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.

Important Upcoming Events

WalkUP Roslindale would like to call everyone’s attention to 3 important upcoming events:

World Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Traffic Violence – 17 November 2019 – 2:30 pm at the Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA – Hosted by LivableStreets Alliance, WalkBoston, Boston Cyclists Union, Safe Roads Alliance, MassBike, and Transportation4Massachsetts, this is always an incredibly moving event as the victims of traffic violence, whether in a vehicle, walking, cycling, or otherwise traveling on our streets and roads, are read aloud and remembered.

Boston City Council Hearing on Vision Zero – 18 November 2019 – 1:00 pm in the Iannella Council Chamber, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA – The hearing order refers specifically to “pedestrian crossing signals, traffic calming, and vision zero.” WalkUP Roslindale will have a representative on hand to testify, but a strong turnout here will be important to send a message that programs like Neighborhood Slow Streets, which appears to be in an unannounced pause, are desperately needed right now, citywide.

WallkUP Roslindale Cummins Highway Walk Audit – 7 December 2019 – 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 and then get out there identifying problems and possible solutions. 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.

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!