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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) has just announced the 2018 Neighborhood Slow Streets (NSS) process and is inviting applications. In brief, applications are due August 24, 2018, and there’s a streamlined process this time, especially for areas that submitted last year. We here at WalkUP Roslindale were actively involved in encouraging all parts of our neighborhood to apply for the program in its initial phase and were delighted when the Mt. Hope/Canterbury area garnered a selection. We heartily encourage everyone who applied last year, but didn’t receive the nod (we’re looking at you, LANA, Lower South Street, and the Cornell Street area) to go for it again. As we have said more than once here at WalkUP Roslindale, the program really should go to every neighborhood citywide asap. Be that as it may, as long as we have the current system, everyone who can pull together the requisite focused area and community support should absolutely throw their hat in the ring and see what happens!
And we should take heart from the below images of the installed results over in the Stonybrook area of Jamaica Plain – one of the 2 initial pilot areas for NSS along with the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle in Dorchester. All of these elements – speed humps, diverters, and daylighted crosswalks – would be of use in every single residential neighborhood of this city. Every. Single. One. Anyone interested in applying should feel free to contact us at email@example.com. We will be happy to help your application in any way we can, whether it’s through peer-to-peer technical assistance or anything else we can do. Thanks!
With yesterday’s announcement by the Mayor’s Office and the Boston Transportation Department that BTD’s requested budget will be increased by $5 million annually starting in FY 2019 (i.e., July 1 of this year), we can all now safely say that the implementation of Vision Zero and Go Boston 2030, the major mobility policy and plan that took the better part of the administration’s first term to develop and adopt, has begun in earnest.
Check out the full announcement, Mayor Walsh announces transformative investments. There are quotes from the Mayor, State Rep. Russell Holmes, Roslindale’s own City Councilor at Large Michelle Wu, Sam Tyler from the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, and BTD Commissioner Gina Fiandaca. There is also what I view to be the money quote from Chief of Streets Chris Osgood, as follows:
“To manage our region’s growth, to address climate change, and to increase equity, we know we need to transform our transportation system. Building off the Go Boston 2030 plan, this set of investments is a major step towards that goal. It increases investment in the basics of our streets, such as well-timed traffic signals, smooth roads and good sidewalks, and it builds out a team that can help more people get around our city by bus, bike, car or foot.”
As can be seen, this really is a big step forward and worth the attention it’s getting. The additional funding, proposed to be generated by increasing the penalties associated with a carefully constructed list of major parking and traffic violations, is significant. (And we here at WalkUP Roslindale are excited to see the Roslindale Gateway Path cited as a key GreenLink eligible for some of the new capital funding.) But even more significant is what much of the new funding is intended to be spent on – “building out a team that can help more people get around our city by bus, bike, car or foot” – a team that includes:
- 6 new staff to form a “Transit Team” led by a “transit coordinator” that will plan, facilitate, implement, and maintain bus improvements like the Washington Street pilot in several more corridors across the city;
- One new traffic signal engineer to manage and re-time traffic signals to increase safety, and reduce traffic congestion and related vehicle emissions;
- Two new traffic signal mechanics to keep signals working as designed;
- Two new planners and two new engineers to focus on designing and implementing key Vision Zero programs, such as Neighborhood Slow Streets, and efforts to make quick improvements to some of Boston’s most challenging intersections; and
- Up to four new maintenance & operations personnel to ensure that infrastructure added to improve street safety, such as pedestrian delineators and flex posts, are kept in a state of good repair.
All of that new dedicated staff should be music to anyone’s ears who was concerned that the combination of Vision Zero and Go Boston 2030 were more ambitious undertakings than BTD had staff or resources to implement. It is now clear that the Mayor and his administration intend to make good on the promise the policy and plan embody. He and they are to be applauded and thanked for taking this important step. We here at WalkUP Roslindale look forward to supporting the budget request before the City Council and then doing everything we can to help the Mayor and BTD implement both Vision Zero and Go Boston 2030 in our neighborhood. We recommend that you do the same!
