Here’s the upshot: Policy and aspirations in this city around walking and cycling and safer streets for all are not being met with resources. When the Herald takes note and publishes a front page article on the 9 pedestrian crashes that occurred on a single day last week and then local tv devotes as much time as they just have to the same issue, it begins to feel like the time may finally have come to really do what needs to be done to make our streets safer and better for all users. The municipal fiscal year starts every July 1. The FY2018 budget will be developed and approved in the next handful of months. The Vision Zero line item in the current FY2017 budget is $3.1 Million for a city of about 670,000 people. As the TV piece indicates, that’s woefully inadequate. On a per capita basis, it’s on the order of a third of NYC’s vision zero budget and 1/25th of San Francisco’s. Let that sink in. More to come on this.
Although it looks like the child will recover, we must remember it is predictable and indeed certain that crashes like this will happen again and again until and unless we do more than pay lip service to Vision Zero Boston. A quick look at the intersection, which is in the middle of a slope just past a peak limiting line-of-sight visibility, reveals a stark absence of critical infrastructure to protect people on foot: no crosswalk, no traffic calming, no curb bump-outs, not even a stop sign on the main street in a densely settled area with chronic speeding problems. There are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of intersections like this in Roslindale alone, and the fact that people keep getting hit and occasionally killed by cars in them is a reminder that these incidents are crashes, not accidents.
It’s time to demand more. We can’t just wait for someone to be seriously or fatally injured on a one-off basis to take a look at specific street crossings, and then spend a year patching up that one spot. Sign the Vision Zero Petition, speak to your neighbors, and tell your elected leaders and appointed bureaucrats at every possible opportunity that it’s time to proactively address road safety across the entire city. There are plenty of successful examples to follow, but at the rate we’re going now it will be a century or more before we realize the core Vision Zero principle: No loss of life is acceptable.
WalkUP Roslindale is joining with all of its allies in the Vision Zero Coalition to encourage everyone to turn out for a major Rally for Safer Streets. We will gather at City Hall Plaza on September 29, 2016, from 6pm-7pm to demand meaningful steps toward the Vision Zero goal of truly safe streets. Recent crashes and fatalities in Roslindale illustrate that progress has been much too slow and it’s time to turbocharge the movement. Facebook RSVP here, more details below. Spread the word! Read More
Not Random. The reconfiguration at Washington & Blue Ledge is part of the City of Boston’s ongoing effort to implement the Vision Zero Policy adopted about 18 months ago. Under this policy, which several cities have adopted around the US, our city has set a goal of reaching zero deaths among all users of our streets – drivers and passengers in motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others in alternative forms of wheeled/motorized transportation – by the year 2030. A major focus of the policy’s implementation is to respond to each crash involving serious injury or death by examining their location and making changes to improve safety. Washington@Blue Ledge is where Roslindale resident Silvia Acosta was killed by a speeding hit-and-run driver while in a crosswalk in mid-January of this year. The reconfiguration that is now under way seeks to reduce motor vehicle speeds and the so-called “double-threat” in the part of the crosswalk that crosses the northbound direction of Washington Street. Reducing vehicle speeds has a huge impact on whether pedestrians survive a motor vehicle crash — your chances of dying increase from
under 10% at 20 mph, to over 50% at 30 mph, to over 80% at 40 mph. The double-threat is something I’m sure we’ve all experienced, where a crosswalk crosses two lanes in the same direction, the car in one lane stops, while the car in the second lane can’t see the pedestrian for whom the stop is being made, posits that they are stopping for no reason, and goes around them, hitting the pedestrian in the process. This is a big step forward for this intersection.
Not Done. The reconfiguration at this location is not yet done. Boston PWD’s contractor should soon be installing (a) flex posts and bollards to delineate both the painted bump out on the southbound side and the pedestrian median, and (b) a push-button activated flashing beacon signal for the new crosswalk. Those of us who are focused on improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety in our neighborhood are intensely interested in this intersection and will be watching closely in the next few days to make sure these final actions are taken as soon as possible.
Not Adjusted to Overnight. Observations have been made that the new configuration has not yet taken hold and some drivers are still using the new bike lane as if it remains a motor vehicle lane. While unfortunate, this is not surprising. The installation isn’t done yet, and the experience around town is that getting drivers to comply with new roadway configurations takes time and patience. If vehicle speeds are slowing as drivers adjust, see point 1, above. The intent is that the new configuration will reduce vehicle speeds permanently by narrowing the travel lanes and improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
We last reported on this important location a couple of weeks ago, when construction notices went up and we were eager to see the thoughtful plan that BTD had prepared become a reality. Now, as we hit 210 days and counting, we are still at the stage where nothing has happened within the street to physically address the crash that killed one of our neighbors. As you can see from the photo, the last two weeks brought wheelchair-accessible ramps at 2 corners where a new crosswalk is to go, and bases for the poles that will hold the crosswalk flashing beacon equipment. All of the construction signs and cones/barrels have been moved out and we are again wondering exactly how much longer this will have to wait. I asked this question of PWD on Friday via Twitter, and informed that their contractor “is scheduling remaining work” and they will “update when the schedule is available.” I think we can all agree that we hope the work is done very, very soon – in other words, in a matter of days. We are now well over six months since this tragedy occurred, and this response has been painfully slow in arriving.
Construction cones went out yesterday, and the signs on the cones indicate that work will take place starting today and last the next two weeks. This is great to see and we will monitor progress here as the improvements take place. Thanks to BTD/DPW for getting this underway.
Still nothing further to report. We’re down to 6 days to go to what we understand is the deadline and we’ve risen to 179 days since the crash. As we are documenting here and as the Vision Zero Boston Coalition is documenting on its website, what the city has said about the priority of the rapid response at this location and the others where fatal pedestrian crashes have occurred is not being matched with action on the ground (other than the reported posting of 7 speed boards at 5 locations across the city).
Nothing much further to say about this milepost. We’re down to 20 days to go what we understand is the deadline, and we’ve risen to 165 days since the crash. We remain hopeful that this response will happen when we’ve been told it will. It has been delayed far too long already.