Come to Boston’s first Open Streets festivals – called Circle The City – on July 15 (closing streets between Jamaica Pond and Franklin Park) and August 15 (closing parts of the Kennedy Greenway and nearby streets). Next: what about opening Storrow Drive’s outbound side every Sunday from 7am to 10am – nine miles of uninterrupted and totally safe room for bicycling, roller blading, walking, and family fun! And then Dot Ave!
The streets may belong to the people – in most cities comprising the single largest physical asset the public owns – but they’re functional dominated by cars. And the more traffic the less we are likely to use the roads, and the space around them, for anything else – and the less livable our neighborhoods become.Read more
We’ve all heard the argument: narrowing traffic lanes or removing parking will hurt local businesses. And we’ve all read the research headlines that show the opposite is true: widening sidewalks, adding trees, including bike lanes, expanding transit facilities, and making public space more multi-modal, people friendly, and environmentally rich increases the number of customers and the amounts they are willing to pay. (WalkBoston has a wonderful tri-fold pamphlet called “Walking Is Good Business” that contains a treasure of statistics and citations, some of which I’ve used in this post.) But we need to go beyond these generic arguments to focus attention on the three specific situations where Complete Streets provides significant support for economic development, and be able to articulate what those benefits may be. The three are:
- Suburban Business and Adjoining Residential Areas
- Urban Neighborhoods
- First Generation, Inner-ring Highways
CONTROLLING SEGWAYS, DESIGNING BRIDGE CROSSINGS, FACILITATING BIKE LIGHTS – Keeping Everyone Safely In Their Place
There actually is a common theme running through all three of this week’s seemingly unconnected items: how to deal with the changes in transportation choices that people will make as gas prices continue to rise, urban population expands, and congestion gets worse. Or, as my carpenter brother says about his tools, “the trick is keeping everything in its own place.”
SEGWAY IN THE WAY – Reclaiming Sidewalks for People
CHARLES RIVER BRIDGES – Part of the Path or the Road?
BIKE LIGHTS AT NIGHT – “Fix It” Enforcement
The first one applauds Boston’s effort to plan ahead for the influx of electric and low-powered vehicles – such as scooters, mopeds, electric bikes, and Segways – that people will increasingly use. If you agree, contact your favorite Boston City Councilor and urge a quick, positive vote for the proposal.Read more
While we’re waiting for the big transformations needed to deal with climate change, resource depletion, dietary distortions, inequality, and the other despair-evoking problems we face, it’s good to remember that incremental improvements are still possible – and may be all we can gain at this particular moment in history. The first five items in this post applauds small but significant steps forward while pointing out some additional actions that are still needed.
The fifth item picks up a previous post’s theme – the need for bicyclists to discipline their own community about dangerous and anti-social behavior. (See “Time To Stop Behaving Badly On Bikes“) As our streets are redesigned for pedestrian and cyclist safety, we will have to confront an inevitable backlash as car owners protest the loss of their once-privileged status and businesses worry (mostly inaccurately) about decreased access for truck deliveries, parking-dependent customers, and car-commuting employees. The last thing we need at this time are stupid cyclists (or jay-walkers) providing good reasons to oppose continued change.Read more
In economics, “efficiency” only refers to the allocation of capital. Unregulated markets that allow investors to seek the highest profit lead to the largest overall amount of capital growth, exclusive of any other societal effects. It implies that capital growth is its own reward and perhaps the most important goal.
Most of us have a broader and more humane definition of “efficiency” – not only accomplishing more with less but doing so in a way that is beneficial to both the system and those it affects – long-term sustainability, both individual and social well-being. And this conception of efficiency blends into an even more powerful concept: equity. Not that every one is or has exactly the same but that the disparities are minimized – that we accept that we are a community that rises or falls together. This type of equity requires acknowledging a collective responsible for maintaining a balance between providing freedom for individual creativity and security for everyone, for being accountable to contribute our proportional share of resources for the common good in exchange for having our needs taken into account.Read more
On behalf of LivableStreets Alliance, I have been participating in a 45-person Task Force representing a wide range of interests assembled by MassDOT to make suggestions on the design for the Longfellow deck surface. MassDOT will submit these ideas, along with its own analysis of which should be the “priority alternative,” to the Federal Highway Administration for review. Unfortunately, the bridge is not wide enough to include the entire list of facilities desired by pedestrian, bicyclist, car, and transit advocates – so the challenge is how to best divide up the burden of limited space among the various modes. The following is based on comments I made at the public meeting held near the end of the Task Force process.Read more
Aren’t we already walkable? We’ve got short blocks and a decent amount of mixed-use development, which encourage using your feet. Nearly 5% of our adult population walks to work, second only to New York. But most of our advantages are the dwindling remains of our colonial and immigrant inheritance – narrow winding streets, buildings fronting the sidewalk, three-decker density, scattered neighborhood business districts. Unfortunately, we have done our best over the past 50 years to catch up with the rest of car-centric America.
It should not be surprising that pedestrian accidents in Boston have jumped by 21 percent since 2006, reaching 776 last year according to police statistics. Fatalities have increased to 20 in 2008 from eight in 2005. Jaywalking is a local sport, and no one feels safe.Read more