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Tag: running

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

Endorsing Somerville as a Runner Friendly Community

Endorsing Somerville as a Runner Friendly Community

August 31, 2016

Road Runners Club of America

1501 Lee Hwy, Ste 140

Arlington, VA 22209

To whom it may concern:

WalkBoston is a non-profit pedestrian advocacy organization that has worked for over 26 years in communities across Massachusetts to make walking and running safer and easier to encourage better health, a cleaner environment and vibrant communities. We are writing to endorse Somerville MA to be designated a “Runner Friendly Community” by the Road Runners Club of America.

Somerville is the most densely populated municipality in New England and is constantly looking for more ways to create safe spaces and travel options for residents. In 2014, Somerville was the first community in Massachusetts to pass a Complete Streets ordinance. (More than 50 communities have followed.) A “Complete Street” is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – walking, running, biking, taking transit, or driving – for people of all ages and abilities.

Somerville has a wonderful asset for people walking and running: the Community Path, a multi-use paved trail through the middle of Davis Square (one of the main commercial centers). The crosswalks for the path at the crossing of Cameron Avenue, Holland Avenue, Willow Avenue and Cedar Street are all raised to sidewalk level, showing that people walking and running on the path have priority at these crossings. The Community Path continues beyond Davis Square through Cambridge and Arlington where it becomes the Minuteman Bikeway, which stretches on to Lexington and Bedford, allowing for 10+ miles of running along the trail. Additionally, there are plans to extend the path an additional 1.9 miles to Boston, which would connect the network of pathways that line the Charles River.

This past March, WalkBoston collaborated with the Somerville Road Runners, the Somerville Police Department and Alderman Jack Connolly to present a free Runner Safety Panel for community members. The panelists shared experience and tips on personal and traffic safety, and gathered feedback from the crowd about ways Somerville could be made even better for people running and walking.

At the WalkBoston 25th anniversary celebration in 2015, we recognized the City of Somerville, Mayor Curtatone and many community partners for the work that has been happening to make Somerville a more livable place. The Mayor said it best: “the greatest benefit of walkability is perhaps the hardest to measure, but easiest to identify: it creates community.” We hope that RRCA will recognize Somerville for the welcoming community it is continuing to create with this award, and that it will encourage Somerville and other Massachusetts communities to keep making streets and intersections safer for all users.

Best regards,

Brendan Kearney

Communications Manager

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Chance to run with Best-selling author Christopher McDougall on April 18th!

Chance to run with Best-selling author Christopher McDougall on April 18th!

Best-selling author Christopher McDougall (“Born to Run”) will be in town on marathon weekend promoting his new book, “Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance.”

WalkBoston and the Somerville Road Runners are helping with a free fun run and Wild Fitness workout before the 2pm event! We’ll set off toward the river, covering 5k with a mid-run workout led by Wild Fitness creator Tara Wood.

The run is free, though runners must still hold a ticket to gain admission to the 2pm event (the 7pm event is now no longer ticketed, see changes below).

BOSTON:

Meet for the free run at 12pm. RSVP for the run on Facebook
Location: Old South Church, 645 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
Book Event & Stage Show to follow at 2pm (Buy a $5 ticket while supplies last)

CAMBRIDGE: 

Some big changes for the Cambridge event – the run is now just in Boston at 12pm, the 7pm event is now FREE, and it is taking place at the Harvard Book Store itself! Location: Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 (NO RSVP NECESSARY FOR 7PM EVENT)

Want to win a pair of tickets to attend the 2pm book event? We’ll be doing Twitter giveaways on the 3 Fridays leading up to the Boston Marathon: 4/3 (congrats Jenna F.!), 4/10 (congrats Sirrah H.!) & 4/17!

Rules:

1. Follow Chris McDougallWalkBoston and Somerville Road Runners

2. One of those accounts will send out a tweet on each Friday at 9AM that includes the phrase ‘RT to win’ in it; winners will be selected at 3pm that day from qualified entries.

