- Bike4Life Ride
Issue #43 / March 2010
In this issue
- Transit 2.0: The Developers Initiative, Tues. April 6, 7-9 pm >>>
- Don't let speed kill
- Want Federal funds for active transportation?
- Crosswalks, bike lanes and signs put on Longfellow Bridge
- State urged to upgrade entire River St/Western Ave Bridge area
- MBTA fiscal problems to get worse this year
- What will the Boston region look like in 25 years?
- Vote for LivableStreets
- Praise for State Action - Boston Globe
- Will our river crossings be bridges or barriers?
- LivableStreets featured on Down:2:Earth Blog
- Obama Administration issues new guidelines for bike and pedestrians accommodations
- How can the 66 Bus Route be improved?
- Newton applies for Bicycle Friendly City Award
by Chris Dempsey, Director of Innovation, Mass Dept of Transportation
Tues, April 6, 7-9 pm
@ LivableStreets office, 100 Sidney St, Cambridge [map...]
Open to the public. Suggested $5-10 donation. Harpoon beer provided as supplies last.
Pull out your phone, check if your bus or train is on time, and come to the LivableStreets Alliance StreetTalk to learn how technology is improving public transit. The Mass. Dept of Transportation Developers Initiative is a ground-breaking program that hosts transportation data that can be used by third-party software developers to build websites, mobile applications, and other applications that deliver information more efficiently and effectively to users of the Commonwealth's transportation system. Since the first developers meeting in the LivableStreets office, the initiative has led to the creation of several exciting web and mobile applications. Chris Dempsey will describe how open source data and innovative collaborations are helping Massachusetts travelers better plan their trips or find the location of their bus.
Chris Dempsey is the Director of Innovation for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Before his current role, Chris was Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation. Prior to joining state government, Chris was a staffer on the Patrick-Murray campaign, responsible for the campaign's volunteer, student outreach and internship programs. He is a native of Brookline and currently resides in Boston.
Hosted by LivableStreets Alliance.
Invite your friends on facebook!
Don't let speed kill
Speed kills. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle going 40 mph, there is a 90% chance of death. When struck by a vehicle going 20 mph, only a 5% chance.
Support the speed limit bill (H3643) that will decrease the prevailing speed limit in urbanized areas from 30 mph to 25 mph today!
Write: Chairman Murphy, State House Rm 234, Boston, MA 02133
Call Chairman Murphy: 617-722-2990
Read LivableStreets letter to Chairman Murphy here >>> Feel free to copy the text, sign your name, and mail it in.
Want federal funds for active transportation?
Support the Active Community Transportation Act (H.R. 4722) by calling your Representatives and Senators.
LivableStreets has signed on to a letter by the Transportation For America coalition in support of the Active Community Transportation Act introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) with the co-sponsorship of Massachusetts' Representative Michael Capuano. The bill would create a competitive grant program of $2 billion to help communities build bicycling and walking networks. For the first time, communities would be able to compete for multi-year funding to build active transportation systems, just as they do for transit and road infrastructure. The multiplier effect of this bill will create tens of thousands of jobs in construction and small businesses, invigorating local economies, while also saving Americans money at the pump. If it gains enough support, this bill will eventually become part of the upcoming national transportation refunding legislation. Therefore, it is vital that Massachusetts voters contact their Representatives and Senators to express their support for this bill.
Here is Massachusetts' list: Don't know who your rep is, click here to find out >>>
Rep. John Olver - 202.225.5335
Rep. Richard Neal - 202.225.5601
Rep. James McGovern - 202.225.6101
Rep. Barney Frank - 202.225.5931
Rep. Niki Tsongas - 202.225.3411
Rep. John Tierney - 202.225.8020
Rep. Edward Markey - 202.225.2836
Rep. Michael Capuano - 202.225.5111
Rep. Stephen Lynch - 202.225.8273
Rep. William Delahunt - 202.225.3111
Crosswalks, bike lanes & signs put on Longfellow Bridge
With your support we are seeing changes.
The Highway Division of the state's new MassDOT just repainted the bike lanes, added better crosswalk markings and stop lines, and installed thirteen new signs to increase drivers' awareness of cyclists and pedestrians at the Charles Circle end of the Longfellow Bridge-all a direct result of advocacy efforts by LivableStreets Alliance and other groups.
