There are a few reasons why cities have been slow to reduce traffic fatalities, but a major one is the lack of clearly defined goals and benchmarks, says Stacy Thompson of Boston’s LivableStreets Alliance. If your city lacks specific targets on the way toward zero traffic deaths, it’s hard to hold public officials accountable for their progress (or lack thereof).
Thompson recently collaborated with the Vision Zero Network on a report about how cities can make Vision Zero plans more meaningful and actionable.
“This is an incredibly cost-effective way to move more people more efficiently along our streets without the time and resources required for capital projects,” said McFarland.
“Today is about trying to get riders engaged,” he said. “This is what we can have every day if we go to the city and ask for it.”
Stacy Thompson, director of the pro-transit group Livable Streets Alliance, said the agency should begin alerting these cash-dependent passengers to the pending changes immediately.
“If we move in the direction of a cashless system we need to do everything we possibly can to consider how that impacts the most vulnerable people in our community,” Thompson said. “There could be huge equity impacts for folks if they don’t get this right.”
Andrew McFarland, community engagement manager for LivableStreets Alliance — an organization that advocates for safe and affordable transportation in Boston — said he believes these new bike lanes will encourage more Boston residents to bike.
“This is one of the highest bike ridership corridors in the city,” McFarland said. “When you build safe infrastructure, it encourages more people to bike.”
"We're supportive of any option that helps knit the community back together."
-- Stacy Thompson, Executive Director of LivableStreets
Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance, a Greater Boston advocacy group, said a number of things could improve safety in the Hub, including limiting when large vehicles can access streets, improving traffic signals and crosswalks, and installing more bollards.
The public, she said, should “take this as a wake-up call to do things to keep people safe in their everyday lives.”
"Comm. Ave. is a great start, but the level of [its] success will depend on how committed the city is to building out a full network of protected bike infrastructure," said Stacy Thompson, with the LivableStreets Alliance. "The success of these lanes will also be more effective because they are part of a larger project that includes signal priority for the Green Line and 57 bus, protected intersections for pedestrians and easier parking for drivers."
People hate sitting in traffic, but for many, that’s unfortunately still their most convenient option. It’s time we all worked together to change that.
-- Charlie Denison, LivableStreets Alliance Advocacy Committee Chair
One problem you want the next mayor to fix? Roadways. “There’s an organization based in Cambridge called the LivableStreets Alliance, and it’s [about] designing our cities as if people lived in them and making things work at the human level. There’s a lot of good stuff in Newton that works at that level, but it seems to be going the other direction from that, and it’s a shame.”
-- Eli Beckerman, Newton resident
“It piqued the public’s interest. It’s hard for people to get their heads around changing their bus experience,” says Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets. “People picked up all-door boarding so quickly [during the pilot]. This proves we can make these changes and people will adopt them.”
"Disruptive as it may be, we need to more equitably spread the use of our road space because the past lack of traffic-separated cycling facilities has led to repeated deaths and too many injuries."
-- Steven Miller, on behalf of the Board of Directors of LivableStreets Alliance
“The T owns the buses but they don’t own the signals or the streets that they operate on — same goes for the shelters,” said [Andrew] McFarland. “It’s an opportunity to engage cities on this work.”
"People who are stuck in traffic, can't get on a crowded bus, or are afraid to cross dangerous intersections every day will tell you that the precarious state of our transportation system is not a sudden-onset issue ("Navigating our transportation future, Editorial, Oct. 4)."
-- Stacy Thompson and Jesse Mermell, the Alliance for Business Leadership
“It will be a beautiful, wonderful place to be if you’re not in a car,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of the Livable Streets Alliance. “And we are really excited about the bus priority.”
"As this important regional and local project proceeds, we urge state and Boston officials to minimize the impact of five years of construction, and make smart investments in our region’s future at the same time. Building West Station and its connections before demolishing the existing highway and putting the new highway at-grade on the ground will help this huge infrastructure project be as smooth, quick, and economical as possible." -- Galen Mook, Steven Miller, and Wendy Landman
Some, like Dorchester resident Lynn Holmgren with the Livable Streets Alliance, wanted an even lower speed limit.
“At a minimum, the speed limit on Morrissey Blvd should be reduced from 40 to 30 mph,” she wrote. “The road must also be designed in a way that will help to self-enforce the speed limit and restrict large trucks. Removing concrete medians, narrowing travel lane widths, and rethinking curb offsets are several ways to achieve this.”
[Stacy] Thompson agreed, adding that roundabouts are a part of the solution to America's dangerous intersections — one part of an ever-evolving response to concerns for traffic flow and safety.
"We advocate for context specific design," Thompson said.
Steven Miller, who is on the board of the [LivableStreets] Alliance, said the legislation would also codify some norms of bicycling that are not actually backed up by the law. Where a multiuse path crosses a road with a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way, but bicyclists are "not legally covered by the safety of that crosswalk," said Miller. The bill would give cyclists the right of way at those crossings.
“What this event does is highlight that, no matter who you are or how you get around, we all have challenges and should all be working together to improve our streets,” Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance, said in a statement.
“When bike planners at NYC DOT are working on comparable projects, they are always asking the question of how does this connect to nearby biking infrastructure? How does this contribute to the greater vision of a safe, citywide bike network?” [Andrew] McFarland says. “Whether the project is short-term or not, they commit … We’d like the City of Cambridge to adopt a similar strategic approach, which we aren’t really seeing with these pop-ups.”
[Creating new bus stations with platforms] would facilitate boarding and exiting for elderly people or those in wheelchairs, something important for routes serving hospitals, noted Stacy Thompson, executive director of the Livable Streets Alliance and a Boston BRT Advisory Committee member.
