Roslindale Square

Two organizations with whom we share principles and goals – Roslindale IS for Everyone (RISE) and Progressive West Roxbury/Roslindale – have invited everyone in our neighborhood to participate in a silent vigil for black lives tomorrow, Thursday, 4 June 2020, at 5:30 pm on the sidewalks in and around Adams Park (center of Roslindale Square).  In terms of format, it seems this will closely resemble the all ages silent vigil at the Centre Street/W.R. Parkway rotary this past Monday evening, as covered by Universal Hub – “People peacefully call for justice for George Floyd.” More information can be found on the event’s facebook page.

We encourage everyone to attend with a face covering and their own sign and maintain safe distancing. Thank you and hope to see you there.

Comment letter on Boston Transportation Department Budget for Fiscal Year 2021

Last week, we sent a comment letter to the Boston City Council Committee on Ways & Means concerning next year’s operating budget, with a focus on transportation. We were particularly happy to see some proposed funding for the Roslindale Gateway Path. Other WalkUP priorities include the Washington Street Bus Lane, an American Legion Corridor bike network, and implementation of Neighborhood Slow Streets in the Mount Hope/Canterbury area. Our detail comments are below; a PDF version of the letter as sent is also available.

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WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 3992-3996 Washington Street

3992-3996 Washington Street Rendering
3992-3996 Washington Street Rendering

This week, we sent a comment letter on a proposed 18-unit housing development at 3992-3996 Washington Street, about halfway between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills at the intersection of Archdale Road near Guira y Tambora. While we are always happy to welcome new housing to the neighborhood to help mitigate the region-wide housing crisis, the proposed development suffers from similar shortcomings of many other recent proposals — too much valuable land dedicated permanently to car storage, insufficient commitment to affordability and needed density, and only minimally compliant green-building efforts. We still support the overall project, but hope that the City and developers will not miss this opportunity to build for the 21st century, rather than the 20th. Immediate and major change in how we plan land use and transportation decisions are critical to achieving the vision set out in GoBoston 2030 and the greater Imagine Boston 2030 plan.

Our detailed comments below (PDF version also available).

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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.

Interesting Take on 5 Best Practice Tips for Vision Zero from Suburban Maryland

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

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.