Last week, groups including the Boston Cyclists Union and Livable Streets Alliance held an event at Aeronaut Brewery with tips on cycling in an unsafe city.
[Tom Evans, Executive Director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority] cited the “LandLine” plan of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and “Emerald Network” project by Cambridge’s LivableStreets Alliance as two models seeking to form a network of trails as extensive as might be found in the Netherlands.
Stacy Thompson is with the Livable Streets Alliance, one of the groups sponsoring the race. “The problem is that our streets are designed for cars instead of being designed for people," she said. "So they are hectic, chaotic and oftentimes dangerous.”
Stacy Thompson of the Livable Streets Alliance said the fact that the electronic bicycle won the race shows that there’s always some new mode of getting around. “On the flip side, it’s still really hard," she said. "Almost every participant encountered a challenge today. And in some cases it was dangerous, whether it was a scary intersection, or something else. So if we’re going to be open to these new ways of getting around, we need to fix the problems we have today.”
The point, Thompson said, is not that any one mode of transportation is better than the others. She said the point’s that as we continue to plan our transportation system, we need to develop one that’s going to get everybody where they need to go during rush hour, no matter how they’re getting there.
“We actually took the word ‘race’ out on purpose, because we want to highlight more the challenge of getting around the city,” said Stacy Thompson, deputy director of the LivableStreets Alliance, an organization that advocates for policies that favor bikers and pedestrians as well as cars.
“The ultimate message is that it’s time for us to tear down the invisible barriers between modes in municipalities. Oftentimes there’s this really unhealthy conversation that bikes are against drivers, or pitting pedestrians against drivers,” Thompson said. “What we’re trying to say is everyone is just trying to get around, and if we prioritize people’s needs to move around Metro Boston, and we work to make our streets function better regardless of the modes people are using, we’re all going to be happier.”
“We are at, I think, an inflection point,” Thompson said. “So many groups are stepping back and saying, ‘What do we want our cities to be, and how are people going to get around five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now. They’re realizing that, today, our streets kind of aren’t working for anyone.”
“It’s real,” DeWolfe told me after the hearing. “We talk about people. We talk about elders. We talk about vulnerable users. But the point is, these are real people who are getting killed and hurt on our streets.”
“There are too many crashes, too many people who don’t feel comfortable on our streets,’’ said DeWolfe, executive director of the transit advocacy group LivableStreets Alliance. “I bike, I walk, and I drive across this city, and I don’t always feel’’ safe.
“It’s really big news and important to see the investment being made,” DeWolfe said. “It’s one thing to have an idea, but another thing to actually say that we want to put our money behind this, so this is really a great thing.”
“We know it’s not just about posting a different speed limit and all of a sudden that solves our problems,” DeWolfe said. “This also needs to come in conjunction with infrastructure changes so the street itself enforces it.”
“We, of course, believe that it’s important for people to pay their fares,” Thompson wrote. “Perhaps a better question to ask is, ‘Why aren’t people paying their fares in the first place?’ All-door payment options or off-board payment would make it easier and more efficient for people to pay their fares and help reduce the frustration people feel when they are all lined up at the front of the train trying to board and pay all at once.”
“One thing we were looking at with the survey was to get a sense of where people are traveling to and from and looking at helping with mobility for both commuting and recreation,” said Amber Christopherson of Livable Streets. “It’s designed for a duel function.”
"LivableStreets Executive Director Jackie DeWolfe wrote in an email that bikers in the city are excited for the upcoming construction, calling it a big victory for the 100,000 people who travel on Commonwealth Avenue."
“We’re planning for so far out,” says Jackie DeWolfe, executive director of the Livable Streets Alliance, “that we really don’t know what the world is going to look like in another five or 10 years.”
"I met him along with Stacy Thompson, deputy director with LivableStreets Alliance, a group that seeks to balance walking, biking, and public transport with cars. She herself doesn’t cycle in Boston though; she doesn’t think it’s safe enough.
“And I’m clear about that, because I’m working to make it safe enough to feel comfortable enough to bike,” said Thompson.
In the chicken and egg equation, Thompson said you need to build infrastructure before you get more cyclists."
"Stacy Thompson, deputy director of LivableStreets, said Vision Zero Boston’s mission resonates with residents because it lacks complexity.“What is really compelling about Vision Zero is that the vision is simple, that there are zero fatalities on our streets — period,” Thompson said. “So what that means is that we are focused on making our city safer.”
"There has been, and rightfully so, a tremendous amount of focus on the breakdown of the transit system in Boston during the winter of 2014-2015. I think sometimes what falls to fray is that it wasn’t just a breakdown of the transit system. There were sidewalks that weren’t shoveled. There were lots of bike lanes that weren’t clear and weren’t safe." - Stacy Thompson, Deputy Director of LivableStreets
"Safety is a communal responsibility, the group said — shared among motorists, bikers, and pedestrians."
