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.

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.

Your 2018 WalkUP Roslindale year in review!

WITH 2018 having drawn to its inevitable close, now seems like a decent enough time to look back on another year in the life of WalkUP Roslindale, your neighborhood walk-bike-transit-Y/QIMBY (Yes/Quality in My Backyard) citizens advocacy group. In the opinion of one member of group management, here are the top 10 things that happened this year. Comments, corrections, and additions are always welcome!

  1. District City Councilor Forum – Although scheduling conflicts kept us from hosting this particular forum in 2017, we did manage to pull off a gathering of the three district councilors who represent various parts of Roslindale – Andrea Campbell (District 4), Tim McCarthy (District 5), and Matt O’Malley (District 6) – that resulted in a lively discussion on a wide range of topics hosted by our own Sarah Kurpiel Lee. You can read the post-mortem at Recap on District City Councilor January 2018 Forum.
  2. Washington Street Bus & Bike Lane – After the 2-day pilot at the end of 2017 and then a full 4-week pilot in May and June of this year, the Mayor announced that the Washington Street bus and bike lane improvement project – which allows for a bus and bike only lane northbound on weekday mornings (5 to 9 am) and has significantly improved travel times for riders on the 9 separate lines that run between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills – would be permanent. This was a big win for better transit in our neighborhood and a significant step forward for better bus service across the region. We were proud to partner with Livable Streets Alliance on surveying riders and building support for the project and reported on it in May in Give Washington Street Bus Lane Feedback and in October in WalkUP Comment Letter on Washington Street Bus Lane.
  3. Safer Walking and Cycling in Roslindale Square – Around the same time that the bus/bike pilot was going on and being made permanent, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) planned and then the Public Works Department resurfaced the key loop of South/Belgrade/Corinth/Poplar in Roslindale Square and installed a targeted set of new crosswalks, daylighting areas, in-street bike lanes, and relocated bus stops. With this set of improvements, a significant majority of the changes we advocated for in our December 2015 Walk Audit with WalkBoston have now been implemented. You can find coverage at Recent Safety Improvements in Roslindale Square – An Explainer and Letter of Support for Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Calming Improvements in Roslindale Square.
  4. Significant Progress on the Roslindale Gateway Path – In late June, we teamed with the Arnold Arboretum and Horsley Witten to release the 25% design for the MBTA-owned section of the path, running from the commuter rail station to the Arboretum border. The meeting was well attended and led to the T’s relatively swift determination that the proposed path route was conceptually approved through its internal canvassing process. Mid-year also saw funding progress as the commonwealth’s legislative session drew to a close in July. First, future funding to the tune of $3 million for path construction was included in the statewide Environmental Bond Bill. Securing these particular funds will require more work going forward, but the good news was just getting started. The FY2019 budget also included $100,000 in earmarked funding to help complete the path’s overall design. And then, to top off the funding story for the year, the city, through BTD, was able to obtain $90,000 in federal grant funding to move to 100% design for the initial extension of the path from its current terminus at the end of the Blackwell Path to the Arboretum Road underpass. An application to the city’s Community Preservation Act committee to fund construction of this extension was submitted in September. Coverage can also be found at Major Step Forward for the Gateway Path.
  5. Y/QIMBY Support and YIMBYtown – We continued to support new projects and concepts that we believed make sense, including 3-7 Poplar (732 South) and RVMS’ Poplar Street Improvements and the possible redevelopment of the Taft Hill Parking Lot. We also participated on the host committee of YIMBYtown 2018, the third annual national YIMBY conference held here in Boston in September. Perhaps the emblematic moment at YIMBYtown was the demonstration by housing justice advocates led by City Life/Vida Urbana at the closing plenary of the conference, voicing concerns about displacement of poorer people and people of color from neighborhoods experiencing an influx of new residents. WalkUP Roslindale hopes to partner with the housing justice initiative at RISE in the coming year to find a unified way forward in our neighborhood. More to come on this topic.
  6. FY2019 BTD Budget – WalkUP Roslindale was truly excited about the passage of an expanded BTD budget for FY2019 that calls for hiring a slew of new planners and engineers focused on issues such as coordinating MBTA service in the city, implementing Vision Zero, and expanding our city’s bike network. While we are still awaiting these new hires, we hope that they will be made soon.
  7. Neighborhood Slow Streets in MHMC – Progress continued on our neighborhood’s winner of the 2017 NSS sweepstakes. Conceptual plans are anticipated to be released in late winter. More information can be found at “Mount Hope/Canterbury” on BTD’s vision zero site.
  8. Blue Bikes in Roslindale! – We finally got our first 4 Blue Bikes stations in Roslindale in late summer – 2 stations in the square, one Belgrade and Walworth, and a fourth at Washington and Archdale. Now, if we could only find a way to get the long-delayed-due-to-construction and now completely inexplicably delayed station slated for Forest Hills, we’d really be talking. You can read more at “New Hubway (Blue Bikes) Locations Announced in Roslindale” and “Blue Bikes Finally Come to Roslindale.”
  9. Walter Street Traffic Calming – After sustained advocacy over many years by members of the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association, 3 new crosswalks were finally installed in the stretch of Walter Street running from Bussey to South. The crosswalks were also accompanied by daylighting and flexposts on Walter itself and on certain of the side streets on Peters Hill. This kind of treatment can and should be extended to all of our major streets.
  10. Roslindale Snow Clearance Collaborative 1.0+ – Finally, our volunteer snow clearance collaborative had plenty of chances to flex our muscles and get in a good work out shoveling out key bus stops in and around the square and at the key intersection of Hyde Park Avenue and Cummins Highway. The shoveling in the square even included the contested sidewalks surrounding the MBTA commuter rail station on Belgrade. We gave the last installment – Collaborative v. 1.5 – a lighthearted touch with a photo of the Boston yeti.

