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Category: Statewide Efforts

National Pedestrian Safety Month: Decrease Vehicle Speed

National Pedestrian Safety Month: Decrease Vehicle Speed

USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration designated October as the first-ever National Pedestrian Safety Month. WalkBoston commends the federal recognition of the importance of addressing the safety of the most vulnerable road users. We hope that National Pedestrian Safety Month will propel communities to focus on the safety of people walking.  In recognition of National Pedestrian Safety Month, WalkBoston will be publishing a series of posts that highlight pedestrian safety priorities and strategies for working on walking. 

Our first post focuses on the need to DECREASE VEHICLE SPEED. 

Speeding is a huge public safety issue: the Governor’s Highway Safety Association Report “Speeding Away from Zero” released in 2019 shared that 28% of fatal crashes in 2017 in MA were speeding-related. Higher speed, regardless of limit, is a factor in every traffic fatality or serious crash: there is less reaction time for a person driving to brake or avoid a crash, and a fast moving vehicle inflicts higher blunt force trauma on crash victims.

Road design plays a major role in how fast someone decides to drive. Picture a multi-lane highway with a center barrier and breakdown lanes. These features indicate that higher speeds are not only allowed, but expected. Now picture a street with one lane in each direction through a downtown business district with crosswalks, trees, benches, and bike lanes. Even before seeing a speed limit sign, the context tells the person driving to proceed more cautiously and to anticipate people walking and biking in the area. That is a well functioning Complete Street in action. In Massachusetts, more communities each year are adding raised crosswalks, speed humps, and small-scale neighborhood traffic circles to help make streets safer for all users, and reduce the possibility of high speed injury crashes.

Our Executive Director, Stacey Beuttell talked to Streetsblog MASS (“MassDOT Begins Reexamining Deadly Speed Limit Policies”) earlier this year about the importance of streets with context-specific speeds: “We often hear from residents and advocates that want to lower speed limits, and they ask us, ‘what’s the process?’ And we tell them, ‘honestly, if you do a speed study, they may actually raise the speed limit,’” said Beuttell. “Speed studies rule the day, and they shouldn’t. It should be context-specific. If there’s a school, or heavy foot traffic, or seniors living nearby, all that should be taken into consideration.”

To support communities who have been seeing dangerously high traffic speeds and unsafe driving behavior during the safer-at-home advisory in Massachusetts, WalkBoston partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Mass in Motion (MiM) Program and MORE Advertising to develop social media campaign graphics that MiM coordinators can use to raise awareness about safer pandemic driving behavior.

Another proven way to deter speeding is through speed camera enforcement. This tool is not yet permitted for use in Massachusetts. WalkBoston, Livable Streets Alliance, and Transportation for Massachusetts testified last October on behalf of the MA Vision Zero Coalition on S.1376 “An Act Relative to Automated Enforcement” in front of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. When employed properly, automated enforcement has been shown to effectively reduce unsafe driving behavior, the number of crashes, and the severity of crash-related injuries. Automated enforcement is used in 29 other states.

Stay tuned for more posts during National Pedestrian Safety Month that highlight pedestrian safety priorities and strategies for working on walking. 

Golden Shoe Award Winners For September 2020 Annual Meeting

Golden Shoe Award Winners For September 2020 Annual Meeting

As presented at this year’s annual event on Zoom, September 23, 2020.

Boston Public Library
Boston Public Library: David Leonard; Eamon Shelton; Michael Colford; Laura Irmscher; Ellen Donaghey; Beth Prindle; Boston Public Facilities Dept.: Patrick Brophy (Mayor’s Office); Tricia Lyons; Jim McQueen; Maureen Anderson; William Rawn Associates: Bill Rawn; Cliff Gayley; Sindu Meier; Elizabeth Bondaryk; Andy Jonic; Reed Hilderbrand: Doug Reed; Adrian Nial; Consigli Construction: Jim Hervol; Phil Brault; PMA: Chris Carroll.

This year the award goes to the Boston Public Library Central Library Renovation Team – for imagining and redesigning the landmark public space as a sidewalk-level, open, accessible place that welcomes people of all backgrounds and abilities.

 

Coalition for a Better Acre Walking Champions
Aurora Erickson (CBA program leader), Maria Claudio, Laura Diaz, Destiny Gath, Billy Heath, Michael Heath, Nandi Munson, Marianne Staid, Luz Vasudevan, and Ediana and Angel Williams.

This group met with us regularly for over a year to make changes to the walking conditions in their neighborhood. The Coalition for a Better Acre was a true partner in this effort. So the award goes to the Lowell Walking Champions for your persistence in voicing the need for safer walking in your neighborhood, and effecting lasting changes that advance walkability for all Lowell residents.

Tufts Health Plan Foundation & Boston Age Strong Commission
Tufts Health Plan Foundation: Nora Moreno-Cargie; Phillip Gonzalez; Kimberly Blakemore; Boston Age Strong Commission: Emily Shea; Andrea Burns; Nicole Chandler.