It’s been a long time that this particular set of changes has been in the works. But it sounds like Stonybrook’s Neighborhood Slow Streets improvements will go in next month. Pre-construction meeting to be hosted by BTD/PWD scheduled for Friday, August 25 at 6-8 pm at Curtis Hall in JP (20 South Street).
It will be really good to have slow street improvements actually put on the ground in this city so we can all go see what they’re like and share with our neighbors.
We last discussed the NSS program under Vision Zero back at the end of March, when 47 applications, 4 of them from our beloved patch of soil, were submitted. At that time, we thought only 2 areas in the city would be selected. In the interim, the city found additional money for 3 more areas, so yesterday…drum roll…BTD announced 5 selected areas, one of which is the Mount Hope/Canterbury area in the eastern section of Roslindale. Congratulations to the champions of that effort, including WalkUP Roslindale’s own Lisa Beatman and Rick Yoder! You can find the city’s official announcement here, and a Boston Globe article from today here. We are excited by this opportunity to improve street safety and slow traffic in our neighborhood and look forward to working with Lisa, Rick, their neighbors in MH/C, and BTD staff to get this done as soon as humanly possible.
As we have said many times at this blog and elsewhere, everyone in this city deserves to live on a safe street. Everyone on every street in every neighborhood.
…there were 47 applications for 2 to 3 selected winners. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s about the same ratio as the Hunger Games or the acceptance rate for getting into Stanford. The city’s announcement indicates that they will be announcing their decisions in May. We understand that all 4 of the Roslindale applications we were tracking were submitted. We’ll update as we have more information. Well done, neighbors!!!
We here at WalkUP Roslindale have been talking up BTD’s Neighborhood Slow Streets (NSS) program since they released the application package a few weeks ago. We even went so far as to host a workshop a bit over a month ago to inform and encourage our neighbors all across this great neighborhood to band together and apply. At this point, we are aware of at least 4 separate NSS applications in Roslindale that are in production and almost certain to be submitted by the March 24 deadline. They are listed below with contact information, their draft area maps, and, where available, links to the online surveys for residents in those areas to weigh in on their concerns and support for the concept of making our residential streets safer through calmed traffic:
Longfellow Area (from Knoll to Congreve, between Centre and South/Walter plus the spur of South from the Walter-South intersection to the commuter rail station): LINK to survey. Contact: Rob Orthman, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lower South Street (South/Bussey intersection down through the Archdale bridge, covering the side streets between South and Washington to Firth and then crossing Washington to pick up the side streets between Florence and Washington down to Cummins). SURVEY LINK. Contact: Steve Gag, email@example.com.
Metropolitan Hill/Beech Street (Metropolitan to Beech, Washington to Poplar): LINK here. Contact: Sarah Kurpiel Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mount Hope/Canterbury (residential side streets off of American Legion, from Walk Hill and Mount Hope to Cummins). Contact: Lisa Beatman, email@example.com.
REMINDER: Despite the cold temps forecast, we are going to stick with our first standout tomorrow morning, March 4, 2017 @ 11 am, at Washington & Cummins in Roslindale Square (Adams Park side of Washington). Bundle up and come on down!
Motivated by the common sense concept that slower vehicle speeds lead to safer streets, Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Walsh, recently exercised its local option to reduce the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph as of January 9. To draw attention to and increase awareness of this important change, WalkUP Roslindale will be organizing 60-minute standouts with hand-held signs around our neighborhood on each of the next 4 Saturdays.
Each standout will start at 11 am and end at 12 pm. The locations are as follows:
March 4 – Roslindale Square (meet on Adams Park side of Cummins/Washington)
March 11 – 5-way American Legion/Canterbury/Cummins (meet by the fire station)
March 18 – Walter/South (meet by Green T)
March 25 – Washington at WR Parkway (meet by the Dunkin Donuts)
We have secured a baker’s dozen signs from Councilor O’Malley (many thanks!), but it would be also be terrific for those interested in participating to bring your own homemade signs promoting the change as well. Thanks!!