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Mayor Walsh releases first Vision Zero Annual Report


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Key accomplishments include reducing Boston's speed limit to 25 mph and ensuring all major roadway reconstruction projects include a focus on improving safety.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department, in partnership with the Boston's Vision Zero Task Force, today released a first year annual report for the City of Boston's Vision Zero initiative. Building on Mayor Walsh's commitment to safe streets, Vision Zero works to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes in Boston by 2030. The program's accomplishments for the year include successfully reducing Boston's default speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour (MPH), installing a protected bicycle lane on Massachusetts Avenue and working to ensure that all major roadway reconstruction projects include a focus on improving safety for all users of the road.

"Safety for our residents is our top priority, whether they're driving, biking or walking in our City, and that's why we're focused on using proven strategies to improve conditions for all of our road's users," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "We've made significant progress this year, and I look forward to continuing the work of Vision Zero."
"A major step forward toward our Vision Zero goal was realized on January 9thof this year when our default speed limit decreased from 30 to 25 MPH as the result of Mayor Walsh and City agencies vigorously pursuing amended legislation," said the City's Chief of Streets Chris Osgood.  "This new law, along with a host of other projects being implemented as part of our Vision Zero effort, will work to keep people safe on Boston's streets."
The speed limit reduction improves safety for all users of Boston's roadways. Studies show that the likelihood of a pedestrian suffering a fatal injury as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle decreases from 20 percent when the vehicle is traveling at 30 mph, to 12 percent when the vehicle is traveling at 25 mph. Slower speeds make it easier for drivers to stop when necessary. It also increases a driver's field of vision making it more likely for the driver to see a pedestrian or cyclist on the roadway.
In addition to reducing the City's speed limit, and establishing protected bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue, the City is also investing in the Commonwealth Avenue Phase 2A project, an example of a roadway reconstruction project that will significantly improve safety for all users of Boston's streets.
"A physically protected bike lane on each side of Commonwealth Avenue will shield cyclists from injuries sustained when car doors open unexpectedly and protected intersections will provide a positive ride for both cyclists and drivers," said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca."Further upgrades include reconstructed sidewalks and other enhancements to benefit pedestrians, and complete ADA compliant access to the green line trolley."
Vision Zero progress aimed at reducing crashes on Boston's streets is being supported by the following additional efforts implemented over the past year:
  • To engage the public in Vision Zero, the Boston's Safest Driver Competition kicked-off in October, 2016. Nearly 5,000 people participated in this app based, initiative. Important benefits of the competition included reductions in phone use and speeding as 500 competitors saw their phone distraction drop by 47% and speeding drop by almost 35%.  Over 190,000 trips were taken by competitors from 99 communities in metro Boston and all of Boston neighborhoods. The four top winners received citations from Mayor Walsh and cash prizes totaling $4,500 and another 98 high scorers were awarded over $3,400 in cash prizes funded by Arbella Insurance.
  • In partnership with neighborhood residents and community organizations, the Neighborhood Safe Streets Program was launched in 2016. The program uses traffic calming measures to improve roadway safety within a defined residential area. Streets in the program will be equipped with visual and physical cues, such as signage, pavement markings and speed humps, to slow drivers to 20 MPH. The City worked with two communities to develop the program, the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle in Dorchester's Codman Square and Stonybrook in Jamaica Plain. Physical improvements will be made in these two pilot neighborhoods this year, and community outreach and design work on two to three newly selected Neighborhood Slow Streets projects will begin in 2017.
  • Codman Square in Dorchester, as well as Massachusetts Avenue in the Back Bay, Fenway and the South End are designated Vision Zero Focus Areas due to the high number of crashes at these locations. A "parking-protected" bicycle lane has been installed in the southbound direction between Beacon and Westland Streets. Additional improvements have been implemented to ensure better visibility of pedestrians at intersections and to upgrade bike facilities. Further upgrades are scheduled this year.
  • Numerous additional locations throughout Downtown and the neighborhoods have been targeted using yield to pedestrian signs, new crosswalks and other pavement markings, new curb extensions and ramps, street lights, and traffic signal timing changes.
  • In an effort to discourage speeding, signs have been posted on Beacon Street in the Back Bay, informing drivers that traffic signals along the street are programmed for vehicles traveling 25 mph.  Driver above the limit will only lead to being stopped at red lights further up the street.
  • Sixteen speed feedback signs have been installed throughout the City. The signs display vehicle travel speeds and flash to warn motorists if they are over the speed limit.
As part of Mayor Walsh's recently released Imagine Boston Capital Plan, drawing on city, state and federal sources, the City will invest $709 million over the next five years in implementing the core initiatives outlined in Go Boston 2030.  Examples of additional major roadway reconstruction projects that include a focus on improving safety and access for all users of Boston's streets are as follows:
  • As part of the Connect Historic Boston project, Staniford Street has been reconstructed between Cambridge and Causeway Streets and now includes a two-way, sidewalk-level bike facility and the City's first bicycle signals. Work continues with the aim of opening two-way protected bike lanes on sections of Causeway Street, Commercial Street and Atlantic Avenue this year.
  • Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury and the South End is being redesigned to make it a more neighborhood friendly street and to incorporate a complete streets concept to safely and efficiently welcome all users of the roadway.
  • The North Washington Street Bridge provides an important connection from the Charlestown neighborhood to Downtown and is a link on the Freedom Trail.  The project to reconstruct the bridge will incorporate excellent pedestrian and bicycle amenities, as well as a dedicated bus lane inbound
  • The Rutherford Avenue/Sullivan Square Design Project includes among its priorities improving pedestrian connections and safety between MBTA stations and the Charlestown community, and upgraded bicycle infrastructure.