 

The Tufts Health Plan Foundation gave WalkBoston its start in age-friendly work by supporting our Boston Age-Friendly Walking program. This program yielded many successes including new benches and senior-focused, open streets events.With your continued support, we have expanded our age-friendly walking efforts across the state to make walking safer for people of all ages in rural towns and gateway cities. Tonight we honor you for embracing and advancing the age-friendly walking movement supporting healthy aging in communities across the Commonwealth.

The Age Strong Commission was an early and enthusiastic adopter of the idea that an age-friendly community must include age-friendly walking, and that the City must focus its energy on the streets and sidewalks that serve seniors with the highest need. Tonight we honor you with a Golden Shoe award for ensuring that Boston’s streets and sidewalks safely serve seniors so that all can continue to walk and age strong.

Keynote Speaker Mark Fenton

Mark Fenton is an adjunct associate professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, a nationally recognized public health, planning, and transportation consultant, an advocate for active transportation, and former host of the “America’s Walking” series on PBS television. Mark is a longtime friend of WalkBoston, and in fact, the one and only honorary lifetime WalkBoston member. I’m going to stop here and let those who really know Mark well introduce him.

Eight people killed while walking in August.

Eight people killed while walking in August.

In August, drivers have hit and killed at least 8 people walking in Massachusetts, more than in any other month in 2020. We don’t know all the details of the crashes yet, and honestly we may never know. 

What we do know is that these deaths were preventable. As an organization, WalkBoston continues to push for fundamental changes in our transportation system that work to eliminate pedestrian deaths and ensure safe mobility for all. We will look at these crash locations and see if there is a missing crosswalk or extra wide lanes that may have contributed to these crashes.  And if so, we’ll advocate for road design changes to slow traffic down and help prevent tragedies from happening again. But, our efforts will not bring these eight people back. 

Date of crashCommunityTimeNameAge
August 2, 2020Fall River9:20 AMDolores McHenry81
August 3, 2020Webster7:00 AMRichard Tetreault87
August 9, 2020Hopkinton3:30 PMLaurie Cain65
August 11, 2020Brockton8:52 PMMichelle Shelley Maxwell55
August 13, 2020Concord10:30 AMJennifer Bemis67
August 15, 2020Quincy11:20 AM(unknown, Canton man)68
August 15, 2020Boston – Dorchester (Peabody Sq)11:45 PMQualan Joseph Powell33
August 17, 2020Brockton11:50 PMJoseph Driscoll62

Sources: WalkBoston crash tracker | MassDOT Crash Portal

We need to make sure to all work together to make our roads safer for people to walk, bike and roll, and save other families from the pain of losing a loved one. If you live in one of these communities and want resources, contact us at info@walkboston.org

Age-Friendly Walking in your community: WalkBoston guidance for taking action

Age-Friendly Walking in your community: WalkBoston guidance for taking action

Age-Friendly Walking is a framework for planning and building cities and towns that are walkable for people of all ages. Walkability is key to ensuring that older adults can age in community, access goods and services, and maintain physical, mental, and social health.

To guide Age-Friendly Walking efforts for communities across Massachusetts, WalkBoston has developed a list of 8 policy actions and 8 infrastructure improvements that will help make communities more walkable. We hope these guidance documents can assist residents and municipal staff to take actions that will create accessible sidewalks and streets that are safe and welcoming for people of all ages.

If you would like to learn more about how WalkBoston can support Age-Friendly Walking in your community please email us at agefriendly@walkboston.org

These guidance documents can be downloaded here:
8 Age-Friendly Policy Actions
8 Age-Friendly Infrastructure Improvements

‘Safe driving during COVID-19’ PSA graphics

‘Safe driving during COVID-19’ PSA graphics

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, lower traffic volumes have led to dangerous driving speeds in communities across the Commonwealth. High driving speeds contributed to a doubled roadway fatality rate in the month of April in Massachusetts. Driver speeding affects all road users by making walking and rolling conditions unsafe and uncomfortable.

With the safer-at-home advisory still in place, increased numbers of people are walking, rolling, and running in their communities. To make roadways safe for all users, drivers must take responsibility to not exceed the posted speed limit and to yield to walkers and rollers who are using street space to maintain physical distance in areas with narrow sidewalks.

To support communities who are seeing dangerously high traffic speeds and unsafe driving behavior, WalkBoston partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Mass in Motion (MiM) and MORE Advertising to develop a social media campaign that MiM coordinators can use to raise awareness about safer pandemic driving behavior.

To broaden the reach of this important message, we invite all communities and individuals to use these graphics on your social media or other town communication platforms.

These graphics are set up for Facebook. Consider adding the following language as a comment to your social media post:

  • Keep our roads safe for everyone!
  • Safe driving is still important. Keep our roads safe for all.

Please consider every street a shared street and stay safe!

4 PSA graphic options (click for full size, and then right click to “save image as”):