For years, LivableStreets Alliance has been advocating hard for improvements to bicycling and walking across this bridge, an especially difficult task because of the five different government agencies involved. In 2006, we got the DCR to widen the bike lane (and at the same time, put bike lanes on the Mass Ave bridge!), and a year later we convinced the MBTA not to eliminate the bike lane at the approach to Charles Circle.
In addition, our three-year campaign for better access for people in wheelchairs is a success! In a few months, the state will install sidewalks at the Boston end of the bridge to replace the "shelf" that now forces people into the street. Advocates and MassDOT staff are still contending over the final design for the bridge, which will receive a $350 million upgrade as part of Governor Patrick's Accelerated Bridge Program. Advocates are pushing for wider esplanade-like sidewalks and buffered bike lanes along with fewer numbers of traffic lanes over the mid-span and at the ends.
To read our advocates letter to transportation leaders, click here.
Support LivableStreets today to see the change you wish to see tomorrow.
State urged to upgrade entire River St/Western Ave Bridge area
While no one wants a bridge to collapse, from a transportation perspective, what happens on top of a bridge is even more important than what happens below. The River Street and Western Avenue Bridges form a circuit, with extensions to the Mass Pike entrances and exits on the Boston side, as well as along Memorial Drive on the Cambridge side.
LivableStreets Alliance has been urging MassDOT's Accelerated Bridge Program staff to include the entire circuit between and around the two bridges within its scope of work. Ideally, the entire area needs to be part of the design process even if some improvement work has to be postponed until other funding can be found or other entities (such as the City of Boston or the Turnpike) can pick up the effort. At a maximum, the entire area (including the two frontage roads above Storrow Drive on the Boston side) need to be worked on - the sidewalks widened; provisions made for safe bike travel throughout the area; automobile speeds drastically slowed; traffic lanes narrowed and turning patterns more clearly delineated.
Currently, it appears that MassDOT is restricting its scope to the main bridges and the secondary bridges over Storrow Drive. LivableStreets, as well as other advocacy groups, do not believe this will sufficiently improve safety or mobility for all users. The advocacy coalition intends to continue pushing at public meetings and other forms of discussion.
For more details, check out LivableStreets project page >>>
MBTA fiscal problems to get worse this year
The legislature's broken funding mechanism for the MBTA combined with the T being forced to assume billions of Big Dig obligations, is so unsustainable that the agency is forced to choose between raising fares and/or cutting service. Last year's one-time sales-tax rescue helped, but barely made a dent in the problem (MBTA's operating deficit this year is approaching $100 million.) Demanding that the T "improve efficiency" is just rhetoric used by legislators to divert the blame to someone else.
Good public transportation is an absolutely essential cornerstone of a sustainable, affordable, and healthy transportation system.
LivableStreets Alliance supports a long-term solution, including state assumption of the existing MBTA debt, that not only covers the operating deficit but also provides enough money for an extensive, expansion of public transit not just in Boston but across the state.
What will the Boston region look like in 25 years?
Every four years, our regional planning organization (MPO) establishes a 25-year roadmap for transportation spending. This is particularly challenging given that all projects in the plan must be designated a funding source.
LivableStreets Alliance asks you to contemplate this:
- What will Boston look like in 25 years?
- Will we be driving to work less and taking transit more?
- Will we be taking shorter trips by bicycle, or still getting in that car?
LivableStreets Alliance has a vision for the future that our city will be a much more livable place to live, work, and play. To accomplish that, it is critical for the region's Long-Range Transportation Plan to go further than the last one. The last plan said that by 2030, we will live in a city where the demand for trips by transit would increase by 50% (imagine 50% more people on the red line and green line during rush hours!), but the plan doesn't provide for transit service to accommodate these people.
For more information, check out MetroFuture
Click here to view the current plan >>>
Vote for LivableStreets today
LivableStreets Alliance has been selected as a semi-finalist for a Hazon mini-grant.
Praise for State action
Because we spend so much time critiquing and pushing public officials, it is a pleasure - and important - to praise them when they do something good. So, in response to a letter about the cost of police details on the BU Bridge, LivableStreets Alliance sent the following letter to the Boston Globe, which was published on March 12.
City, State get message on car-centric policies
Boston Globe Letter to the Editor / March 12, 2010
"Part of the reason for the expensive police details on the approaches to the Boston University Bridge is that the road is a safety nightmare. Since 2006, the LivableStreets Alliance has been pushing for improvements directly and through creating coalitions of walking, cycling, transit, and health, safety, and environmental advocacy groups. Fortunately, the City of Boston has become open to these suggestions and has improved pedestrian crossing and painted bike lanes. We particularly applaud the city's willingness to review its car-centric policies for street design in the upcoming Complete Streets Guidelines.