3. If you are selected, we’ll tweet to you and direct you from there on how to get your tickets!

About the organizations:
WalkBoston is a non-profit pedestrian advocacy organization dedicated to improving walking conditions in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Founded in 1990, our goal is to make walking and pedestrian needs a basic part of the transportation discussion. WalkBoston is working on everything from pedestrian safety programs to Safe Routes to School training to fixing signal timing at intersections, which all help make communities safer for runners.  A number of runners will be running the Boston Marathon again this year as part of the WalkBoston team raising money through the John Hancock Charity Program for WalkBoston! More info on our Crowdrise page.

The Somerville Road Runners are a charitable, non-profit organization that sponsors many events a year including weekly runs, track workouts, annual races and even competitive but delicious cook-offs! The club welcomes new members of all abilities. Keep your eye out for the black and gold singlets on Monday, as 60+ SRR runners will be on the course. More info at srr.org

Path Repaving Input List for DCR

Path Repaving Input List for DCR

We have it on good authority that Massachusetts will one day emerge from winter. The Boston Cyclists Union has been working with the DCR on a great opportunity to give feedback on their path repaving work. This is a chance for runners and walkers to help target repair work. With spring marathons around the corner, runners cover many miles and know the pain points!

Please use the form below to point out opportunities for repair in your area and PLEASE BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE. You can submit sections separately; if you ask for the “Charles River Paths” we are far less likely to get action than if you call out the worst sections. When in doubt, submit. If it’s in a different jurisdiction they will let you know after sorting through the data. (Your name and number is attached so that they can get back to you if need be.)

For reference, DCR owned paths: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/recreational-activities/biking-paths-and-trails.html

DCR snow management plan http://maps.massgis.state.ma.us/map_ol/dcr_snow_priority.php

Thank you for your help. Please share this with other walkers, runners and cyclists that may have feedback to offer!

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Blind man walking (and running)!

Blind man walking (and running)!

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Kyle Robidoux is the Director of  Volunteer & Support Group Services at the Mass. Assoc. for the Blind & Visually Impaired.

I walk everywhere. As a marathoner, I also run all throughout Boston and neighboring cities.

I’m also legally blind so walking, along with public  transit, is my main mode of transportation. Therefore,  walkability is very important to me and my family.

The walkability of the city and its public infrastructure impacts me every day. It impacts where I walk, how quickly I can get to where I need to be, and most importantly how safely I can get there.

As someone with low vision (I have very restricted central vision, similar to looking through a toilet paper roll), I rely on sidewalks, curb cuts and ramps, and crosswalks to get me safely to where I need to be. I use a white cane most of the time so the quality of sidewalks and streets is very important.

Brick sidewalks are one of the most unfriendly surfaces for me and most folks with limited mobility (I assume most sighted walkers, too). My cane tip frequently gets stuck in a missing brick or I trip because of the unevenness of the sidewalk. Old (some say historic) sidewalks are very common in the South End, where I spend a good majority of my time. If I have a choice, I will avoid going down a street if I know it has terrible brick sidewalks. I’m thankful that the city has set a new policy limiting the amount of brick in the walk path when repairing/installing new sidewalks.

As my eyesight decreases, I am becoming more reliant on audible street crossings. Otherwise, I have to ask someone to help me find the push button. It would be wonderful if more street crossings had regular intervals in which to cross or a “walk signal” triggered by a sensor on the closest curb ramp.

My relationship to the built environment in my neighborhood plays a large factor as my eyesight decreases, especially during the winter. Trying to navigate unshoveled sidewalks and curb cuts blocked by snowbanks is physically and mentally exhausting. I walk my daughter to school along the South Bay Harbor Trail. Sections of the trail were not plowed this winter days after a snowstorm. Some days my daughter and I, along with other students, were forced to walk in the street because the unplowed path was too difficult to walk.

As our communities continue to develop, I hope less time and energy is spent on talking about parking and traffic and more on creating accessible public spaces.

Creating accessible spaces is not only good public policy but will also ensure that they flourish and reach their greatest potential.

This article was featured in our Spring 2014 newsletter. See the full newsletter & past editions here.

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