fbpx

Tag: Southwest Corridor Park

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 Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

March 5, 2015
Attn: Christopher Tracy, BRA

RE: Comments on Copley Place Expansion, Boston, MA

WalkBoston submits the following comments on the Copley Place Expansion project design, with a focus on the pedestrians and community design aspects. The expansion to Copley Place will have significant impacts on future pedestrian activity in the project area, which attracts many pedestrians because of numerous hotels, Back Bay Station, Copley Square, the Farmer’s Market, the Public Library, etc. Now is the time and opportunity to make it more pleasant and safer for them. The pedestrian aspects of the site will play an extremely important role in the way the project meshes with its surroundings and with all modes of traffic.

We submit our comments despite the lack of community opportunity to see the plans ahead of time or to have adequate opportunity for input. It might be very useful for community groups to have another opportunity to view the plans.

Intersection of Dartmouth and Stuart Streets
With appropriate signal timing, the changes proposed for this intersection will make it much easier, more direct and safer for pedestrians to cross. It is essential that the WALK – Don’t WALK signals at this intersection be timed for concurrent walk, as they are currently. With these changes, there will no longer be frustrating waits for pedestrians on medians, as the crossings are direct and narrower. As we understand this particular design, it was first proposed and tested in 1995 and found to work well for both traffic and pedestrians. We trust that its basic elements are included in the present plan.

The Southwest Corridor Park
Our understanding is that the plan presented for the street level pedestrian crossing of Dartmouth Street, at the end of the Southwest Corridor Park, is essentially unchanged from the original design. The present excellent signal timing appears to efficiently handle traffic from all modes. This signal timing should be retained and the crossing widened.

The proponent should respect the history of the Southwest Corridor Park in the improvements that are proposed. One approach would be the inclusion near the entrance to the walkways of an 8’x4’ enamel plaque such as the one at Roxbury Crossing, giving the history of the Southwest Corridor project and sites of interest in the vicinity of Copley Place.

Sidewalk along Dartmouth Street at Copley Place
In the vicinity of this project, no sidewalk should be less than 12 feet wide, unobstructed. The best example is the sidewalk that now exists along the façade of Neiman Marcus. Since it is adjacent to the sidewalk, the proposed “winter garden” should supplement pedestrian movements at the edge of the site and be genuinely public, open 24 hours, guaranteed by a legal commitment with consequences for violations.

There should continue to be outside seating, preferably using the same benches, positioned 2 for conversation. The current gradually ramped approach from Dartmouth into the building should be retained and not replaced by steps.

Mass Turnpike exit ramp
WalkBoston requests that the exit from this ramp provide warnings or restrictions so that Turnpike drivers are slowed as they come into this urban area with many pedestrians. These might include painting lanes so that only one lane of cars will exit, adding rumble strips across the roadway or blinking signs inside the tunnel warning Turnpike drivers of their upcoming exit into a busy pedestrian area. The 25 mph warning signs installed some 15 years ago are not emphatic enough to slow cars.

Loop turn for vehicles at the end of the Westin Hotel
WalkBoston supports the narrowing of the loop turn from Huntington to Stuart at the end of the Westin. This improvement results in the elimination of the left turn lane on Huntington and the expansion of the island. It should be designed to be a pleasant park-like area with signs minimized or relocated.

Exeter/Stuart/Huntington/Marriott garage area
As we have previously commented, much more work is needed on the Exeter/Stuart/Huntington/Marriott garage area— implementation of better signal timing, narrowing roadway widths and shortening pedestrian crossings. The blocks of Huntington/Stuart from Mass Ave to Clarendon were widened in the 1960s auto era, and are now too wide open for this dense urban area. Their width and layout encourage traffic to speed and endanger pedestrians. This project should make the cross-section of the street narrower as has been done outbound on Huntington Avenue at Mass. Ave. and on inbound Stuart Street at Clarendon Street.

Harcourt/Huntington/Ring Road intersection
The Harcourt/Huntington/Ring Road intersection should be reshaped and re-signaled, especially since increased volumes of traffic will be using Harcourt Street for access to the proponent’s garage.

Sidewalk and crosswalk materials
All materials used for sidewalks and crosswalks should adhere to standards that have been established under ADA. All sidewalks should be constructed of concrete, using bricks, if desired, only for decoration because of the walking difficulties and hazards they create. Crosswalks in particular should be marked by striping, not pavers, on the roadway pavement. Pavers are hazardous for the disability community, parents with strollers, women with high heels and the elderly.

We urge the City to address these concerns by insisting that the developer show good faith in solving the issues raised by residents of neighboring area. Please feel free to contact us with questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Robert Sloane               Ann Hershfang
Senior Planner              Board Member, South End Resident