Fall 2018 Roslindale Walkable Film Series – 10/4 @ 7 pm – “The Human Scale”

REMINDER: We would LOVE to see you for the second installment of our monthly film series at the Rozzie Square Theater on Basile Street a week from this Thursday, October 4, 2018, at 7 pm. This time it’s “The Human Scale” – the urban life-focused documentary about Jan Gehl and his firm’s work around the globe. Come by the multiple bus lines that run through the square every day, come by Blue Bike (we have that now!), come by commuter rail on the Needham Line, walk, bike, or, if you must, go ahead and drive. We can’t wait!!!

You’re welcome to sign up and spread the word from our Facebook Event page as well.

Tragedy leads to clarity in South Boston…and maybe citywide?

Vision Zero BostonEveryone concerned about traffic violence in Boston, which touches every part of our city, every day, day-in, and day-out, felt incredible sadness at the tragedy late last month in South Boston in which a crash on L Street between reckless drivers resulted in one of them driving onto the curb and killing a 3 year-old boy and injuring his sister. There have been similar tragedies around the city over the years, taking both the young (such as the 5-month old girl killed on Humboldt Street in Roxbury a couple of years ago) and the elderly (such as one of our own neighbors here in Roslindale in 2016) and everyone in between. For whatever reason, perhaps because with Vision Zero as the city’s adopted policy for the last several years, we all have a better collective vocabulary and understanding that these crashes constitute a form of traffic violence that degrades our public spaces and puts us all under threat every time we venture out onto our streets, this tragedy seemed to hit a particularly raw nerve.

And such is that nerve that first-term District 2 City Councilor Ed Flynn has quickly stepped up his game on safe streets to a level that I think every City Councilor will have to match if they aren’t already. Go read “Flynn Recommends 12 Point Safe Streets Plan” over at Caught in Southie and then consider whether the 12 point safe streets plan he is pushing for in that neighborhood deserves to be rolled out, as quickly as humanly possible, to every street in every neighborhood of this city. Below, I have converted the 12 points he raised to a generic list that could be applied anywhere:

  1. A complete traffic study of ________________ and all high traffic roads. [NOTE: This works only if it’s done in the background while proven traffic calming measures are advanced right away, and isn’t ultimately used as a way to force more vehicular traffic through the neighborhoods at higher speeds.]
  2. Reducing the speed limit to 20 MPH throughout all of ____________. [NOTE: Exactly. The recent shift to 25 mph was a compromise. We really should be at 20 mph.]
  3. Speed humps (permanent or temporary to move for plows) and raised crosswalks along _________ and other high traffic roads, near parks and recreation centers where children and seniors gather. [NOTE: Speed humps should be permanent wherever they go. I continue not to see why plowing in Boston is different than the many other snow belt places in North America and really anywhere else that already have speed humps and raised crosswalks.]
  4. 4-way stop signs along _________ and relevant locations throughout ________.
  5. Additional posting of Speed Board Signs on high traffic roads throughout _________ for feedback to reduce speeds.
  6. Blinking Pedestrian Crossing signs at high traffic areas like we have on _____________.
  7. Bumping out our sidewalks at crosswalks on ___________, school zones and elsewhere to shorten crosswalks, make stop signs more visible & narrow our streets to encourage slower speeds.
  8. Road Diets on ___________, one lane from ____________, and speed humps in appropriate locations.
  9. Increased police patrols in order to reduce speed. Increased fines for driving the wrong way on a one-way street and trucks on ____________. [NOTE: It would be good to have more enforcement, but this fight is ultimately about rectifying decades of bad, unsafe street design. Relying on enforcement also raises concerns about profiling of both people of color and immigrants.]
  10. More delineators in high traffic areas reminding drivers to stop for pedestrians; paint in the roads advising drivers to slow, yield and stop.
  11. A Study to determine if _______________ would become safer if they became one-way streets.  [NOTE: I would not support this in my own neighborhood. Narrow two-way streets, also called “Yield Streets,” are perhaps the most effective method of low-tech traffic calming we have.]
  12. Designated time and space for delivery trucks on ________________ to eliminate double parking. [NOTE: Better curb space management needs to be implemented on essentially every street in our city, but especially on major commercial streets.]