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Tag: MassDCR

Comments on proposed MassDCR amendments 302 CMR 11 + 12

Comments on proposed MassDCR amendments 302 CMR 11 + 12

July 24, 2019

Laura Dietz
Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02114

Dear Ms. Dietz,

WalkBoston has reviewed the amendments to “302 CMR 11.00: Parkways, Traffic, and Pedestrian Rules” and “302 CMR 12.00: Parks and Recreation Rules,” and attended the public hearing on July 2, 2019 in Brighton.

This process should be put on hold until laws on micro-mobility and e-bikes are established by the legislature so there is cohesion between the law and regulations.

We also have some questions and comments based on our review:

  • What data are these proposed changes based on?
  • Are there any successes or failures in other states that MA is trying to emulate or avoid?
  • We have concerns about setting a limit of 20mph for shared use pathways. How was that speed limit established, and what is it based on? We need context sensitive speed limits, not one limit for all places. A 20mph limit is a speed limit that is recommended on residential streets, which include sidewalks for separation.
  • There are long section of definitions including BOULEVARD, PARKWAY, ROADWAY, STREET, but there is no definition of the different types of trails. Some of the suggested regulations describe ‘improved or natural surface trail’ vs. other types of trails; with no easy definition, this could lead to confusion.
  • Section 12.12(4) states they are ‘not permitted on improved trails less than 8 feet,’ would this mean certain sections of contiguous trails would allow/prohibit use?
    • Additionally, while we recognize the intent to create safe areas where there could be conflict, we fear that setting a regulation by width could have unintended consequences for future trail development.
  • The section on Violations/Fines/Penalties only includes info about parking.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.

Brendan Kearney
Communications Director

Comment Letter Re: a car-free option for Memorial Drive Phase III

Comment Letter Re: a car-free option for Memorial Drive Phase III

Commissioner Leo Roy
Department of Conservation and Recreation

May 9, 2019
Dear Commissioner Roy,

As part of the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Memorial Drive Phase III redesign between Eliot Bridge and the B.U. Boat House we ask that you consider a car-free option in the planning process.

As recently highlighted by Governor Baker’s Commission on the Future of Transportation, 40% of Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from transportation infrastructure and vehicles, half of which come from passenger vehicles alone. The pressing need to limit passenger vehicle trips, in concert with the City of Cambridge’s 1992 Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, justify consideration for a car-free Memorial Drive.

This planning process allows the State a unique opportunity to enhance regional park access by connecting adjacent parks (Riverbend Park, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, Riverside City Park, Riverside Press Park, Magazine Beach, and others) to the Charles River. Creating truly safe and accessible connectivity between walking and biking facilities along the Charles River and adjacent neighborhoods will have lower positive impact then a car- free option. By limiting vehicle infrastructure, the State will be expanding space for new parkland and an expanded tree canopy. Limiting car access to Memorial Drive will align with ongoing climate resiliency initiatives by reducing GHG emissions, increasing green space, but also by establishing space for further flood mitigation, an ongoing issue near Magazine Beach and Micro Center.

This concept of a car-free Memorial Drive is not new, but a logical extension of the existing weekend Riverbend Park Street closures, which demonstrate the desire for this type of expansive riverfront parkland. While recognizing that over 1,000 vehicles use Memorial Drive during peak hours, we believe that ongoing transportation initiatives including the Green Line Extension, the Allston I-90 Multimodal Interchange, West Station, the Grand Junction path and regional rail concepts, and the MBTA’s Better Buses initiative will provide viable alternatives in the long-run, significantly reducing the need for Memorial Drive as a private vehicle throughway.

The existing sub-standard conditions of the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path along Memorial Drive currently have high usership. There are currently over 1,000 daily bike commuters and over 1,000 daily runners and pedestrians. The existing conditions do not provide safe accommodation for existing users, and with future expansion of the regions multi-use paths, including the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway and the Grand Junction Path, this section of paths will see increased daily users. Providing safe and reliable accommodations for sustainable transportation and recreation modes should be the highest priority of the DCR.

There is precedence for a project of this scope, as when a two-mile stretch of a busy highway along the Seine in Paris, France, was permanently closed to cars in 2016, and turned into a bicycle and pedestrian promenade. This type of project could prove to be similarly iconic for the Charles River.

This is a complicated project. We recommend, along with The Charles River Conservancy and Magazine Beach Partners that a task force or advisory group be created to help better inform decisions throughout the process. The groups listed on their letter can help you provide better transparency and inclusiveness in the project. While early in the planning phase it is important to consider this highly impactful, once in a lifetime opportunity to restore Cambridge’s public shoreline. Thank you for your consideration of this unique opportunity to prioritize climate resiliency and public health.

