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Tag: covid-19

WalkBoston testimony to a joint meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and the MassDOT Board

WalkBoston testimony to a joint meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and the MassDOT Board

Testimony as prepared for joint meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and the MassDOT Board, September 21, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, public comment to the Boards is via short phone messages that are played to the Board members at the beginning of each meeting. The I-90 Allston Project was on the agenda for the meeting and the following comment was provided by WalkBoston as a phone message.

Good morning Board members.

This is Wendy Landman, WalkBoston’s member of the I-90 Task Force and a veteran of the many-year I-90 environmental process.

I would like to begin my comments by thanking Secretary Pollack for specifically calling out walking and biking access to the Charles, and planning for dual paths along the Charles in her recent Boston Globe op ed.

As the Board and MassDOT turn to selecting a preferred alternative for the project I would like to remind you of the following sentence from the purpose and need section of MassDOT’s I90 Scoping report:

…“including service that provides a north to south connection through the Project Area as well as for options that do not preclude future intercity rail service and transit service on the Grand Junction Rail line.”

Of the three alternatives now under study by MassDOT, only the at-grade and hybrid options rebuild the little Grand Junction bridge over Soldiers Field Road which would permit twotrack rail service along the Grand Junction line to be added in the future. Because the highway viaduct option does not rebuild the little Grand Junction bridge, future Grand Junction service would require very significant, expensive and disruptive construction in the throat area again – essentially precluding such service. Hence, the highway viaduct option does not meet the project’s purpose and need as defined by MassDOT.

Among the alternatives under study, we believe that the at-grade alternative will best meet the project’s full purpose and need. We are pleased that conversations are now underway between some advocates, pro bono design teams and MassDOT to identify an atgrade alternative that serves all modes and all users of this critical transportation project AND helps restore the health and vitality of the Charles River and the Charles River Reservation.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the project.

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

Make the case for safer streets in Boston today

Make the case for safer streets in Boston today

On Thursday, August 20th at 1pm, the Boston City Council will hold a hearing about plans for improving streets in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Will you take five minutes today to ask Boston to act with the urgency this crisis demands?

If you live in Boston, contact your city councilor: Ask that they attend this hearing and tell them you support these recommendations for improving Boston’s “Healthy Streets” plan. (Not sure what to say? We’ve included some sample text below.) It’s critical that councilors understand why action is needed to support essential workers and essential trips. If you have a personal story about either topic — maybe you’re currently riding the bus to work, or delivering food or medicine by bike — please share it with the council!

The City Council will meet at 1 p.m Thursday, so get your feedback in before then! You can watch the hearing live here. 

The steps Boston has taken to date are insufficient to meet this historic moment. With your support, we can get the city to not only commit to more short-term changes, but to making these long-overdue fixes permanent, too.

SAMPLE SCRIPT

Dear [councilor],

I’m writing to express my hopes for the next phase of Boston’s “Healthy Streets” plan for adapting streets in response to COVID-19. While I appreciate the steps Boston has taken to date, I am concerned about their focus and scope.

[Share your personal story about transportation and COVID]

I support recommendations made by the Boston Cyclists Union, MassBike, LivableStreets Alliance and WalkBoston for expanding and improving upon this initial effort. In particular, I would like this next phase of “Healthy Streets” to include:

  • Clear criteria for how projects are being prioritized
  • A greater emphasis on equity, addressing both systemic underinvestment and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on low-income neighborhoods and communities of color
  • A plan for keeping and maintaining improvements through the winter
  • A commitment to making short-term improvements permanent and/or collecting data from pilots to advance priority projects

Thank you,

[Your name]
[Address]

‘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”):

 

WalkMassachusetts Network Adjusts to ‘New Normal’ with a Virtual Gathering

WalkMassachusetts Network Adjusts to ‘New Normal’ with a Virtual Gathering

On June 26, a dozen WalkBoston staff and WalkMassachusetts Network members met virtually for the first time. Our conversation, held on Zoom, offered an important opportunity for advocates from across the state to check-in and provide mutual support in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The meeting followed WalkBoston’s Walkability and Main Street Resilience virtual panel on June 24, in which Stacey Beuttell (WalkBoston), Che Anderson (City of Worcester) and Alia Hamada Forrest (Roslindale Village Main Street) discussed strategies for expanding street spaces for walkers, rollers, and local businesses with an emphasis on safety, accessibility, and economic recovery. The WalkMassachusetts members discussed major takeaways and inspiration gleaned from the panel, including the variety of creative solutions that they hope to implement in their own communities. 

We also discussed how communities across the Commonwealth are approaching shared and open streets projects, which alter streets for increased active transportation and outdoor dining, and we learned that implementation varies. Network members shared examples of what is working well in their towns and cities and noted the challenges, such as securing funding for these projects and ensuring that there is still enough accessible sidewalk space for all pedestrians. Members noted how the narrative around “open/shared streets” has changed from one focused on public health to one focused on economic development. That change in focus appears to have sparked new interest in these strategies from state and local government. Advocates expressed concerns around accessibility and prioritizing alternative recreation spaces for children as playgrounds remain closed. Members also shared strategies for identifying streets that make good candidates for closure, and how to approach local officials with project ideas. We wrapped up the call with a closer look at the many funding opportunities currently available to towns, municipalities, and community groups for open/shared streets projects.

It was fantastic to hear from WalkMassachusetts Network members about how their communities are coping and see members supporting each other by sharing ideas for safer walking. WalkBoston works with Network members from across the state, so we are excited to continue using video calls as a platform for meeting and connecting more often with the larger group. Many of the Network members are working remotely, though some are working on the front lines. We look forward to creating accessible ways for all members to come together and share experience and expertise.