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Tag: pedestrian

Green Elementary School Walk Assessment

Green Elementary School Walk Assessment

On May 10, 2017, WalkBoston conducted a walk assessment in the vicinity of the William S. Greene Elementary School in Fall River, in partnership with the Fall River Mass in Motion program and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. The goals of the walk assessment were to examine pedestrian safety issues that may preclude children from walking to the Greene School and to recommend improvements to the local built environment that enable safer walking. Support for the walk assessment was provided by MassDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Awareness Program.

Read the full report here:
WalkBoston-GreeneElementarySchoolWalkAssessmentUPDATED 06-23-17-FallRiver

Comment on EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly

Comment on EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly

November 23, 2016

Matthew Beaton, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office
Analyst: Holly Johnson
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly – MEPA #15595

Dear Mr. Beaton,

WalkBoston is a 501©(3) non-profit, pedestrian advocacy organization that makes walking safer and easier in Massachusetts. We have reviewed the EENF and offer the comments below.

The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly is located on a 9-acre site at 5 Middlesex Avenue, Somerville, in close walking proximity to Assembly Station and to existing residential areas of East Somerville. It is planned to become an integral feature of the massive developments already taking shape in Assembly Square. Phase 1 of the proposed Project includes a 188-room hotel, and a 147-unit residential building with 6,000 sf of retail space on the ground floor. Later phases will include offices and residential units. The total space to be constructed within the site may reach 2,000,000 sq ft.

We are concerned that the proponent has not offered significant changes to the walking environment, except on its own site. The nearby Kensington Underpass, one of two connections between residential Somerville and the many worksites and attractions, should become its focus for improvements. The proponent has suggested a U-turn that would complicate pedestrian crossings at the underpass. The proponent should be required to develop improvements for pedestrians and vehicles at the underpass in an integrated way.

Recognizing the advantages of being located in the large Assembly Square complex of developments, the proponent notes that walking and bicycling through Assembly Square and on the paths along the Mystic River will be encouraged. The proponent also emphasizes the access provided to the site by public transportation not only at the new Orange Line rapid transit station, but also on bus lines located nearby on Route 38 and on Broadway in East Somerville. Access to public transit gives significant advantages to the proponent’s proposed complex of both office and residential units that can take advantage of the transportation services concentrated in the environs.

The proponent’s plan includes on-site pedestrian facilities and a plaza in the center of the development. The proponent vows that improvements to pedestrian and bicycling facilities will ensure security and comfort for those walking and biking. Part of these improvements will be a significant wayfinding element that will direct site visitors and users toward significant destinations, show walking times, and including public transportation services. The proponent also hopes to link the fabric of this new district to neighboring East Somerville.

The Assembly Square complex has already established pedestrian facilities throughout the property and highlights the riverside park and paths that make up a substantial pedestrian network. The proponent’s site will be able to take advantage of those improvements and link into them at appropriate locations.

The basic link between this site and East Somerville is the neglected underpass of I-93 at Kensington Street, which has not been updated since the construction of the highway. The proponent should take a leading role in the upgrading of this underpass, to bring to life the proponent’s laudable goal of a more appropriate connection into the surrounding community. Improvements to the underpass would bring about:
1. Improved pedestrian connections from East Somerville into the Assembly Square shopping area to reach proliferating new shopping, entertainment and work locations.
2. Improved pedestrian connections from the East Somerville neighborhoods to the new Orange Line rapid transportation station at Assembly Square.
3. A wayfinding network for pedestrians finding their way into and through the complex set of developments at Assembly Square.
4. Improved pedestrian connections both from Assembly Square as well as the East Somerville neighborhoods to the public transportation routes along Route 38, where bus stops are closer than the Assembly Square Orange Line Station.
5. Clear routes for access from Assembly Square to the major grocery store as well as commercial and public sites such as the library along Broadway in East Somerville.
6. A walking route for residents of East Somerville and people in Assembly Square for recreation and healthy daily activities.
7. Implementation of major goals of the City of Somerville’s “Somervision” program which looks to increase active and alternative transportation options, reduce congestion and promote workplace- and business-based policies and incentives to encourage changes in more choice and to expand bike, pedestrian and public transit use.

Improving the Kensington Underpass by itself is insufficient to protect users. The underpass, which connects East Somerville to Assembly Square near the intersection of McGrath Highway, Fellsway, Route 38 and the I-93 southbound onramp, has two at-grade street crossings where pedestrians must cross heavily traveled routes. The two crossings have painted crosswalks and pedestrian-actuated yellow flashing warning lights. More detailed analysis should be undertaken to assess the current levels of safety for people crossing at this location. Projections of future pedestrian traffic should be undertaken to analyze whether what level of additional safety measures might be appropriate.

Of special concern is the proposal by the proponent of this project that there should be a U-turn that would allow traffic from Assembly Square and this project to use the westbound service road along I-93 (called Bailey Road) to reach a point where it could u-turn into the eastbound service road near Route 28 to provide better access from Assembly Square to I-93 southbound. This would, according to the proponent help by “allowing vehicles to bypass two signals, thereby alleviating congestion.”  The U-turn would provide, in essence, a fourth option for exiting the complex and reaching I-93 southbound.