Sincerely,

Tony Lechuga, LivableStreets
David Read, Longwood Area Cyclists
Alex Auriema, Memorial Drive Bicycle Group
Nathanael Fillmore, Cambridge Bicycle Safety
Janie Katz-Christy, Green Streets Initiative
Steven Nutter, Green Cambridge
Becca Wolfson, Boston Cyclists Union
Brendan Kearney, WalkBoston

WalkBoston testimony on traffic calming in Somerville

WalkBoston testimony on traffic calming in Somerville

Below is a written version of WalkBoston’s comments on traffic calming in Somerville, which Adi Nochur delivered verbally at the Council hearing on Wednesday, April 3.

April 3, 2019
Somerville City Council
City Hall
93 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02143

RE: WalkBoston comments on traffic calming in Somerville

To the Somerville City Council,

My name is Adi Nochur and I am testifying before you as an East Somerville resident and a member of Somerville’s Vision Zero Task Force. I am also commenting as a Project Manager at WalkBoston, a statewide pedestrian advocacy organization. WalkBoston is a signatory to the traffic calming petition that spurred today’s Council hearing.

I want to briefly comment on three issues, as follows:

  1. Speed Limits: WalkBoston supports efforts to reduce speed limits on residential streets in Somerville to 20 miles per hour. Achieving this goal is a fundamental issue of roadway design. WalkBoston also supports state legislative efforts to align speed limits on MassDOT and DCR roadways with local speed limits (H.3092/S.2042). As an illustrative example, we know high traffic speeds are an ongoing concern on Route 16/Alewife Brook Parkway.
  2. Equitable Enforcement: Data gathering is critical to ensure equity in traffic enforcement. Concerns over racial profiling are front and center in the current state legislative debate over hands-free/distracted driving legislation and local enforcement efforts also need to demonstrate sensitivity to these issues. State legislation that would enable automated enforcement (S.1376) can be part of a potential solution here.
  3. Concurrent Signalization: WalkBoston supports concurrent pedestrian signalization with a leading pedestrian interval at most signalized intersections. Our stance on this issue is further detailed in a letter we submitted to Mayor Curtatone on March 29, which is included as an attachment to these comments.

Thank you for your consideration of these issues. WalkBoston looks forward to continuing to work with the City Council to help Somerville achieve its Vision Zero goals.

Sincerely,
Adi Nochur
Project Manager

Cc: Mayor Joe Curtatone
Brad Rawson, Director of Transportation and Infrastructure

Re: Comments on H3073/S2049 An Act relative to micro-mobility and motorized scooters

Re: Comments on H3073/S2049 An Act relative to micro-mobility and motorized scooters

March 28, 2019

Joint Committee on Transportation
Joseph A. Boncore, Senate Chair
State House, Room 112
Boston, MA 02133

Joint Committee on Transportation
William Straus, House Chair
State House, Room 134
Boston, MA 02133

Re: Comments on H3073/S2049 An Act relative to micro-mobility and motorized scooters

Dear Chairman Boncore and Chairman Straus,

WalkBoston is Massachusetts’ main pedestrian advocacy organization, working to make walking safer and easier in Massachusetts to encourage better health, a cleaner environment and more vibrant communities. We write to provide the Committee with our comments on H3073/S2049 An Act relative to micro-mobility and motorized scooters.

We understand the need for state legislation to guide the roll out of scooters in Massachusetts and support the efforts of MassDOT, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), and a number of the state’s municipalities to provide a statewide framework for these new mobility devices. We also believe that scooters may positively add to mobility options for Massachusetts’ residents.

  • At the most fundamental level, we believe that in areas of the Commonwealth where there is more than occasional sidewalk use by pedestrians, motorized scooters should be accommodated on-street or in separated bike/scooter lanes where they will not conflict with people who are walking on the sidewalk.
  • As reporting is beginning to emerge from cities where scooters have been operating the number of pedestrian injuries attributed to scooters on sidewalks is significant, with 8% of “scooter” injuries in Los Angeles being pedestrians who were hit by scooters or tripped over scooters on sidewalks.
  • After many years of work to meet the requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) we are only beginning to approach an accessible sidewalk system. WalkBoston is very concerned that allowing the use of scooters on sidewalks will result in scooters blocking sidewalks and curb ramps. We recommend that municipal regulations require scooters to be locked to appropriate bike racks or corrals, as other communities around the country have started to consider.

