Tag: accessibility

Worcester Neighborhood Mobility Stroll

Worcester Neighborhood Mobility Stroll

On Saturday September 24, 2022 WalkBoston participated in a neighborhood mobility stroll organized by the Worcester Accessibility Advisory Commission in the Worcester-Polytechnic Institute neighborhood. Commissioners and resident disability advocates led participants in a taste of navigating city sidewalks blindfolded, or while using a manual wheelchair. Participants included city staff from the Departments of Transportation and Mobility,  Emergency Management and Communication. Other participants included leaders from WalkBike Worcester and students from WPI and Holy Cross working with the Commission on a fall project to increase access and awareness of public spaces for all residents. The Commission partnered with NuMotion and ReEquipment for the loan of the wheelchairs for Saturday’s event.

The Accessibility Advisory Commission educates and advocates for greater accessibility and universal design. Universal design refers to the process of creating environments and products that are accessible to people with a wide range of abilities, disabilities, and other characteristics. As it pertains to sidewalks and street crossings, increasing access means usability for everyone regardless of age or ability, including children, older adults, parents with strollers. The Commission uses mobility walks to educate local leaders and residents about some of the challenges faced by persons with different abilities navigating city streets in Worcester.

Wendy Landman, WalkBoston Senior Policy Advisor, participated in the stroll and found the experience enlightening as well as challenging both physically and emotionally. She said that, “our streets and sidewalks are truly barrier-full when traveling in a wheelchair or navigating with a white-cane (even when assisted by a trained guide!). A walk that is usually easy and quick for me became hard work, slow and disorienting. The walk gave me a deeper, more visceral understanding of the importance of fully accessible streets and sidewalks.”

WalkBoston’s participation in the Mobility Stroll was supported by an Age-Friendly Walking grant funded by Point32Health.

Caminatas Seguras: Advocating for Park Accessibility in East Boston

Caminatas Seguras: Advocating for Park Accessibility in East Boston

East Boston community members gather with GreenRoots and WalkBoston in Bremen Street Park

Last Tuesday, June 14, WalkBoston joined East Boston residents and members of GreenRoots, a non-profit dedicated to improving access to and enjoyment of the urban environment of Boston and its surrounding communities, on a walk through multiple parks in East Boston. GreenRoots hosts walks in East Boston every Tuesday beginning at Bremen Street Park, with the hope of building community among East Boston Residents through sharing the joy that can be found in exploring the neighborhood’s various parks and neighborhoods. The organization invited WalkBoston members along for one Tuesday walk per month, as part of both organizations’ collaborative work focused on improving walking access to parks and advocating for more inclusive park programming.

GreenRoots, WalkBoston, and East Boston community members began with a short introduction, sharing names, laughs, gestures of welcoming, and inspiring stories of challenges that led members to find purpose and connection through volunteering. The group then began their walk from the center of Bremen Street Community Park to the Mary Ellen Welch greenway. These two parks were chosen due to their tree shading, which was beneficial as it offered cooling on a hot summer day, but also reflected the limited cool areas in East Boston.

Both of these parks proved to be flourishing community gathering points, filled with people on foot, on bike, and in stroller, all sharing stories and smiles with one another. Along the way, group members introduced themselves and talked about community building, the importance of conserving our natural landscapes, appreciation of park amenities, and expressed a desire for the many still needed improvements to these landscapes, including accessible walking paths and signage. Residents also commented on the effect of neighborhood improvements on housing prices, advocating for an increase in affordable housing to combat gentrification in the area.

WalkBoston and GreenRoots, through generous funding from Boston Children’s Hospital, will continue working and walking alongside the many East Boston residents dedicated to cultivating their community, both as a physical and as an interpersonal space. This work will further our mission of improving walking safety and accessibility throughout Massachusetts, amplifying the voices of the many respected communities and community members with which we work.

Transportation Advocates South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan Comments

Transportation Advocates South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan Comments

April 1, 2022
Jascha Franklin-Hodge
Boston Chief of Streets

Jim Fitzgerald
BPDA, Interim Deputy Director of Transportation & Infrastructure Planning

Re:  South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan

Dear Jascha and Jim:

Our collective organizations offer joint comments on the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan. Our comments build on the many verbal and written comments we’ve offered over the last few years, both about this plan, and specific projects within the project area. 