On the BU Bridge itself, the new state Department of Transportation deserves praise for listening to the public's needs and requests, then changing its original design to accommodate bike lanes in each direction in accordance with the state's own highway design guide.
Finally, since the entire Commonwealth Avenue intersection is about to be redesigned to allow for replacing the turnpike tunnel, whose upper deck forms the street surface, we urge the city, Boston University, and the Transportation Department to continue their coordinated planning in the spirit of the state's Mobility Compact, which commits the Commonwealth to create more walkable, bike-friendly, and transit-friendly streets."
Will our river crossings be bridges or barriers?
Musings on transportation, health, and livable communities
by Steve Miller, LivableStreets Alliance board member
The changes now being designed for the Charles River bridges will shape transportation in the metro area for decades to come. Will the bridges bring communities together, encourage healthy walking and cycling, and improve safety? Or will we just end up with more of the same? Public pressure will make the difference - but so will national transportation policy, which is being negotiated this year. One reason to favor non-motorized modes: bikes provide a terrific return on investment both to individuals and society. Another reason: as government budgets shrink, public leaders need to find ways for agencies to support each other - ways that transportation can improve health and the environment, ways that new energy sources can promote economic development, ways that public health can make communities more livable. Recent blogs discuss all this, and more:
Blog can be accessed from LivableStreets homepage or http://blog.livablestreets.info
LivableStreets featured on down:2:earth blog
"Transportation shapes where and how we live, which shapes our life style options and consumption decisions. But for too long the overwhelming focus of transportation planning was solely on moving cars as fast as possible. All other travel modes (transit, walking, bicycling, wheel chairs) and all other uses of the street space (socializing, shopping, playing, celebrating, and community building) were ignored. As a result, our air has become polluted and noisy, our streets unfriendly and unsafe, our neighborhoods under-developed.
Sidewalks and streets are often the single largest physical asset owned by a municipality. It is an enormous waste of limited tax money to reserve this huge asset solely for the use of cars.
In contrast, a livable street - including everything from the sidewalk to the roads and the buildings around them -- has been structured around the needs of everyday human life. It maximizes the opportunities for personal interaction, for accomplishing everyday tasks, for experiencing beauty and culture, for heath-promotion activity, for local shopping, for fun. ..."
Obama administration issues new policy guidelines for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations
On Thursday, March 11, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced his new Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations . LivableStreets Alliance welcomes the new policy's giving bicycling and walking equal weight with other modes. In Secretary LaHood's words, "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized....And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities."
The new policy promulgates new recommendations for state DOTs and communities:
- Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
- Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
- Go beyond minimum design standards.
- Collect data on walking and biking trips.
- Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
- Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
- Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.
For the text of the new federal policy, see:
Brookline task force suggests ways to improve MBTA's key bus route 66
The MBTA has secured $10M in funding for 15 "key bus routes." In Brookline, a citizen's task force has taken the initiative to make its own recommendations to the MBTA on improving Route 66, the 2nd busiest bus route in the MBTA system.
Their recommendations include providing signal priority (holding the green for an arriving bus) at 6 intersections in order to reduce traffic delays; adding shelters and benches to stops; increasing the average stop spacing from 7 per mile to 5 per mile by consolidating stops; and relocating stops to the far side of intersections where it's easier for the bus to pull next to the curb, where delays due to queuing traffic are less, and where signal priority will be more effective. The group also recommended the town step up enforcement of no-parking laws around bus stops and make Charlie Card more available around bus stops.
Newton applies for Bicycle Friendly City award
LivableStreets to speak at May 16 Bike Newton Event
Bike Newton, a new advocacy group, working with in-coming Mayor Setti Warren and the city's Planning, Engineering, and Police Departments, has submitted an application to the League of American Bicyclists for designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community. On March 21 a meeting was held to explain the BFC application. The mayor and 5 aldermen facilitated discussion groups. Bike Newton also organized a SmartCycling Clinic for kids of all ages in conjunction with the meeting.
Save the date for Bike Newton's 3rd Annual Rally and Friends & Family Ride: May 16 >>
Thank you to our Sponsors:
and Supporters: Harpoon Brewery, Taza Chocolate, Regina Villa Associates