However, with the addition of this U-turn, people trying to cross at the Kensington Underpass crosswalk will always be faced with oncoming traffic at both eastbound and westbound service roads leading into and out of the U-turn. The addition of traffic to the two service roads is a problem for the pedestrians using existing Kensington underpass should be analyzed in terms of any improvements that may be made to increase its use.

Several options might be explored to alleviate this difficulty. One would be to reduce both service roads on either side of I-93 to one lane, so that drivers would not be tempted to bypass a driver who is yielding to a pedestrian in the crosswalk. That option might be sufficient to retain the un-signalized crosswalk.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments.

Best regards,

Bob Sloane
Senior Planner

Brendan Kearney
Communications Manager

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Comment Letter: A proposal for the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge

Comment Letter: A proposal for the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge

September 19, 2016

Mayor Martin Walsh, Boston
Mayor Denise Simmons, Cambridge
Stephanie Pollack, Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation
Tom Tinlin, Massachusetts Highway Administrator
Leo Roy, Massachusetts Commissioner, Department of Conservation and Recreation
Monica Bharel, Massachusetts Commissioner, Department of Public Health

Re: A proposal for the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge

Dear Friends:

Boston and Cambridge have declared themselves Vision Zero cities. The Healthy Transportation Compact has united our state agencies in concerted efforts to increase active transportation and improve safety for walking and bicycling.

DCR is on track to add a new Charlesgate Path and a signalized pedestrian/bike crossing of the Mass Ave Bridge to connect the Esplanade with the Back Bay/Kenmore neighborhoods (the crosswalk will be located where the Mass Ave. Bridge crosses the open space between inbound and outbound Storrow Drive). The new Charlesgate path, and the enhanced connection between the Esplanade and Charlesgate via the new crosswalk will generate significant new use by people walking and biking.

These are wonderful developments for people from across Massachusetts and the world who commute, amble and sightsee on the Esplanade, along Memorial Drive, and across the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge! And, they are all leading to more people on foot and bike on the bridge.

As we see the increase in people walking and biking, the lack of safe biking accommodation on the Mass Ave Bridge is leading to large numbers of bicycles on the sidewalks of the Bridge – an unsafe and uncomfortable situation.

We ask that MassDOT, DCR, Boston and Cambridge explore the re-purposing one of the outbound Mass Ave Bridge vehicle travel lanes to provide space for a protected bike lane on each side of the bridge, with access provided from the Esplanade and Charlesgate paths that will connect to the Bridge.

Based on a very preliminary look at the traffic volumes and lane use on the Bridge, we believe that improving the network by adding low-stress, protected bicycle lanes could be accomplished without significant impacts to vehicle operations. Providing protected bike lanes will both improve the safety of people on bikes and improve the safety of pedestrians by removing bicycles from the Bridge sidewalks.

We look forward to working with you and your staff to explore this suggestion.

Best regards,

Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston
Tani Marinovich, Executive Director, The Esplanade Association

Cc Senator Will Brownsberger
Senator Joseph A. Boncore
Representative Jay Livingstone
Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets, City of Boston
Gina Fiandaca, Boston Commissioner of Transportation
Joe Barr, Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation, City of Cambridge
Becca Wolfson, Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union
Stacy Thompson, Executive Director, LivableStreets Alliance
Richard Fries, Executive Director, MassBike
Herb Nolan, Solomon Fund
Renata von Tscharner, Charles River Conservancy
Peter Furth, Northeastern University
Suzanne Walmsley, Boston Athletic Association

Philip G. Coburn Elementary School Walk Audit

Philip G. Coburn Elementary School Walk Audit

The safety of the walking environment is critical to both protect those children currently walking to school, and to promote the idea of walking to school to those students who live within walking distance. In December 2014, two crashes involving pedestrians crossing on Elm Street occurred on the same day. One crash killed a crossing guard at the Garden Street/Elm Street intersection just after she had safely stopped traffic for several students. The second crash occurred at the mid-block crossing in front of the US Post Office. These crossings are used regularly by Coburn School students and staff.

Read the full report here:

PhilipG.CoburnElementarySchoolWalkAudit-WestSpringfield

ALARMING RISE IN MASSACHUSETTS PEDESTRIAN DEATHS IN 1ST MONTH OF 2016

ALARMING RISE IN MASSACHUSETTS PEDESTRIAN DEATHS IN 1ST MONTH OF 2016

Contact: Wendy Landman, wlandman@walkboston.org
Brendan Kearney, bkearney@walkboston.org
Office: 617-367-9255

ALARMING RISE IN PEDESTRIAN DEATHS IN 1ST MONTH OF 2016
Horrific crash early Monday morning in Boston underscores issue of pedestrian safety; at least 11 pedestrians have been struck and killed in Massachusetts in 2016

February 2, 2016 – Eleven people walking in Massachusetts were killed by people driving vehicles in the first month of 2016. Four of these deaths occurred in Boston. Early Monday morning a couple was struck by a person driving an SUV, who then proceeded to drag the middle-aged woman underneath her vehicle for almost three miles from Chinatown to Dorchester.