“Safe, accessible, off-road paths and their low-traffic stress connections are simply a better way to get around the city" - Jackie Douglas, Executive Director of LivableStreets
“'Transit is the life blood of the city,' said Jackie Douglas, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance and a member of the BRT Study Group. 'This was an opportunity to deep-dive into one option for transportation across the region.'”
Click through to watch Jackie Douglas, our Executive Director and BU alum, in the accompanying video.
“Boston has a historic legacy of greenways and linear parks, which we appreciate,” said [Project Manager Amber] Christofferson. “But our current systems could be better connected to continue work that has been done for 100 years.”
Group has a goal: A regional path network that would let you walk or cycle from the Fellsway to the Neponset
Universal Hub links to WBUR's article "Cambridge Nonprofit Seeks to Connect 200 Miles of Paths" from September 12.
“ “We’re excited by Livable Street’s Emerald Network initiative,” [Boston Chief of Streets Chris] Osgood said. 'It’s a perfect pairing with Boston’s Green Links project — a plan to provide walking and biking connections for all residents to Boston’s largest parks. The Emerald Network takes Boston’s local plan to scale in the region. It sets a vision for connecting our communities, improving mobility and increasing access to this region’s parks. We look forward to continuing our work with them on this effort.' "
“ 'Years of thinking and research and collaboration have gone into what these connections might look like and where they should be,' [Deputy Director Stacy Thompson] said. 'We are talking about something that is around us already.' "
Press Release: Visionary New Initiative to Connect 200 Miles of Metro Boston Greenways Debuted by LivableStreets Alliance
“ 'With the power of the network, this will knit our growing city together without adding more cars to our roads,” said land use attorney Matthew J. Kiefer, co-founder of the Emerald Network."
“ 'The Emerald Network vision grows out of our region's fabulous heritage of multi-use parks, building on our existing portfolio of over 100 miles of parkland paths to create a 200 mile web of connection,' stated Steven E. Miller, Emerald Network co-founder."
“It’s not that people are giving up driving. It’s a shift in people wanting more than one way to get there.”
[Stacy] Thompson said the Boston area has some infrastructure, such as bicycle lanes and walking paths, that encourages alternate modes of commuting.
“You’re seing [sic] an uptick because this infrastructure is in place, but it’s not complete,” she said. “If we upped the ante on this infrastructure, you’d see an explosion of people making more choices about their own mobility.”
August 18, 2015 Download
The number of people using bicycles to get around the city is on the rise. But, in the last five years, more than a dozen people were killed biking in Boston. Most recently, 38-year-old Anita Kurmann died in a collision with a truck in Boston’s Back Bay. The investigation into her death is ongoing.
But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control finds that, nationwide, the number of cyclist deaths involving a vehicle have decreased overall. But that’s not so satisfying for bikers, drivers, or politicians and transportation planners. So, how can the roads become safer for everyone?
Guests: Jackie Douglas, Professor Peter Furth
"Finding and fixing a few hot spots is only the beginning, said Jackie Douglas, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance, a community advocacy group. Changes need to be made throughout the city, and quickly, she said. 'It’s not just about identifying the worst intersection, fixing it, and saying you’re done.'"
"It doesn't matter what [mode of transportation] you're taking," said Thompson. "What remains the same is that there's a city full of people and they're all just trying to get somewhere." - Stacy Thompson, Deputy Director of LivableStreets
“We could move so many more people efficiently and effectively throughout the region,” she said. “Boston is prime because we have the demand and we have the density to support it.” - Jackie Douglas, Executive Director of LivableStreets
“To really understand BRT’s potential, you need to erase all notions of what a bus is today. It's an entirely new approach to rapid transit with a proven track record for moving more people, more efficiently.” - Jackie Douglas, Executive Director of LivableStreets
"The 31 percent of Cambridge households who do not own cars deserve better access when they occasionally need it, and those of us who own a car will benefit, too. Every car-share spot will lead to lower parking demand, reduced traffic, lower emissions, cleaner air around our homes and playgrounds, and a more livable neighborhood." — Steve Miller, LivableStreets board and Cambridge resident, and Chris Taylor, LivableStreets Advocacy Committee and Cambridge resident
December 10, 2014
“Jeffrey Rosenblum, president and cofounder of the LivableStreets Alliance, said including bikes in the construction plans is important because the mode of transportation is increasing in prominence in the city. ’Car volume on the street is dropping. Pedestrian activity, people walking, is increasing by 80 percent,' he said during the meeting. 'Bicycling has more than doubled since the bike lane was put on a section of Comm. Ave. Since 1964, we keep breaking records for MBTA [Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority] ridership.’”
“Commonwealth Avenue has the highest rate of collisions per the amount of bicycling anywhere in the city of Boston, and it’s right in the heart of a major university,” said Jeffrey Rosenblum, advocacy director and co-founder of LivableStreets, a local transit safety group. “If you’re going to do separated bike lanes somewhere, this is where you want to do them.”