- Bike4Life Ride
Issue #40 / December 2009
Blog Suggests Ways To Transform Transportation
Musings on transportation, health, and livable communities
by Steve Miller, LivableStreets board member
A recent series of postings include a 3-part series on Ten Ways To Transform Transportation.
10. Set goals and measure progress
In the context of Legislation setting up a "Healthy Transportation Compact" that brings together the new Department of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Energy and the Environment, the blog's most recent post examines:
Creating a shared vision: What is a livable street to you?
Share your thoughts with us today.
How would you describe a livable street? How would the creation of a transportation system that better balances walking, mass transit, bicycling, rail, and cars help move us towards more livable communities? How can we use transportation to help make our communities healthier, friendlier, more sustainable, and affordable places to live, work, play, shop, go to school, raise families, and grow old?
At public events, LivableStreets Alliance asks people to give us their thoughts on these topics. Add to the conversation! Send your thoughts via email to email@example.com. Here is what some of you have to say:
a livable street is... 'diverse with office, retail, residential, art and great bike facilities'
a livable street is... 'a street where my son can play'
a livable street is... 'fun'
More than 400 pedestrians are killed while crossing or walking along a street each month
New Analysis of What Makes for Safety: Complete Streets and Traffic Calming
More than 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community in the last 15 years, more than 9,000 during 2007 and 2008 alone. Each month, on average, more than 400 pedestrians are killed. While about 9 percent of all trips were made by foot, pedestrians comprise 11.8 percent of all traffic-related deaths. Despite this, pedestrian and bicycle projects have received less than 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars over the last few years. Massachusetts spends less than 1.2 percent.
Although there are no specific statistics on the number of accidents involving wheelchairs in streets, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, disability was a factor in 617 pedestrian traffic fatalities last year.
Boston's colonial heritage of short blocks and narrow streets makes it more walkable than most, and the Boston metropolitan area is the second-safest for pedestrians out of 52 cities of a million or more residents, according to the report. But pedestrians still totaled nearly 18 percent of Massachusetts' traffic deaths in 2007-2008, and we have the eighth-highest rate of pedestrian fatalities for seniors in the nation. While the city has begun a "complete streets" task force, the Department of Public Works has not embraced complementary "traffic calming" measures such as curb extensions and raised intersections.
The full"Dangerous By Design" report is available online.
New Report Says MBTA Safety Compromised by Lack of Funding
The Big Dig was not only so expensive that it absorbed almost every available dollar of transportation funding for the past decade, it left the state - and its main public transportation agency, the MBTA, to which some of the costs were transferred - in such deep debt that important safety upgrades haven't been completed.
The easy-to-read 36-page report by former John Hancock Life Insurance chief David D'Alessandro said that the unfunded projects include fixing bridges, repairing platform stairways, replacing backup power generator turbines, repairing tunnel lighting, and replacing 60-year-old cables.
Because the state system of funding, the T creates revenues that do not nearly cover its operating costs, the T has had to reschedule over $500 million in old debt into the future simply in order to pay current bills. Of course, this raises the eventual total cost. As a result, the T has a maintenance backlog of over $3 billion. It would require an annual investment of at least $694 million simply to keep the backlog from getting longer. A state bailout is unlikely without new revenue sources such as the rejected gas tax increase - Massachusetts will pay over $1.8 billion in service fees this year simply to keep debt at its current level.
While T fares have already been increased three times in recent years, and service has been reduced, most commentators agree that the state is unlikely to provide any significant relief during this election year.
City of Cambridge seeks members for Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Climate Advisory Committees
Three City of Cambridge committees are looking for residents who care about the community and would like to have a say in what happens. They are appointed by the City Manager to advise city staff on important environmental and transportation issues. People of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
If you are interested in getting more information about any of these
committees, or if you are interested in applying, please contact Rosalie
Anders at 617-349-4604 or go to the City website.