Our comments are focused on H3073/S2049 because this is a comprehensive bill that has been drawn up with the active participation of the agencies noted above.

  1. We are pleased that the bill limits scooters to a speed of 15 miles per hour, although this will be very fast if it is happening on a sidewalk where pedestrians are walking at 2-3 miles per hour.
  2. We are pleased that the bill requires scooters to have front and rear lights and turn signals.
  3. As currently drafted the act would allow motorized scooters on all shared use paths operated by MassDOT or the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) including such places as the Southwest Corridor, the Esplanade, the Mass Ave and Longfellow Bridge sidewalks, and the Cape Cod Rail Trail. We do not believe that these heavily used paths that double as linear parks with significant numbers of young children, people with disabilities and seniors should be used by motorized scooters unless they are operated at a significantly lower speed (5 mph).

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important piece of transportation safety legislation.

Best regards,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Carol Steinberg
WalkBoston Board Member
Wheelchair user and 9-year member of the MA Architectural Access Board

Comments on Arborway Safety Audit Meeting and DCR Parkway Needs Along the Necklace

Comments on Arborway Safety Audit Meeting and DCR Parkway Needs Along the Necklace

February 7th, 2019

Commissioner Leo Roy
Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway St, 9th Floor
Boston, MA. 02114
Re: Arborway, Jamaica Plain, MA.

Dear Commissioner Roy:

We are writing to express our strong desire to partner with DCR and others to improve
safety for all users on the Arborway section of the Emerald Necklace in the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood for Boston. This area forms part of the larger Emerald Necklace and poses
serious challenges accommodating pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles safely in a
continuous manner along its length.

Over the last several years, DCR planning efforts have started, meetings have been held,
proposals made, but final plans or improvements are not yet planned or realized. We ask
that you re-double your efforts to improve Arborway from Jamaica Pond/Kelley Circle to
the new Casey Arborway. The Conservancy and our partners at Walk Boston and The
Boston Cyclists Union are very concerned with the number of incidents that have taken
place along the Arborway in Jamaica Plain recently. This section of roadway has proven to
be an increasingly dangerous stretch over the last couple of years, and we would like to
draw your attention to what seems to be a growing number of incidents in recent months.
The incidents have ranged in seriousness. Last year, a victim of a crash in 2013 succumbed
to his serious brain injuries and died.

Based on information received from local residents and the Arborway Coalition over the
summer months in 2018 there were:

  • 3 crashes through the fence across from the Arboretum resulting in damage to the fence and
    trees.
  • The pedestrian crossing sign at Murray Circle/Centre Steet /May Street was hit and
    knocked over twice, with tire tracks visible on the sidewalk.
  • A hit and run involving a motorist and bicyclist at Murray Circle.

Based on information gathered from a State Police Report (likely NOT complete) there were
approximately 150 reported crashes on the Arborway from Jan. 5, 2017 to Aug. 8, 2018,
which is an average of over 8 crashes per month.

In the fall of 2018, the Conservancy’s staff, Board of Overseers and others organized walks
through this area of the Arborway. Attendees included Nika Elugardo, new State Representative,
and Jennifer Norwood of DCR. The walks were helpful to see the issues along this section of
parkway (excessive speeds, lack of clear and safe pedestrian and bicycle amenities) and make it
clear that we are seeking a solution that improves safety for all – pedestrians, bicyclists and
automobiles.

We understand that alterations to the Arborway section of the parkways were put on hold until
the new Casey Arborway was completed. The Casey Arborway roadway work is now in place, so
we hope improvements can proceed without delay to the remainder of the Arborway.

We were pleased to recently learn that DCR is doing a comprehensive road safety audit of this
section of parkway and is working with MassDOT to collect all available data. We look forward to
joining an anticipated site walk and seeing a final report in April.

It is our hope that this safety audit will lead to good information, and will lead to a plan to make
improvements. Please let us know how we can support your efforts towards this goal.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter.

Sincerely yours,

Karen Mauney-Brodek, President
Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Wendy Landman, Executive Director
WalkBoston

Becca Wolfson, Executive Director
Boston Cyclists Union

Cc: Chris Cook Chief, Environment, Energy, and Open Space; Commissioner, Parks and Recreation;
Erin Gallentine, Director of Open Space, Town of Brookline;
Patrice Kish, Director of Historic Resources, DCR;
Jennifer Norwood, Director of External Affairs and Partnerships, DCR;
Conservancy Board of Directors and Overseers
Nika Elugardo, State Representative
Liz Malia, State Representative
Matt O’Malley, City Councilor