While our organizations are eager to see the City tackle the very significant transit needs of this burgeoning part of the City, we continue to worry that this plan lacks the level of City leadership and cohesive vision needed to allow the neighborhood’s residents, businesses and workers to thrive in the years ahead. We would be pleased to meet with you to discuss our comments and our thoughts about how the project could be more effectively advanced.

Our specific concerns are outlined below: 

Coordination + Cohesion: It remains unclear what the big picture goal and overall time frame is for the plan. As presented at the most recent public meeting, the “plan” was offered mostly as a laundry list of current and potent projects and lacked details about the timeline for implementation. It also lacked an appropriate level of coordination with the bike plan and offered no clear plan for improving accessibility for the area. Any successful transit plan must take these interconnected needs into account. 

  • As a first step, we recommend  putting  all of the recommendations into one description and map color coded by timing of implementation (or perhaps overlays by year). The public needs to understand what is happening when and where.
    • A tremendous amount of development is in various stages of planning and permitting, each of which is documenting their anticipated transit, walking, biking, parking and delivery operations. Please provide a consolidated look at all of these proposals and then describe how the plan for transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and roadways can accommodate the anticipated number of people and vehicles. 
    • Distinguish between the projects for which designs and funding are known (with some degree of certainty) and those which are still only ideas.
    • Identify which entity (or entities) will be responsible for paying for, leading on designs and decision-making, and implementing the projects.
    • Multi-agency complications exist on the roads in the neighborhood as well as in transit operations. Please clarify the ownership of the roads among MassDOT, MassPort and City BTD & BPDA.

Much is still unknown or unclear about the actual transit components of this transit plan. While there are proposed high level connections, there is very little detail about how those connections will be achieved. 

Better bus connections are needed: (1) to/from North Station – and not just connecting to South station; (2) along Summer Street; (3) A Street; (4) Silver Line improvements (5) D Street service to Nubian Square (6) Express bus route changes. In order to provide clarity about what this plan will achieve to improve transit, we recommend: 

  • Including information about the schedules of future service – we understand that precise information is not possible, but a vague description of “increased” service is not adequate.
  • Provide information about where funding will come from for both capital and operational investment
  • Provide a description of the current overall capacity of bus service for the district and what the future capacity goals are.
  • Distinguish between public (MBTA) and private shuttle service. Describe how private shuttles are being considered in the process and whether these services will be opened to the public.
  • Provide details about where buses will layover. Should there be a central point they all serve? Convention Center and Silver Line Way are the only remaining locations owned by the State with sufficient land area. 
  • Outline how this process interacts and is coordinated with the MBTA Bus Network Redesign process. 

MBTA Station improvements are critical to the plan

  • Improve bus circulation around Broadway station with vastly improved pedestrian crossings at West Broadway.
  • Build a new headhouse at Broadway Station to get last mile access from the northern side of West Broadway

Accessibility for people with disabilities must be definitively addressed, especially from South Station to A Street (via Congress Street is not an acceptable answer) and Broadway to the whole district.

  • Schedule a meeting with advocates and Boston Disabilities Commission in Spring 2022.
  • Focus on the network and connectivity, not just piecemeal, but rather a full concept of developed routes to serve as many needs as possible.

This plan must also compliment and contribute to better and safer bike conditions, especially on  Summer Street, Congress Street and  A Street.

  • Clarify the intended network and the timing of each piece of the network.
  • Clarify the goals, location and design of the South Bay Harbor Trail, including a discussion of the proposed width of the trail and whether it will be adequate to serve people walking and biking as a commuter route.
  • Prioritize separated bike lanes because bikes must be a core piece of the transportation system. They must be built into the network not just planned on a development-by-development basis.
  • Additionally, we want to see robust bike parking being considered as critical bike infrastructure – not only indoor bike rooms and bike parking that is accessible to residents and workers in new buildings, but on-street (or street-accessible), high-capacity bike parking, and want to ensure it is accounted for with all transportation planning in the area.

Make a final determination that there will be no vehicles, other than emergency access, on Northern Avenue Bridge. There has not been a public meeting about the Northern Avenue Bridge project since April of 2020. At that meeting there was overwhelming opposition to both the proposed design and the proposed allowance of vehicles on the bridge. It is concerning that several of the proposed routes in the South Boston Seaport Strategic Transit Plan assumed some access over the Northern Avenue bridge, when there are still many outstanding concerns about that project. 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the plan. We look forward to working with you in the months ahead.


