This Wednesday, February 27, elected officials will hold a public meeting to discuss ways to improve road safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in West Roxbury. The meeting comes after two pedestrian fatalities in West Roxbury over the last four months, one on Washington St in November, and one on Centre St in February. While the primary focus of this meeting is pedestrian safety, we cannot wait for a cyclist fatality before also prioritizing cyclist safety. We urge you to speak up this week for traffic calming measures that also make the roads safer for cyclists.
When the city redesigned Centre St 15 years ago, WalkBoston worked with a broad coalition of stakeholders to advocate for traffic calming and other measures to encourage walking and biking along this corridor. This group determined that Centre St needed a road diet — a reduction to one driving lane in each direction, with a turning lane when needed — as well as protected bike lanes, crossing islands and improved signals for pedestrians. The Boston Transportation Department rejected the community’s recommendations, instead opting to leave two vehicle travel lanes in each direction, saying this was necessary to accommodate car traffic. As with Tremont St in the South End, we continue to see that four vehicle lanes in commercial areas create unsafe conditions for all road users, resulting in a high rate of injuries and fatalities.
Although there is no stated location focus for Wednesday’s meeting, Centre St. in West Roxbury has a long history of unfinished improvement efforts.
More recently, in May of 2017, an engineering student at Northeastern University, working with Bike Union board member and Northeastern Professor, Peter Furth, conducted a traffic study that determined the traffic volume on Centre St. does not merit 4 vehicle lanes. They shared their findings and an alternative design (see below) with the City of Boston, but again the status quo — with parking and driving prioritized over safety — held. It is time that our roads start being planned for everyone with safety for pedestrians and cyclists prioritized over additional parking and driving space.
The good news is now is an opportune time for change. In 2017 GoBoston 2030 identified Centre St, along with all of Boston’s Main Street districts, as a place in need of walking/biking improvements to encourage modes other than driving so people can safely and easily visit businesses in their local neighborhood. And at the initial meeting of the West Roxbury Bike Committee, on February 13, City Councilor Matt O’Malley announced that he is including a request to redesign Centre St. as one of his budget priorities for FY2020. We will need your continued support to continue to support his request and to convince other City Councilors and Mayor Walsh to finally address this corridor. There is no reason for a local commercial district filled with businesses to have four vehicle travel lanes and ZERO bicycle accommodations, and we are encouraged by the possibility of changing that in the near future.
If you want to see traffic calming and protected bike lanes in West Roxbury, show up and speak up:
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Boston Lodge of Elks #10
248 Spring St, West Roxbury
If you can’t make it, email your City Councilors so they see the strong support for taking swift action and let them know that you support the highest level of safety for cyclists in West Roxbury.
- District Councilor, Matt O’Malley: firstname.lastname@example.org
- At-Large Councilor, Michelle Wu: email@example.com
- At-Large Councilor, Annissa Essaibi-George: firstname.lastname@example.org
- At-Large Councilor, Michael Flaherty: email@example.com
- At-Large Councilor, Althea Garrison: (no email listed) 617-635-4217
Please CC Chief of Streets, Chris Osgood; BTD Director of Planning, Vineet Gupta and the Boston Cyclists Union at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.