Tag: design

MA Vision Zero Coalition Statement on Commonwealth Ave Fatal Crash

MA Vision Zero Coalition Statement on Commonwealth Ave Fatal Crash

Statement from the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition:

The Commonwealth Avenue crash that claimed the life of Theodore J. Schwalb, age 80, an arts teacher at Stoneham High School for more than 40 years, is disturbing on many levels. The driver, Phocian Fitts, acknowledges that he drove the car that struck and killed Mr. Schwalb in the middle of the day and then fled the scene. He stated this in an interview with Boston 25 News after he was released from police custody:

“People hit and run people all the time, it just happened to be an unfortunate situation where I was driving.”

Mr. Fitts’ comments, although brazen, reflect the low bar we’ve set when it comes to holding people accountable for reckless driving behavior.

  • A culture that accepts fatal crashes as a fact of life means law enforcement isn’t holding drivers accountable. We are deeply disturbed that the alleged suspect was initially questioned and released without charges despite fleeing the scene of a fatal crash. An arrest was only made after the Boston 25 News interview, in which he admitted to “driving too quick to the point where I couldn’t really stop” before running over and killing a fellow Boston resident.
  • A culture that accepts fatal crashes as a fact of life means lawmakers don’t realize the urgency of safety legislation. A hands free driving bill, which has passed the Senate and is backed by broad public support and Governor Baker, has languished in the House for years and now is awaiting action in the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • A culture that accepts fatal crashes as a fact of life means that thousands of people are seriously injured on Massachusetts streets every year.  In 2017, there were 4,537 injury crashes on Boston’s streets, which is up ten percent since 2015. Across Massachusetts, at least 133 people have been killed on our roads in the first 5 months of 2018.

While we are brokenhearted that another life has been lost on our streets, we are hopeful that the culture is beginning to shift around designing and building safer streets. In 2015 Mayor Walsh committed Boston to Vision Zero, an effort to eliminate serious and fatal crashes. Cambridge and Somerville soon followed suit.

Each of these cities have worked to make good on their Vision Zero commitments by redesigning dangerous corridors and intersections, and Boston recently announced a major investment in its Transportation Department’s safety efforts.

To ensure our streets are safe and accessible for everyone, design is important. We also need law enforcement and elected leaders to step up and make it clear that reckless driving deserves severe consequences.

Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston
Emily Stein, President, Safe Roads Alliance
Stacy Thompson, Executive Director, LivableStreets Alliance
Becca Wolfson, Executive Director, Boston Cyclist Union

Additional Sources

  • A 2018 AAA study found that “Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” according to Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The report found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes, meanwhile just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period were hit-and-run crashes.
  • The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition maintains a map of fatal crashes involving people biking or walking across Massachusetts.
  • WalkBoston tracks fatal pedestrian crashes across Massachusetts. This is compiled manually via news & social media alerts in order to give communities more information to help push for safer streets.
Comments on Conte School Renovation

Comments on Conte School Renovation

To: Amanda Chilson, MiM Coordinator, North Berkshire Coalition

From: Stacey Beuttell, WalkBoston

June 28, 2013

Re: Pedestrian issues to be considered in Conte School renovation

Dear Amanda:

Below are some initial thoughts on the site plan for the Conte School renovation. While there are some improvements that we would suggest to make the pedestrian environment safer, the proposed plan does improve the current conditions by replacing the surface parking in front of the school with a new playground. There is also improved separation between the vehicular drop-off zone and the thru-traffic along E. Main Street.

When reading this analysis, please remember that I have not visited the site, nor am I aware of whether or not I am evaluating the most recent site plans (see attached).

Some suggestions to consider:

• Students crossing E. Main Street at the major crossing point must cross two to three additional lanes of traffic in the drop-off zone before reaching the sidewalk nearest the playground area. The design drawings do not show cross walks, speed table, or bulb-outs in the bus and car drop-off areas. Buses and cars must not stop in designated crosswalk.

• Students walking from the north along the east side of E. Main Street must cross the car and bus dropoff zones before entering the school. We would suggest providing sidewalk along the northern edge of the parking lot and an alternative crossing point marked with a crosswalk from northern sidewalk to sidewalk adjacent to the bus drop-off. This crossing point would minimize the number of times these children will cross travel lanes.

• Traffic must be one-way into the school drop-off zone from the northern entrance along E. Main Street.

• Traffic leaving the parking lot should be directed through the drop off zones (at least during peak hours) to minimize potential gridlock and collisions.

• Crossing guards should be considered at all crosswalks adjacent to the school (both vehicular entrances and across the drop-off zones).

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about these suggestions. I look forward to talking with you again soon.

Stacey Beuttell, WalkBoston
Program Director