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Tag: pedestrian access

Longfellow has come a long way!

Longfellow has come a long way!

WalkBoston is thrilled that after many years of advocacy, planning and design – and five years of construction – the Longfellow Bridge is open to all users. People on foot, on bikes, on the Red Line and in vehicles are all in motion. We celebrate the comfortable sidewalks, the beautifully restored ironwork and stonework, and the elegant new lighting. We are anticipating the fully accessible new bridge to the Esplanade which will open this summer.  Just a quick glance at the pictures below tell the sidewalk story!

Before (photos taken between 2007-2011):

     

After (photos taken June 2018):

We are continuing to work with our many advocacy partners to make biking across the bridge even safer than it is today, and are pleased that MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack has committed to a pilot test of a separated bike lane on the inbound to Boston uphill portion of the bridge. We urge everyone to take a walk across the Longfellow Bridge this summer to enjoy the fabulous views and the cool river breeze. Support your local advocacy organizations (like WalkBoston) to keep state and local decision makers moving in the right direction on transportation in order to make our Commonwealth the best it can be!
Maintaining access for people walking around construction projects

Maintaining access for people walking around construction projects

With Massachusetts’ booming economy, pedestrians encounter construction sites on streets large and small. WalkBoston recently led a lunch-n-learn at Commodore Builders, (a WalkBoston corporate supporter) focused on construction site management strategies that provide safe spaces for people to continue walking during construction.

Key points:

  • Maintain a safe path of ACCESSIBLE travel.
  • Match the solution to the setting – if there are a lot of walkers and busy streets, do not force pedestrians to cross the street. Find space for pedestrians on the same side of the street.
  • Provide advance warning at a safe crossing if the sidewalk is closed mid-block.

We shared good and bad examples of local construction sites and links to some good resources. If your company is interested in a similar presentation, please get in touch. Stay tuned: later this summer, we’ll be leading a construction access walk in Allston!

If you see a construction site that blocks access for pedestrians, we encourage you to report it to your city or town. In more and more municipalities across MA, you can dial 311, or use a reporting app like Commonwealth Connect. You can also tag us in photos @WalkBoston on Twitter.

#ClearCurbCuts Letter to the Globe

#ClearCurbCuts Letter to the Globe

To highlight challenges pedestrians face daily, WalkBoston produced a short video showcasing Amy Corcoran Hunt, who uses a wheelchair, navigating curb cuts 5 days after a snowstorm. In just 3 blocks Amy encountered 6 impassable curb cuts. The video was posted on Twitter and Facebook and viewed 55,000 times. WBUR then interviewed Amy, Channel 5/WCVB did a piece on the video, and the South End News featured it on its front cover. A letter to the editor by WalkBoston Board member Carol Steinberg followed:

During these snowy, icy days, we want to remind everybody to keep curb cuts completely cleared at all times so that wheelchair users are able to cross the streets like everybody else. I have often rolled to the end of a shoveled sidewalk, only to find the curb cut blocked with snow.

When my path is blocked and I stop, looking desperate, kind strangers will sometimes attempt to hoist my power wheelchair over the piles or stop traffic to help me cross at a driveway. We certainly cannot rely on the kindness, availability, and possible muscle power of strangers.

We must handle the snow so that everybody can get around.

Excerpt of Boston Globe letter 1/12/2018 WalkBoston Board member Carol Steinberg

This article was featured in WalkBoston’s March 2018 newsletter.
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The pedestrian/transit connection—walking to transit

The pedestrian/transit connection—walking to transit

By Erik Scheier/Project Manager, MBTA 

More than 30 percent of MBTA customers rely on the MBTA bus system for all or part of their daily commute. Almost all bus customers traverse public roads and sidewalks to access their bus service, which serves over 7,600 bus stops. Providing pedestrians with a safe, accessible, and convenient path of travel to and from each bus stop is critical if the MBTA is going to adequately serve the public, including seniors and persons with disabilities.

The MBTA’s Systemwide Accessibility Department (SWA) recently completed an accessibility audit of all bus stops throughout the system. The audit revealed that a significant portion of the MBTA’s bus stops have varying degrees of accessibility and safety deficiencies. WalkBoston has been a very active participant in the advisory committee and with MBTA staff carrying out these audits under the Plan for Accessible Transit Infrastructure (PATI).

