Letter from the Vision Zero Coalition to Mayor Walsh

On May 16th, 2017, City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was interviewed on WGBH radio. In the wake of the recent fatal hit-and-run crash that killed Rick Archer on Comm Ave and an uptick in pedestrian fatalities in Boston and nationwide, Mayor Walsh urged people who walk and bike in the city to take more personal responsibility. Mayor Walsh said that residents were placing too much blame on his administration to solve the problem. 

We were extremely disappointed to hear this rhetoric from the Mayor, and sent the following letter, with the entire Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, to the Mayor in response to his comments. 

If you would like to respond personally to the Mayor, please contact the Mayor’s office. Vision Zero is about designing streets that can account for human error, not blaming the most vulnerable road users. #VisionZero #StreetsAreForPeople #CrashNotAccident

May 17, 2017

Mayor Martin Walsh
City Hall
Boston, MA  02201

Re: Vision Zero

Dear Mayor Walsh:

When you announced the Vision Zero Action Plan in December 2015, we were proud to be your constituents. You demonstrated leadership when you stated:

“We know how to build safer streets. We know how to protect our most vulnerable road users, who are suffering disproportionately because of speeding traffic and distracted drivers. With this Action Plan, I am saying it’s time to act. It’s time to commit to eliminating fatal and serious traffic crashes from our daily experience.”

Which is why we were dismayed by your comments Wednesday afternoon on WGBH Radio.

On behalf of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition we invite you to work with us to fully fund and implement Vision Zero in Boston. We ask that you join us on Friday morning at 8 AM for a moment of silence for victims of traffic violence on City Hall Plaza. On behalf of those victims, we also ask that you apologize for the comments you made on the air.

Our streets are in crisis. Continue reading LETTER TO THE MAYOR

Another preventable tragedy: It's time to act.

Dear members and friends,Ride in Peace Rick

As many of you know, one week ago, we lost a member of our community. While riding home through the Back Bay, Rick Archer, 29, was struck by a car recklessly speeding down Comm Ave.  From all accounts, Rick was a thoughtful, creative, caring person whose early departure has left a large hole with his family and friends and the courier community in Boston.  The entire community feels this loss – yet another preventable death in Boston.

On Friday, friends of Rick’s called a meeting and invited others from the bike community to gather to talk about how to take this tragic loss and turn it into something productive.  As an activist and advocate himself, and someone whose identity was closely tied to biking, those close to him felt that advocacy for making our streets safer for biking was what Rick would have wanted us all to do in his memory.

The outcome is an action this week that we invite you all to participate ina ghost bike ceremony on Wednesday May 10th, followed by a mass ride over to City Hall to join the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) Budget hearing.

The annual budget hearings are significant because the City Council will be analyzing the FY18 budgets that the departments and Mayor have proposed, asking questions, and trying to figure out if it is enough funding to accomplish what needs to be done to achieve vision zero and make our streets safer for biking and walking.  It is not, and we have been saying this for months.  The budget hearing on Wednesday is a place for all of us to make a statement loud and clear, to Mayor Walsh and the City Council, that he is not doing enough to change our streets and make them safer for people to bike and walk.  The Mayor is not backing his vocalized commitment to Vision Zero with action, and we invite you ALL to join us in delivering this message on Wednesday.

We, and the City, know that speeding is rampant in the Back Bay.  There was a drag racing incident on Beacon Street in the Back Bay just over a year ago, in March of 2016, where one of the racing cars mounted the sidewalk, hit a tree, a fence and a person on the sidewalk and the car’s operator got in another car and drove away. Two people were also hit and killed while walking along the sidewalk on Beacon Street as a result of a crash involving a speeding vehicle, in June of 2014. While reckless driving is an individual choice made by the drivers in these cases, the way the streets in the Back Bay are designed contribute to these crashes by allowing reckless drivers to reach speeds that are double, or even triple the posted speed limit.

Changing these streets requires commitment, financially and politically, from the City and Mayor Walsh. We need to make it clear that his constituents want these changes to be made now.

The ghost bike ceremony will take place on Wednesday at Comm Ave and Clarendon from about 5:30-6:30pm and then we’ll all ride over to City Hall together. We’ll arrive in the middle of the hearing, by about 7pm, though the hearing will have started at 6pm. Anyone is welcome to simply go straight to City Hall for the hearing at or after 6pm as well.

