Following up on today’s impressively successful RoslinTrails bike ride, we here at WalkUP Roslindale will do our part to launch this great concept from our friends at Roslindale Village Main Street and host a walk starting in the square on Saturday, October 9, at 12:30 pm. Our route will take us out on Cummins Highway (tentatively dubbed “RoslinTrails Route 1”) to Hyde Park Avenue and then back via a route running along HP Av to Blakemore Road, Florence Street, Firth Road, and Washington Street. Particular stops are being worked out and more details including an event registration page will be forthcoming. We look forward to seeing as many of our friends as can join us!
Many of you no doubt have noticed the extensive road/sidewalk construction in progress on Poplar Street by Adams Park. This project is one of several changes underway to improve bus service through Roslindale Square. If you’re interested in better understanding what’s going on, check out these two MBTA flyers:
The change with the most immediate impact is that the Route 30 outbound bus no longer needs to go all the way around Roslindale Square but instead will just go down Poplar Street before turning onto Washington Street briefly and then on to Cummins Highway. Prior to being moved up, the bus stop on Poplar Street was closer to Corinth Street (past the fork), making it impossible to turn left onto Washington Street. The new design will allow the bus to turn left at the fork and thus avoid an unnecessary trip around the entire square.
It took some time, but the Cummins Missing Middle Walk Assessment Report has finally been released. The full report is below and also available as a PDF. We’ll be using this report to organize around and advocate for pedestrian and other non-auto safety improvements on this critical “link for people” in our neighborhood. Thanks!
We’ve posted on this topic previously and have expressed our own support in a comment letter earlier this year and now we’re gratified to see the following statement from District 5 City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in support of the proposed project, released earlier today and quoted here in full:
“Today a project by Arx Urban at 4198-4206 Washington Street in Roslindale goes before the BPDA Board.
“I am in full support of this project.“This project sets important benchmarks that are in line with the values and priorities I believe developments in our neighborhoods should have and should promote. At least 40% of the units will be income restricted between 30-90% Area Median Income and the developers are seeking to and have stated publicly that their goal is to eventually have 100% of the unit’s income restricted. The city currently only mandates 13%.“This project will be sustainably built. A 100% electric building, with solar power, approaching Passive House standards. While also widening sidewalks around the property and creating a courtyard with greenspace on Washington Street. They have also entered partnerships with two local businesses with long term, below market leases and will showcase the Rozzie Square Theatre, an already existing wMBE business, that will invite innovation in the arts and provide a forum for diverse voices.“Arx Urban has also taken meaningful steps to engage the community and implement feedback. They’ve reduced the height to four stories from an initial seven. Set the building back from the Sumner School by 51’ and collaborated with the school on a mural and improv classes. They have also agreed to several measures to improve pedestrian experiences and safety.“I have heard from opponents who are most staunchly opposed to this project because it lacks onsite parking. And while I believe that is a valid concern, I believe it is outweighed by the truly transit oriented nature of Roslindale Square. I believe in prioritizing the housing of people and a project like this, that provides truly affordable housing on this scale, makes that goal available to those who most need it.
“Our city has been, and continues to be, in a housing crisis that has been headlined by displacement and a lack of truly affordable housing. As a Councilor I will continue to advocate for projects that make remedying that issue, with strong commitments to income restricted units, a priority.”
Working backwards, actually, here are 3 photos from WUR steering group members from the joint RISE/Progressive Roslindale/West Roxbury June 4th Silent Vigil for Black Lives, which Universal Hub covered here: Hundreds turn out for boisterous vigil in Roslindale. And yes, the lower police presence as compared to the West Roxbury vigil on June 1 was noticeable. A few days earlier, on May 31, the American Legion/Mt. Hope corridor section of Roslindale had also held their own vigil/protest, complete with pizza delivered to the participants courtesy of a passing and supportive UPS driver (photos again supplied by a WUR steering group member):
Recognizing that both events are part of what is now a clear, undeniable, peaceful, determined, growing, coast-to-coast wave of public outpouring of frustration, anger, and, ultimately, solidarity sparked by the police murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day but decades and even centuries in the making, we feel compelled to do two things:
First, to pledge that the work we do going forward in advocating for a more walkable, welcoming, and sustainable Roslindale must be informed, in all ways and at all levels, by a central commitment to fight, every day and over the long haul, for a more just, equitable, and, yes, non-racist society – transportation and housing advocacy does not exist in a racism-free vacuum and we can’t ever ignore that; and
Second, to endorse the following formulation from one of our long-standing partners, LivableStreets Alliance, on the initial, but only the initial, steps we must take to make good on this pledge, specifically as follows:
How to be a White Ally
Being anti-racist requires constant, active, uncomfortable work and self-examination. What actions can you take as an individual in your own life? Who are you talking to about white supremacy and police brutality? Are you calling in your family members, friends, colleagues? Where are you spending your money? Are you donating to Black-led organizations and supporting Black-owned businesses? If you are choosing to attend demonstrations, are you using your body to intervene and stand between police and Black protestors to protect them or de-escalate potentially violent situations?
Tamika Butler, Toole Design’s Director of Equity and Inclusion/Director of Planning for California, shares five questions for white people to hold, answer, and act on every day in her most recent blog post.
- Do I understand that not being racist isn’t the same as being anti-racist?
- Why am I so afraid to be brave enough to confront my power and privilege?
- What am I waiting for to decenter whiteness and realize just because I have never experienced it (or seen the research to prove it) doesn’t mean it isn’t real?
- What am I doing every single day to force myself to think about racism and white supremacy?
- What am I doing every single day to stop the killing of Black people?
If you are in a position to do so, we urge you to consider donating to these organizations that are on the frontlines of the work for racial justice in Boston:
- ACLU Massachusetts
- Bikes Not Bombs
- Black Lives Matter Boston
- FANG Bail Fund
- Massachusetts Bail Fund
- Mass Action Against Police Brutality
- Spokehouse – Bowdoin Bike School
Where We Are; Where We’re Going
To be candid, we struggled writing this, in part because so many of the statements issued in the last few days feel hollow, and statements in and of themselves don’t make change. It’s easy to call out the racist, violent actions of others. It is much harder to look inside and acknowledge your own contributions to upholding white supremacy culture.
LivableStreets is a majority-white organization, and we know we have a long way to go towards becoming an anti-racist organization. Writing a statement isn’t the real work. Working towards dismantling racism and white supremacy in everything that we do is.
We will continue to address racial equity in small and larger ways. For us this means reforming our hiring and board recruitment practices and examining our culture and communication norms. It means centering our advocacy on the most vulnerable and oppressed, not on the loudest voice in the room. And it means supporting legislation like An Act Relative to Pedestrian and Traffic Stop Data, a bill sponsored by Sen. Chang-Diaz designed to prevent racial profiling in all traffic stops.
There is much more work to be done. You should anticipate hearing more from us about these issues in the coming days and months. For now we hope you will consider taking action in one or several of the ways listed above.
At WalkUP Roslindale, we are aware of the need to look both internally – at how we’re led and structured – and externally – at the organizations with whom we partner and how we approach projects and initiatives. Like LivableStreets, we are a majority-white organization that needs to do more to make sure our own leadership reflects the diversity of our neighborhood, especially black and brown voices. We will stick with this work and we will let you know our progress going forward.
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 UpdateJoin 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
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:
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.