Tom Ready, FPNA

Stacy Thompson, Executive Director, LivableStreets 

Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director, WalkBoston

Wendy Landman, Senior Policy Advisor, WalkBoston

Becca Wolfson, Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union

Galen Mook, Executive Director, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition

Jarred Johnson, Executive Director, TransitMatters

Cc Mayor Michelle Wu
Ed Flynn, District 2 City Councilor
Michael Flaherty, At Large City Councilor
Julia Mejia – At Large City Councilor
Ruthzee Louijeune – At Large City Councilor
MassDOT Secretary Jamey Tesler
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak

Meet Kyle Robidoux: WalkBoston’s 2022 Annual Celebration Keynote Speaker

Meet Kyle Robidoux: WalkBoston’s 2022 Annual Celebration Keynote Speaker

We are pleased to announce that our 2022 Annual Celebration Keynote Speaker this year is Kyle Robidoux!

Kyle is a tireless advocate who has focused his professional and personal career on building community. He has spent 20 years working in the nonprofit sector, including as a housing advocate helping individuals staying in shelters find permanent homes and as a community organizer. Most recently he has directed three programs for a local blindness organization.

Accessibility is a matter of great importance to him, not just as an advocate, but as an individual who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative eye disease that first affects your night vision and often leads to complete blindness, at age 11 and was declared legally blind at 19.

Kyle can also personally attest to the power of walking and why access to safe walking environments is crucial. In 2010 Kyle was close to 250 pounds, heading down the path to type II diabetes, and having a hard time playing with his young daughter. He began to walk. Then he began to run. Today he has completed over 25 marathons and ultramarathons, including five Boston Marathons and three 100-mile races.

Kyle now works for the City of Boston as the Assistant Director of Housing Stability for the Mayor’s Office, after a short stint as Chief of Staff for Boston Mayor Kim Janey’s District Council/President’s Office. Prior to working for the city, over the last 15 years Kyle has worked for three mission-driven nonprofits: the Director of Volunteer Services and Community Planning for MAB (Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired), the Director of Community Planning and Leadership Development for Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, and the Director of Civic Engagement for United South End Settlements. In addition Kyle is an active volunteer, serving as Board Chair for FriendshipWorks and a member of the Commission for People with Disabilities.

Want to hear what Kyle has to say about accessibility and walkability? Join us on Wednesday, March 30 at 5:00pm on Zoom.

Sign up for the Annual Celebration now!

Stay tuned for the announcement of our 2022 Golden Shoe Awards winners!

WalkBoston, LivableStreets, Boston Cyclists Union Comments 244 – 284 A Street “Channelside” PNF

WalkBoston, LivableStreets, Boston Cyclists Union Comments 244 – 284 A Street “Channelside” PNF

October 9, 2020

Director Brian Golden
Boston Planning and Development Agency
Attn via email: Aisling Kerr

Secretary Kathleen A. Theoharides
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn via email: Alexander Strysky

Re: Comment on 244 – 284 A Street “Channelside” PNF

Dear Director Golden and Secretary Theoharides:

WalkBoston, LivableStreets Alliance and the Boston Cyclists Union are Boston’s leading advocates for active transportation and transit access. We frequently provide comments on major public and private development and infrastructure projects, with a focus on how those projects serve and affect people walking, biking and taking transit.

We realize that these comments are arriving at MEPA after the due date. However, the City’s transportation focused project meeting occurred on September 16, and it’s urban design and resiliency meeting was held on October 7 and we felt that the content of these meetings was important to our understanding of the project. 

The development of the 244 – 284 A Street site along the Fort Point Channel will transform a large and unattractive parking lot into a major site for living, working, and enjoying the Harbor Walk and the large new open spaces that are planned. In a broad sense we believe that the scale and mix of uses is reasonable for the growing mixed-use neighborhood around it, and that the plan for most of the project’s users to access the site on foot, by transit or by bike is appropriate and absolutely necessary for the City to decrease its dependence on private vehicles with their intensive congestion and environmental impacts.

We believe that it is incumbent on the Developer and the City to work together to make sure that the site design, the mitigation and transportation access agreement committed to by the Developer, and the planning and implementation of City transportation improvements (some requiring the City to work with the MBTA, MassDOT and MassPort) are in place to ensure that the site and its surroundings work well for people walking, biking and taking transit.

Our comments therefore are directed jointly to the Developer and the City. We understand that the responsibility of the Proponent to remedy (some of) the off-site issues will be in the form of mitigation dollars rather than execution, so we urge the City to immediately take the steps necessary to plan and design the needed improvements and then include an appropriate contribution from the Proponent in its negotiations.

