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Councilor Flynn: Unsafe Streets Are Public Health Emergency

Recommends Updated Safe Streets 12 Point Plan

See Release Below:

BOSTON – For several months during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant drop in the number of commuters driving through our neighborhoods, as well as less congestion and traffic due to stay at home advisories and work from home policies. Although these developments provided benefits in terms of less pollution, we unfortunately saw reports regarding an increased number of fatal and serious crashes in Massachusetts, and also locally on our streets in Boston. Many residents contacted my office to report incidents where drivers treated open roads like a race track and a license to speed in our communities.

In just the last couple of weeks in South Boston, we’ve seen tragic and serious crashes in Andrew Square, as well as vehicles driving off the road and into businesses like McGoo’s Pizzeria at Perkins Square, into a house at L & 3rd St, a two-car crash at Old colony Ave & Dorchester St, and another vehicle crashed into a fence at this same intersection.

Many neighbors, parents with their children in strollers, our seniors and persons with disabilities have contacted me to report speeding cars flying by them while crossing on L St, crossing East Broadway at Medal of Honor Park, or on Dorchester St. & West 4th St by Marian Manor. We also have a problem on East Broadway of what safety advocates, like Walk Boston, refer to as “double threats”; where the first car will let the pedestrian pass, but the vehicle behind will speed around and pose serious danger to people in the crosswalk.

My fellow South Boston elected officials and I remain in constant contact with Mayor Walsh, Boston Police Dept. (C-6) Captain Boyle, Chief of Streets Chris Osgood, and Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Greg Rooney. Prior to the pandemic, city officials also met with concerned residents, Councilor Flaherty and I for office hours during the winter.

However, as a result of the increased danger to my constituents and the people of District 2 – including our seniors, persons with disabilities, children, parents and residents just out for a walk – I am advocating for our unsafe roads to now be declared a Public Health Emergency. I am also recommending an updated Safe Streets 12 Point Plan.

To make our streets safer, I continue to advocate for a combination of infrastructure improvements to our built environment, slower speeds in our residential neighborhoods, and enforcement. These policy recommendations are based on my previous 12 Point Plan, hearings I’ve held each year at the Boston City Council, safety walks with advocacy and civic groups, and feedback from the people of South Boston. I will continue to work closely with my fellow elected officials, the Boston Transportation Department and Boston Police on this critical issue for the people of South Boston.

1. A complete study of all high traffic, commuter-heavy roads throughout South Boston.

2. Reduction of the speed limit to 20 MPH throughout all of South Boston.

3. Substantial speed humps (permanent asphalt or large temporary ones to move for plows) and raised crosswalks high enough to force cars to slow down along high traffic and heavy commuter used roads like L St, near parks and recreation centers where children and seniors gather.

4. 4-way stop signs along L St and relevant locations, 3-way stops along one-way streets throughout the neighborhood. An all way stop on East First St & Pappas Way (BTD currently working on this location).

5. Additional Speed Feedback Signs on high traffic roads throughout South Boston, like what BTD has recently installed on Farragut Road, L St, East Broadway, Dorchester St, East First St, and Old Colony Ave.

6. Rapid Flash Beacons with pedestrian islands like we have on Summer Street; Blinking Pedestrian Crossing signs at high traffic areas like BTD installed at Stop & Shop on East Broadway or near CVS at West Broadway.

7. Eliminate the use of concurrent phasing traffic signals in high traffic areas, where cars and pedestrians simultaneously have the right of way signals to proceed. Implement Exclusive Pedestrian Phasing signals in the South Boston Waterfront and other locations with heavy pedestrian foot traffic, along with longer pedestrian signal times to cross in our neighborhood.

8. Road Diets and one lane of traffic on Preble St (from Andrew Square to the Rotary), on East Broadway (from Perkins Square to L St) and appropriate locations to prevent the risk of “double threats” – when a car will let a pedestrian cross and a second vehicle will try to go around and pass them, and potentially hit the people in the crosswalk.

9. Curb extensions and bumping out sidewalks at crosswalks on Farragut Road, school zones and elsewhere to shorten crosswalks, make stop signs visible and narrow streets to encourage slower speeds.

10. Increased “Operation Crosswalk” patrols from Boston Police in order to reduce speeding. Increased fines for driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and delivery trucks over the weight limit.

11. More delineators, or signs, in crosswalks at high traffic areas reminding drivers to stop for pedestrians; paint in the roads advising drivers to slow, yield and stop.

12. Additional Uber/Lyft pick up & drop off pilot zones in the South Boston Waterfront. Reviewing potential areas for additional loading zones with designated time and space for delivery trucks.

To improve pedestrian safety in South Boston, we all need to continue to work together to slow down traffic and increase awareness for others on our roads. Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike must always show common courtesy, respect and concern for one another. We all can do our part to be better and I respectfully ask, once again, for all of us to take it upon ourselves to make our streets safer. It will take all of us as a community to implement traffic calming policies to help try and realize Vision Zero – the goal of no serious or fatal crashes in the City of Boston.

For more information, please contact Councilor Flynn’s office at 617-635-3203 and  Ed.Flynn@Boston.gov.

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Co-host of Caught Up, storyteller, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.