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Tag: Wendy Landman

WalkBoston Comments on DCR Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

WalkBoston Comments on DCR Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

November 6, 2020

Jeffrey R. Parenti, Program Manager
DCR
Division of Planning and Engineering
251 Causeway St.
Boston, MA 02114

Re: WalkBoston Comments on the DCR Arborway Parkways Improvement Project

Dear Jeff:

WalkBoston is enthusiastic about the direction that DCR is taking for the Arborway Improvement Project, both the range of choices that you have shown and the approach of providing opportunities for extensive public comments and input well before any decisions have been made about the project design. We look forward to working with you and the design team to arrive at a truly transformative design for this beautiful but dangerous piece of the Emerald Necklace.

Our comments are framed from the standpoint of design options and operations and are therefore not focused on the specific concepts that have been illustrated to date. As you and the designers have noted, the drawings are indicative of design approaches rather than design specifics.

  • We applaud the Common Features proposed in all three alternatives as outlined on the project website, including: the focus on safety for all modes, vehicle speed reduction throughout, increase in the amount  of parkland and reduction in the amount of pavement, and special care given to the landscape design and trees along the corridor.
  • We understand that the project is still in its early phases of planning and design, but echo the comments at the public meeting that the travel data for all modes is needed to better understand the pros and cons of each option. We caution that pedestrian and bike volumes will likely be understated if existing conditions are the baseline because so many walkers and cyclists avoid this portion of the Arborway in its present configuration. We hope that DCR and the consultant team can provide some understanding of how future conditions might reflect the likely increase in pedestrian and cyclist use of the project area.
  • We believe that separate walking and biking paths must be provided throughout the project area. The Arborway is an important bike commuting corridor, and mixing pedestrians and commuting (higher speed) bicyclists reduces the safety and comfort for both groups. Once the improvements to the Arborway are made, we believe that the corridor will see significant increases in both pedestrian and bike usage.
  • We like the introduction of a signalized pedestrian crossing between Kelley and Murray Circles in Alternatives B and C, and think it is an effective way of slowing traffic and making it clear to drivers that this is an area where there will be many pedestrians and cyclists.
  • We believe that eliminating the traffic circles at Murray and Kelley Circle will provide significant safety improvements for both pedestrians and bicyclists. As noted in MassDOT’s September 2020 Guidelines for the Planning and Design of Roundabouts, locations specifically called out as places where “roundabouts may not be advantageous” include those with “intersections with a heavy concentration of pedestrians and bicyclists,” and “intersections with acute angles between approaches.” Since the Arborway project is being specifically designed to address pedestrian and bicycle safety, and because its geometry may pose problems, we believe that the elimination of the traffic circles is an important element of project design.
  • While the different concepts show improved pedestrian crossings in many locations, we are concerned that there are still quite a few unsignalized slip lane crossings that remain in each of the alternatives. Significant design features, and possibly signals, will be needed to make these crossings safe for walkers and bicyclists.

In addition to our comments on the concepts and the broad conversation that DCR is undertaking, we also urge DCR to engage in more detailed conversations and outreach with the neighbors directly adjacent to the project whose travel patterns will be affected by the changes to the Arborway. We know that there is a long history of high concern by neighbors, and hope that intensive outreach can both answer questions and reduce anxiety about potential changes.

WalkBoston looks forward to continuing to work with you on this exciting project, and we also look forward to walking safely along a rejuvenated part of the Emerald Necklace from Jamaica Pond to Forest Hills in the (relatively) near future.

Sincerely,

Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director

Wendy Landman, Senior Policy Advisor

 

Cc: Nate Lash, nlash@hshassoc.com

One Minute, One Slide: Age-Friendly Walking in Boston and Beyond

One Minute, One Slide: Age-Friendly Walking in Boston and Beyond

Below is a “One Minute, One Slide” presentation shared by a member of the WalkBoston staff.
Text provided is as prepared for this year’s annual event on September 23, 2020 on Zoom. 

Wendy Landman

Aging in your own community is what almost everybody says they want to do. Massachusetts is working to live up to it’s declaration as an age friendly state and WalkBoston is in the thick of things with our age-friendly walking efforts across the state. Almost exactly a year ago today with the mayor and many local residents we were celebrating new benches in Grove Hall as part of Boston’s new WalkBoston-inspired bench program. Research has shown us that plenty of benches are a key ingredient of keeping older adults walking.

We could not have imagined that today our work would have transitioned to zoom and helping communities figure out the best ways to keep seniors active during COVID-19. That could mean creating pop-up connections between senior housing and nearby parks and shopping. Or carrying out walk audits remotely or with video conversations about individual walks.

We are also thinking about the future and have developed a list of our top 8 municipal infrastructure and policy recommendations for age-friendly walking. People from Egremont to Quincy, from Salem to Worcester and Barnstable want to keep on walking as they age in their communities – and WalkBoston is there as a partner for the long term.

WalkBoston testimony to a joint meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and the MassDOT Board

WalkBoston testimony to a joint meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and the MassDOT Board

Testimony as prepared for joint meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and the MassDOT Board, September 21, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, public comment to the Boards is via short phone messages that are played to the Board members at the beginning of each meeting. The I-90 Allston Project was on the agenda for the meeting and the following comment was provided by WalkBoston as a phone message.

Good morning Board members.

This is Wendy Landman, WalkBoston’s member of the I-90 Task Force and a veteran of the many-year I-90 environmental process.