Project Site Plan

  • Explore reducing the amount of space devoted to vehicles within the site plan by removing Wormwood Street extension.
  • Rationalize bike routes (see comments below)
  • Describe mix of open space uses and include active uses such as playgrounds, basketball etc. to help create a true neighborhood not a “front door” to commercial use


As the Fort Point Channel area and the City’s “100-acre” plan district are developing into a significant residential and commercial neighborhood dependent on good transit and walking access, the need to address accessibility has become ever more evident. 

Walking route from South Station to the site – With a projected 70% mode share of walk and transit trips (which are thus also walking trips) this issue deserves careful attention. Improving the walking route from South Station to the site via Summer Street, particularly for people with disabilities who will not be able to use the stairway that connects Summer Street to the Harborwalk and then to the main entrance of this project is critical. We understand that the City has begun to look at these issues and request that information about the planned improvements be included in the next project filings for Channelside.

  • There is no curb ramp provided from Dorchester Avenue onto the Summer Street Bridge (south side of the bridge). A fully accessible curb ramp should be provided.
  • Accessible access from Summer Street will need to be provided via Melcher Street.  The sidewalk along the south side of Melcher Street appears to have an excessive cross slope that is hazardous for persons with disabilities, and difficult for anyone pushing a stroller or pulling a suitcase. This cross slope will need to be fixed. The slope of the sidewalk exceeds a safe path of travel and may require the addition of several “landing areas” to the sidewalk.  

Walking route from Broadway to the site

  • Walking access to the site from South Boston and Broadway Station via A Street and West 2nd Street also requires accessibility upgrades including curb ramps, sidewalk repair, and possible widening of the sidewalk where the path of travel is narrowed by hydrants, street light poles etc.

Winter weather conditions and general maintenance

  • Management and operations planning should ensure good snow clearance between the site and South Station along the Harborwalk and the sidewalks of Necco and Melcher Streets, and between Broadway and the site. The proponent should work with adjacent property owners and business associations to assure good access to its site under winter weather conditions.

A Street Walking, Biking and Transit Improvements 

A Street is the “Main Street” of this part of Boston and needs to be safe and inviting for all street users. Balancing the needs of people walking, biking and taking transit with those of the cars and trucks using the street is a balancing act that has not yet been achieved. 

Calming A Street for everyone – This will be a first step to turning A Street into a main street and a number of approaches should be used including:

  • Improve the safety of street crossings with the addition of bumpouts, signals (where needed), parking and loading restrictions to ensure daylighting of crosswalks, etc.
  • Narrow travel lanes, add separated bike lanes, restrict parking to protect bus stops, provide bus shelters etc.
  • Add landscaping and benches

Improved Transit + Curbside Management: A Street serves as a critical transit connection between South Boston and South Station and will need to serve many more people as the neighborhood continues to evolve and grow. The City should explore implementing several of the below interventions to improve transit + curbside management: 

  • Work with the MBTA to determine the best bus priority interventions for current and future bus service. These may include a dedicated bus lane, cue jumps and/or transit signal priority. 
  • Improve the accessibility and comfort of existing bus stops on the corridor. 
  • Develop a curb management plan that includes designated loading zones for trucks, taxis + TNC services. The City should also explore time of day loading restrictions, in order to limit or eliminate loading activities along the corridor during peak travel hours. 

Provide Safe and Comfortable Bike Network Connections to and through the site. We appreciate the intention to provide a bike connection to the South Bay Harbor trail, Harbor trail and A Street through the site. However, these connections as they are currently described  are disjointed and potentially dangerous, especially at intersections and areas where cyclists and vehicles  mix. 

  • Weaving the bicycle connection to the South Bay Harbor Trail through the site creates multiple potential conflict points at Necco Street and on the Wormwood extension. A more direct connection on Binford Street may be preferable and should be explored in addition to ensuring there are safe bicycle accommodations on both Necco and Binford Street. 
  • Given the above mentioned transit and large truck uses on A Street, a more detailed plan for how cyclists will safely travel from the site to A Street is needed – specifically at the Binford Street and A Street intersection. 
  • Eliminating the Wormwood extension removes another potential point of conflict both along the street and at the A Street intersection.  

We look forward to working with Proponent and the City as the project planning and design continue.


Stacey Beuttell
Executive Director, WalkBoston

Stacy Thompson
Executive Director, Livable Streets Alliance

Becca Wolfson
Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union