Tag: Caminatas Seguras

East Boston Demonstration Day with Caminatas Seguras

East Boston Demonstration Day with Caminatas Seguras

On October 3rd, the staff of WalkMassachusetts organized a demonstration day in East Boston with members of Caminatas Seguras, a walking group for residents that is convened and facilitated by GreenRoots, an environmental justice organization operating in Chelsea and East Boston. This demonstration day was a civic engagement opportunity for residents to make temporary improvements to the transportation infrastructure in their community. 

The goal of demonstration days was to offer residents and other stakeholders an opportunity to understand what type of transportation changes would best impact the experience for pedestrians and other road users. During the demonstration day, participants were able to convene at Our Garden (293 Border St.), a community garden managed by Eastie Farm and adjacent to the Mario Umana Academy, which hosts the East Boston Harborside Community Center. The meeting location abutted key corridors that run through East Boston that are heavily trafficked by pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. 

Members of Caminatas Seguras connected with WalkMassachusetts staff to identify and plan interventions at key intersections along Meridian Street. The participants identified the intersections of Lexington and Meridian Streets along with Eutaw Street and Meridian Street on Eagle Hill due to their frequent use by young people and families to access the schools in the area, such as the Umana Academy and O’Donnell Elementary School.

Caminatas participants gather at Our Garden near the Mario Umana Academy in East Boston.

The interventions were conducted along the two intersections, and members of Caminatas Seguras made observations and collected data at both locations. In their data collection, they counted the number of road users, which included pedestrians, vehicles, and bikers traveling through the area. Participants also collected the speed of vehicles moving through their intersections using a handheld radar speed detector. Additionally, participants engaged passerby and held conversations with individuals moving through the area to collect feedback on the road user experience.

These conversations were particularly illuminating as this demonstration day came in the wake of a community meeting of the proposed vision for East Boston, which is articulated in PLAN: East Boston. The PLAN presents recommendations for rezoning in the neighborhood, which could impact the design of the public realm. The demonstration day provided participants with the opportunity to engage their neighbors and bring awareness to the release of the initial draft, which was generated by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). Participants used this demonstration day to solicit feedback and encourage residents to share their opinions during the feedback period, which is open until October 27th, 2023. 

Camintas Seguras participants encourage passing neighbors to share thoughts on how to make Meridian Street safer for all.

One of the implemented interventions included a simulated curb extension to the existing intersection of Eutaw Street and Meridian Street. The participants used traffic cones and high-visibility vests while conducting their demonstrations and making observations. The objective of this intervention was to decrease the length needed for pedestrians to cross the intersection.

Demonstration day participants simulate a curb extension through the use of high visibility cones.

The demonstration day proved to be successful as participants identified some of the key challenges that are found along the short section of Meridian Street where interventions were implemented and data was collected. Using pedestrian experiences as qualitative data within the public realm proves to be an effective tool to shape neighborhoods as they undergo change. Camintas Seguras participants hope to use this experience to continue to bring awareness to the pedestrian hazards that are in the built environment. This experience for participants and neighbors demonstrates that with collective organizing and data collection, feedback can be generated to transform streets like Meridian Street and make them safer for all. Caminatas Seguras will continue to work with WalkMassachusetts to advocate for key transportation changes and to share their insights with local decision-makers.

Camintas Seguras participants share a photo at the end of the demonstration day in East Boston.

This demonstration day is part of a larger program called Connecting Kids and Families to Parks and Open Spaces which is funded by Boston Children’s Hospital and in partnership with GreenRoots. Thank you for your support!

Exploring East Boston with Caminatas Seguras

Exploring East Boston with Caminatas Seguras

On June 13th 2023, WalkMassachusetts joined East Boston community members on a walk led by GreenRoots, a non-profit dedicated to improving the local urban environment and public health, with a focus on Chelsea and East Boston. The walking group Caminatas Seguras meets weekly on Tuesdays to help promote walking as a way to enjoy local public spaces, be physically active, and build connections with residents who have historically been excluded from public decision making processes.

Senior Program Manager Iolando Spinola and Summer Intern Chiara Palagi join GreenRoots and Caminatas Seguras on a walk through East Boston.