I would like to begin my comments by thanking Secretary Pollack for specifically calling out walking and biking access to the Charles, and planning for dual paths along the Charles in her recent Boston Globe op ed.

As the Board and MassDOT turn to selecting a preferred alternative for the project I would like to remind you of the following sentence from the purpose and need section of MassDOT’s I90 Scoping report:

…“including service that provides a north to south connection through the Project Area as well as for options that do not preclude future intercity rail service and transit service on the Grand Junction Rail line.”

Of the three alternatives now under study by MassDOT, only the at-grade and hybrid options rebuild the little Grand Junction bridge over Soldiers Field Road which would permit twotrack rail service along the Grand Junction line to be added in the future. Because the highway viaduct option does not rebuild the little Grand Junction bridge, future Grand Junction service would require very significant, expensive and disruptive construction in the throat area again – essentially precluding such service. Hence, the highway viaduct option does not meet the project’s purpose and need as defined by MassDOT.

Among the alternatives under study, we believe that the at-grade alternative will best meet the project’s full purpose and need. We are pleased that conversations are now underway between some advocates, pro bono design teams and MassDOT to identify an atgrade alternative that serves all modes and all users of this critical transportation project AND helps restore the health and vitality of the Charles River and the Charles River Reservation.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the project.

January/February 2020 Newsletter

January/February 2020 Newsletter

articles

Snow clearance: my view (and queries) from my wheelchair
By Amy Hunt/South End resident
Newton’s snow evolution
By Andreae Downs/Newton city councilor
Digging in on snow
By Wendy Landman/WalkBoston senior policy advisor

snow quotes

Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person.
—Sylvia Plath (born in Jamaica Plain)

Snowflakes are one of nature’smost fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.
—Vista M. Kelly

A lot of people like snow.
I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.
—Carl Reiner

When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.
—Unknown

calendar

Registration or info for other events and public meetings can be found at walkboston.org/events

February 12, 2020 1-5PM
WalkMassachusetts Network 2020
South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc., 7 Bishop St, Framingham, MA 01702, USA (within a short walk of Framingham/ Worcester line.)

Our second in-person gathering of the WalkMassachusetts Network, at South Middlesex Opportunity Council in Framingham, MA (we will meet in their Cafe). This event is open to any local organizations working on walking! Free with RSVP. Please register by Wednesday, February 5th so we can plan for food.

March 25, 2020, 5-8PM
WalkBoston’s 30th Annual Party & Golden Shoe Awards
Boston Society of Architects
Fort Point Room / Atlantic Wharf 290 Congress Street, Boston
5:00 Eat, drink, schmooze
6:00 Program and Golden Shoes
Keynote Speaker: Mark Fenton
Tickets: $30 includes beer, wine and food.

Download the January/February 2020 Newsletter PDF

Digging in on snow

Digging in on snow

By Wendy Landman/WalkBoston senior policy advisor

One thing stays true for Massachusetts: It snows. And 11 years after it was written, WalkBoston’s report on better sidewalk snow clearance, Keep It Clear: Recommendations for Sidewalk Snow and Ice Removal in Massachusetts, remains shockingly relevant (download at walkboston.org/snow). While some cities and towns have adopted a more proactive approach to better clear sidewalks, walking after a snowstorm is still a challenge statewide.

Whether it’s from individuals with disabilities or parents who push strollers, each year WalkBoston receives calls and emails from people across the state—especially older adults—asking how we can help improve the conditions of sidewalks, curb ramps, traffic islands and paths.

While we would love to see municipalities take full responsibility for sidewalk clearance, today’s budget realities make this an unlikely scenario. However, the actions described below could significantly improve winter walking conditions at a much more modest cost.

  • Require municipal sidewalk snow clearance plans that set priorities for both public and private clearance, (municipalities)
  • Clear key walking routes—sidewalks and curb ramps—that provide access to transit, schools, public buildings, and senior housing, (municipalities, MassDOT)
  • Prioritize enforcement of private sidewalk clearance by zones that reflect walking demand. For example, homeowners in low-density areas with low demand might be exempt from clearing their sidewalks, while businesses in shopping areas with high demand would be ticketed promptly if they fail to shovel. (municipalities)
  • Develop engineering design improvements for curb ramps, intersections and raised crosswalks that specifically address the need to reduce slush and run-off pooling at the base of curb ramps. (MassDOT)
  • Establish protocols for snow plow operators to reduce amounts of snow piled up on curb ramps. (MassDOT, municipalities)
  • Create and disseminate a well-funded, multi-year public campaign about the importance of sidewalk snow clearance to the safety, health and economic strength of Massachusetts. (WalkBoston with MassDOT, Mass Department of Public Health/MDPH, and Executive Office of Elder Affairs/EOEA)
  • Develop guidance and legal mechanisms to help create a robust set
    of volunteer and paid programs to recruit snow shoveling assistance for people who cannot do this work themselves. (MassDOT, DPH, EOEA, municipalities)

Massachusetts sits in a climate zone that is especially slushy—with many freeze and thaw days that make winter walking conditions particularly difficult. Better sidewalk snow clearance is a critical component of Governor Baker’s commitment to be an Age-Friendly state, to Boston’s GoBoston 2030 transportation plans, and to the quality of life and economic development goals of every community in the state. Together, let’s take action to keep our sidewalks clear this winter.

This article was featured in WalkBoston’s January/February 2020 newsletter.
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