The underlying cause of each crash is not yet known. If this crash rate continues, Massachusetts would see a doubling of pedestrian fatalities by comparison with each of the last ten years. 79 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic crashes in 2013 and 70 in 2014, and preliminary data point to 72 pedestrian fatalities in 2015.

Traffic deaths are unacceptable and WalkBoston believes that they are also preventable.  While national data show a trend toward lower total traffic deaths, there has been a disturbing trend toward an increase in pedestrian deaths. We need to focus on protecting pedestrians who are suffering disproportionately from speeding traffic and distracted drivers.

Pedestrian fatalities in Massachusetts
Jan 4, 2016 – South Hadley – James “Jimmy” Collins, age 68
Jan 4, 2016 – Malden – Piere Simon, age 60
Jan 6, 2016 – South Yarmouth – Wyatt Maskell, age 19
Jan 9, 2016 – Worcester – Frank Jeffrey Call, age 56
Jan 12, 2016 – Roslindale – Silvia Acosta, age 78
Jan 13, 2016 – Dorchester – Queshon Ivy, age 43
Jan 18, 2016 – Reading – Jacob Goldberg, age 89
Jan 20, 2016 – Framingham – Patrick Stratton, age 25
Jan 20, 2016 – Quincy – Thomas Chen, age 84
Jan 24, 2016 – Dorchester – Nicholas Tammaro, age 66
Jan 26, 2016 – South Boston – name not released, age 66

At a glance:
● Failure to yield: at least 4 people were killed in a crosswalk while walking with the right of way.
7 of the people hit & killed were in their 60s or older (68, 60, 78, 89, 84, 60s, 66).
8 of the crashes occurred after dark, with 6 crashes between 4:45 & 8:00pm. (Sunset for MA in month of January: Jan1st – 4:22pm, Jan31st – 4:56pm).
● At least 1 of the drivers involved has been charged with OUI.
3 of the fatal crashes have been reported in the media as hit & runs.

In Boston:
Mayor Walsh’s Vision Zero Task Force has identified the most dangerous, high crash locations and corridors based on crash data from previous years; on January 22nd, a Safety Issues map tool was launched, which allows users to add locations of concern for people walking, biking, or driving in Boston.

The next step: this information needs to be used to make the operational, enforcement, behavioral, and built environment changes necessary to stop injuries and deaths on our roads. Safe streets for all modes of travel are critical for Massachusetts’ quality of life and economic vitality.

The Vision Zero Task Force’s rapid response team visits serious crash locations and recommends short term and long-term solutions to make the area safer for everyone after crashes. WalkBoston implores the city to sufficiently fund the rapid response program with capital budget dollars and give support so that longer-term street changes can be made.

Statewide:
Vehicle speed

A pedestrian struck by a vehicle going 40 mph has a 77% likelihood of a fatality or severe injury – while a walker hit by a vehicle going 20mph has only 18% chance of severe injury.

Adapting our communities for an aging population
There is a widespread desire by people to age in their own homes and to live in neighborhoods where they can maintain independence as they age. We must ensure that our cities and towns are safe to walk with well-marked crosswalks, slow moving traffic, adequate WALK time at intersections and good night lighting.

Nationwide:
Distraction

In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and approximately 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

About WalkBoston
WalkBoston is a pedestrian advocacy organization working to make Massachusetts more walkable. All of WalkBoston’s work is focused on making walking safer and easier in Massachusetts. Some of our current initiatives that are most closely focused on safety are the following;

● WalkBoston is a member of the Task Force for Vision Zero Boston (visionzeroboston.org), working toward eliminating traffic fatalities in Boston. The rapid response task force visits serious crash locations and recommends short term and long-term solutions to make the area safer for everyone after crashes.

● WalkBoston is one of founding members of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition (visionzerocoalition.org), which advocates for the implementation of Vision Zero in Boston and for the adoption of Vision Zero throughout Massachusetts. The new and growing coalition includes community-based organizations, nonprofits, businesses, civic groups and individuals representing communities across the state. Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.

● WalkBoston is working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in 18 Massachusetts communities with high pedestrian crash clusters to develop recommendations for safety improvements. In each community police, public works, transportation and other staff are engaged to help evaluate and remedy safety problems.

● WalkBoston is just launching a Safe Routes for Seniors program with the City of Boston’s Elderly Commission (and many others). The program will include pilot projects in three Boston neighborhoods to improve the built environment and develop policies and protocols for Boston under its Age Friendly City initiative. Walking safety is a key component of the project.

● WalkBoston’s annual meeting on March 22nd will focus on Vision Zero; our speaker is Leah Shahum, the executive director of the national Vision Zero Network (visionzeronetwork.org), which just last week announced Boston would be a Focus City. Learn more at walkboston.org

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Actions You Can Take:
1. Report unsafe conditions on the Vision Zero Boston Safety Issues Map

2. Learn how you can speak up for safer walking conditions in your community at a free Ped101 training session

3. Share this release: on Twitter or on Facebook

4. We’ve been offered a $10,000 matching grant toward our work to help move Vision Zero forward: Help us meet this goal.