Around 25 participants, including Senior Program Manager Iolando Spinola and Summer Intern Chiara Palagi, began at Piers Park, a local space overlooking the Boston Harbor. The group engaged in lively conversations throughout the walk, with topics including new developments in the area, recent and upcoming community events, and even just catching up with one another on an individual level. Passionate GreenRoots volunteers provided historical context and relevant information about the spots along the path.

John Walkey of GreenRoots gives community members historical context on spots encountered during the walk.

The day’s route passed by landmarks such as the ICA Watershed gallery and the Navy Fuel Pier park. With a breathtaking view of the Boston skyline across the harbor, the park’s lush green spaces and well-maintained paths provided the perfect setting for our walk.

Members of the East Boston community admire the view from Navy Fuel Pier park.

Our walk culminated at East Boston Memorial Park, giving GreenRoots volunteers the opportunity to engage with the community members and share upcoming events and opportunities for involvement. Information and flyers were distributed bilingually, showcasing local initiatives, events, and programs aimed at addressing pressing issues in the neighborhood while involving and empowering residents.

Through walking, conversation, and shared experiences, the bonds between community members and activist groups grow stronger every week in Caminatas Seguras, paving the way for a more connected and engaged East Boston. WalkMassachusetts is grateful to have had the opportunity to join GreenRoots and Caminatas Seguras for this experience.

Catching up on all things East Boston!

Catching up on all things East Boston!

Yesterday, May 21st, Senior Program Manager Iolando Spinola and Program Coordinator Ava Dimond tabled for WalkMassachusetts at the Boston Athletic Association Neighborhood Fitness Series, presented by Boston Children’s Hospital. The walk/run took place at East Boston Memorial Park and featured a free 1 mile and 2 mile run/walk course for participants of all ages and abilities. The event was lively with music and lawn games, and especially well-attended by families with young children.  

Senior Program Manager Iolando Spinola tabling for WalkMassachusetts

B.A.A.’s Neighborhood Fitness Series’ walk/run participants headed out at noon for their 1 or 2 mile course

We also had the opportunity to connect with participants and say hello to some walkers from Caminatas Seguras, a walking group in East Boston that convenes each Tuesday to enjoy local parks and green spaces and discuss ways to improve their neighborhood. WalkMassachusetts is partnering with Caminatas Seguras and GreenRoots on a three year grant program to improve accessibility to East Boston Parks called Connecting Kids and Families to Parks and Open Spaces. This grant is funded by Boston Children’s Hospital.

Last Tuesday, Iolando joined Caminatas Seguras for their first post-winter meeting at the American Legion playground to share food and new initiatives. GreenRoots and WalkMassachusetts then attended Mayor Wu’s Neighborhood Coffee Hours at Noyes Park in East Boston to discuss community concerns, open space and their neighborhoods (and enjoy some Dunkin’ Munchkins and ice coffee!)

Caminatas Seguras and Iolando Spinola following their walk last Tuesday

East Boston Ped101 Presentation with GreenRoots and Caminatas Verdes y Caminatas Seguras

East Boston Ped101 Presentation with GreenRoots and Caminatas Verdes y Caminatas Seguras

Image: WalkBoston staff leading a Ped101 presentation to members of the Caminatas Verdes y Caminatas Seguras group.

On Thursday, August 4th, WalkBoston led an in-person Ped101 presentation for East Boston residents. The training was done in collaboration with GreenRoots, an environmental justice organization based out of Chelsea and East Boston, and the Caminatas Verdes y Caminatas Seguras walking group.

The program aims to improve safe walking access to East Boston’s parks and open spaces. The goal of the Ped101 training was to educate community members on the fundamentals of walkability and effective walking infrastructure, and give community members the vocabulary to advocate for infrastructure improvements. The presentation was conducted in both English and Spanish. WalkBoston offered an interpreter who translated the presentation in real-time using GreenRoots equipment. 

East Boston community members are passionate about improving their neighborhood’s walking infrastructure, especially around parks and schools. Over 20 community members attended the Ped101 presentation. At the end of the training, community members discussed how walkability solutions from the presentation could be used in their own community. They largely focused on fading sidewalks, lack of daylighting and curb extensions, poor snow removal, insufficient walking signals, and the failure of new developments to replace walking infrastructure damaged during construction. 

After the discussion, residents participated in a mapping activity in which they marked areas of East Boston that they felt were particularly dangerous for pedestrians. WalkBoston and GreenRoots will also communicate resident concerns directly to the City of Boston, both through a current conditions report and a meeting with city representatives.