Here is an important detail about our late arrival to the hearing: our entrance and disruption won’t be a loud one.  Having a silent and somber interruption and flooding the room with hundreds of people will be the disruption itself.  We invite you to wear black as a demonstration of mourning.

We shouldn’t have to wait for people to die to see changes made to our streets, but I have hope that our actions on Wednesday will push the City and the Mayor to take action. Please join us on Wednesday to call on Boston’s leadership to make the investment necessary to achieve Vision Zero.

In solidarity,
Becca Wolfson
Executive Director


Make Way for Bike Lanes!


Join us Sunday, April 23rd for a fun bike ride around (& around & around…) the Boston Public Garden to demonstrate to the City of Boston that we need safe bike facilities connecting our neighborhoods, paths, and parks NOW!

Meet us at Copley Square at 2pm, and we’ll ride to the Public Garden at 2:30. We’ll do laps around the Garden from 2:30pm-4:00pm. Feel free to ride as much or as little as you want and as slowly or as quickly as you want. This is not a race, but feel free to keep track of how many loops you do and brag about it to your friends at the after-party**. The ride will feature music, friends, and if we’re lucky a few fun-loving people will wear duckling costumes! (Costumes not required, but highly encouraged)

This ride is named after the popular children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” because it perfectly illustrates how the roads surrounding the Public Garden feel dangerous and uncomfortable for most people since they encourage high motor vehicle speeds. However, these streets can easily accommodate protected bike lanes around the Public Garden with little impact on motor-vehicle capacity, while simultaneously making pedestrian crossings easier and safer.

This area, in the very heart of Boston, is a major missing link in the bike network. People biking along the Charles River who cross the Fiedler Footbridge are stranded on Beacon and Arlington Streets, which function as multi-lane speed ways at many times of day. Providing safe bicycle accommodations here will enable people to make connections toward Downtown, the Connect Historic Boston bike trail, Harborwalk, and the Southwest Corridor Bike Path.

The City of Boston has set a goal of quadrupling biking by 2030, but in order to achieve that goal, we need a connected network of protected bike lanes and low-stress routes, and the streets around the Public Garden are a great place to start.

Families are certainly welcome to join in the fun. In addition to having volunteers at all of the corners of the Gardeb, we are organizing a “Family Group Ride” with volunteers helping wrangle kids as a group. While there is safety in numbers, please keep in mind that we will be riding in mixed traffic, and sharing the road with cars. If you are interested in helping / volunteering to be a Kids Ride Marshal please email Jon Ramos: jramos@bostoncyclistsunion.org

After the ride, please join us at “Cheers” located at 84 Beacon Street (you’ll pass it a bunch of times on the route).

More information can be found here.

Help Us Pass the Boston Bike Budget!

The City of Boston has made real progress toward changing its official policies to make riding a bike in the city easier and safer, but changes to our physical infrastructure have been slower. For many people who bike in Boston today — or would if it were safer — there has not been enough progress on the ground. The City’s Transportation Department is doing what it can, but insufficient staffing and resources are holding us back.

That’s why we’re asking Mayor Walsh to increase funding for safer streets in his FY18 Budget. 

In 2016, Boston allocated just $3.1 million for its Vision Zero Action Plan. That’s less than $5 per capita per year towards ending traffic deaths in our city. Meanwhile, New York City has dedicated approximately $13 per capita and San Francisco about $75. Boston is trailing behind cities that have been aggressive about building safe, protected bike infrastructure.

If Boston is going to end traffic fatalities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make our city more livable, we need a drastic increase in the city’s funding for safe, protected bike infrastructure.

Our proposal — the Boston Bike Budget

  • Increase the capital budget for Vision Zero from $3.1 million in FY17 to $12 million in FY18.
  • Increase the capital budget for the Strategic Bicycle Network Project from $900,000 in FY17 to $4 million in FY18.
  • Increase the capital budget for Transportation Planning from $200,000 in FY17 to $800,000 in FY18.
  • Increase the operating budget for Transportation Department Policy and Planning from $1,074,431 in FY17 to $2 million in FY18.

Take Action: Help Us Pass the Boston Bike Budget

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Send a personalized email (template below) to Mayor Walsh asking him to include the Boston Bike Budget in his budget this year, and forward the email to your local district city councilor and the four at-large (city-wide) councilors. Contact info is below. If you can, print out your letter, sign it, and mail it to the Mayor and councilors with a personal note asking for their support. Continue reading Help Us Pass the Boston Bike Budget!