On Wednesday, February 27th, I organized a community meeting on pedestrian and traffic safety alongside Senator Mike Rush, Representative Ed Coppinger, the Mayor’s office, and the Boston Police Department. At the meeting, we heard from Chief of Streets Chris Osgood, Northeastern Professor Peter Furth, and the community. All 200+ people in attendance were moved by the grace and strength of the Wentworth family as they shared their story and offered thoughtful and effective suggestions for making our streets safer.
Captain Therese Kozmiski and Sgt. Scott O’Mara of Area E-5 Police Station explained how Boston Police have stepped up their enforcement on our streets. This issue is personal to Captain Kozmiski, and she has made sure that her team is out there every day. Area E-5’s crosswalk citations, typically an average of 50 a month, increased to 80 in the month of February. Area E-5 has also increased their motor vehicle citations by 118 per month compared to last year’s statistics.
Chris Osgood of the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) shared that Centre Street and neighboring streets will be a priority. BTD has already engaged a consultant to complete a Centre Street traffic and safety study that will result in a community process for comprehensive safety improvements and changes to the area. They also plan to redo a number of crosswalks, add signage, and employ other short-term strategies to improve safety.
Boston resident and Northeastern Professor Peter Furth spoke about an academic study of safety changes to Centre Street conducted by one of his students. The study concluded that a ‘road diet’ would be the best solution for safety on Centre Street: having one lane in each direction with a shared dedicated turning lane. After the crash, I reached out to Professor Furth to discuss the notion of a road diet, and left our meeting feeling that it is the best option for bringing about transformative change and getting us closer to Vision Zero.
We heard testimony from close to 50 residents who shared their concerns. Many residents supported the road diet concept, and several mentioned the need for dedicated bike lanes, while others mentioned concerns about traffic diverting to side streets and impacts on parking. Residents’ concerns were not limited to Centre Street. We heard about pedestrian safety in front of the Beethoven School on Washington St., Billings Field on LaGrange St., and safety in general on Washington St., Spring St. and Weld St. I think one thing nearly everyone can agree on is that rather than piecemeal changes, we have to tackle this problem with a holistic approach.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Chief Osgood announced that we’ll convene a follow-up meeting in June (once the traffic study has concluded) and present the findings to the neighborhood.
If you were not able to attend, I provided surveys to residents to list their biggest concerns; my team and I are compiling your thoughts to share them with BTD. In addition, I created a “Drive Slow Boston” sign so that neighbors will have a way to act immediately to improve safety and raise awareness around our neighborhood. My team and I will be happy to bring a sign to anyone who wants to put one up in your front yard. If you would like to complete a survey or receive a sign, please click on this link: www.votemattomalley.com/safety.
Our meeting in February, and countless conversations with residents who have reached out to me, has shown me that the Parkway community can come together to support each other through tragedy and find solutions to fix any problem. I hope that in the months and years to come we continue to show each other that our commitment to a safe and neighborly community can only become stronger when we work together.