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Data challenge to determine locations for 30 new speed feedback signs

July 26, 2017


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The signs will be installed on local streets where traffic safety issues are a concern.

As part of Boston's commitment to ensuring streets are safe for all, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department today announced a data challenge to help determine the location of 30 new speed feedback signs. The signs will be installed on local streets where traffic safety issues are a concern.  A kick-off meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 26, from 6-7 p.m., at CIC Boston, 5th floor of 50 Milk Street.  

"With initiatives such as Imagine Boston and Go Boston 2030, Boston has made every effort to encourage residents and others to participate in planning processes, ensuring that everyone's vision for our City is considered," said Mayor Walsh. "This data challenge is another example of the innovative steps we are taking to inspire creativity and participation in a decision making process that will have a real impact on the users of our streets."

"Reducing speed is a cornerstone of Vision Zero Boston," said Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca. "The City of Boston and its Vision Zero Task Force worked successfully over the past year to reduce the default speed limit in Boston to 25 mph, and we are now building upon that change in legislation by integrating speed feedback technology into our inventory of traffic management equipment."

The data challenge process will be managed by staff from the Mayor's Office as well as the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics. Participants will be asked to help the City of Boston develop a data-driven framework for deciding where these additional 30 speed feedback signs should be located. Final plans will be judged on Wednesday, August 23, at CIC Boston.

Data challenge participants will be encouraged to take the following potential variables into consideration:

  • Crash cluster locations
  • Locations of fatal crashes
  • Data taken from the Vision Zero online Safety Concerns Map
  • Demographic info, such as density of school aged children, older adults, race and ethnicity, and median income
  • Land uses, such as schools, parks, elderly housing and hospitals
  • Speed Studies
  • 311 data
  • Locations suggested by City of Boston staff
  • Locations of existing speed feedback signs

Speed feedback signs have already been installed in 20 locations as part of the City of Boston's commitment to Vision Zero, the City's plan to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes in the City by 2030. The Vision Zero Boston Annual Report, released earlier this year, includes a map of completed safety projects and identifies the locations of these existing signs.

The new solar-powered and digital speed feedback signs will display both the speed limit at that location and the speed of an approaching vehicle, and will flash if the vehicle is surpassing the speed limit. Speed feedback signs improve compliance with the speed limit and tend to reduce vehicle speeds by 4-5 mph; even greater speed reductions are experienced when the signs are placed in identified school zones. Even a modest reduction in speed can have a significant impact in reducing injuries. Installation of the new signs in Boston is expected to begin this fall.

Today's announcement builds on Mayor Walsh's commitment to make the streets of Boston safe for all users of our roadways. Last week, Mayor Walsh announced the selection of five neighborhoods for participation in the Neighborhood Slow Streets Program, a community-based traffic calming measure to reduce speeds and improve quality of life on Boston's local streets. In addition, Mayor Walsh announced in May a commitment to increase Boston's Vision Zero investment by $1 million in Fiscal Year 2018 to $4.1 million, dedicated to Boston's Neighborhood Slow Streets program.

These initiatives are part of Go Boston 2030, the City's strategic transportation plan, that will invest $709 million over the next five years to implement safer streets, more reliable and predictable transportation, and improved transportation access for residents.

Want to take part? You need to register for the event.

About Vision Zero

Vision Zero, the City's plan to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes in Boston by 2030, leads Boston's strategy to reduce injuries for pedestrians and cyclists. Key Vision Zero accomplishments include lowering the City's default speed limit to 25 MPH; establishing dedicated, protected bike lanes; launching the Neighborhood Slow Streets program; and making pedestrian and cyclist safety a focus when planning major roadway construction. Earlier this year, the first Vision Zero annual report was released, detailing additional investments.