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Tag: Somerville

Comment Letter RE: MEPA 16015 Mystic River Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing

Comment Letter RE: MEPA 16015 Mystic River Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing

May 13, 2019

Kathleen Theoharides
Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs 100 Cambridge St., Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: MEPA 16015 Mystic River Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing

Dear Ms. Theoharides:

WalkBoston has worked closely with other community and advocacy groups in support of this proposed bridge over the Mystic River. Because of its critical location at the junction of several lengthy riverside paths, it is of regional significance as a key element in the area’s network of pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfares – a system of facilities that WalkBoston has long supported. The critical nature of the connection is magnified by its potential service as a major walkway between a high traffic generating facility (the casino in Everett) and public transportation (the Assembly Station in Somerville). This new walkway will provide a three- minute walk to public transit (as opposed to a twelve-minute existing walk) and encourage a reduced amount of vehicular traffic in the area.

The Casino operators have supported the proposed bridge with investments of $2,000,000 to date, and have committed to help with further capital funding. We are grateful for this assistance and hope that this provision of private funding will encourage the state to fund a portion of the capital costs, giving the project a higher priority than it now has.

We were surprised that the proposed bridge width has been reduced from 15 feet to 12 feet. Given the impending opening of the casino, the bridge will see a great deal of use by cyclists and walkers who need to share the limited space. Nearly all other pedestrian bridges recently built or under construction by MassDOT exceed this reduced width, adopting a standard that is 14′ or wider. We urge you to adopt the more generous standard that reflects the design standards for 21st century bike and pedestrian bridges. When it is constructed, the bridge will be the only safe, off-road non-vehicular connection between North Shore communities and Boston.

Sincerely,

Stacey Beuttell
Deputy Executive Director

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

Letter to Mayor Curtatone about signal timing & LPIs

Letter to Mayor Curtatone about signal timing & LPIs

Mayor Joe Curtatone
Somerville City Hall
93 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02143

March 29, 2019

Dear Mayor Curtatone,

We wanted to reach out to you regarding recent signal changes on Beacon Street where exclusively phased pedestrian signals have been converted to concurrent phasing.

We appreciate that both City staff and residents are concerned about pedestrian safety and are pressing for more protections for people on foot. You said it yourself in the Somerville Times in 2015: “When you plan for people, you get walkable neighborhoods that create vibrant communities, with faces you recognize of people walking, pushing strollers and biking.”

LivableStreets and WalkBoston have advocated for years to move to concurrent phasing with leading pedestrian intervals (LPI). We ask that you please support the continued implementation of an overall policy of concurrent with LPI pedestrian signal phasing in Somerville, with limited exceptions applied in locations with (1) high volumes of seniors or children, (2) very high turning movements (250+/hour), or locations where data show a special need for exclusive signals.

We recommend:

  • The Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) be lengthened to give pedestrians a longer head start.
  • No Turns on Red signs be installed to restrict motor vehicles from turning during the LPI.
  • The concurrent walk signal phases should be automatic and not require a button. This is one of the key benefits of a concurrent signal. The shorter wait times for pedestrians are also shown to reduce the number of pedestrians who cross the street against the light.

At the intersection of Beacon Street & Park Street, 100% of vehicles coming from Park are turning. The City should consider whether an exclusive WALK signal is needed for pedestrians to cross Beacon Street or whether the volumes are low enough that a concurrent signal for the Park Street green phase (for pedestrians crossing Beacon) would be appropriate. There could still be a concurrent phase during the Beacon Street green (for pedestrians crossing Park Street or Scott Street) depending on the turning volumes.

At the intersection of Beacon Street & Washington Street, you might look at the signal timing adopted this week in Central Square, Cambridge. A right red arrow is now displayed during an extended LPI  (a “Super LPI”) which eventually turns to a flashing yellow arrow to remind drivers that they must yield to pedestrians and do not have an exclusive turn.

The reasons for, and benefits of, concurrent phasing and LPI are well presented in the brief by the City of Cambridge which implements LPI/concurrent phasing at almost every signalized intersection. There is also some fairly well documented research on LPI safety that is shared by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Jeff Speck in his recent book Walkable City Rules says, “Keep signals simple: most intersections should be concurrent and quick.” (Rule 74, page 176).

It should be noted that while concurrent phasing with LPI is generally safer and more convenient for people walking than exclusive phasing, there are exceptions. Older residents, people with mobility challenges, and small children in particular may feel more at risk. In most cases, when exclusive phasing is used, it is often near schools or senior centers, or locations with high volumes of turning cars (such as Inman Street at Mass Ave in Cambridge).

With the ongoing construction detours around Union Square there is presently the potential for increased vehicle volumes through these intersections and Somerville could consider combining concurrent and exclusive phasing to get the benefits of both for the duration of the detours.

Another option that could be tried is a push-button activated exclusive phase (noted by signage) that could serve the needs of people who feel uncomfortable crossing during a concurrent phase. Automatic concurrent phases would be retained during the balance of the time.

Sincerely,

Brendan Kearney
Communications Director, WalkBoston

Adi Nochur, Somerville Resident & Vision Zero Task Force Member
Project Manager, WalkBoston

Stacy Thompson
Executive Director, Livable Streets Alliance

Mark Chase, Somerville Resident
Urban Transportation Planner

Jim McGinnis, Union Square Resident

Jon Ramos, West Somerville Resident

Charles Denison, Somerville homeowner Ward 5

Steven Nutter, Somerville Resident Ward 4

Alex Epstein, Somerville Resident Ward 6 & Vision Zero Task Force Member

Comment letter on Waterways Application #W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

Comment letter on Waterways Application #W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

January 24, 2018

Jerome Grafe
MassDEP Waterways Program
1 Winter Street, 5th floor
Boston, MA 02108

RE: Waterways Application # W18-5358: Proposed bike/ped path from 80 Alford St/Route 99 to Draw Seven Park Ch 91 license

Dear Jerome,

WalkBoston is excited to hear of the proposal for a new bike/ped path connecting Draw Seven Park in Somerville to Route 99 in Boston/Charlestown. This path, atop the new MBTA sea wall at 80 Alford Street, will be a terrific boon to the Mystic River path network.

We support the Friends of the Community Path (FCP) and the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP) in asking for the following revisions to the proposed path design:

  1. Widen the path from 10’ to 12’-14’ wherever possible.
  2. Ensure that the path design will be harmonious with the ongoing Mystic River bike/ped bridge design, so that there will be an appropriate path connection to the future Mystic River bike/ped bridge at the Draw Seven Park edge of the MBTA busway property.
  3. Ensure that the path design does not preclude a signalized crosswalk over Route 99 for safe bike/ped access to Ryan Playground, the Schraffts building, and the Boston Harborwalk. Plans for a safe bike/ped crossing at this location will also need to take future roadway projects on Rutherford Avenue into account.
  4. Connect the path to one of the public roads (Beacham Street or Moosal Place/Sherman Street) that connect to Broadway, so that pedestrians and cyclists need not go all the way to Assembly Square and then turn back in order to reach Broadway.

We also support FCP and STEP’s call for a public meeting about this proposal. Given that this path will be an important link in the Mystic River path network, many stakeholders and members of the public have a compelling interest in these issues. WalkBoston looks forward to continued engagement to ensure that this critical path connection moves forward.

Sincerely,

Wendy Landman
Executive Director

SomervilleParks Map (2018 edition)

SomervilleParks Map (2018 edition)

Updated in 2018 with Shape Up Somerville. From street hockey to swimming pools, this map shows that there’s something for everyone at each of Somerville’s Parks and Playgrounds.

Click for “Somerville Parks Map” PDF