"The bottom line of Anne's research is that everyone wants and deserves safe biking infrastructure," said Andrew McFarland, community engagement manager at the LivableStreets Alliance. "Good street design is the ultimate guarantee for better ensuring traffic safety."
“We do typically see these [street interventions] when the public is pushing back against officials when they’re dismayed at the slow rate of change,” said Andrew McFarland, community engagement manager for the LivableStreets Alliance. “Let’s ask more of our city officials. Let’s not wait around for another crash to take another life.”
Boston saw a decrease in the number of deadly car crashes in recent years, but last year was the deadliest on record for pedestrians, with 15 deaths.
Of those, at least four were elderly and two were younger than 3 years old, which Stacy Thompson of the LivableStreets Alliance said refutes Walsh’s logic that pedestrians just need to pay attention.
“We need action from you and your administration, not victim blaming,” Thompson said in a statement.
“We are gathering at City Hall not only to get the attention of the mayor, but more importantly, to demonstrate solidarity with the thousands of Bostonians who’ve been impacted by traffic violence,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, one of several groups that constitute the Vision Zero Coalition.
“The bottom line is that if the administration doesn’t commit more resources and pick up the pace, we will lose more lives on our streets,” she said.
Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, which strives for better biking, walking, and public transit in the Boston area, said to the mayor’s credit, he cares about data and numbers.
But, Thompson added, if Walsh were to took a look at data collected by his staff, “he would see that the vast majority of people injured while walking and biking are children or older adults,” and not necessarily people listening to their headphones and trying to dodge traffic.
“It’s your grandmother, your child, your best friend — not a stereotype,” Thompson said.
Andrew McFarland, the Community Engagement Manager of LivableStreets Alliance, said his organization, which partners with the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, were “very shocked and disappointed with the Mayor's comments this afternoon.”
“They're victim-blaming,” McFarland wrote in an email to WGBH News, “and completely fly in the face us [sic] his administration's own policy, Vision Zero.”
Local cycling advocates will memorialize Archer with a ghost bike at the scene of the crash, according to Andrew McFarland of LivableStreets Alliance.
LivableStreets Alliance applauds the city's efforts to make our streets safer, more inviting, more multi-modal, and more supportive of local businesses -- including the use of higher parking meter fees in currently overcrowded areas.
--Patrick Starling, Member of the LivableStreets Advocacy Committee
Safe streets advocate Andrew McFarland said the severity of the Sunday crash illustrates the city’s need for better protections for cyclists and pedestrians. “Something we’ve been advocating for and the Vision Zero Coalition has been advocating for is stepping up response from the city,” said McFarland, of LivableStreets Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for safety, access and enjoyable streets for all road users. “It’s really, really unfortunate that this crash happened and we need to be prepared to respond to it in a way that really affirms we care about traffic violence,” he said.
Nidhi Gulati, program manager at LivableStreets Alliance, says that the focus should be on slowing traffic, making walking and biking more pleasant, and building an amenity for the people living along Columbia Road... “The bigger challenge is how do we tie the mini-neighborhoods together?” says Gulati. She says that planners will also need to address concerns about displacement and gentrification in Dorchester, where housing prices have climbed.
“A lot of the areas that are experiencing a lot of growth economically weren’t always a part of the bus planning process,” says Andrew McFarland, community engagement manager for the LivableStreets Alliance and its Better Buses initiative.
"It's easy to get into the zone and go straight," Thompson says. "Understanding what's going on around you will help you avoid crashes when you or motorists are making left or right turns."
“The city went to [residents] … then they looked at what is feasible and put it in the plan,” Thompson said. “The next 15 years is about implementation and the implementation won’t happen unless the same people who said that they wanted those things show up at public meetings, continue to say that they want those things and continue to advocate and fight for them.”
"'We want to see more than just talk of vision. This year and the next year and the following year, we're heavily advocating for an increase in transportation funding from the city level and we hope to see that from the city council and the mayor and others,'" [Stacy] Thompson said. 'Without that increase in resources and without that commitment, we will have done this for nothing,' Thompson said."
“We see this stuff happening in Everett, and we’re talking to our partners in City Hall in Boston, saying, ‘Why can’t you guys do this?’” says Andrew McFarland, community engagement manager for the LivableStreets Alliance and its Better Buses initiative.
“We know that New York City is spending $13 per person on Vision Zero, San Francisco is spending $75 per person […], and Boston’s per capita is $3. We can redesign intersections so it’s easier for people driving to see the people walking and biking around them, said Stacy Thompson."
“The Vision Zero Coalition, which includes organizations like the LivableStreets Alliance, the Boston Cyclists Union, and Walk Boston, recently released a report calling on Walsh and the City Council to devote more resources to street redesign and staff up agencies like the DOT and Department of Public Works, address Boston’s traffic safety problem. Traffic fatalities in Boston fell last year, but there was a jump in pedestrian deaths, according to Andrew McFarland of the LivableStreets Alliance. The group estimates 15 pedestrians were killed within city limits in 2016, up from nine in 2015."
“While cities and towns don’t control the MBTA, the cities and towns do control the streets and signals. The City of Everett debuted a bus-only lane in December during the morning rush hour, helping to speed the trips along a busy corridor. A similar pilot on Summer Street in South Boston would be well worth a try. Stacy Thompson at LivableStreets Alliance says “[buses] can be awesome, and they should be fun.” More pilot projects for bus corridor improvements can help with that."
“Buses are not the second-class citizens of the transit system,” said Thompson, executive director of Livable Streets Alliance, a local transportation advocacy group. “They can be awesome, and they should be fun... [she] said the local conversation about public transportation tends to focus on major rail projects, such as the Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford. But improving buses, and changing their public perception, can be done right now."