It’s not uncommon for a bus stop to be located along a busy roadway where there are no sidewalks present. For a pedestrian to get to the bus stop, they must travel along the edge of the road — often less than a foot from a busy vehicular travel lane. In other cases, bus customers are dropped off on an isolated sidewalk or traffic island without any ramps or sidewalk connections. For someone in a wheelchair, they are literally stranded. A significant portion of bus stops don’t meet ADA requirements; pedestrian ramps are too steep or non-existent and sidewalk paths of travel are blocked.

The MBTA is currently advancing a program that starts to address these deficiencies and dramatically improve walking connections to bus service. Starting this summer, the MBTA will be engaging in a yearlong project to construct improvements at over 140 bus stops located in 20 different communities. These bus stops were identified in the recently completed audit as being the worst bus stops in the system in terms of accessibility.

Improvements will include new sidewalks, curbing, pedestrian ramps, signage, and general path of travel improvements. New crosswalks will be installed at multiple locations and several of these will be provided with flashing beacons or warning signs with flashing LEDs. The project will also include limited construction of bulb-outs, bus shelters, and benches.

Along with removing serious safety hazards and barriers to access, these improvements will improve and enhance walkers’ experience along sidewalks and streetscapes. Reconstructed and fully accessible bus stops with customer amenities will improve the experience of our current customers, and encourage new bus riders.

In addition to the MBTA, 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) provide bus service to cities and towns across the state. WalkBoston is expanding our work to help RTAs meet walkers’ needs. By improving customer conditions at RTA bus stops and stations, we can further expand transit use and reduce driving trips.

This article was featured in WalkBoston’s March 2018 newsletter.
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Comments on the Supplemental Information Document for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project

Comments on the Supplemental Information Document for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project

October 5, 2017

Brian Golden, Director
Boston Planning and Development Agency
ATTN: Michael Rooney
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201-­1007

RE: Comments on the Supplemental Information Document for the Back Bay/South End Gateway Project dated August 18, 2017

Dear Mr. Golden:

WalkBoston has reviewed the documents for Back Bay/South End Gateway Project many times. Although the proponent has made efforts to address some of the issues we raised in our prior comments, we continue to have concerns about the project impacts to the extremely busy pedestrian environment around the project area, and to several of the design elements suggested by the proponent.

We have reviewed the letter submitted by South End resident Ken Kruckemeyer and would like to concur with his comments and his very thoughtful suggestions about how to remedy some of the problems that he describes.

Possible garage exit ramp across the Dartmouth Street sidewalk adjacent to the Station
We remain vitally concerned about the possibility of an exit ramp from the project garage onto Dartmouth Street into the heaviest pedestrian traffic in the area. Back Bay Station Orange Line, Commuter Rail and Amtrak service presently serves approximately 64,000 passenger trips (alighting and boarding) each day. Many more pedestrians are simply walking by the site, arriving on buses, via cabs and in automobiles. The MBTA, MassDOT, and all people concerned with the continued economic vitality of the Boston area and a more sustainable transportation system, hope that this number will rise significantly over the coming decades. The Back Bay/South End Gateway Project must be designed and managed in such a way that the transit and transportation functions of the station are enhanced.

WalkBoston does not think that a project design that includes a garage exit ramp that requires cars to cross the Dartmouth Street sidewalk is acceptable. Putting the interests of drivers above those of the tens-­of-­thousands of pedestrians who use this sidewalk is not an appropriate use of public space. Given the intensity of sidewalk use, and the overlap of peak transit and garage use, we do not believe that the ramp can be designed and/or managed acceptably. Asking pedestrians to wait while single cars exit the garage is not a reasonable solution.

We are very concerned about the changes proposed for the station, the bus layover and the sidewalks and interior passageways, but we believe the exit ramp onto Dartmouth Street is a potentially disastrous step to take in such a congested area. We urge the BPDA to recommend that further consideration of the project as presently designed be delayed until this issue is resolved favorably with no garage ramp exiting across the Dartmouth Street sidewalk.

We would appreciate your consideration of our comments and look forward to your responses to them. Please feel free to contact WalkBoston with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack City Council President Michelle Wu City Councilor Josh Zakim Ellis South End Neighborhood Association Bay Village Neighborhood Association Neighborhood Association of Back Bay Ken Kruckemeyer