Late this week WCAP reported that a car jumped a curb and crashed into what used to be Danas Market:
This brought to mind a similar accident that happened in the exact same spot in 2010, as well as a recent car vs building collision at Mill City BBQ. Fortunately, no pedestrians were in the wrong place at the wrong time in these crashes. However, this morning, I came across a StreetsBlog Mass article citing a recent WalkBoston analysis of pedestrian deaths during 2021 that found most fatal crashes that killed pedestrians last year were concentrated in only 12 cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Almost one third of those deaths (24 of 75) occurred in just four cities: Springfield, Boston, Brockton and Lowell.
This lead me down a rabbit-hole leading to the Mass DOT’s surprisingly awesome interactive Crash Data Portal. If, we take a step back and look at the past 5 years of fatal pedestrian accidents in the city, the number jumps from 3 to 8:
If we add in crashes involving pedestrian injuries from 2018 to 2022, the number spikes to 188 (also note 86 bicyclists):
Our Master Plan provides that we should be making efforts to “enhance the pedestrian environment” and “improve the quality of the pedestrian experience in neighborhoods.” More recently, GoLowell, the City’s Multimodal Complete Streets Plan has emphasized pedestrian safety in the development of our multimodal transportation system.
I am also encouraged by an uptick in activity on this front by the City Council over the last three months. To date, we have seen the following motions related to pedestrian safety:
- C. Gitschier – Req. City Mgr. have the proper department look into installing a crosswalk across Westford Street from Rutland Street to Tyler Park
- C. Gitschier – Req. City Mgr. Have The Engineering Department Look Into Adding Grass Strips Between The Road And Sidewalks On Highland Avenue During The Upcoming Paving Project.
- C. Jenness – Req. City Mgr. have proper department investigate drainage issues around the crosswalk at the corner of Market & Palmer Streets.
- C. Jenness – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding current policies for maintenance of the Riverwalk area, in particular winter snow removal, including any coordination with stakeholders abutting the walkway (NPS, UML, etc.)
- C. Jenness – Req. City Mgr. have proper department engage with Trinity Management Company to discuss and formulate an action plan for snow removal from the path between the Hamilton Canal and Jackson Street.
- C. Jenness – Req. City Mgr. have proper department investigate potential traffic calming measures for traffic traveling over the new HCID Bridge from the Dutton/Broadway Streets intersection toward Canal Street.
- C. Jenness/C. Nuon – Req. City Mgr. have proper department look into potential traffic calming solutions for Lincoln Parkway
- C. Jenness – Req. City Mgr. have proper department assess the accessibility of the crosswalk button at Market and Dutton Streets.
- C. Leahy – Req. City Mgr. Provide Update Regarding Sidewalk Plan Throughout The City For Summer Of 2022.
- C. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. have proper department install a crosswalk on Middlesex Street from the corner of Durkin’s Carpet to the sidewalk at the corner of the Judicial Center at appropriate time in the spring.
- C. Robinson – Req. City Mgr. work with proper department to look into traffic calming measures in the area of June and 13th Streets in Centralville.
- C. Robinson – Req. City Mgr. Have The Proper Department Look At Mt. Pleasant Street As It Is Beginning To Be Used As A High Speed Cut-Through For Afternoon Commuters.
- C. Scott – Req. City Mgr. have appropriate department re-stripe crosswalk at Moore/Gorham Streets and repaint turning lanes
- C. Scott – Req. City Mgr. Have Proper Department Investigate installing a stop sign or other traffic calming measures at Bowden/Chippewa Streets to slow fast-moving traffic traveling to the Cabot Crossing Apartments.
- C. Scott – Req. City Mgr. Have Proper Department Investigate Potential Traffic Calming Measures for Traffic Traveling from Woburn St/495 area over to Boylston St. and to Delmont Ave Apartments
- C. Scott – Req. City Mgr. provide a report detailing the number of sidewalk clearing violations that were issued after the recent storm; also explore cost to provide a supplemental sidewalk clearing program on main roadways during storms over four inches.
- C. Yem – Req. City Mgr. Have Appropriate Department Paint The Word “Stop” On The Streets At All Stop Signs Throughout The City.
- C. Yem – Req. City Mgr. have the appropriate department provide an update on the status of the collapsed retaining wall of CityPoint Condominiums at the corner of Middlesex and School Streets
Moving forward, it would be nice to see more calls for street designs that seriously take into account both pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Aggressive advocacy is needed for designs that physically separate bicycle and pedestrian traffic from vehicle traffic.
In addition, we need to start emphasizing installation of raised crosswalks across the city. Raised crosswalk designs can elevate the entire intersection from street level to sidewalk level. Raised intersections improve visibility of pedestrians, reduce speeds, and can eliminate ponding at curb ramps (see Jenness Motion above re: Market & Palmer Streets). This is especially beneficial for people with mobility and vision impairments. Given the recent emphasis by both the administration and the Council, I am hopeful that we are ready to implement these concepts on a citywide scale.