Walsh Administration Capitulates to Motorists, Delays West Roxbury Safety Proposal

Centre Street in West Roxbury on the evening of June 20, 2019.
Centre Street in West Roxbury on the evening of June 20, 2019.

Universal Hub reports that interim Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gregory Rooney is delaying its decision on his staff’s Vision Zero proposal to fix the deadly four-lane layout of Centre Street in West Roxbury where a person driving a car killed Marilyn Wentworth earlier this year.

The self-described West Roxbury Safety Association, a neighborhood group that formed this fall in order to lobby against the city’s safety plan, hosted city officials in a packed meeting at the Irish Social Club last night, where Rooney made his announcement.

On Wednesday, a BTD spokesperson told StreetsblogMASS that the city’s safety proposal “sparked extensive neighborhood conversation and feedback, both in support of it and against.”

The BTD spokesperson also wrote that the department “is now reviewing specific safety concerns and needs that have been raised, before any final design decision is made… With a focus on pedestrian safety and informed by feedback from the public, the City will return to the community this winter to discuss next steps.”

According to Universal Hub’s report, Boston Police Captain Darrin Greeley was also in attendance at last night’s meeting to promise stepped-up enforcement efforts in West Roxbury, including increased efforts to pull over drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in the street’s crosswalks.

The city's Vision Zero crash data show a cluster of crashes that injured pedestrians along Centre Street in West Roxbury (data for 2016-2018 pictured).  Courtesy of the City of Boston.
The city’s Vision Zero crash data show a cluster of crashes that injured pedestrians along Centre Street in West Roxbury (data for 2016-2018 pictured). Courtesy of the City of Boston.

The BTD has acknowledged that Centre Street’s current four-lane layout is fundamentally unsafe for pedestrians: one car might stop to let someone cross the street, but passing cars in the other lane are then less likely to see the pedestrian walking in front of the stopped vehicle.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has made safer streets a cornerstone of the city’s climate action plan, which includes goals of “cutting drive-alone trips by more than half, increasing public transit ridership by more than a third, increasing biking rates fourfold, and doubling walking rates.”

Meeting that bold goal will require major structural changes to how the street prioritizes public space on streets like Centre Street, which, in its current layout, devotes almost all of the public right-of-way to motor vehicles to the detriment of people who walk, bike, or ride the bus.

StreetsblogMASS reached out to Mayor Walsh for comment on how his administration’s work on Centre Street’s safety issues reflect his broader commitment to meet the city’s climate and Vision Zero goals.

The Mayor’s office did not respond, but relayed the inquiry to BTD staff instead.

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Centre Street in West Roxbury on the evening of June 20, 2019.

Walsh Administration Delays West Roxbury Safety Proposal

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Universal Hub reports that interim Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gregory Rooney is delaying its decision on his staff’s Vision Zero proposal to fix the deadly four-lane layout of Centre Street in West Roxbury where a person driving a car killed Marilyn Wentworth earlier this year. The self-described West Roxbury Safety Association, a neighborhood group that […]